Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster: Which Guitar is Best?

Looking for a guitar that would complement your style perfectly? When deciding on a brand, legendary Fender is definitely one of the top options. But which model is the right one for you? Today we’re going to compare two of the best: Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster.

So, which one is better? That depends on many factors – mainly on your own style of play and your general preferences. That’s why we’ll break both of these beautiful instruments down to their distinctive features and compare them side by side.

Whether you’re an enthusiastic beginner, or experienced professional, this article should help in the decision making process.

A quick disclaimer before we begin: Both Jaguar and Jazzmaster guitars come in dozens of variations and special editions.

For this comparison, we’ve focused on the Fender Player series models as these are the most contemporary and affordable takes on both models.

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Main Differences Between Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster

The main differences between the Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster are:

  • Fender Jaguar has a slightly shorter 24-inch scale, whereas the Jazzmaster has an original 25.5 inches long scale just like the Telecaster and Stratocaster models.
  • Fender Jaguar has a prominent metal-encased pick-up, whereas the Jazzmaster has a flatter and wider pick-up with a warmer sound.
  • Fender Jaguar uses two way on/off switches, whereas the Jazzmaster has a traditional 3-way selector.
  • Fender Jaguar is a bit newer model (first launched in 1962), whereas the Jazzmaster was released 4 years earlier.
  • Fender Jaguar sounds crispier and punchier, whereas the Jazzmaster has a warmer and rounder sound.

Since both models are variations of the same offset guitar design, they probably have more similarities than differences. Let’s see their key parameters side by side.

Key Specifications

 

Jaguar

Jazzmaster

Body Shape offset offset
Body Material alder alder
Neck Maple, 24 inch Maple, 25.5 inch
Frets Modern ‘C’ shaped 22-fret neck, 9.5″ radius fingerboard Modern ‘C’ shaped 22-fret neck, 9.5″ radius fingerboard
Pickup Humbucker bridge pickup + single-coil neck pickup 2 x Humbucker pickups
Warranty 2-year limited warranty 2-year limited warranty
Latest price See here for the latest price info. See here for the latest price info.

Exploring Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster features

Here are the main features of the Fender Jaguar and the Jazzmaster:

The Fender Jaguar

Fender Player Jaguar Electric Guitar

Fender Jaguar first appeared on the market back in 1962. It was promoted as one of Fender’s high-end models. Paradoxically, it became really iconic only thanks to the 1970’s punk rockers who adored Jaguar’s crispy and punchy sound.

Technically, this instrument was really exceptional from the beginning – having more controls than any other Fender guitar at the time, Jaguar boasted the most complex circuit around. It was also the very first Fender electric guitar coming with various neck widths.

Who is this guitar mainly good for today? You should definitely love this instrument if you’re after biting and slightly dark sound because that’s what this guitar really is really famous for.

Thanks to its shorter scale, Fender Jaguar is also commonly preferred by smaller or beginner players who benefit from its convenient playability.

To name just a few, this guitar was also preferred by many iconic musicians like Kurt Cobain, Black Francis, Brian Molko, and John Frusciante.

Key Features

  • Solid-body electric guitar
  • Modern C-shaped maple neck
  • Shorter 24-inch scale length
  • Offset shape
  • Player series humbucking bridge pickup + single-coil neck pickup
  • 6-saddle vintage-style adjustable bridge
  • Floating tremolo tailpiece
  • Three switches (neck pick-up On/Off, bridge pick-up On/Off and bass On/Off)

Size and Shape

Fender Jaguar has a standard offset body – it’s basically the same shape and design you can see on Jazzmaster. However, this model has a shorter scale (24 inches/610 mm only – just like Fender Duo-Sonic and Mustang guitar we compare in this recent article), which makes it easier for you to reach all the frets and allows you to play faster.

Like most Fender guitars, Jaguar’s solid body is constructed of alder. This medium-weight wood provides great sustain, beautiful lows, and full-bodied character in general. The neck – designed in modern “C” shape – is made of maple, which adds to the guitar’s bright and dynamic tone.

If you’re after exact dimensions, Fender Jaguar weighs approximately 8.5 pounds (depending on the exact make and model). The product measures 42.00 x 15.20 x 4.40 inches.

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Sound

When it comes to Jaguar’s distinctive sound qualities, the crucial factor is the guitar’s shielded pickup that effectively eliminates any undesired electrical hum.

