This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Fender Jaguar. The Jaguar made
its debut in 1962, and with it Fender
hoped to attract interest from surf guitarists who were then dominating American
popular music. The Jaguar had the same
offset body as the Fender Jazzmaster, but
offered a 24" scale length, as opposed to
the Jazzmaster’s 25 1/2" scale length.
Both guitars shared the dual-circuit
scheme designed by Forrest White. On the
upper bout, a 2-way switch selects between
rhythm and lead circuits. The rhythm circuit has a master volume and master tone
control (both are roller knobs mounted
into the upper bout’s metal control plate).
On the lower bout, another metal control
plate boasts three 2-way switches. Two of
these are on/off switches wired to the neck
and bridge pickups, respectively. A third
2-way switch acts as a high-pass filter,
which is often referred to as the “strangle
switch.” Volume and tone knobs round
out the Jag’s lead circuit.
In an effort to remedy hum issues
associated with the Jazzmaster’s single-coil
pickups, Fender made the Jaguar pickups
smaller and enclosed them with notched
side plates to improve RF rejection.
Though Fender used the same floating
tremolo and tremlock system as on the
Jazzmaster, the Jaguar was also equipped
with a string mute. This soon proved
problematic with players, who found it
knocked the guitar out of tune. Many
Jaguar owners opted to remove the string
mute from the guitar altogether.
Unfortunately, the Fender Jaguar never
gained as much popularity as the Fender
Stratocaster or Telecaster, and was finally
discontinued in 1975. But in the late ’80s
and early ’90s, the Fender Jaguar experienced a resurgence after some popular
bands of the time were seen using them.
Nirvana, My Bloody Valentine, and Sonic
Youth were among the groups who found
that Jaguars worked well for them sonically,
and were also very affordable.
Around this time, Fender offered a less
expensive line of Japanese Jaguar reissues.
Then in 1999, the company introduced the
American Vintage ’62 Jaguar and Jazzmaster
reissues. Now in 2012, Fender is offering
a 50th-anniversary Jaguar model, as well
as the Johnny Marr Signature model. This
guitar has made quite a comeback!
To discover more about the history of
the Fender Jaguar, check out Fender: The
Golden Age 1946-1970 by Martin Kelly,
Terry Foster, and Paul Kelly.
$398, plus $52.50 for hardshell case
Current estimated market value:
$6,500 to $8,000
1. Fender added notched metal side plates
around the pickups to reduce single-coil hum.
2. Fully dressed: This Jaguar sports its custom
color on the headstock, too. 3. The Jaguar’s
floating tremolo also includes a sliding tremlock
button. Engaging it locks the tremolo bridge into
a fixed position. 4. Located by the bridge, the
Jaguar’s string mute caused tuning problems for
some players. Many guitarists simply removed
the mute mechanism.
DAVE’S GUITAR SHOP
Dave Rogers’ collection is tended by Laun Braithwaite,
Casey Virock and Tim Mullally and is on display at:
Dave’s Guitar Shop
1227 Third Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601
Photos by Mullally and text by Virock.