Price paid: £ 485
Purchased from: Trevor Davies Music
Sound — 8
I play a wide range of styles from jazz to hard rock/grunge and need a wide range of tones to cover them - while most of my tonal variations come from my pedalboard, there are some guitars which handle the lower gain settings and not the higher gain too well, or vice versa, but this guitar seems to handle them all brilliantly. I use a Laney VC30 amp and too many effects to list, most of the time. Due to the wide sensing area of the single coils, understandably the pickups are going to be quite noisy, but when you have both pickups active they cancel the hum due to the inverted polarity. Now, how can I describe the sound... ?? Well, it's a bright Strat-like sparkly sound, only with a lot of extra midrange punch in the bridge position in comparison to a Strat, and a full, warm but still chimey sound in the neck position. with the upper controls engaged it's much smoother, looses the chime bad adds a certain richness to the sound, almost like a les paul. It also has a kind of metallic resonance in all pickup positions due to the way the bridge adds a lot to the tone. My only criticisms of the sound are that the output of the stock pickups is very quiet, making me kick on my clean boost a lot of the time just to add more volume, and it doesn't have a lot of sustain.
Overall Impression — 9
As I mentioned in the sound section, I play a lot of different styles of music and this is a good match for all of what I play, although due to the low output of the pickups I wouldn't recommend using one of these for metal. I've been playing longer than I care to remember, but have been playing seriously for only about 4 years. I have a lot of guitars and gear, for example, this is my 3rd Fender, I also have a Standard Stratocaster and a Cyclone from Fender. If this guitar was stolen or lost I'd definitely get another. I love the tone and the playing comfort and the solid feel of this guitar, it's simply way ahead of anything else I've played before, it's just a shame about the bridge, but this should be common knowledge, and is something I was aware of before I bought it so I'm in no position to complain. My favourite feature, oddly enough, is the tremolo mechanism - I'm not much of a tremolo user, and normally would have it locked, but this trem is so smooth and keeps the guitar in tune so well I have no reason not to make use of it. I didn't really compare this to other products, I'd just always wanted to get a Jaguar or a jazzmaster, I played this jazzmaster, thought it was amazing, and the shop didn't have any jaguars. I know this was the right decision as I remember not being too keen on the 24" scale length of the Jaguar. The only thing I wish it had was a better bridge which still gave the guitar the same feel and tone but without the rattling and the potential problems. All in all, it's a lovely guitar, and I can love it despite the flaws in the design.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar will definitely withstand Live playing - It seems very solid and dependable, apart from the bridge - I wouldn't gig with this guitar without a backup unless I was sure the bridge wouldn't let me down, so until I've worked on it to the point where nothing can go wrong, I will always keep my Stratocaster close by just in case. The hardware also seems like good quality, long lasting hardware. the switches feel solid. The finish also seems like it will last - my guitars don't get too much abuse, but as with my other 2 fenders, the finishes are very thick.
Action, Fit & Finish — 5
From my perspective the factory setup is a bit of a letdown, as the action was set very low for just the high E string, which is unusual, and the pickups were adjusted far too high on the bass side and very low on the treble side, so the low strings were drowning out the higher strings, specifically the high E which was already compromised by the absurdly low action. The guitar didn't have any flaws, except the aformentioned bridge - the bridge you get with a Jaguar and jazzmaster is notorious for being the most problematic piece of hardware in the history of the electric guitar. At best, it will rattle like mad but this rattle isn't amplified, and so far this is the only problem I've had. However, others have had the strings pop out of the grooves in the saddle and land in another groove, interfering with tuning and string alignment, the height adjustment screws working their way out of the saddles from the resonance of the bridge lowering the action and even falling out of the saddles. This is something you should be aware of before you buy yourself a jag or jazzmaster (unless you get the classic player models - these are stock fitted with tune-o-matics), so that you can figure out how to solve problems as they come. I intend on getting a buzz-stop as a precautionary measure as it is a simple solution to many of the problems.
Features — 9
My Jazzmaster is a 2006 Japanese '62 reissue. It has a 21 fret 25.5" scale maple neck with a rosewood fretboard. The frets are very small, which is typical of japanese fenders. I think the body is poplar or alder but I'm not entirely sure. The finish is a nice sparkly red, with a matching headstock. The offset body is very comfortable for both sitting down and standing up. The bridge is the infamous jazzmaster bridge with those saddles with multiple slots for the strings, which allow for custom string spacing (read on for more info and why it's infamous), and that lovely smooth tremolo tailpiece, complete with a Switch to lock it so it works like a HardTail. It has an unusual dual circuit system, controlled by a little slider Switch on the top horn. when the Switch is flicked down, you use a Standard 3 way pickup selector and master vol/tone, but when it's up you just have the neck pickup and the 2 roller pots for volume and tone next to the Switch, which even when both full up give a different tone to the neck pickup with the regular vol/tone controls. It has 2 wide-area single coil pickups which are unique to the Fender jazzmaster, and Vintage Fender tuners. Being the Japanese model, it didn't come with any extras. So this guitar is loaded with features - perhaps too many features for it's own good in some cases? but it's great for me.