Fender celebrates offset underdog with 60th Anniversary Jaguar
Styled similarly to the older Jazzmaster model, the favored underdog of artists like Kurt Cobain, Tom Verlaine, J Mascis and John Frusciante has now reached its 60th birthday and Fender is celebrating with two new Jaguar guitars.
The Jaguar was released in 1962 as the final big hitter from Fender, following the Telecaster, Stratocaster and Jazzmaster from the decade before. The high-end model was designed to lure players away from Gibson, coming with a shorter scale neck than other members of Fender's lineup and an extra fret – which the company claimed made for faster and more comfortable playing.
The circuitry was also on the strange side, with two on/off switches on the lower body wired to the single-coil pickups plus another that became known as the strangle switch, which introduced a more cutting treble tone. A slide switch on the upper body came with its own volume and tone wheels and produced a fatter, more bass-heavy tone.
Those two tall pickups were also surrounded by notched metal rings to reduce hum and focus the magnetic field beneath the strings. Elsewhere, the neck came in a choice of four widths and the instrument marked the first appearance of a new headstock logo.
Despite high expectations and initial interest from surf rockers, the Jaguar was not a huge commercial success and production stopped in 1975. But perhaps the guitar was just ahead of its time, as punk and indie rockers on the lookout for something a little different discovered curious offset models being ignored in the back of stores that were going for a fraction of the original ticket price.
Underground popularity became mainstream appeal during the 1980s and 90s, with a newly established Fender Japan remaking lower-cost versions from 1985. Fender then resumed domestic production of the Jaguar in 1999 as part of its American Vintage series and more versions have followed.
For the limited 20th anniversary series, Fender has mixed the old with the new. The former can be seen in the feature set of the standard anniversary model in red or blue, which features the 24-inch short neck, separate bridge and floating vibrato, single-coil pickups and familiar circuitry and switching.
But the American Ultra Luxe Jaguar offers something different again. This guitar comes with a 25.5-inch scale neck with a D profile, ebony fingerboard and tapered heel for easier access to the higher notes. The floating vibrato has been sacrificed for through body sustain, while there are sealed locking tuners at the other end. Custom Double Tap humbuckers allow for single-coil or humbucking tones, and the guitar comes in a striking Texas Tea dark finish.
Whether you opt for the familiarity offered by the standard 60th Anniversary Jaguars or go for a more modern take with the American Ultra Luxe model, the price tag is the same at US$2,499.99. The video below has more.
Product page: 60th Anniversary Jaguar