I will start this blog by saying my Surf Green Fender Jag is truly one on my children. But it has kind of been a bit of a problem child! In this blog, you’ll find some of the things I’ve learned about taking care of this unique breed of guitar so you can save some time doing a tons of research on your current or future jag bb!
You can find the full history on Fender’s site here and details about specific models from Reverb.com here
Here’s my “Sparknotes” version for you!
4th Fender guitar introduced in 1962 (after Telecaster, Stratocaster, and Jazzmaster)
Shorter neck and 1 more fret than other Fender models (made for people who played Gibsons!)
Popular for the surf guitarists in the ‘60’s, lost popularity and was discontinued in 1975, and came back in 1985.
Was made popular again by Kurt Cobain and in punk music (because it was a super cheap guitar when it lost popularity!).
First Fender with the “transition logo”
So let’s jump into my summary of the Jag!
1) What’s the difference between a Jaguar and a Jazzmaster?
They look so similar getting them confused is an easy mistake to make!
Here are the differences:
Jaguar: 22 frets 24” (also first Fender to come out with different neck width options- there were 4 sizes!)
Jazzmaster: 21 frets 25.5”
What this means: The jag should be faster!
Jaguar: Individual on/off switches for each pickup as well as a treble-cut switch aka a low-end filter.
Jazzmaster: Toggle switch
Both: Rhythm and lead switch. Rhythm is more bass-y neck pickup sound. They both also have separate tone and volume options for each section!
Jaguar “upper horn” is sharper than Jazzmaster’s and it had more chrome plates.
Jaguar: Pickups are single coil and taller and narrower. They also have metal on the outside (called claws) and they are there to prevent humming and “concentrated the magnetic field beneath the strings.” AKA they are high output pickups similar to a strat!
Jazzmaster: Flat wide single coil pickups
What this means: The Jaguar has a more punchy “hotter” sound and the Jazzmaster has a more smooth sound but is more likely to hum/ buzz.
The Jaguar and Jazzmaster have the same style “floating bridge” and whammy bars. More on this later…
So now that you know the technical differences, here’s my observations of the Jaguar as far as what I would do after buying one:
1) Change the bridge
My Jaguar started buzzing and making a harmonic ringing pretty fast after getting it! A lot of people said I needed to try using heavier strings (most recommend .11 and up!) and I tried that and it still didn’t help. I also tried adjusting the bridge height on my own and the individual saddles when that didn’t work after reading this article from Premier Guitar. I just couldn’t get it quite right. It was difficult to figure out which notch in the bridge screw rings to put the string on (you’ll notice the bridge of the Jag had these round coils that the strings sit on). I finally decided to get mine set up by a great music store here in Nashville and it was perfect for one day and then somehow the set up changed! When I took it back in they were like “ did you change something when you got home because the set up we did is somehow not there anymore…” Yikes! I literally played it for like an hour and tried playing even lighter that normal! They set it up again and then it started ringing again in a rehearsal a week later!
So here’s what I’m going to do now because I don’t like the feeling of having to be so careful with a guitar or having to worry about it randomly buzzing:
I’m going to change it out for either a Mastery Bridge or maybe a Straytrem bridge. Since these are both around $200 I was originally thinking about changing it out for a Mustang bridge because I saw that’s a common mod but I read that for a lot of people this didn’t fix the issue and I would rather keep the guitar sharp!
2) Use .10 or .11 strings
When I got my set up, they let me know I could still use .10 strings despite all the things online about just using .11 or heavier. I don’t love using .11 strings so I will continue with my .10s.
3) Get a thicker/ cushy strap
Ok I see why this guitar was made for Gibson fans because woof it’s a heavy lil bb! I LOVE my Basiner Strap and the locks on it work great! It’s super plushy! I used another strap for playing out for 2 hours with it once and my shoulder was sore the next day (maybe I’m just weak lol).
If you are considering buying one, you should use my affiliate links here!
Do I recommend it?
Despite the bridge change I want to do, had I known all this before, I don’t think the Jag would be as tricky! I would 100% still recommend getting a Jaguar because you can hear a big difference in the tone from other guitars I have. It’s a gorgeous clean sound and I love the tone so much! It’s also the coolest looking guitar I have! Let me know if you have any questions or recommendations in the comments here- thanks for reading!