Johnny Marr teases new signature Fender Jaguar

Johnny Marr
(Image credit: Niall Lee)

Is Fender about to expand its lineup of Johnny Marr signature Jaguars? It certainly looks that way, with the indie-rock icon all but confirming via Instagram that the yellow Fender Jaguar he has been playing on his recent Fever Dreams tour with Blondie is to be made available to the public.

There are dozens of electric guitars in the former Smiths guitarist’s life. But for many it is Fender’s short-scale offset that first comes to mind when they think of Johnny Marr. Fender presently offers his signature guitar in Olympic White and Metallic KO, a model inspired by his 1965 Olympic White Jag. 

And according to Marr, news of a “Fever Dreams yellow” model is coming soon. What can we expect? Might it be a similar deal to the 2014 Sherwood Green model which was released as a special run?

The yellow Jag Marr has been playing since the release of his latest solo album, the epic Fever Dreams Pts 1 - 4, looks a little like the Taxi Cab Yellow we see on the EVH Wolfgang. EVH Gear is also owned by Fender. Surely they can spare a few pots for the parent company. 

Marr thoroughly road-tested prototypes for previous signature models and this yellow Jag has seen a lot of action. There are no further details on specs besides the colour. It would be huge if this was a more affordable Mexican-built model but either way, if it is spec'd as per his current models, this will be a Jag that can be used for all kinds of tones. 

The current Johnny Marr Signature Jags have a short 24” scale, with a bolt-on maple neck that’s profiled to match his ’65 model. It has a modded bridge and tremolo, with with nylon bridge-post inserts to improve stability and a taller whammy bar. There are a pair of signature single-coils that were developed by Marr and Tim Mills at Bare Knuckle, and a clever set of controls that offer something different to the common or garden Jag. 

A four-way pickup selector allows the bridge and neck pickups to be selected individually, in parallel, or in series for a thicker and warmer humbucking tone.

The shoulder-mounted tone switch operates as a high-pass filter, and the second as a bright switch and is active only when the pickup selector is in position four and the two single-coils are selected in series. In Marr’s words, that second filter “slims it out somewhat” and goes some way to creating a Jag for all seasons. 

Speaking to MusicRadar, Marr said that with anything guitar-related it is about finding the balance between simplicity and getting “pretty nerdy” with the options.

“It was an interesting thing for me to think about when I made my custom guitar,” said Marr. “Not being complicated for the sake of it, being straightforward so that most regular guitar players would not get frustrated or bored, but at the same time have loads of options which I like. But, essentially, we all get to the place where you do what you do. You know what you like and you wanna get there pretty quick.”

You can watch Marr introduce his signature Jaguar in the Fender launch video. Another way to familiarise yourself with it is to listen to Fever Dreams. The Jag is all over it.

“There is my signature Jag always in the mix, obviously,” said Marr. “And then there’s a few go-tos. I have a Yamaha SG-1000, which I use a lot. I use two different 1973 Les Paul Customs a lot. For a lot of my clean sounds, people might be surprised, but my go-to is my 1984/’85 red Les Paul that I got for The Smiths’ second album. That has been on more records that I have done than any other guitar. I used that through the Cribs, Modest Mouse, everything.”

“I have one of my signature Jags which is high-strung [E, A, and D strings tuned an octave up, with G, B, and E strings in standard] that I took the finish off. I might be tripping out but I think that because it is now pretty dried out and it’s just down to wood it complements the high-strung zing pretty well. Occasionally I will use my old Gretsch 6120, with something like a very expressive whammy bar thing, but my signature Jag takes care of a lot of business.” 

For more on the presently available Johnny Marr signature Jaguars, head to Fender. Marr's new double-album Fever Dreams Pts 1-4 is out now via BMG.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.