50 Years of Fender’s Jaguar Guitar

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One Guitar. 50 Years.

Fender’s Jaguar model guitar has officially been around for 50 years and Fender not being one to pass on a chance to celebrate anything that passes the test of time has unveiled their 50th anniversary Jaguar guitar. It’s a model that nearly predates my parents and has been celebrated time and again for its rich signature Fender sound by countless guitarists that have only helped make it more and more timeless since its first incarnation.

The Jaguar’s Origin Story

The Original 1962 Jaguar Magazine Ad

The true roots of the Jaguar lie in the Jazzmaster which was first introduced to the world in 1958 – a model that was quite well received among the surf rock genre as opposed to the jazz demographic the guitar was originally designed to appeal to. Come 1962 the Jaguar surfaced and was in development alongside the Jazzmaster and often caused confusion to the untrained eye as the guitars were aesthetically alike though hearing has always been believing and what the two shared in style they did not share in sound.

The Jaguar had a respectful run of 13 years since its first release and was revered by a great variety of guitarists and probably saw its greatest incline in the public eye from its use by the Beach Boys who used it to shape their trademark cool and laid back style.

Unfortunately a tad ahead of its time the Jaguar was discontinued in 1975 and went on a 24 year hiatus. During that quarter of a century it became the stuff of legends and seemed to inspire a novel sense of awe and wonder when it did surface from one group to another. I can even recall ages ago my father recanted tales of when it was in production, speaking highly of its tone and style, and the fables always ended in perplexity as to why the Jaguar came to an end.

While it was discontinued the Jaguar hadn’t finished speaking its mind and from the late 70s up through the 90s various bands would use it, perhaps the most famous guitarists being the late Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante both who used the model excessively during the 90s.

John Frusciante’s Jaguar

It seemed as though they were enough to resuscitate it and come 1999 Fender finally reintroduced the Jaguar to the production line where Fender has been gracing us with this guitar ever since making it a triumphant return from a long lost model that resided on the list of Fenders other discontinued models.

Nowadays finding a Jaguar is as easy as finding a Strat. It’s a popular model to use and a number of signature models exist like the Kurt Cobain replica and the Johnny Marr, Squier models, bass models, you name it with as many variations on pickups and building materials as any other model. The Jaguar has become a respected staple of the guitar industry and here we are celebrating its 50th year.

The 50th Anniversary Jaguar

What good would a 50th anniversary celebration without a new model to celebrate? Fender has fearlessly delivered in that department with the unveiling of their newest Jaguar that serves as a throwback to the generation that had wrought the guest of honor itself.

The Woods and Hardware

Much like the original the 50th Anniversary is made of alder with a 9.5”radius maple neck with a 24” scale that contrasted the Jazzmaster’s 25 1/2” scale. Tastefully placed atop the neck is a rosewood fretboard with block inlays. Additionally it has a vintage floating tremolo with a tremolo lock button designed to increase sustain.

The Electronics

The 50th Anniversary Jaguar

The Jaguar’s electronics have always been a bit on the unique side what with all the sliders contrasting the traditional pickup selectors. The switches include two on/off slide switches each designated to their own respective pickups, a two-position tone switch, and designated volume and tone switches for each pickup. Speaking of pickups the 50th Anniversary Jaguar uses two Special Design Hot Jaguar single-coil pickups in both neck and bridge positions.

The Jaguar has been around in one way or another for 50 years be it in the back of our minds through the 80s or in the limelight like the 90s on and now we’re celebrating what has come to fruition. Like any other business worth its salt Fender has had trying times, but as long as they keep making guitars like this they have all they need to go another 50 years.


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Kyle Smitchens

Kyle Smitchens is the Guitar-Muse Managing Editor, super hero extraordinaire, and all around great guy. He has been playing guitar since his late teens and writing personal biographies almost as long. An appreciator of all music, his biggest influences include Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Steve Vai, Therion, and Jon Levasseur of Cryptopsy.

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