Modern Player Jaguar review by Fender

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  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.9 (27 votes)
Fender: Modern Player Jaguar

Price paid: $ 400

Purchased from: eBay

Features — 8
This guitar is from 2011 if I'm not mistaken, made in China. It features a 22 fret maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard with the scale length measuring a very comfortable and short 24". It's a minimalist guitar for the lack of a better way of describing it. It has a satin finish which truly brings out the mahogany body. I have seen this guitar in a two-burst gloss finish as well, and to me it looks terrible. If the attempt is to put out a stripped down guitar, putting a gloss finish on it just looks out of place for the aesthetic. Speaking of out of place, this brings me to the hardware this guitar features. This guitar has a TOM bridge, which is practically unheard of on a Fender. I cant think of many models which have a similar set up. It features a Les Paul style pick up switch in its style, and its placement. This pickup selector gives you three options with this guitars "Modern Player" P-90 pick ups. The sound of which will be talked about later. Did I mention things being out of place and unheard of? I will conclude by saying that is has a Stratocaster style jackplate, and leave it at that. Also the control knobs for master volume and master tone are also something I haven't seen before on a Fender guitar. ALL of that being said. I love this guitar. I am so tired of hearing "Oh this is the beginner's Fender," it is vexing. I bought this guitar because of its bare minimalist style. It has everything I want in a guitar. Even with all of its quirks and downright strange features (in the context of a traditional Fender) it does exactly what I expected it to. A true steal for the money. Surprisingly well crafted considering some of the guitars that come from China.

Sound — 8
In the sound department this guitar was quite a surprise. I was expecting a thin and weak sound to be honest because I have had problems with P-90's before and their output levels. That being said, I plugged this guitar into my Vox AC130 and was truly contented with the sound that greeted me. Very full bodied with a crystal clear sound on the bridge. Switching to the neck, a very thick and bass filled sound with surprising note definition. I spend the vast majority of my time playing on the clean settings of a given amp, and the only pedals I really use are a reverb, an overdrive, and on occasion a delay. This guitar shines brightest on a clean setting. If that's not really what your into, this guitar has a great sound with some distortion. I never go past noon on a distorted sound, so I cant give any description of the sound for any type of metal genre, but if you're buying this guitar, I have doubts you are intending to play it for that style. The Jaguar is very well known for its indie leanings in sound, so this might suit you. The P-90's can also give you a great straight forward rock sound that isn't as aggressive as a humbucker.

I play a lot of noise and experimental styles, so for what I wanted this guitar for, it truly fits. It has a tonal variety that is very enjoyable, and sounds great. The neck pickup into a lightly overdriven amp is my true favorite. I find myself playing this guitar much more than some of my more expensive guitars. Also a huge part of the tone is this guitar's Mahogany body. Like I mentioned in detail on many other features, this wood choice is yet another one-off. Usually these are made of Alder like the Stratocaster. The Mahogany choice is a great one. A very warm tone and weighty sound.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The set up that this guitar had upon arrival to me needed very little tweaking. The action was quite low when it came, so I raised the bridge just a bit to put some fight into it, and afterward it was a breeze to play. The TOM bridge is always an easy to adjust bridge, and setting this guitars bridge height and intonation took practically no time. The pickups are well adjusted in terms of height and their output is much higher and more defined than my other guitar that features P-90's.

A thorn in the side of this guitar is the control knobs featured. I have heard a lot of people complain about how the master volume is in the way of your playing (though its in the same place as a Stratocaster...) but I disagree. I use it a lot as an anchor while I play, constantly adjust it, as well as use it for swells, so on. I actually really like its placement. My problem with them is how cheap they feel. The choice of these knobs are just a much of a one-off as practically every other feature on the guitar, but I cant let these slide. I know I am truly nitpicking, so I will move on.