As a result, Jaguar sounds beautifully crisp and punchy. Another unique feature that can help you articulate and sculpt your sound entirely is Jaguar’s bass switch – use it to make your guitar sound almost painfully bright.

Most experienced players would probably agree that Fender Jaguar doesn’t sound like any of the other Fender models. You definitely can’t compare it to Tele or Strat, but it’s also very easy to distinguish Jaguar from Jazzmaster – the closest model. Jaguar is simply one of a kind.

fender jaguar sound

Other Features

Both Jaguar and Jazzmaster models have identical lockable tremolo – a unique floating technology which is significantly different from the synchronized tremolo mechanism you can see on Fender Stratocaster.

When it comes to strings, many Jaguar owners prefer 11’s gauge strings (flatwound or roundwound). Of course, the choice is only yours, Fender Jaguar is great for experimenting if that’s your thing.

Finally, if you’re after the outer beauty, Fender Jaguar comes in various lovely finishes – mostly classic, although definitely far from boring. If you like a traditional look, you will probably go with iconic Sunburst or sleek Black. If you’d like to be seen from afar, focus on Buttercream, Polar White, or Tidepool finishes.

Reliability

Fender Jaguar used to be Fender’s most expensive model – kind of a flagship, if you wish. While it certainly has strong competition today, it still stands for one of the most prestigious and reliable instruments in its class.

The Jazzmaster

jazzmaster

The Fender Jazzmaster was first introduced to the public at the 1958 NAMM Show. The model was presented as Stratocaster’s advanced (and more expensive) brother, appealing mostly to jazz guitarists and surf rockers of the early 1960s.

However, as time went by, it became obvious that Jazzmaster’s biggest asset is its versatility. This guitar with stunningly full-bodied and warm sound can be many things to many different kinds of players – from jazzmens to rockers or even medalists.

To name just a few of its proud and famous owners, Jazzmaster is reportedly a weapon of choice for Robert Smith, Elvis Costello, Ric Ocasek, or Sean Lennon. How can you know if Fender Jazzmaster is ideal for you too?

First of all, you have to be at peace with its offset body (typical for Fender Jaguar too), which can be a bit odd for players who are used to more symmetric curves of Stratocaster or Telecaster.

Secondly, you have to fall in love with its mellow sound and rich mids – but that part is really easy.

Key Features

  • Solid-body electric guitar
  • Modern C-shaped maple neck
  • Traditional 25.5-inch scale length
  • Offset shape
  • Two Player series humbucking pickups
  • 6-saddle vintage-style adjustable bridge
  • Floating tremolo tailpiece
  • Traditional 3-way selector switch

Size and Shape

When it comes to the size and shape of the body, Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar guitars are extremely similar. The offset waist of its alder body is a characteristic you will notice from afar.

The main difference is that while Jaguar comes with a shorter scale, Fender Jazzmaster has a full-length 25.5-inch scale. This probably makes this model a bit more suitable for players who are already used to Stratocaster, Telecaster, Esquire, or any other Fender guitars with standard scale length.

Again, the neck is designed in a modern “C” shape and made of maple. One small difference we haven’t mentioned before – while Jaguar traditionally has metal pickguards, Fender Jazzmaster has a control plate made of plastic.

This guitar weighs around 8.5 pounds and the official dimensions of the product are 42.10 x 15.30 x 4.70 inches.

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Sound

Unlike Fender Jaguar, Jazzmaster has two humbucker pickups without metal encasing that contribute to the guitars significantly warmer and more rounded sound. Nevertheless, it’s still beautifully punchy or even biting in some positions, so you definitely shouldn’t underestimate it.

One possible downside – some players can’t get used to Jazzmaster’s noisier pickups.

The noise is definitely more present than you might be used to with some other Fender guitars (although some Jazzmaster models are noisier than others too). For some players, this might be a serious dealbreaker. For others it’s probably just something to get used to.

Jazzmaster uses a traditional three-way toggle switch, which feels very familiar, however, it also means that this guitar lacks some of Jaguar’s uniqueness and functions (switch to turn off bass).

The Jazzmaster

Other Features

Fender Jazzmaster can be viewed as a simpler version of Jaguar. Just like they have identical bodies, they also share the same type of floating tremolo that distinguishes the guitars from many other models.

If you’re unsure which strings are your best choice with this instrument, experienced players recommend balanced medium gauge 11/50s. This provides you with a little tension that complements Jazzmaster much better than any other setup.

Jazzmaster comes in a classic range of finishes that include Sunburst, Black, Polar White, Tidepool, and Buttercream.

