A Beautifully Odd Bird
When you dig down to the foundation, the
Johnny Marr Jaguar is still a Jaguar. And
that means some folks—generally those
who love technical shredding and high-gain, blooz-rawk wailing—aren’t gonna
get it. But Marr’s refinements of Jaguar
elements that annoy players on the fence
make it a very different and much more
The body is beautifully balanced, which
is one of the unsung strengths of any
Jaguar. But in this case, Marr requested
some significant comfort-enhancing adjustments—most notably a deeper belly scoop
on the back of the guitar and a more contoured chamfer on the front that Marr copied from a mid-’50s Stratocaster.
The guitar has a short-scale neck,
which might feel cramped to folks used to
standard 25. 5" Fender lengths. But Marr
had the neck fashioned after a particular
1965 Jaguar in his collection that had a
thicker, more substantial profile, and the
difference in feel between this Jaguar and
most ’60s and reissue editions is notable.
It feels a lot more stout, sturdy, and even
Les Paul-like at times—giving a sense of
leverage that invites big bends and makes
chording over the course of a long practice
or gig a little less fatiguing.
Always a subject of love-it-or-hate-it
scorn and adoration, the bridge and vibrato
unit (or “synchronized floating tremolo”
as any good Jazzmaster or Jaguar devotee
will know it) is considerably improved
on the Johnny Marr Jaguar. The bridge is
actually pinched from a Mustang—a not-
uncommon modification among Jazzmaster
and Jaguar players that prefer the smooth
and more substantial saddle barrels from
the ’Stang. The bridge also has improved
mounting bushings that prevent slippage.
Meanwhile, the Jaguar’s lengthy tremolo
arm now sits more securely in its mounting
post, helped by a bushing that prevents the
arm from swinging freely so you can keep it
close at hand or out of the way.
Jammin’ with Johnny
Jaguars can move between many moods.
And the Johnny Marr may be the moodiest Jaguar of all. Which means if you play
in a band with a wide-ranging repertoire,
work with a vocalist, or favor music with
plenty of light and shade, this guitar can
cover a lot of ground.
Bridge pickup tones are a little less spiky
and plonky on the Johnny Marr than your
average Jaguar. And while you don’t get
considerably more sustain than a standard
Jag (perhaps the most common complaint
leveled against the breed) the bridge pickup
has a wider spectrum, including a little