This brings me to the greatest feature of the guitar. The finish. I cant say enough about the finish. A satin transparent black finish on the mahogany results in a dark brown color that just looks eye catching. The feel of your arm resting on this guitar is just perfect. The open pores in wood on close look are just beautiful. I have a true love for natural finish, either satin or gloss, but this guitar is just easy on the eyes. This guitar also comes in a truly stunning cherry red satin that is just as great, but I prefer my guitars to look more understated and modest. BUT. As I mentioned before this guitar also comes in a gloss two tone burst. That guitar is just unappealing.

Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar will take a beating. I would just leave it at that, but I should be more specific. To me this guitar was meant for abuse. The hardware is quite dependable, but I'm sure after a few years it will need to be replaced as all guitars do. The TOM bridge is pretty rock solid, though I can easily see it corroding or rusting after a few years of steady play. The knobs might as well be replaced as soon as you buy this guitar, but I've covered that. I depend on this guitar fully, and I will say that I can definitely play this guitar through a full show and not have to swap guitars. In every review I see (on any guitar, practically) the advocation of bringing a backup guitar is almost ubiquitous. I don't get in on that. Live a little. I would say only bring a backup if you're going to play a different tuning.

Overall Impression — 9
My overall impression of this guitar is that is a very pleasant anomaly. Everything about this guitar is just out of the realm of ordinary for a Jaguar, and one some features for Fender itself, but maybe that's the reason I love it. Sometimes I think this guitar was designed with me in mind (I am not an idiot, I know that is not the case). To me this guitar has it all. The stripped down nature of virtually every feature is something I can get behind full force. It quickly became one of my favorite guitars. I have plenty of other guitars, ranging from cheap guitars that you have to fight to play, and high cost beauties packed with features. This guitar is the antithesis to the latter. To me the power of this guitar comes from is minimalist set up. A true favorite.

This guitar fits well with my musical stylings and its versatility is hard to beat. I am truly happy to have found it, and if I lost this guitar, I would find another one and buy it again. On the grand scale of things it is hard to find many anything wrong with it. Its just a great guitar that gets a bad rap. Whatever, it sounds great, plays great, looks great, and comes at a very accessible price point. I strongly recommend it. But, no guitar is perfect.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I had the opportunity to try out this guitar and found the bass to be terrific, it really is a gem. Great review here!
    I bought the cherry red version of this guitar for about $350 and was completely blown away on the quality for the price. The short-scale size is perfect for my small hands so I don't have to strain my joints stretching over 5 frets. The action was perfect out of the box...low without any adjustments to be made for buzz. It also impressively stays in tune after playing hard on it for a couple of hours. Like some of the other reviews posted here, there are a limited number of sounds you can get from this guitar (no where near the variety you get from a Jazzmaster). But... I have no problem relying on external effects. Also, the MP90s are a little hot and can have a loud hum depending on your amp distortion settings, but a noise suppressor like a Boss NP-2 will easily fix that. I play this guitar through a Fender Mustang 1 v2 20W amp (another astounding winner for quality to price) - this is a perfect combination for practice or small room gigs. The best part is that because of the price point, I subconsciously feel like I don't have to baby it. If anything, it's kinda opened me up to be more aggressive and experimental with it. I've owned a Fender American Strat in the past, and currently have a Gibson ES 335. Frankly, I prefer the feel of this Jaguar over these other two whenever I practice, work out fingerings, or just try an all out vamp. Again, it could be because of the short scale, but given that, the tone is so good that I don't miss playing the others. All in all, I'm incredibly satisfied with this. That said, good luck finding this guitar now that it's no longer being manufactured. I check online periodically to see if used ones are being re-sold and it's actually hard to find them. Looks like there are other satisfied buyers that are holding on to them.
    I have a modern player Stratocaster, but a short scale one. This makes it quite similar to the jaguar, except for the vintage trem and a SSH configuration . Same master volume tone controls. Great finish and quality from China. Only complaint was that the frets were a bit rough but luthier soon fixed those. If these reviews and my experience are anything to go by these MP's are worth a look.