1968 Fender Jaguar
This one came in a while ago for some TLC and it took me a while to get to it (no surprises there) but I kept looking forward to finding the time to work on it because not only do I like old Jags, this guitar recorded one of my favourite albums. It's owned by Dave from Sydney band Sounds Like Sunset who last year released a new album, We Could Leave Tonight and this guitar is all over it.
The Fender Jaguar was introduced in '62, and was a short scale (trying to get Gibson players), very upmarket guitar in the same "offset" body shape as the Jazzmaster. While I personally prefer Jazzmasters but I've played a few REALLY nice Jaguars and I love the look of them. I own a "transition" '65 version that I love and have worked on a few very nice examples including this all original '62 that was AMAZING. I've written plenty on Jags and JM's on my blog so if you're interested do a search but I'll just get stuck into this one now.
This one really hadn't been looked at in some time by the look of it and for the condition it was in, it actually still played reasonably well. The vibrato was loose, the bridge was rusted in place, the strap buttons were gaffed on and the frets were a little uneven, but it still all worked and sounded pretty good. It had just recorded a great album so it must have been doing something right ?
It's a pretty typical late 60's Fender Jaguar, maybe a little heavier than "normal" but felt good and the neck is slightly fatter than mine but still very comfortable. I'm probably not as bigger fan of binding and blocks on these Fenders as they just look a little bit too .......... fussy for me. To me Fenders are simpler, less refined but the Jag being already very blingy means that binding and blocks don't look so out of place, especially in this colour scheme.
After a general clean up, electronics check and clean, vibrato and strap button repair , fret dress and soaking the bridge in WD40 overnight it was ready to reassemble and set up.
It all went back together well and with 11-54's felt really good quickly. I use heavy strings on my guitars and I always recommend heavier strings on short scales like these (and Mustangs) because they can sound insipid with light strings. Dave used heavy strings anyway so I didn't need to convince him.
It instantly felt good and sounded GREAT. After it had settled in I did the intonation and action and fell in love.
This really is one of the nicest feeling and sounding Jags I've ever played. It's a "little" too heavy for me but I could totally come to terms with that for tones like this. THIS is what a Jag is supposed to sound like. It has the most sustain I've heard from a Jaguar, which probably has something to do with the string gauge as well, but it's just a really nice guitar.
It's funny because even up until a few years ago there was this whole "post CBS" thing where everyone was L series or forget it. There was this commonly believed idea that guitars starting going down hill in quality the day CBS took over and these late 60's Fenders weren't worth owning.
While quality control did waver after CBS took over it wasn't until the early 70's that some guitars started going really bad, and even then there were still great ones in there, if you could fine them. I've played late 60's Fenders that are infinitely better than some pre CBS versions and would fetch a tenth of the price. This is seriously one of the best Jags I've ever played.
It's also mostly original which just goes to show how well these guitars were still being built as this one has been used a lot since new. The player wear is all evidence of it's use but like I've always said, I'm weary of old guitars that are immaculate. Sometimes the reason they're so nice aesthetically is because they're so awful to play.
I've said it before many times and I'll say it again, NOTHING sounds as good as the original bridge on a Jag or JM when it's set up properly. Weather that's because this is what a Jag/JM is "supposed" to sound like, or it's just nicer harmonically is up to the player, but it's a great piece of design, manufacturing and works beautifully when understood.
After doing this for nearly 20 years I don't get many guitars through anymore that I wish I could keep ............. but this is one of them.
I guess I'll have to "settle" for keeping my white '65 and get this back to Dave. After all, I want him to write and record more music with it.