Purchased from: eBay!
Sound — 10
The sounds from this guitar are as nice as they are varied. With ease, the guitar can flick from scag-head Babyshambles to Television (Tom Verlaine used them) most punk, '70s rock, and a very nice funk, is perfect for RHCPs, Frusciante used one extensively. Of course, the guitar does a sheer perfect surf sound, being designed primarily to be Fender's top model to the players of the '60s, thus surfy jangle. Any reverb on this guitar, any at all, and before you know it you will be wearing naff '60s cardigans and saying 'Cowabunga', 'Surf's up' and many other obnoxious phrases. Due to the seperate circuits with their own volume and tone, the guitar can flick between preset rhythm (through the neck pickup, the Switch for which lies on the upper horn, along with volume and tone rollers), lead (through the bridge, or bridge and neck pickups, selected through switch under neck pickup, with volume and tone knobs in bottom right corner of body next to jack), or simply both pickups neutral 1 (switch next to lead circuit switch up, lead and rhythm off). The final switch feature is the bass-cut Switch. The sound of this guitar is inclined to be rather cutting, due to single coils, and a 1 meg potentiator. Personally, I love this sound, the guitar is very distinct, and ideal for overshadowing a fellow guitarist's noise at a gig heh. With appropriate adjustment, the sound is perfect for near any style, except shredding and high-gain thrash, though this is true for most single-coils. Each circuit gives a quite individual sound to any other circuit's noise. The rhythm is, to be honest, the weakest sound feature on this guitar in my experience. Depending on what you are playing of course. To me, it seems a little too indistinct. Clean, it is alright, very '60s/early '70s. Distorted, The murky sound it provides can be nice, but difficult to do much with, though I wouldn't dismiss it entirely. Lead, though produces one of the best sounds I have produced in any guitar. Clean, it really shines through other instrument noises in a good way, an inexplicably happy noise. Distorted though, it really shines. This sound can do anything, Hendrix noodling to Marilyn Manson pounding. Very cutting, with enough fuzz to make it versatile. The guitar played through no particular circuit, just through pickups is my particular favorite at the moment. It's a noise very much like a lot of recent fashionable bands, Bloc Party, Razorlight, Franz Ferdinand, wiry guitared dance-Indie stuff, but with more bite. Works very well for Libertines and Babyshambles. Another fab feature is the bass-cut Switch. This Switch, when on, minimises the lower end frequencies, and creates a much more substantial sounding high. This doesn't mean it kills bass off, it doesn't ruin heavy chugging at all, just changes it. I have this thing on all the time, it sounds wonderful. Adds great definition to palm muting, another surf-tastic throwback. Now onto one of the Jaguar's flaws. In an effort to reduce feedback from the single-coils, Fender placed them in little metal claw contraptions. This kills the sustain significantly, while not doing an amazing amount to kill feedback. Enough, but not much. This isn't necessarily too bad, you just learn to facillitate this in your playing, forces you to add flourishing trills and twiddling in the gaps where a Les Paul player would hold the note till their fingers hurt. It is just a change in style. The overall tone on the guitar is improved over many others by it's slightly shorter scale neck. While significantly shorter than Fender standard 25.5, it is barely more shorter than most Gibsons. This is an excuse to use higher gauge strings, thus improved tone without sacrifice in playing. Shielding is also improved by plates inside the body, though these are missing in more recent models. All in all, sound is fine, dandy and flexible.
Overall Impression — 10
When I first started shopping around and noticed this, I was afraid the circuit swithing and shape were all gimmicks to sell an average guitar, but further education on it shown me it isn't. That was the only thing stopping me buying one sooner. Overall, the sound is amazing and very flexible, if the sound had to be compared to something more mainstream, then slightly like a Telecaster, but capable of more. Neck is fairly thick, but with the scale is not noticeable, feels more natural than most stratocasters. Lovely sound, looks, and extremely comfortable. Sounds and looks both stand out at a gig. The bad; some won't like the single-coils, not too old-style metal suited, though fine for hard punk and hardcore, a bit of a challenge to rewire due to sheer amount of electicky bits in it, and the bridge is unnacceptable. I can't see a metal player buying this anyway. Well worth it, a lot of fun, highly recommended. A 10 ONLY after bridge change.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Guitar is very comfortable, a pleasure to play live. Playing live with this guitar, as with all single-coil guitars, can be problematic, but with practise the feedback can be helped, especially with this guitar's claws and plates. Finish slightly more durable than most. No problems really, as long as the stock bridge is out of it and a Mustang or Tune-O-Matic is in. Mustang is easiest option, same as stock in shape and measurement, but not poop.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
I bought this second-hand, so no idea of initial set-up. The colour and coating is nice, fairly durable. The turning pegs I find a bit awkward, though it is not much of a problem. Now onto the worst part of the guitar, and one which managed to get the guitar's production run scuppered after something like 8 years; the infamous Jaguar bridge. Basically, it is useless after half an hour's playing. It cause bass strings to buzz without constant attention to it, the grub screws fall out of the guitar, and the threaded barrels mean the strings slip constantly, and it can be difficult to get intonation perfect. It can be tolerated while playing, in the same sense that it is possible to play guitar with diarhoea; you are not going to be able to play comfortably, it is only a matter of time before you are going to have to do something about it, and it will end up messy if you dare to play live with it. Slotting in a Mustang bridge fixes all these troubles, and it's only about 20 from eBay, worth it to get the guitar working. It is all fine with this guitar except for that pesky bridge.
Features — 10
This particular guitar is a 97' Jap-made Jag, making it an alder body, as opposed to earlier-model basswood, or 'kitchen table' wood, lovely 3-colour sunburst, making the guitar look like a smoker's index finger. Features are the same as stated in other reviews, separate lead and rhythm circuits with volume and tone selectors for each, pick-selector, and what is essentially a bass-cut switch. Floating tremolo system. Two single coils with shielding claws. Front of body input jack. And one very dodgy bridge.