Old gold: 1959 Fender Jazzmaster
Back in mid-1958, just as Fender’s Stratocaster was entering what would later be considered its epoch, the company launched a companion model, the Jazzmaster.
The new six-string was seen as a deluxe addition to Fender’s range, with an offset contoured body plus a revised tremolo and pickups that resembled Gibson’s P-90s but had a sound all their own.
As you might have guessed from the new guitar’s name, the Jazzmaster was aimed at jazz players - Fender’s attempt to wean them from their favoured archtops, perhaps - but it was a tactic that never came to fruition as the Jazzmaster quickly became the signature instrument of the surf music movement.
With a 25.5-inch scale, a rosewood fingerboard, ‘clay’ dot position markers and a generous helping of knobs and switches (the Jazzmaster had separate circuits for lead and rhythm), the instrument featured an anodised aluminium pickguard when it first took its place in Fender’s catalogue, replaced in late 1959 with the more familiar tortoiseshell variety.
After surf music passed out of fashion, the Jazzmaster had to wait until the mid-70s before it regained its popularity, with the punk and new wave movements.
Ambassadors at that time included Elvis Costello, but later on Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and The Smiths’ Johnny Marr found themselves seduced by the instrument that thrives in the Fender arsenal even today.
The model here dates back to 1959 and looks like it has led a relatively quiet life with very few dings and blemishes. Surf’s up!
The pickups resembled Gibson’s P-90s but had a sound all their own.
The Jazzmaster has a generous helping of knobs and switches, with separate circuits for lead and rhythm.
The instrument featured an anodised aluminium pickguard when it first took its place in Fender’s catalogue.