Fender Jazzmaster vs Jaguar, characteristics and differences

Fender Jazzmaster vs Jaguar, characteristics and differences
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Fender Jazzmaster vs Jaguar, two classic offset guitars, similar but different, we analyze their characteristics and differences, they also have their versions of Squier.

History of the Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar

Fender Jazzmaster Launch

In 1958, after releasing the Duo-Sonic and Musicmaster two years earlier, Fender introduced the Jazzmaster. This new model was a kind of luxury or deluxe guitar from Fender, being even the most expensive option to the Stratocaster.

Leaving aside the simplicity of the previous offset, the Duo-Sonic and the Musicmaster, studio guitars, simple and cheap. A sophisticated control system for handling a double circuit was added to the new Jazzmaster. One circuit designed for rhythmic styles, and the other for a traditional style called Lead.

As its name suggests, the Jazzmaster was designed to appeal to Jazz guitarists who weren’t attracted to the Telecaster and Stratocaster. However, it was mostly used and popularized by Surf music artists and later by Alternative Rock and Indie musicians. Some important bands that used Jazzmaster are The Cure, Radiohead, Nirvana and Sonic Youth, among others.

Another curiosity of the Fender Jazzmaster is that it was the first model that came with a rosewood fretboard as standard.

Fender Jazzmaster 58 Reissue, replica of the prototype of the first unit.
Fender Jazzmaster ’58 Reissue, prototype replica

Launch of Fender Jaguar

In 1962, Fender released the Jaguar, four years after the Jazzmaster was released. Based on the Jazzmaster, with the same body shape and tremolo system, but with a short scale of only 24 “-inches, 22 frets and an even more complex electronics.

Some say this model was made to appeal to the Gibson user guitarist.

With some features similar to the Jazzmaster, such as the bridge, the fingerboard radius, and the double circuit, but with some new features compared to its sister, such as the individual pickup selector switchs.

Fender Jazzmaster: Specifications and Features

The Fender Jazzmaster has a maple neck or neck with a 21 fret rosewood or rosewood fretboard or fingerboard. The neck profile is C and the fingerboard radius is 7.25 “. The inlays are dots and bone nut.

Squier Jazzmaster Classic Vibe, the top of the range of the second Fender brand
Squier Jazzmaster Classic Vibe, the top of the range of the second Fender brand

The body in offset shape is solid with offset shape and, usually in ash or alder. It has forearm and rear recesses. It has the standard scale, that is, the same as that of the Telecaster and Stratocaster, of 25.5 “-inches- or 647.7 mm.

Fender Jazzmaster tremolo lever and bridge

The tremolo of the Jazzmaster is very different from that of the Stratocaster. This vibrato bridge is much more subtle and smoother than the Strato’s synchro tremolo. It also has the “Lock Tremolo” that allows the tremolo to be locked so that if a string is cut, the rest of the strings will not go out of tune due to the loss of tension. However, the tremolo is still operational, only it can be used by loosening the tension, not increasing it. When not locked, it can be used both ways.

The best bridge for Jazzmasters and Jaguars is the Mastery, which reduces friction when using the tremolo or vibrato lever and prevents the strings from slipping out of place.

Fender Jazzmaster pickups

While the Pickups are aesthetically very similar to the P90, their construction and design is very different. It has a sound that maintains the traditional, bright, and crystalline tone of Fender guitars, but with considerably more output, more kick and punch, than a normal single pickup.

Jazzmaster pickups
Fender Jazzmaster pickups

Jazzmaster Electronics: Dual Circuit

The Jazzmaster guitar comes with a double circuit, on the one hand it has the Lead Mode and on the other it has the Rhythm or Rhythm mode. With the switch located at the top of the pickguard or pickguard, at the 18th fret, you select between these two circuits or modes.

Circuit or Lead mode

The Lead circuit, or mode, would be the standard guitar circuit. The controls typical of any guitar are active: the volume and master tone knobs and the three-position selector switch. The pickups sound with good Fender audio but with a more aggressive character than the classic of the brand.

Fender Jazzmaster with controls for its two Lead Mode and Rhythm Mode circuits
Fender Jazzmaster with controls for its two Lead Mode and Rhythm Mode circuits

Circuit or Rhythm mode

The Rhythm or Rhythm circuit or mode is a novel circuit, which activates only the neck or neck pickup, but with a warmer, darker audio, ideal for rhythm and jasper guitars, hence the name Jazz Master. This mode features a separate volume and tone wheel-type knob that sits above the neck pickup or Rhythm Pickup.

The difference in tone on the neck pickup between Lead and Rhythm mode is in the capacitor – or condenser – and the power value of the tone pot. These audio differences can be accentuated by having independent tone and volume each of the modes.

Fender Jaguar: Specifications and Features

The Fender Jaguar has a maple neck with a 22 fret fretboard or rosewood or rosewood fingerboard, like Gibsons. The neck profile is C and the fingerboard radius is 7.25 “. The inlays are dots and bone nut.