Reliability

All guitars from Fender’s Player series are designed especially for beginner-to-intermediate players who want to take their guitar skills to the next level with some of Fender’s iconic designs while benefiting from their relative affordability and user-friendliness.

Whether it’s Jaguar or Jazzmaster, you can rest assured that these instruments come with all qualities you would expect from any other Fender guitar.

Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster – Pros and Cons

Fender Jaguar

Pros

  • Constructed from solid wood
  • Crisp and punchy sound
  • Electric hum reduced by shielded pickup
  • Iconic design
  • Unique bass on/off switch
  • A shorter scale contributes to faster and more comfortable playing

Cons 

  • Complex controls mean a longer learning curve
  • Not all players appreciate its unique sound

Fender Jazzmaster

Pros

  • Constructed from solid wood
  • 25.5-inch scale – standard length of most electric guitars
  • Mellow, full-bodied sound great for many genres
  • Traditional 3-way switch control
  • Iconic design

Cons

  • Noisier pickups
  • No control to cut off the bass

Are there any alternatives?

Fender Player Telecaster

Fender’s legendary Telecaster returns in a modern version with a modern C-shaped neck, 22 frets, and 9.5″ radius fingerboard.

fender playfender player telecasterer telecaster

If you like bold classic sound and iconic presence, Fender Player Telecaster with dual Alnico V single-coil pickups might be exactly your style.

This guitar combines vintage with innovation. It boasts many thoughtful features of recent date, yet it also won’t let you forget why this model became the favorite pick of master guitarists like Muddy Waters, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, or Joe Strummer.

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Fender Squier Shortscale Stratocaster

If you prefer shorter scales (like the one you can find on Fender Jaguar), Fender Squier Shortscale version Stratocaster is your more affordable alternative.

Fender Squier Shortscale Stratocaster

This 24-inch scale guitar boasts an iconic Stratocaster design, yet its body is made of poplar and laminate, which reduces its price significantly.

You can even buy it in the starter’s bundle that contains Squier amp, picks, strap, cable, and strings. A great choice for ambitious beginners and younger players!

Fender Squier Short Scale Stratocaster
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Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK2

If you’re ready to try something else, forget about Fender for a second and take a look at Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK2.

jackson pro series dinky

This guitar is trying to appeal to those who like to run frantically over the fretboard, but unlike Fender Jaguar with its shorter scale, this guitar has a full scale on an ultra-thin neck.

When it comes to pickups, Dinky DK2 guitar has TB-4 JB Trembucker on the bridge and SH-1N ’59 at its neck. Its classic yet very powerful combination.

The only downside is probably DK2’s higher price.

Jackson Pro Series Dinky DK2
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FAQs

Question: Are Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar bodies the same?

Answer: Although these two popular guitars look very similar, they have various differences including scale lenght, pickup configuration, and switch types. However, their offsets bodies are really the same.

Question: Why are Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster guitars so expensive?

Answer: Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster guitars are both premium instruments made of top quality materials with many exclusive features. Although they’re not considered a buget option, they’re not the most expensive guitars on the market either.

Nevertheless, many customers noticed that Fender guitars beame slightly more expensive in recent years. That can be caused by the shutdown of Fender’s Japanese division in 2015. All Fender guitars are now constructed exclusively in the US and Mexico.

Question: Can you put a Jazzmaster neck on a Jaguar?

Answer: One of the main differences between Jaguar and Jazzmaster is the scale lenght – Jazzmaster has a standard 25.5-inch scale, whereas Jaguar has a shorter 24-inch scale.

It might be tempting to put Jazzmaster neck on Jaguar (or the opposite), but this won’t really work in practice unless you’re ready to drill some new holes for the brige the construction of these two guitars differs here.

Our Verdict: Which is Better between Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster?

Obviously, deciding which of these two premium and strikingly similar guitars is better can be very tricky. Both Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar surely have tons of die-hard fans who are ready to come up with thousands of reasons why their instrument is better depending on their personal preferences, style, genre, and player habits.

The trick is to listen to your guts – and the guitar itself. If she speaks to you, it might be the right one.

Nevertheless, if you ask me, I would definitely pick Fender Jaguar. Not just because of the quieter pickups and added bass cutoff control. I simply feel that Jaguar’s sound is more unique, more articulated, more spontaneous and vivacious. Of course, you might feel it very differently…

I Personally Chose Fender Jaguar
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