Fender knows that folks love their Jaguars more or less vintage-like. So how could they tweak it without wrecking it? By Peter Hodgson
In this era of fake news and Dash Rendar no longer being canon, there isn’t much we can hold true anymore. Still, there’s one thing nobody can deny: the Fender Jaguar is frigging hot right now. The Jag has been around since the early ‘60s, and it’s one of those guitars that continues to sound relevant and fresh even as new genres pop up around it. For instance, it was perfect for surf rock in the ‘60s, punk in the ‘70s, post-punk and goth in the ‘80s and grunge in the ‘90s, and ever since it’s been the ideal tool for all sorts of alternative and indie rock styles.
This has not gone unnoticed by Fender, who are finally loading their catalog with plenty of new Jags for us all to drool over. The new Fender American Professional series includes a Jaguar that seems to blend elements of the ‘60s’ originals with the requirements of today’s guitarists and a hint of influence from the Johnny Marr signature model.
This guitar has an offset alder body with the Jag’s iconic split-pickguard configuration (part of it is metal). It has a glossy polyurethane finish, and the neck is made of maple with a Deep C profile and a rosewood fingerboard. There are 22 narrow tall frets (a great choice if you ask me: more modern-feeling medium jumbo frets would have made this feel unlike a Jag) and the traditional shorter 24” scale length. The fingerboard inlays are simple dots.
The bridge is a brass mustang type with a screw-in trem arm and tremolo lock screw (though why you’d ever want to rob a Jag of its heavenly vibrato capability is beyond me), and the pickups are V-Mod Jaguar single coils developed by Michael Frank-Braun, the same engineer who created the legendary pickups for the Eric Johnson Signature Stratocaster. The controls include a master volume with a treble bleed circuit for retaining the highs when you roll the control back, a master tone, a two-way slide switch for going in and out of phase, and a four-way blade pickup selector switch like on the Johnny Marr model, which offers bridge, both series, both parallel and neck modes.
JAGUAR SO FINE
These overwound single-coil pickups are undeniably vintage in inspiration, which is a good thing given how versatile those original Jaguar pickups are. But they feel a little tweaked to work well with modern multi-pedal setups, which is an even better thing, and the control layout is incredibly versatile without being as confusing as a traditional Jag. The series mode in particular gives you plenty of growl for fatter, darker chords, while the bridge pickup is bright and twangy, and the neck pickup sounds like fine grains of cool sand pouring through your fingers. The treble bleed mod is a great addition, letting you fine-tune your amount of gain without darkening up the overall tone. The playability is good. Nobody will ever mistake a Jaguar for a shred-friendly Ibanez RG with paper-thin Wizard neck, but the profile, frets and radius here are all very agreeable if not particularly distinctive.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While this does obviously feel like a more modern instrument than a ’62 reissue, it well and truly retains so much of what makes the Jaguar great. That it does so by streamlining the notoriously finicky controls can only be a good thing for many players.
TOP 5 FEATURES
• Alder body
• Maple neck
• Rosewood fingerboard
• 24” scale length
• Fender V-Mod pickups
• Versatile tones
• Streamlined controls
• Sweet trem
• Could break the budget
Fender Music Australia
Ph: (02) 9666 5077