2016 Fender Johnny Marr Jaguar
"It sounds like I'm supposed to sound." In his own words, and with his own design, the signature model that brings together everything Johnny Marr in one guitar. A gift from a lifelong lover of guitars to lovers of guitars.
Johnny Marr has made many a guitar his icon over the years. So much so that there's a fair range of guitars that warrant the "As Made Famous By" Marr moniker in the God's Own Collection: the 1977 Gibson ES-335, the 1985 Rickenbacker 330 Jet-glo, the 1970 Gibson ES-355TD-SV to name a few. All examples of iconic guitars in their own right being taken up a level of recognition in the hands of such a versatile player. Wind back to the days of The Smiths, though, and it's not a Fender that springs to mind as his guitar of choice. But behind the scenes, it's actually a renovated 1954 Telecaster that underpins a lot of those Smiths songs. Bought in a sorry state for £17 by producer John Porter, refurbished and lent to Johnny, it's the guitar behind some of their earliest releases, including This Charming Man. The video may have featured the Rickenbacker, but the song was recorded with a Telecaster.
So, Johnny Marr's association with Fenders goes back a long way. But it wasn't until his time with Modest Mouse that he fell in love with Jaguars. And then, as he puts it in his wonderful autobiography, Set The Boy Free, "I couldn't imagine playing anything else." Which then became an obsession. Which then became the fulfilment of a dream, to build, road-test, refine and refine again a Jaguar that he could give to Fender "to remake it faithfully so that every one with my name on it is identical to mine." And here it is. First launched in 2012, this is a 2016 model. An absolute beauty to behold, and a beauty to play, with a huge range of sonic possibilities. As he says in the launch video (see below), he's "someone who's grown up from a little boy thinking that guitars are the greatest object in the world, bar none" He is not alone. And we're pleased as punch to offer this very unique testament to his devotion for hire as part of the collection.
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 leant 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. And that's exactly what Johnny Marr did when he set out to build his own Jaguar, as detailed with love and respect in the video that accompanied its launch (see below).
There's so much to love about this guitar. The tall, narrow, high-output pickups, surrounded by notched metal rings ( or “claws”) to reduce hum, custom-built Bare Knuckles in this case. The variety of tones that come with the four-way toggle switch and brightness switches. The humbucker effect of the serial setting for the pick-ups in the toggle fourth position. The design improvements that increase the robustness of the bridge and tremolo units.
This is no run-of-the-mill Jaguar. It's a Jaguar specifically designed by Johnny Marr to give him - and us - the opportunity to bring this model into the 21st century, with the very widest range of tones and possibilities . And it does that in spades. It really is a guitar worthy of its god-like player.
See & Hear It In Action
Johnny Marr Talks In Detail About the Signature Jaguar: And if you have five seconds to spare . . . well, OK, if you have 15 minutes to spare, this is just a wonderful piece with Johnny talking through the development, design and sounds of his signature model, accompanying the original launch of the guitar in 2012. Wearing his love of guitars on all his sleeves, this is not just a launch video, it's a tribute to "the greatest object in the world, bar none."
Upstarts (2013): So many to choose from. With colour options running the gamut from Olympic White, Metallic KO, Lake Placid Blue, Sherwood Green, Gold Spangle, and more, Johnny's a massive brand ambassador for his signature model. Here with the Olympic White version in catchy 2013 release, Upstarts. Who says he doesn't rock out?
Sources & Links
And, on the Fender website, more on the spec behind this unique signature model: As with all newer models, it's a lot easier to get the spec all in one place nowadays - everything from the extra rounded fretboard to the detail on that tremolo system.
A "carnival of sonic possibilities": No need to take Johnny Marr's and Fender's word for it, a great in-depth review from Premier Guitar. "For the player that can approach each and every guitar as a blank slate and relishes every guitar’s potential as an expressive tool, the Johnny Marr Jaguar will be a carnival of sonic possibilities."
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.
If you've hired this guitar, please do leave us feedback on the experience. We'd love to hear it and it will help us improve what we do for you and others into the future.