Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Discussion of newer designs, copies and reissue offset-waist instruments.
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The Dead Ranch Hands
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Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by The Dead Ranch Hands » Mon Apr 23, 2012 12:59 pm

I have a parts Jaguar and a Jazzmaster soundalike (same pickups/scale/string angle, different body). I've been going back and forth between them. I know that the Jaguar is Leo's further refinement of the Jazzmaster design, but in playing them you'd actually think it was the other way around. Jazzmasters sound warmer and smoother, with some of the tonal quirks of the Jaguar, but in a more subdued and cultured way. But the more evolved Jaguar is the quirkier instrument. That reflects the evolving tastes of the early 60s.

When you play the Jaguar, all the little quirks in sound (percussive thunk attack, lack of sustain, overtones, etc) jump out at you in a less subtle way. In the low notes it brings to mind elements of a Duo Jet, and more of a Rickenbacker-like jangle on the high notes. But mostly it's its own thing. It's no wonder that modern ears tend to favor the Jazzmaster over the Jaguar. When people modify their gear, they're often trying to make things sound smoother and warmer. They want a tone that works for modern music.

But the reason I keep coming back to the Jaguar is because of all the little quirks. It's neither smooth nor warm. It doesn't sustain well. That's a problem if I want to be Santana, but I don't. I want to play clean low notes that stand out and don't ring out so much as to crowd each other out. You can get great, pretty clean tones on just about any Fender guitar. A Tele on the middle position, played clean with a bit of reverb sounds beautiful. Think Jeff Buckley. But the note you play on a tele, as nice as it sounds, doesn't have a lot of complexity. The notes chime, and then fade out slowly in a polite, predictable way, like tapping a wine glass with a glass rod. But there's more complexity in the Jaguar tone. The initial percussive, hollow thump, followed very quickly by a chimey overtone, a sort of "knocking" sound for lack of a better term (on certain notes on the wound strings), and a quick decay. The Jazzmaster does it too, but it's less pronounced, more refined. The Jaguar exists in its own strange parallel universe from the rest of guitardom. It defies the tonal conventions that have become sort of standard ever since the late 60s.

This all sounds very corksniffery and OCD, and these are subtle distinctions that are mostly noticed by people who obsess over gear in their bedrooms, but makes little to no difference to an actual audience. But there it is.

In short, viva la Jaguar! TL/DR

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Last edited by The Dead Ranch Hands on Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by bword » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:04 pm

Viva le Jaguar!!! I sold mine recently to justify new bilds but will be picking up one of the squiers for sure. 9.5" radius and medium Jumbo!!!
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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by ncarey13 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:18 pm

I went from Jazzmasters to Jags, and I'll never go back. Jag's all the way! Yes, mine has a WRHB in the neck position, but it still sounds like a Jag to me. They just feel better to me. Plus, they look bitchin. I'm eventually gonna get another Jag that's stock with both single coils.
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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by pocaloc » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:18 pm

Cool write up about the Jaguar. I know exactly what you mean with the thunky-distinctive sound. It's true the telecaster is so pure that it lacks character. The Jaguar has the sound that Rickenbacker toasters or Gretch Filtertrons have. There is this bite and jangle where each single chord really has impact, IMO. I've tried the 24 inch scale and it does seems cramped, this does get me going on the Jaguar GAS again though, might have to go try some more out to see if I can get used to the scale length.

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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by ravcon » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:49 pm

Well stated DRH. I agree with everything you said. I love my CIJ Jazzmaster, but since I picked up an AVRI Jag, I rarely use the JM anymore. I believe I may be a life-long convert to Jags. It's that beautiful, thunky, percussive, unsustained tone you described so well. If I need sustain, there's always reverb with a tasteful tug on the tremolo to spread things out. I've never owned a guitar with more character.

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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by mongoose » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:51 pm

I couldn't have said it better. It's just such a drag that it took me 25 years and (literally 400+ guitars) to finally figure it out. It HAS been an interesting journey though.
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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by umalt » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:18 pm

Ugh...

I don't need any more GAS, but I want one so bad, especially of of the new Squiers in CAR. Hell I want one so bad that I'm trying to make by with a JMJM tuned down half a step; and it ain't working. Damn my income challenged self.

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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by schoolie » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:35 pm

Well said! I also like the shorter scale which lets me have the benefits of 013 gauge strings, and I can bend them like 011s on a telecaster...and damn, they're good looking guitars too!

