Fender Jaguar FAQ
(ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE PAWN SHOP PRINCESS)
by Nick K-B
Q: What’s with all of the switches and stuff on the jaguar?
A: The Jaguar is a double Circuit Guitar it has two settings, one for playing lead and one for playing rhythm. The switch on the upper wing will switch to the Rhythm circuit when up. When on the rhythm circuit, the rollers next to the circuit switch will control the Volume and tone. While the switch is down the knobs by the input will control the Volume and tone, and you may use the switches on the lower wing to control the pickups. Each pickup has a switch with an off and on setting. I will explain the switches now using directions referring to your view while looking at the jaguar while you are playing it and looking down at the body (please note the directions will be reversed for left handed players):
Left- Neck Pickup, Middle- bridge pickup, Right- Low end Filter.
Q: I’ve seen pics of old Jaguars and they have this funky metal thing around the bridge, Is my Jag missing a part or what?
A: No not necessarily. The Original Jaguars came with a mute mechanism. It was a little strip of metal that was attached to the Bridge. It had a Rubber bar that touched the strings when the metal was flicked up. The rubber muted the strings so that players could use that instead of muting the strings manually with their hands. Players found it annoying and most just removed them. So when the jaguar was reissued in the 90’s as part of Fender Japan, the Mutes were not reissued because of their past failure. However if you have a Vintage Jaguar and no mute, you are missing that part. On a side note, the new American Vintage series Jaguars come with a reissue of the old mute.
Q: What Music is the Jaguar best for?
A: The Jaguar (with its “high end” twangy sound) was designed for Surf Music (Beach Boys, Surfaris…etc.). I also (and this is just my opinion, so you may disagree.) feel that with all of its treble and “Thwack” that the Jaguar is very good for Funk (Proven to us by John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). But one of the many points of the Jaguar is its sound variety and can be used to play most guitar oriented Music. So the bottom line is, there really isn’t any music that the Jaguar is necessarily best for.
Q: What’s with all these Alternative people using the Jaguar? I thought it was a Surf guitar!!!
A: As I explained in the previous answer, the Jaguar could be used to play most guitar oriented Music. But the biggest reason for its connection to alternative music, is because after the Jaguar’s initial Failure (see my article on the history of the Jaguar for more info on this) The Jaguar became a castaway that was unwanted and could be found in music stores for as low as $200. Poor alternative artists saw these as vintage quality Fenders at a low affordable price and turned them into one of Indie rock’s best hidden secrets (until Indie rock exploded but that’s a whole different story all together).
Q: What’s with Kurt Cobain’s Jaguar?
A: This is a pretty frequently asked question, so it deserves the best answer I can give. I’m gonna post a quote from Brian Haberman’s Site. He has the most comprehensive Kurt Cobain Guitar equipment site. If you are a NIRVANA fan who plays guitar, you can’t live without this site:
Here’s the quote:
“1). Kurt’s main guitar during the Nevermind era was a 1965 sunburst (red faded out) Fender Jaguar (41), serial # 95747 (59). Had a red-swirl mother-of-bowling-ball pickguard (seen many 15), 2 volume knobs,1 tone knob, and a black chrome Schaller bridge (57)(41). There was tape covering the on/off and phase switches. The three switches were replaced with a Gibson-style toggle switch (15)(59). There are full-sized humbuckers in both the bridge and neck positions, the neck being a DiMarzio PAF and the bridge a DiMarzio Super Distortion (57)(41) until the In Utero tour when it was replaced with a black Duncan JB. This guitar was purchased around the time prior to recording “Nevermind” (57) already modified from the “L.A. Recycler” (info on source at 45). The Jag had an incorrect decal under the lacquer. It had an anvil-type flight case for a while. This wasn’t the guitar Kurt claimed to baby. According to Earnie Bailey, Kurt never polished it. To quote Earnie from Chris’ FAQ, “He NEVER polished the thing! It was disgusting. “Lithium” video it hits the stage hard (seen 46). In Rio (seen 13) it gets soaked in cantaloupe juice and seeds, then dropped onto the camera rails when Kurt is spitting on the camera” (41). It looks like this guitar actually had 3 strat buttons, the odd-placed one being on the other pointed part (opposite of the one with the normally-placed strat button) (15). The straplocks on this were Schallers, but initially they were rubber washers from Grolsch beer bottles. “A lot of bands use this old trick,” says Earnie (59). The Jaguar was especially seen on tours circa 1991 (seen 19, 22, 10). It was also played by Eric Erlandson in Hole’s “Doll Parts” music video (seen 23)(41).”
*Note, the Numbers in Parentheses are Brian’s sources. A Legend for this can be found at his site.
Q: I want a vintage Jaguar, but the prices are outrageous!!!! How can I beat the incredible costs?
A: Getting my 1966 Jaguar took a lot of time and a lot of searching and studying. But it was all worth it when I got my Vintage Jaguar for only $850! My research yielded two possible ways to get cheap Vintage guitars. The first is a little site called Ebay.com. It is an online auction site. Because its an auction you can get your guitars for incredibly cheap. But the down side is that its an auction, not a store so you might not win, and your just buying from regular people, so If you have trouble trusting them than perhaps Ebay is not for you. The other option, (and I came very close to using this way) is buying a Jaguar refinished. Vintage nuts are such idiots that they feel that, just because its been refinished, it is now worthless. You can buy refinished Jags for as low as $700!!Go to Gbase.com and search for Jaguars and you’ll find hundreds for sale across the country and you’d be surprised how many low priced refinished Jags you can buy.
Q: I hear people always saying that the Jaguar sucks for distortion, and I’ll have to have humbuckers installed. Can the Jaguar sound distorted?
A: YES, YES, a million times YES!!! I’m tired of these myths. Yes the Jaguar can make a distorted sound. All though, it is true that the Jaguar pickups, were not created with the idea of having the thick gain-y sound of humbuckers. So… if you feel that you want more distortion out of your Jaguar, you may just need to look at an amp or pedal that can generate more gain. So don’t feel pressured to jump on the bandwagon and start carving out your Jaguar for a humbucker, before looking at more reasonable (and not permanent) options.