Fender’s Jazzmaster was released in 1958 as a premium sister model to the Stratocaster. Its target market of jazz guitarists never really took to it, but its warm, twangy tones soon found favour amongst a generation of surf guitarists, then later in alt-rock and indie/shoegaze.
We love the classic Jazz shape here at TG, but it’s easy to mix it up with similar off set lines of Fender’s Jaguar – which would appear in 1962. The principal difference is the scale length (the Jazz is 25.5” compared to the Jag’s 24”).
But also look out for the pickups – the Jazz is usually spec'd with soapbar-style single coils, whereas humbuckers and standard single coils are more commonplace on the Jag. Below we inspect a handful of artists, genres and tones associated with Fender offsets.
The Jazzmaster’s futuristic look fitted right in with the 50s and 60s surf boom – The Ventures and The Surfaris were both spotted with ’em. Strats were also popular for surf and a bridge single-coil pickup with a fairly clean tone is your best option for this lick.
2. The alt choice
The leftfield look of the Jazzmaster found favour in alt-rock, notably with Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, while Sonic Youth, Television and My Bloody Valentine regularly used Jaguars and Jazzmasters. Our distorted alt-rock riff employs powerchords and single notes. Easy!
On In Utero, Kurt Cobain refined his rig. Jaguars and Mustangs had already made studio appearances in the Nevermind sessions, but where Mesa/Boogie and Vox featured heavily in 1991, by 1993 he opted for the services of a Fender Twin Reverb. Try your hand at our simple Cobain-inspired riff.
4. Slipknot-style metal
Jim Root took the well known Jazzmaster recipe and spiced up the signal with active EMG humbuckers. Our example uses low voiced powerchords to create a grinding riff. Try playing the same riff in drop-B (B F# B E G# C#) for the full Slipknot effect.
5. Johnny Marr-style cleans
Marr’s a well-known Jaguar, player but none of The Smiths material was recorded with one – Johnny picked his Jag up in 2005. Still, it’s a mainstay in his rig now, and you’ll hear it used for Smiths covers, too. Try out these Marr-style arpeggios and remember to hold down each chord shape for its full duration.