Fender Jaguar – A Classic Guitar Renewed
The Fender Jaguar has played a significant role in rock n’ roll music since Leo Fender first introduced this guitar more than six decades ago. With its off-set body, short scale, and enough switches and knobs to confuse even the most technically inclined, the jaguar has always been unique in the realm of electric guitars. It’s also been enormously popular and older models have become extremely collectable.
While the early adopters of this somewhat unusual guitar were surf bands, the versatility of the guitar eventually landed it in the hands of great guitarists in many genres. Perhaps the individual who is most associated was Kurt Kobain. That said, because of the great versatility and the wonderful tone of this guitar, Bob Dylan, Johhny Marr, Elvis Costello, Al Kooper, Jim Root, and Joe Pass have all played Jaguars.
Below you’ll find a couple of video reviews that will provide you with a lot of technical insights about the current Jaguar models. These are well worth the time spent if you are seriously considering a new Fender Jaguar. Enjoy!
American Professional or American Vintage Series Jaguar
Hello Internet! This is Chris McKee with Alamo Music Center. You can find us online at Alamomusic.com. We’re coming at you today with a pair of Jaguar guitars to show you some of the latest and greatest from Fender guitars that were just released at the NAMM show last week.
So without any further ado the handsome guitar sitting on my lap right here to the right is a new 2017 American Professional Series Jaguar. Now to my left is the previous only available American built Jaguar prior to today which was the American Vintage Series Jaguar. Now this is a 65 reissue Jaguar that Fender is handing their lineup for a bit and it’s a great guitar. It’s been, like I said, until this year the only American built Jaguar that you could purchase from Fender. This year they’ve added the Jaguar and the JazzMaster to the lineup of the American Professional Series which has replaced the American Standard Series in their lineup. So joining the Stratocaster and Telecaster is the Jaguar and Jazzmaster finally. Now in doing so Fender has changed the recipe a little bit. It’s still trying to feature Jaguar, but they simplified things and really made these some rock machines.
Fender Jaguar – Modernized for Today’s Guitarist
So today we’re going to talk a little bit about the changes so that you can understand what’s going on with these new guitars. Now first off, you might notice a change in color. Some new colors are available in all of these guitars in the American Professional Series. We will throw up on the screen here some of the colors offered. This particular one is called Sonic gray because the gray is sonically stupendous I suppose. There are also some sunburst options with maple neck and rosewood fingerboard as well. So straight off the bat you look at these of course they’re still the tried and true offset Jaguar shape. The pickups are still Jaguar pickups; still got a tremolo that is basically functions the same way as it did before. Nonetheless, it had some refinements and some simplification. One thing you might notice is that the top horn, the switches are very simplified. On the American Vintage series you have the whole rhythm circuit controls up there. The on/off switch as well as the two knobs for adjusting the volume of the tone for the rhythm circuit and we’ll go a little bit more in depth on what that is. We’ve done full reviews of this as well. So if you’re curious about what all the changes are or the differences between some of those main Fender models, go check out that video where we compare a Fender a Tele, a Jaguar, and a Jazzmaster. You can see that there’s a lot more going on on this guitar between the switches in the upper horn and also on the lower side where you have three toggle switches to toggle the pickups on and off and to engage particular circuit. On the new American Professional Series that’s not the case. You have a four-way switch on the bottom horn and a single switch on the top one which gives you a out-of-phase sound which we’ll check out in a moment. So that’s part of the simplification and then from there a lot of things depart because, well frankly, it’s not a vintage guitar, so it’s not following vintage spec. It doesn’t have the mute that’s on the 65 that was not very popular to begin with. The radius is different. The frets are different and so on so.
