Guitar Review

Fender Jaguar Review

Author: Gary Diamond

Review for a '99 CIJ Jaguar in 3 tone sunburst with dark tortoiseshell guard. Modified with Mustang saddles and a Buzz Stop attachment, pickup claws removed. Strung up with Ernie Ball Power Slinky 011s set.

Let's get the bad side out of the way first. This guitar is incredibly difficult to set up owing to bad design. The stock bridge has a tendency to buzz, rattle and for the threads to fall out completely. Using loctite or blutack, you can fix these problems and get the stock bridge workable. In stock form, even well set up, the sustain of the guitar makes it hard to use for lead. The pickup claws cut RF interferace but increase feedback. You might want to remove them, or replace pickups, or both.

I used the guitar stock for months and really enjoyed it. Even with low sustain the range of tones and playability were excellent, plus no-one around plays one (Telecasters are everywhere and you don't stand out from the crowd unless you're as good as Graham Coxon).

Recently I've modified it as stated above and it's almost like night and day. Really, these parts that'll set you back around $70 can add a lot. Sustain increases drastically, no more issues with buzz and strings slipping, bridge is easier to setup. Also I think the Mustang saddles balance the tonality of the guitar better... less brightness and more punch in the lower mids.

The guitar is versatile. I can do most anything I want with this, from funk to blues to rock to metal (more Sabbath than Pantera). Whatever a song requires, this is the guitar that usually fits best.

The tremolo system is quite tasty. Make sure you keep the spring well lubricated though, as with more extreme use the spring will creak and sometimes jam. It's somewhere between a Bigsby and Strat. I have taped the end of my trem arm up so it sits higher in the slot and allows for more downward travel.

Most people won't play Jags and JMs because many examples in shops are poorly set up. I did a tour of Central London guitar shops and played a selection of both Japanese and American Reissue models. Not one measured up to the setup I can manage, and I'm no pro... one had the bridge far too low and the neck curved like a banana, another had the saddles pointed upwards like triangles, yet another played well but had the spring too tight preventing tremolo use.

If you want one of these, be sure that you are comfortable setting up electric guitars, then be prepared to spend some time learning about these. They can be just as good if not better than any other model with a little TLC.

I regularly gig with mine and rarely get troubles, unless I go completely mental with the tremolo and it slips out of tune (even happens with the best of them). Once all the strings lost a semitone in tuning, I later found this was due to the trem spring sticking because it wasn't lubricated correctly.

If you are ready to try something different and don't mind learning about all the little quirks and foibles, try a Jaguar. The short, curved neck and contoured offset body might just be what you are looking for. It certainly was with me, it's just a shame I had to own four Gibsons before I found this beauty!

Gary Diamond's Ratings
Sound:9 out of 10
Features:8 out of 10
Action/Finish/Feel:9 out of 10
Reliability/Durability:7 out of 10
Overall Rating:10 out of 10

Submitted: 2006-04-10   Number of views: 4728