Guitar Review

Fender Jaguar Review

Author: triskadecaepyon

The Particular Jaguar I aquired was a MIJ 1996 Sunburst Jaguar. $455 used without shipping off of ebay. This is no ordinary Jaguar for its era as I found out. Although truly a Fender and not a reproduction, the body thickness is a 1/4 inch thicker than most Jaguars, and it's nitro/poly combo finish featured on AV jags is a rarity also.

Specs:

The alder 3 piece body is beautifully combined with a sunburst finish, and the neck has an aged gloss poly over it which gives it that nice "vintage" look. Aside from that, the Jag is MUCH heavier than strats or current MIJ Jags(they are made of Basswood, such as Ranger-x's). This, however gives the Jag a "deeper" sound than strats and tele's. With all that hardware and increased thickness, I have to sit down to play most of the time.
The neck is VERY thin compared to a strat's, and because of the short 24" scale, it feels very different from Strat's and Tele's. It takes a while to get used to the short scale, but the short scale allows you to bend heavier strings because of the reduced tension. Note you should be using 11's or above(preferribly). The jag has very small and thin frets, and the 7.25" radius is perfect for cords but "notes out" at higher frets so you can't hear it - dead spots. It also sports Kluson tuners.

The Hardware that came with my Jag is stock MIJ except for the Custom shop neck plate. Supposedly this was a Custom Shop Jaguar who's buyer declined halfway through the build. The chrome hardware is near indestructible except for the 3 switches; when I bought it I had to replace one of them. There are three chrome plates and a pickguard. Personally I like the look of all the chrome as opposed to the Jazzmaster's all pickguard controls. The controls take awhile to understand also.

The Bridge on the Jag originally was the stock bridge, and the strings popped off of the saddles VERY often. The Vintage Jags do not experience this as much as MIJ Jags do. The stock bridge also gave me tuning problems when I used the trem also. I have gone through 2 Mod's; the first being the Mustang bridge, the second a Tune-O-Matic. The Mustang bridge solved the problem of string skipping, but it did not seem sturdy enough and was taking away from my sustain. My final Mod, the Tune-O-matic bridge, did much better. First of all, I shaved down the radius of the saddles to 7.25", as opposed the the TOM's 12" radius. I got the standard thin post version for 12.95, a better buy than the Mustang's 39.99 price tag. The TOM increased sustain and improved the overall playability of it. The Tailpiece has a tremolo but I never use it; it only bends about a half step or so. Between the bridge and the tailpiece, the strings do resonate; I placed a piece of foam do dampen it. Be ready to spend some cash on bridge mods, but if you want to make it more "stock" then buy a buzz stop.

Aside from the problems of the bridge (if you get over it) are the pickups. MIJ pickups are VERY NOISY. AV and Vintage Jags do not attribute this; they sound very good. I immediately replaced them with an SJAG-2 HOT pickup and a Seymour duncan JB jr. No routing was required for the JB jr, and I even fit it into the pickup "claw". The Jaguar stock sounds like what it is described as; a "surf" guitar. Light and tinny, you can just hear that beach boys aura and other music from the era. The Bridge is really biting, and the neck very jazzy. The pickup changes that I went through made the Bridge pickup warm and less tinny(thin), the neck SJAG-2 made the neck sound like a Texas Special.

Conclusion:

The Jaguar to me is a great instrument, an alternative to the infamous strat and cliché Gibson style guitar. With proper modifications, the Jaguar can become a KILLER instrument to any guitarist, if he/she spends a little money changing bridges and possibly pickups. If you don't like short scales, or the body style our setup, this is not for you. Nirvana wannabes, stick with the Jag-stang; you can't handle a Jaguar. The large body (I mean large, compare it to a strat!) might take a while to get used to also, and servicing it is more difficult than most instruments. Its entire setup in the body and not under the pickguard is difficult to track for problems. The controls will confuse many. However, whatever the downsides, I think this is the pinacle for guitars for me. If you do decide to get one make sure you get it used or from ebay, or an AV JAG or Vintage Jag. The current MIJ's lack quality and worksmanship.

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

Submitted: 2004-12-28   Number of views: 4763