Price paid: C$ 500
Purchased from: Kijiji.ca (used)
Sound — 8
I generally play ambient post-rock/noise-pop. The sweet transparent tone of the Dragsters is ideally suited for this style, but blues, jazz and rock tones are easily achieved thanks to the tremendous amount of control offered by this guitar. Everything from a thing vapour to a warm growl is available at the flick of a Switch. The pickups are extremely bright and could easily be mistaken for single coils if they weren't so quiet. Even with a number of pedals on, this guitar emits little to no noise, though the rhythm circuit is definitely noisier than the lead. I've found that at the right setting, the lead circuit is capable of reproducing almost the exact same tones as the rhythm circuit, which leads me to believe that a simple coil split (like on Jaguar Special Classic Player models) would have been more useful than a circuit toggle Switch. Humbuckers simply don't have the same personality as single-coils when overdriven.
Overall Impression — 8
The Jaguar Special can cover an entire spectrum of tones, from a thin trebly transparency to a generic "Les Paul" humbucker sound, to a warm, rich jazz croon. I've owned a number of guitars, including an Epiphone SG, a Fender Telecaster, a Jackson Dinky, and a Yamaha SC-300T, and this is by far the sturdiest and most versatile of them all. The tremendous amount of tone control means that this guitar is ideally suited for almost any style of music. I do wish that it featured a coild split like the Jaguar Special Classic Player, but I do see the use of the rhythm circuit. Perhaps it's asking too much, but having both the circuit toggle and a coil split would be nice (I'll look into it). A whammy bar could also be useful, but it the lack thereof is an important factor in the Jaguar Special's reliability. If it needed to be replaced, I can't imagine buying any different model; no other guitar could better suit my purposes.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Of course, you should never gig without a backup, but I don't imagine this guitar's backup would see much action. I can say without exaggeration that this is the sturdest guitar I've ever laid hands on. Everything on it is built very solidly, with the possible exception of the slide switches, which are made of plastic and could be broken if handled too roughly. I usually replace the strap buttons of all my guitars with Dunlop Straploks, but I've found this to be unnecessary on the Jaguar Special. I've owned a number of guitars, all of which have gained dents or dings withing the first month or so, but this one has had it's body bumbed into walls and it's headstock whacked against doorframes and ceilings and has no scars to show for it. As far as durability is concerned, the Jaguar Special is unparalleled.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Though mine was bought used, it was virtually untouched (and had two years worth of dust to prove it). The setup was great; the action is nice and low and the intonnation is impeccable. I believe it was fitted with.09 strings. I've seen people complain that the groves in the bridge and nut were too shallow to accomodate thicker strings, but mine currently has.11's and I've had no problems so far. The workmanship on this guitar is very impressive. Everything is nicely aligned and streamlined and feels great.
Features — 9
Japan-made Fender. I'm not sure about the year, but it's only been in production for about half a decade now. It's got 22 Vintage-style (extremely thin) frets and a rosewood fretboard on a finished maple neck. The tuners are "Vintage style" Gotohs. The body is Alder, which results in both a heavier instrument and a much more resonant sound. The shape is in the offbeat Jazz/Jaguar "melted Stratocaster" style. Unlike it's Vintage counterpart, the Jaguar Special has an adjusto-matic bridge, which results in more sustain and less need for tuning. In addition, this guitar sports dual Dragster humbuckers rather than the usual Jaguar single-coils. The Jagar special has an impressive array of controls. One Switch toggles between lead and rhythm circuit. The lead circuit engages both pickups and involves three slide switches (neck pickup on/off, bridge pickup on/off, and treble cut) and two knobs (volume and tone). The rhythm circuit engages only the neck pickup and the two rollers (volume and tone). This lends the guitar an unparallelled level of versatility; however, some improvements could be made (see "Overall Impression")