Fender's legendary offset electric guitar (opens in new tab) models have attracted some maverick players since their inceptions in 1958 (Jazzmaster) and 1962 (Jaguar).
After shaky starts they became Fender's true renaissance models, finding new fans with every generation. Here's some of the players and moments that have been part of that legacy so far.
1. Marquee Moon – Tom Verlaine, Television (Marquee Moon, 1977)
1958 Fender Jazzmaster
2. The Wagon - J Mascis, Dinosaur Jr (Green Mind, 1991)
1963 Fender Jazzmaster
“I like playing Jazzmasters, my whole style is almost built around it" (opens in new tab)
One of Indie rock’s premier soloists has his own sparkly purple signature model as a reward for his dedication to the Jazzmaster cause (and a cream Squier, too) but he first turned to it because he couldn’t afford a Strat.
It began a lifelong love affair: Jazzmasters are responsible for roughly half of Dinosaur Jr’s lead parts. Mascis favours high action, and jumbo frets suit his bend-laden, seat-of-the-pants lead guitar style (see from 2.45 above). And though he’s a Marshall stack man live (Mascis and the band play LOUD), in the studio, he’ll often turn to Fender combos.
3. Watching The Detectives – Elvis Costello (My Aim Is True, 1977)
Late '60s Fender Jazzmaster
Costello traded in his new Telecaster for a Jazzmaster and used the guitar for his 1977 debut. Attracted to its brutish sonic character, Costello’s tremolo has a wider-than-usual travel to effect his signature sound, going so far as to inspire this song’s intense reggae-meets-spy movie sound.
The guitar was the basis of a signature model in 2008.
4. C.E.D – Joe Pass (Sounds Of Synanon, 1961)
Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster
Pass didn't just play an early Jazzmaster for its intended purpose, but he also played a Jaguar too.
The jazz great came into contact with a Jazzmaster at the Synanon rehab program where he was recovering from addiction issues, recording the Sounds Of Synanon album with his fellow patients. But here he's playing a Jag for a live rendition.
5. Dream Is Collapsing – Johnny Marr, Hans Zimmer (Inception: Music From The Motion Picture, 2010)
Fender Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar
Best signature guitars (opens in new tab)
Marr became a Jaguar fan while working with Modest Mouse, but takes it into new territory here, for a film soundtrack with renowned composer Hans Zimmer.
He’d taken delivery of his first Fender signature model for the sessions, offering him expressive tonal options akin to his Smiths days of Rickenbackers and Gretsches.
6. Lithium (live) - Kurt Cobain, Nirvana (Live At Reading Festival, 1992)
1965 Fender Jaguar
Charting the mods and myths of the Nirvana legend's iconic guitar (opens in new tab)
Bought before the Nevermind sessions, this Jag was already modded with DiMarzio humbuckers and a tune-o-matic bridge), while Kurt’s tech Earnie Bailey put in a Seymour Duncan JB.
It’s used through most of the band’s legendary Reading headlining set, and Fender released a signature model based on it in 2011.
7. Only Shallow - Kevin Shields, My Bloody Valentine (Loveless, 1991)
1965 Fender Jazzmaster
Shields trailblazed with his experimental use of feedback, effects and taping the guitar’s tremolo arm halfway into its socket for a strange slide-like effect or to vibrate chords (AKA Glide Guitar).
Engineer Alan Moulder recalls rhythm guitars for Loveless going through a 1960s Marshall head with a 4x12 cab that matched the amp, and also a Vox AC30.
8. Around The World - John Frusciante, Red Hot Chili Peppers
1966 and 1962 Jaguars
Frusciante has described his 1962 Fiesta Red Jag in the live video above as the "funnest guitar he has" for playing live. But he has form with other models too.
He borrowed engineer Jim Scott's '66 Jag to record Around The World, the opening track to his recorded comeback with the Chili Peppers, but he's got previous form with Jags too.
Though he’s most commonly associated with a Strat, Frusciante tracked overdubs for the Chili's’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik with another '66 Jag, in Seafoam Green – notably used in the video for Under The Bridge. It was used for various overdubs on the record too – including the solo to that album's opener Power Of Equality.
Indeed, it played a crucial role in the album as a whole. "My favourite guitar in the world is my old, fucked-up Fender Jaguar," Fuisiante told Guitar World in 1991.
" The strings are all crusty, and the notes crap out when you bend them. I used it to write most of the music, and I became really attached to it."
9. Buck Rodgers – Grant Nicholas, Feeder (Echo Park, 2001)
1959, 1964, 1966, 1967 Jazzmasters
The British rocker has been a card-carrying Jazzmaster devotee since the band’s early days, leaning heavily on a '59 Sunburst for recording and his '66 'Old Brown' / 'Jesus' onstage (the first Jazzmaster he ever got).
He proves the Jazzmaster can be a dependable and huge-sounding tonal tool when paired with fuzz units and AC30 amps, using a mix of stock pickups with high output Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounders.
9. Airbag – Thom Yorke, Radiohead (OK Computer, 1997)
Radiohead’s vocalist began using this black Jazzmaster on record for OK Computer. The original bridge was replaced with a Mustang example, and all of the extra tone controls were removed and wired through a Gibson selector switch, but it has since been returned to its original state in Thom’s other band, Atoms For Peace.
11. Nels Cline – Impossible Germany, Wilco (Sky Blue Sky, 2007)
Cline is a masterful player, and the fact he chooses a Jazzmaster says a lot about its possibilities. Here's a wonderful showcase of how much he adds to Jeff Tweedy's songs in a three-guitar line-up that's become something like an alt rock Allman Brothers Band.
His solo is something to behold here – and he tunes the guitar in the middle of it!
12. Giant Peach – Joff Oddie, Wolf Alice (My Love Is Cool, 2016)
1962 reissue Jaguar
Rig tour: Wolf Alice (opens in new tab)
It feels good to end with songs from two of the brightest offset-wielding talents to emerge in recent years. And like many Jaguar players, Oddie's style has evolved with it.
“Playing a Jag has definitely influenced me as a player," Oddie told us in 2016. "They’re very idiosyncratic guitars, there’s lot of things like playing behind the neck and the ridiculous vibrato arm.
"They are weird sounding, they’re not great for everything. Sometimes if you want a guitar to just sound like a guitar, the Jags aren’t the best places to go but if you want weird really sharp abrasive sounds they’re great."
13. Shock Collar - Rob Marshall, Humanist (Humanist, 2020)
1980s Fender Jazzmaster
Marshall made some wonderful music with his previous band Exit Calm before forging ahead with his blonde 80s Jazzmaster and a number of stellar guest vocalist for this year's acclaimed Humanist record. Here with Depeche Mode (opens in new tab)'s Dave Gahan and a '60s Jaguar in the video for Shock Collar.
The towering and driving tones of Shock Collar are a great showcase of a musician who is an orchestrator as much as a guitarist. Marshall creates huge moody walls of sound with his use of Jazzmaster chime on the record with reverb, delay and trem expression.