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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by gutter rock » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:03 pm

I just recorded an album for the first time in a studio. I used my
Jazzmaster on 6 of the 7 songs. The other song was my Jaguar. I
was shocked at how pronounced those overtones were on the Jag
vs the JM. Worked perfectly for the song I used it on! Plus the
Jags quirks make it the best guitar ever for massive fuzz pedals
Like a big muff. Excellent the way it responds with delay pedals
as well. I actually prefer Jags, but this band I am in calls for the
smoother JM sound more often.

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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by CptEggo » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:27 pm

The Dead Ranch Hands wrote:very corksniffery
hello new word of the week
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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by andrewdoeshair » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:38 pm

Jaguars totally eat jazzmasters.
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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by AMILCAR » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:46 pm

The Dead Ranch Hands wrote:I have a parts Jaguar and a Jazzmaster soundalike (same pickups/scale/string angle, different body). I've been going back and forth between them. I know that the Jaguar is Leo's further refinement of the Jazzmaster design, but in playing them you'd actually think it was the other way around. Jazzmasters sound warmer and smoother, with some of the tonal quirks of the Jaguar, but in a more subdued and cultured way. But the more evolved Jaguar is the quirkier instrument. That reflects the evolving tastes of the early 60s.

When you play the Jaguar, all the little quirks in sound (percussive thunk attack, lack of sustain, overtones, etc) jump out at you in a less subtle way. In the low notes it brings to mind elements of a Duo Jet, and more of a Rickenbacker-like jangle on the high notes. But mostly it's its own thing. It's no wonder that modern ears tend to favor the Jazzmaster over the Jaguar. When people modify their gear, they're often trying to make things sound smoother and warmer. They want a tone that works for modern music.

But the reason I keep coming back to the Jaguar is because of all the little quirks. It's neither smooth nor warm. It doesn't sustain well. That's a problem if I want to be Santana, but I don't. I want to play clean low notes that stand out and don't ring out so much as to crowd each other out. You can get great, pretty clean tones on just about any Fender guitar. A Tele on the middle position, played clean with a bit of reverb sounds beautiful. Think Jeff Buckley. But the note you play on a tele, as nice as it sounds, doesn't have a lot of complexity. The notes chime, and then fade out slowly in a polite, predictable way, like tapping a wine glass with a glass rod. But there's more complexity in the Jaguar tone. The initial percussive, hollow thump, followed very quickly by a chimey overtone, a sort of "knocking" sound for lack of a better term (on certain notes on the wound strings), and a quick decay. The Jazzmaster does it too, but it's less pronounced, more refined. The Jaguar exists in its own strange parallel universe from the rest of guitardom. It defies the tonal conventions that have become sort of standard ever since the late 60s.

This all sounds very corksniffery and OCD, and these are subtle distinctions that are mostly noticed by people who obsess over gear in their bedrooms, but makes little to no difference to an actual audience. But there it is.

In short, viva la Jaguar! TL/DR


you made my heart swollen with jaguar love !!!!!!!!!
they are the coolest guitar ever designed ,or any object ... i plan to get a jm as well but the jags will be still n. 1 !

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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by AMILCAR » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:53 pm

people often say they are short scale ,thin sounding... i coulndt care less ....as for sounds every one i tried sounded massive ,i use a fender 75 amp ,and it´s almost to fat ,yet detailed ,in a class of his own... really distinctive ,i sort of fixed the trem/bridge issues and stringed it with 12 s

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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by mikeyjames56 » Mon Apr 23, 2012 5:59 pm

I've only played a Jag a handful of times, and I do like the sounds I can coax out of that little hot rod when I play one. I do prefer JMs myself, but I'd like to have one of each one day.

If anyone is interested, here's a video of a early 2000 CIJ Jaguar in candy apple red with matching headstock, like your own Dead Ranch Hands, in one of it's many natural habitats. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kCUet5F4rw I actually like the Jag for more surfy stuff over the JM. It does it in spades, and it should of course

(The guy playing the areodyne Jazz bass is my dad. This is when they opened for Dick Dale a few nights ago)

Jaguars are totally awesome. :? love the chrome

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Re: Why I keep coming back to the Jaguar

Post by empyrean » Mon Apr 23, 2012 6:02 pm

I sold a $3000 guitar and bought a $700 Japanese Jaguar.

Best decision ever. Way more tonez, way more fun. I hope to get more. I have a Jazzmaster build and love it, but it just isn't bonkers enough. The Jag craps out, buzzes sometimes, is super jangley, and of course, as a result, it's much better. ;D

The quirks have forced me to start studying my gear and learning how it works inside and out and now I'm much better and getting the sounds I want and maintaining my guitars on my own. Long live the jag.

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No, I am not selling the Harmony Rocket.

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