so around early 1997 i was watching the beatles anthology quite a lot. at the time i was dead set keen on getting an epiphone casino just like john lennon - he just seemed like the coolest bastard in the world with that thing.
however for some reason, when i happend across fender.com they had a guitar there listed as the jag-stang. it was just the most surf punktastic thing i had ever seen. Being a nirvana fan years before that, it was kind of perplexing why i hadn't heard of it sooner - pre internet mainstream perhaps.
in fact, are there any 1995 jag-stangs around?
in those days money was hard earned and it was before i discovered the joys of easy credit. it took me months to save up enough to put half down on a Sonic Blue Jag-Stang which arrived during June 1997.
I'll never forget opening the box and seeing it for the first time, it was such a feeling of delight as it was so perfect in every way... i've never quite had that same buzz since after purchasing lots more guitars - some 10 times the price.
Anyway not knowing much about guitars at the time it didn't take me long to flip the tailpiece without a tom, put on the heaviest most unplayable strings and mess up the electronics and screw with the truss rod without knowing what a truss rod does.
So after not long it looked like it was unplayable so it got put in the cupboard. but then i discovered ebay and the collecting bug started. around September 1997 i ordered a Fiesta Red jag-stang which was already in stock locally and arrived quickly. It was a 1996 anniversary model.
The Fiesta Red jagstangs humbucker sounded so much better and had more bite than the blue one and the neck was probably the best feeling neck i have ever felt on a guitar to date. the neck finish was crystal clear while the neck finish on the sonic blue one was slightly hazy.
The color of the fiesta red is just perfect and a much darker shade than normal - i really do think that in the inital batches of the jag-stang fender specifically made them in an aqua shade and darker fiesta red to simulate a vintage vibe. they just don't match fiesta red and sonic blue colors on regular japanese strats.
having played lots of vintage mustangs i would have loved to see jag-stangs made in 1966 with the same materials and feel as a mustang of the era. that would be big mojo now.
the only down side of the fiesta red jag-stang was that whilst the color was gorgeous, the finish on this one is probably the most brittle ive dealt with - very soft and prone to damage. Also the white pearloid pickguard was just awful - it had hardly any swirl in it at all.
during early 1998 i swapped out the guard for a custom made red pearloid one. the custom pickguard looked gorgeous but was cut quite crudely but the luither, almost as if it had been done by hand.
so around that point i kinda of lost interest the in the two jag-stangs and moved on to acquiring other guitars.
sometime late in 2008 i scored some nirvana bootleg dvd's, and while watching them got reminded of how great the lefty jag-stang looked. it reminded me how awesome and unique that guitar is. so after a bit of looking round i pulled both out my old jag-stangs with the following in mind:
1) get the sonic blue one fixed up and replace the pearloid pickguard with a plain white guard - "just like kurts"
2) have the fiesta red one made up to look like the original polaroid picture kurt submitted to fender.
so i sent the blue one off to get fixed up. it got turned around much quicker than i expected - a full setup correct gauge strings, bridge returned to stock, electronics replaced etc etc. it was scary just how fantastic the guitar played when it came back. at that point, i decided not to mess around with it anymore keep it "stock" and not replace the guard, even though i think it would look 1000% better
the fiesta red one was a little more complicated. working from the original polaroid obviously that lower cutaway shape is from a vintage '69 mustang - the japanese jag-stangs just flat out aren't the same. kurts 1993 US sonic blue one comes closer to the vision.
also going into this i knew that the bridge had to be routed for a single coil. i was in two minds for months about it, but finally decided to since the pickguard was changed anyway.
all the original electronics had to be pulled out - which was a shame cause they sounded so good, and they ended up in a reissue mustang. all black parts and pups were sourced by me and a custom white pearloid pickguard was designed and recut - with a similar thickness to the 60's mustang pickguard.
I have to say seeing the finished result on the fiesta red mustang was very, very pleasing. the only thing i would have liked is to have the hotrail under a black single coil pup cover to make it look stock, but the hotrails are too hard to take apart.
personally, i think the black fittings were made for the fiesta red one, and that the sonic blue one should remain white. - overlaying red tortoise over the aqua of the jag-stang just doesn't work as well like it does on sonic blue.
also it is perplexing why fender felt they had to reshape the lower cutaway. if they followed the original lines it would be much cooler.
to this day i still don't have that epiphone casino but have the desire to get one exactly like john lennons!