From this point, we’re going to talk about the features of this guitar and you can check out the full in depth review of the Jaguar on our other video. We’re also going to compare both of these so you can hear the differences in the pickups. So for the American Professional Series, it’s like I said, simplify tone and controls. You have a single tone and you have a single volume. The volume has a treble bleed switch. So as you turn it down, you don’t lose your high end. You have a four-way switch that gives you first position bridge, second position bridge and neck in parallel, third position neck alone, and fourth position bridge and neck in series, where they basically gain stage one another for a fat kind of wide range humbucking sound; very wide range in this particular case. Up here, you have an out-of-phase switch which works in either position 2 or 4 to give you a skinny Peter Green-esk out of phase sound with these single coil pickups. The pickups are Jaguar style pickups. Now what that means is that they are single coil but they are not exactly like what you’d find on a Strat. They are not staggered pole piece. It’s all flattened. They’ve got some additional shielding around them and they’re only a little bit bigger than a typical Strat single coil pickup would be. These are the new Vmod pickups. New for the American Professional Series. They have a great vintage tone to them, but they have a little bit more drive when you really lay into them a bit. The tremolo hasn’t really changed. One of the benefits of the tremolo that comes on a Jaguar and Jazzmaster, if you aren’t aware, is that you can set these up to lock them in place. So you can kind of get the best of both worlds. You can have a tremolo system, slide the lock, lock it in place, drop tune, play and drop D if you want to and then return back to your normal tuning, unlock it, and everything should be pretty much right as rain. A huge improvement on this is the bridge. Now if you’re familiar with Jaguars and Jazzmasters there have been aftermarket bridges available for a number of years that people have bought in order to help stabilize the bridge. In essence on a Jaguar and Jazzmaster, particularly vintage style ones and the ones available up until now. It hasn’t been completely set. It’s kind of wobbled a bit where it sets into the body. This has been rectified with this new series. It is very stable. You cannot get it to move at all. There’s no buzz whatsoever. There’s no movement whatsoever. Your intonation is going to be spot-on and it’s got nice brass saddles on the top of it to really help give you that wonderful tone.
Neck, Frets, and Nut
Moving on to the neck, the neck has been fattened up a little bit. Previous necks on a say an American Standard Strat or Tele was a modern D shape and the Jaguars that they make in their Mexico plant, those have also been modern Cs. These new American Professional Series are utilizing a shape called a deep C and it’s basically still a C curve, but you get a little bit more meat in the hand, so to speak which I’ve always been comfortable with myself. It’s really nice. It’s comfortable. It’s playable. It fits in the palm of your hand really, really well and it’s complemented by these new frets. These are narrow, tall frets that are available for all of the American Professional Series, Jaguar included. So they are not medium jumbos. They are tall, but they are skinny, so to speak and so they’ve got a nice feel, great for bending, not overly tall though, so it’s a really good compromise that Fenders worked out. And finally, up here at the top of the neck, you get a bone nut on each and every one of the guitars in that series. So there really are going for that professional feature. So it’s great as far as intonation; doesn’t bind like a plastic nut would. It’s going to be kind of self lubricating since its bone and so forth and so on. So it’s a cool color. This maple neck feels great. One thing that they are continuing to do that they did on the American Standards that I’ve always thought is a great compromise, is if you get it with a maple neck one like this, the fret board’s gloss. So it’s nice and glassy particularly when you’re bending. The back of the neck, however, is satin which means it’s nice and fast and your hands not trying to get cut up caught up on it.
The New Jaguars – Can’t Miss Guitars
So really great guitars from Fender and I’m glad to finally see the Jazzmaster and Jaguar make it into the American fold without having to go to the vintage spec model. You get a more modern interpretation here and that’s what it is. It’s a modern interpretation of a classic guitar that many have come to love over the years. So we’re going to put these through their paces. We’re going to start with the American Professional Series so you can hear all the sounds that you’re able to get out of this and then we’ll compare it with the features on the Vintage so you can really hear the differences and where this guitar sits in Fenders lineup. Okay.
We hope you enjoyed the video. We hope that this helped explain some of the differences with a new American Professional Series Jaguar. It’s a great guitar and it’s available in store now. If you have any questions about this, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. Go to our website, send us an email, drop us a link, or come in and see us so that we can help you find the perfect guitar to suit your needs, help you discover music in your life.
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American Vintage 62 Reissue Jaguar
This is one of my favorite models of guitar. It’s a Fender Jaguar. This particular model is an American Vintage 62 Reissue. I think this is a 2005 ice blue talent, one of my personal favorite models. This guitar was introduced in 1962. Leo Fender was obviously still operating the company at that time and it’s really similar to the Jazzmaster. Bodies shaped just a little bit different. It’s on a 24 inch scale which is an inch and a half shorter than the standard Fender scale. It shares a vibrato or Tremolo, as Fender calls it, with the JazzMaster as well as the bridge. This particular guitar, I put a Mustang bridge on it mainly for ease of use. But the stock bridge has worked really well and I have them on some of my other guitars.