Offset body Fender Jaguar released in 1962.
Fender Jaguar

The solid body in offset form is solid, normally ash or alder. It has forearm and rear recesses. It has the short scale like the Duo-Sonic and Mustang, 24 “-inches- or 609.6 mm.

24-inch short scale features

Being shorter, the tension decreases and the strings are softer and softer to the touch, and the frets closer together or smaller. Therefore, for general people, it becomes a more comfortable guitar, especially for guitarists with small hands. But also, it can make fingering at the highest frets difficult as there is very little space left. Also, the string loses attack, sounds rounder and can even give more sustain.

Fender Jaguar tremolo lever

Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster Tremolo
Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster Tremolo

The tremolo on the Jaguar is the same as on the Jazzmaster. This vibrato bridge is much more subtle and smoother than the Strato’s synchro tremolo. It also has the “Lock Tremolo” that allows the tremolo to be locked so that if a string is cut, the rest of the strings will not go out of tune due to the loss of tension. However, the tremolo is still operational, only it can be used by loosening the tension, not increasing it. When not locked, it can be used both ways.

Fender Jaguar Pickups

While the Jaguar pickups are very similar aesthetically to the Stratocaster, they do have some differences. The Jaguar pickup is slightly wider, the poles are level or “Flat” and it is mounted directly on the body and features a metal “claw” or “cage” that affects the magnetic field, output and tone of the pickup. Also, the metal “claw” reduces or filters Hum while remaining a classic single-coil. Normally, it is described as a similar pickup but a little brighter than a Stratocaster and with less “air”, tighter. The magnet is usually Alnico V.

Jaguar Pickups and Mastery Bridge
Jaguar Pickup and Mastery Bridge

Jaguar Electronics: Dual Circuit

The Jaguar guitar, like the Jazzmaster, comes with the double circuit, the Lead Mode and the Rhythm or Rhythm mode. With the switch located at the top of the pickguard or pickguard, at the 18th fret, you select between these two circuits or modes. But unlike the Jazzmaster, it does not have a three-position selector switch for the pickups or pickups, but three switches, two that activate or deactivate each of the pickups and the third is a “Low Cut” or bass cut, also called “Strangle Switch” -suppressor-, which is nothing more than a capacitor that filters low or bass frequencies.

Circuit or Lead mode

The Lead circuit, or mode, would be the standard guitar circuit. The typical volume and master tone controls are active and instead of the three-position selector switch, it has the three switches that activate and deactivate each of the pickups and the Low Cut or Strangle.

Pickups and Low Cut or Strangle Jaguar Switches
Pickup and Fender Jaguar Low Cut or Strangle Switches

Circuit or Rhythm mode

The Rhythm or Rhythm circuit or mode activates only the neck or neck pickup, but with darker and warmer audio. This mode features a separate volume and tone wheel-type knob that sits above the neck pickup or Rhythm Pickup.

The difference in tone on the neck pickup between Lead and Rhythm mode is in the capacitor – or condenser – and the power value of the tone pot. These audio differences can be accentuated by having independent tone and volume for each of the modes and the Low Cut or Strangle Switch in Lead mode.

Fender Jazzmaster vs Jaguar: differences and similarities

What are the differences between Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar?

The main differences of the Fender Jazzmaster vs Jaguar are:

  • The scale: The Jazzmaster is 25.5 “while the Jaguar is 24”, which makes the strings softer to the touch, and the frets closer together. Therefore, it becomes a more comfortable guitar, especially for guitarists who use Gibson, or with small hands.
  • Pickups / Pickups: The Jazzmaster looks like a P90, but keeps the traditional Fender sound but with more output and kick. While those of the Jaguar are more similar to that of the Stratocaster with more brightness and less air, tighter.
  • Pickup selector switch: while the Jazzmaster is a three-point or position selector switch, the Jaguar are independent switches similar to those of the Red Special.
  • “Low Cut” or Strangle Control: The Jaguar has a control that cuts bass.
  • Pickguard / Pickguard: While the Jazzmaster is all plastic or similar, the Jaguar has metal control plates.
Fender Jazzmaster vs Jaguar: similarities and differences
Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar: similarities and differences

What are the Similarities Between Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar

The main similarities of Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster are:

  • The Body Design: The Jaguar takes the same offset body design as the Jazzmaster released four years earlier.
  • The shape of the Pickguard: they both have the same shape, apart from the fact that the Jaguar has the metal “control plates”.
  • Tremolo and Bridge System: Both have the same bridge and tremolo system, which Leo Fender considered the evolution of the Strat.
  • Double electronic circuit: although they do not share the same pickups and the selection system of the same, nor the Low Cut of the Jaguar, both have the Lead and Rhythm Mode.

Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster: Which one do you like? What is your opinion on both electric guitars?

For more information on the guitar, visit Fender web site.

Related Post: Fender vs Squier Stratocaster: differences and features.

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