The Fender Jaguar, the high-end model that had to be discontinued before it found its devoted players - and, ever since then, beloved by punk, indie and alt-rock pioneers across the world. This sunburst beauty takes you right back to its 1962 launch!
It's a well-known story now, but that 1962 launch is right up there on the "Hindsight's A Wonderful Thing" hall of fame. Marketed to catch the wave of surf music, just as that wave broke; short-scale to compete with Gibson's short-scale fanbase, but, at 24", beyond what most guitarists were used to at the time; electronically complex, where the well-established and simpler Strat and Telecaster were still first choice; and priced high to match its high-end appointments, when many of those features just weren't wanted by their buyers. Search for players from the 60s, and the sightings are rare - Carl Wilson in The Beach Boys made a white Jaguar his signature guitar, and Jimi Hendrix was spotted with a Jaguar given to him by Brian Jones. Not really any other big names.
But roll forward to the late-70s and 80s, after Fender had discontinued production in 1975, and it starts to become the $200 pawn-shop guitar of choice for every punk and indie guitarist of name and note. Suddenly, there's a far longer list of players: Tom Verlaine, Thurston Moore, Kevin Shields, Johnny Marr, John Frusciante, amongst others . . . and Kurt Cobain. Which had two effects: it put a rocket under the prices for those original 60s Jaguars; and, more helpfully, encouraged Fender to relaunch the Jaguar, starting with a Japanese 62 Reissue in 1996.
Which brings us to this 2006 model. As faithful a recreation of the 1962 spec as modern non-custom shop production allows - with the benefit of all those electrics working perfectly (which is not so often the case with the 60s originals over time). Plug in and play, and it really is anything you want it to be - surf to shoegaze, smooth to grunge, with plenty of melodious options in between. With that floating Trem-lok tailpiece, it's the lush shimmering tones through a good reverb that will grab you first. But with all the tonal range that the dual circuit opens up, you're not going to stop there. That's just the beginning of the journey. A sonic adventure awaits!
See & Hear It In Action
2017 Made In Japan Jaguar Review, Courtesy of Audiomo Music: There's surprisingly few demos of Japanese Jaguars from the noughties out there - in fact none that I could find. But this review of a 2017 model from Audiomo Music ticks all the boxes, with a great run-through of the tonal range on offer.
Be the first to hire this 62 Reissue - from surf to shoegaze in seconds!
Jaguar 62 Reissue
Number of Frets
Fender Jaguar single-coil
Jaguar Bridge with Mustang Saddles and Vintage Style "Floating" Tremolo Tailpiece
Fender first introduced the Jaguar in 1962. It was the fourth in what's now considered the classic original line-up of Fender-brand guitars, following in the footsteps of the Telecaster, Stratocaster and Jazzmaster. In Fender's own words, it was a guitar that was launched just behind its time . . . "Introduced as Fender's high-end model, the Jaguar was initially adopted by surf guitarists just as that fad was running out of wave. Jaguars everywhere began collecting dust until the punk explosion of the '70s and its subsequent mutations took it from relic to iconic." Oh, and then there was Kurt Cobain in the early 90s.
Another reason for its original failure to capture the market was its feature-heavy complexity and the price that came with that - you could pick up a Strat or a Tele for a lot less, and you wouldn't be paying for the hassle of getting your head around all those switches, all that technology. Still, production continued for another 13 years until CBS discontinued it in 1975. Which, ironically, seeded its rebirth: it became one of the cheaper Fenders to pick up second-hand through the 70s and 80s.
With further irony, that complexity also lent itself well to the Jaguar becoming one of the more modded guitars that Fender has produced - anything from the switchgear to the bridge to the tremolo system. Which is why it's so hard to pin a production-line Jaguar with an "as made famous by" a particular guitarist tag! But all of those heavily modded Jaguars will have started out pretty much like this one.
You'd need a custom shop to recreate the exact spec of a 1962 launch model, but this one comes pretty close. The thicker profile neck and 1 11/16" nut width, the mother-of-pearl dot inlays, the flat pole pieces that preceded the staggered poles introduced in 1965, and that abundance of chrome. Yes, there are small details that you'd have on the original, some desirable (a first year transition logo), some not (string mutes never really lived up to their promise).
In the end though, it's all about how the guitar plays and sounds. And this one sounds great. The dual-circuit gives you loads of tonal range - from the dark and smooth of the upper-bout circuit to the strident twang of the bridge pick-up on the lower-body circuit, with plenty of options in between. There's a separate switch to reverse the polarity of the pick-ups to give you that "strangled" thinner funk sound. And then there's the Trem-lok system for those surf or shoegaze touches. It's easy to understand why this might have been ahead of its time in the 60s, but it was just a story waiting to be told . . . and now it's your turn!
And finally, the geeky bit. I've called this a 2006 build - even though the serial number indicates a build between 2007 and 2010, with its "Made In Japan" neck print. Which opens up the rabbit hole of "Crafted In Japan" vs "Made In Japan" - a more convoluted and arcane history thank you'd expect. I can't do it full justice here, but . . . From 1997 to 2006, Fender guitars were built in Japan by Tokai Gakki and Dyna Gakki, with "Crafted In Japan" printed on the back of the neck. In 2007, Fender entered a new partnership with distributors Kanda Shokai and Yamano Gakki. Guitars from this era used "Made In Japan" and "Crafted In Japan" interchangeably on the back of the neck. This one is stamped "Made In Japan", with the "T" in the serial number indicating a production date from 2007 to 2010. However, the neck recess on the body is stamped "08.10.06", which means the body, at least, was made in August 2006. The pick-ups and pots have no date stamps. So, my guess is that this one was probably shipped from the factory in early 2007 as one of the first releases under the new partnership, but using stock from the Tokai Gakki/Dyna Gakki factories. Which is why I'm calling this a 2006 guitar! You've shown saint-like patience if you've read this far. It' a lot more fun to play than read about!
Sources & Links
The history of the Jaguar - from surf to shoegaze (or failure to adoration): Just a fantastic read, the history of the Jaguar, a tale of hubris, a tale of resurrection, as told on Fender's own website.
All You Will Ever Need To Know About Fender Jaguars & Jazzmasters: Since 2000, Fender offset guru Tom Arnold has built the most in-depth and authoritative source for all things Jaguar and Jazzmaster. If you love these guitars, you're going to love his site. It's a treasure trove - with particular thanks for the cross-comparison between a US 1965 Jaguar and a 1997 Crafted In Japan Jaguar, and the definitive guide to Setting Up A Jaguar Tremolo (works a treat!).
Jaguar Controls Explained: Straight from Fender, though still no substitute for playing the guitar and working out what works best for you!
Crafted In Japan vs Made In Japan - On One Page: Well, I did say there was a geeky bit! Big thanks to Warehouse Guitar Speakers for the blog post!