Price paid: $ 440
Purchased from: Craigslist
Sound — 7
I play Indie and ambient rock with a little of the post-hardcore genre thrown in. The Dragster pickups were pretty weak and quite dull, no matter what settings I dialed in on my amp and pedal board. The rhythm setting (upper switch activated) was junk until I dropped in a new set of pickups. I chose a humbucker sized P90 for the neck and a PAF style for the bridge and this combo has done wonders for the guitar's sound. I like using the rhythm section now and had considered doing a pot-swap to brighten it up, but I think I may leave it as-is for the time being. I also wired the pickups out of phase, so when both are activated, I get a pretty neat, hollowed out, sort of sound. I'm using it with a Traynor YCV50B tube amp and a pedal board that includes an EHX Holy Grail, two Line 6 DL4's, a DigiTech Bad Monkey, a DigiTech HOT Head, and a Boss compressor and tuner. Given all the equipment I use, I'd say that this guitar contains enough variety to serve as a perfect one-guitar workhorse for practice or gigs. The pickup swap definitely brought out some great characteristics of the switch/selector configurations and I now find all settings to be useful.
Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing guitar for 10 years in various rock genres (grunge, hardcore, math rock, pop rock, alternative, etc.) and really wish that I had picked one of these up earlier in life. This guitar would likely fit most any genre of music, especially with the changes I've made to it. I've listed the other electrics I have in another section of this, as well as my amp and pedal setup. I will say that I did not really dig Jaguars prior to this guitar. My limited experience with them was based on the Blacktop series, which I just didn't really find appealing. As soon as I picked this guitar up, I knew that I was going to have to get another Jaguar, and I did soon after. This guitar is by far my favorite of my collection and would certainly be replaced if it were stolen, though I'd be quite upset, given the amount of time I've put into upgrading it. I just love the neck on this thing, that would be my favorite feature. I don't so much care for the tuners, though that's not a pressing issue, and can easily be resolved with some locking tuners. I can't say there's much I wish this guitar had - it's really not in the same ballpark as the Traditional Jaguar, which is probably why so many people find it an abomination. That, to me, is completely ok, as it means they will hang out on the used market for pretty cheap. I will be buying another one of these soon and dropping in a set of soap-bar P90's, so I can switch this one back to an H/H configuration. It will require some routing and pickguard modification, but will probably turn out very well. I'm a Fender guy through and through, and this guitar only serves as a reminder of that for me.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar will absolutely hold up live. It's got a bit of heft to it, probably due to the nature of the paint applied. The hardware is still in perfect shape, even being 15 years old, though that may be because the previous owner didn't really play it much. The strap buttons are solid, though I may eventually throw some strap locks on if I notice any slipping or possibility of accidents. I'd never gig any guitar without a backup, so I can't really say for sure. I buy my guitars on a sort of match-system. I have an Epiphone Sheraton with Dream 180's that works well with my Ibanez AM93; I have a '72 Deluxe Reissue Telecaster to serve as an alternate for this Jaguar; and I have a Blackout Telecaster to serve as an alternate for my Classic Player Jaguar. I buy in teams so I don't have to adjust amp and pedal settings over and over at shows. I seriously don't foresee any issues with the finish unless it gets dropped on the cement or something - it's not going to be a relic job.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I can't speak to the factory set-up, but I've set the guitar up to my liking. One of the convenient factors of this particular Jaguar is the access to the truss-rod, which is located at the headstock rather than the neck heel as with most Jaguars. I didn't find any flaws with the guitar and absolutely love the neck on it! The matched headstock is a bonus aesthetically, though the all-black paint and pickguard turned me off a bit initially. I went ahead and swapped the pickguard for a mint pickguard, giving the guitar at least a little more flair, though nothing too crazy. These Japanese Fenders are really well made, though I can't compare them to the American Fenders, only the Mexican versions (I own three MIM Fenders as well, including another Jaguar - the S/S Classic Player).
Features — 8
My Jaguar is a Made in Japan, 1998, Special series. It's short scale (24 inch), 22 fret, C shaped maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard, TOM style bridge, with all the fun Jaguar controls. I bought mine used in mint condition (especially at 15 years old) with a hard case. The pickups were originally passive Dragster humbuckers that got swapped - more on that later. The color scheme was black and chrome, though again, some of that changed along the way too. It's got an alder body slathered in black paint, making it a pretty hefty guitar (all specs you can read on sales sites). It's an offset, so it has a very comfortable body to sit or stand with. The tuners are non-locking tuners (Fender-Gotoh) which work well enough for the time being. Mine came with a hard case, though I'm guessing that they usually come with some sort of gig-bag, I could be wrong though.