Price paid: £ 400
Sound — 9
My style is mainly alternative rock/punk/post-hardcore, and I must admit when I first started to play the Jaguar, I was a little nonplussed by its sound, as my playing hadn't developed beyond the 'whack the gain up to 10 and wail on the thing' stage. However, I've discovered the Jaguar has a wonderful, inimitable tone that is a result of its unique construction style and components. I play it through a Marshall MG100 DFX. Although it produces a raw-boned, trebly snarl under high gain, I've found it best suited to lower gain levels, as it responds superbly to playing dynamics; strike it hard with some gain on the bridge pickup, and you're rewarded with a trebly, nuanced twang - think Ian D'Sa from Billy Talent, or J. Robbins from Burning Airlines. Switch to the neck, and you find a darker, warmer character. Played clean, the Jaguar delivers those glassy, pristine Fender tones in spades, especially on the bridge with the tone on full. I think you could probably use it for most types of rock music, although metal might be a push, as the singlecoils are noisy when pushed with too much gain. But then again, piling on too much distortion loses that wonderful twang that the Jaguar does so well. In short, it has a brilliant sound, albeit one that may not be for everyone.
Overall Impression — 9
All in all, the Fender Jaguar has won me over; despite my initial indifference, I have found that the guitar has slotted very well into my style of music. I've been playing for about two years now, and the only other guitars I own are an Epiphone Les Paul Special II, which is great for harder rock music, and a Tanglewood FST 32 Strat copy. There isn't much I would change about the guitar, except for maybe the bridge saddle system, as it can be a little problematic at times. But on the whole, the Jaguar has a character all of its own that can't be ignored - I think I actually prefer its shape to the more vanilla Stratocaster. A great guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar would easily withstand live playing. It is solid, weighty, and dependable, and the hardware feels built to last, as does the finish. The strap buttons are solid, but I have added straplocks to them just to ensure the strap doesn't come off during more spirited playing. I would happily use it at a gig without a backup.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was set up very well indeed, with a low, eminently playable action and excellent intonation. I do find that the low E buzzes somewhat, but it's not much of a problem, as a lighter pick absolves any issues with the saddles. The finish is excellent, and the neck feels great. The tuners are also very serviceable, and easy to adjust. Apart from the string buzz, a very well-put-together guitar.
Features — 8
I believe the Jaguar was made by Fender Japan; it has an alder body, maple neck, 24-inch scale, 22 frets, a Sea Foam Green finish, the idiosyncratic 'floating' tremolo system. It has master volume and tone controls, and three 2-position on/off phase switches; two for the lead circuit, one for the rhythm circuit. It has two Fender singlecoil pickups. All in all, an extensive set of features; the controls can be a little confusing at times, but they are workable once you get acclimatised to them.