Understanding the Jaguar Switching
So I’ll go through some of the various switching options that we have on this guitar. I know it can be a little daunting when you look at and see all the switches and knobs everywhere, but really pretty simple. Generally you have the lead circuit down here which you have the three switches that control the front one would be for the neck pickup, the middle ones for the bridge pickup, and the last switch is for a low-cut which makes it a strangle switch, which is kind of slang. It takes off some of the lows and makes it a little thinner sounding. I do not know why they did that, but it makes for some interesting tonal possibilities. These knobs control the lead circuit. You have volume and tone pretty, standard stuff. So if you leave this switch down on the rhythm circuit, it pretty much functions like a normal, any other guitar switches instead of a toggle. Up here you have the rhythm circuit which is, you switch that up and it activates only the neck pickup. They use separate pop values here. This is a volume, at a tone to achieve a little darker, more mellow sounds, maybe jazzy or whatever, which is the same way they do on the Jazzmasters. The pickups are single coils kind of similar to a Strat in the way they’re round and built, but they have these claws around them that are supposed to, I guess, shield them from noise or hum and also they have a mute on and it meets the strings which I guess was for the surf players back in the day. But I don’t know, most people I think refer to palm mute and most of the vintage examples a lot of people just take them off, you know, store them in the case or lose them which is a shame because they kind of look cool. But anyway, I’ll demonstrate how the mute works. It’s kind of cool. It’s just a piece of foam. A thing it rocks back and forth on a spring. Anyway, we’ll try the different switching on the lead circuit. Here you have the… I’ll start off with the bridge pickup which is the middle switch and kind of do something, kind of twangy. Whoops, I still have the rhythm section on. Anyway, lead circuit bridge pickup, kind of twangy. You have to trip the strangles switch will kind of thin it out a little bit. But it’s kind of hard to hear on YouTube because audio’s shit. Anyway, so that’s the bridge pickup. We’ll activate both pickups now, but the front switch and the middle switch, which are both pickups on. Kind of gives you more of a little, little more surfy kind of sound or kind of similar two pick up sound like a Telecaster. Pretty cool! The strangles switch works on this setting – obviously. Pretty subtle change but, like once again, you’ll probably be able to hear it. Now we’ll go for the neck pickup, just the front switch on here. It’s kind of nice sounding. That’s the lead section. You turn on the rhythm circuit here. It’s also the neck pickup, but a lot of highs are removed from the tone that way. So we’ll go from the lead circuit neck pickup to the rhythm circuit neck pickup with a volume, the toner, all the way open here. That’s a rhythm lead. You can really tell the difference. So that’s some of the switching, different switching options you have.
Kind of just explain the vibrato a little here. It’s exactly like the Jazzmaster. They’re interchangeable, of course, and their vibrato, it floats, so you can go up or down with them. Not a whole lot of travel, kind of pretty comparable to a Bigsby in the pitch change, but I’ll kind of demonstrate how it works. Not for dive-bombing, that’s for sure. This locks, this little slider here, locks the tremolo down. Once you have that on it can’t go up, so if you break a string it won’t go out of tune is the how that’s supposed to work. It will go up It’ll go down still and you’re supposed to adjust this screw. You can adjust the spring tension which it’s pretty simple. You just, there’s many websites that will explain how to adjust that. I won’t go into detail. It takes a while to discuss it.
Fender Jaguar 62 American Vintage – Worth Owning
However, this is it, the Fender Jaguar 62 American Vintage reissue. You’ll pardon my stumbling over my speech and stuff; this is one of my first demos. So there are plenty of good resources out there on the web about these guitars. Don’t discount them until you try them. They’re truly a great instrument and they sound great. Check out offset guitars dot com. It’s a great forum and lots of nice folks there that’ll be glad to help you out setting these up and maybe point you toward trying one out that you might like. Short Scale dot org is pretty good one as well; a lot of good folks out there. Check out Jim Shine site; a lot of useful stuff on there and Web Rocker. Just Google Jazz Master or Jaguar and it will come up with some pretty good sites on how to set these things up and how to choose the one for you.
So give it a shot. You might like it.
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