Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar

The Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar (available on Amazon here) is a versatile, great-sounding electric guitar at an amazing price. I’ve had one since December 2017 and I’m happy to have it as my #2 axe.

History

Fender introduced the Jaguar in 1962 as their top-of-the-line model, but it wasn’t as successful as they’d hoped and they ceased production in 1975. Second-hand Jaguars became an economical choice for 70s punk musicians and 80s alt/indie rockers, and in the late 90s Fender resumed production in the USA. Squier (Fender’s entry-level brand) has been making Jaguars since 2011.

Features

There are a few characteristics that distinguish the Jaguar from its fellow members of the Fender family.

  • Whereas Teles and Strats measure 25.5″ from bridge to nut, the Jaguar measures 24″. This means the frets are closer together, so the Jaguar’s is more comfortable for smaller hands. This also contributes to the Jaguar being a little twangier than its brethren.
  • The Jaguar’s tone pots are higher resistance than is typical for single-coil guitars – 1k vs 250k – and are therefore brighter (higher resistance = less tone is sucked into the pot).
  • The Jaguar’s pickups sit within a metal “claw” that provides some magnetic shielding. As a result, they hum less than typical single coils.
  • There are two completely separate circuits (“rhythm” and “lead”) with their own volume and tone controls. Moreover, in the lead circuit, there’s a toggle nicknamed the “strangle switch” that filters out the low end for a punchy mid-range sound.

Feelings

I fell in love with the Jaguar’s big personality and its sheer range of tones on offer. The pickups are Seymour Duncan-designed and are extremely good quality. The three core tones – the smooth sound of the neck pickup, the brash bridge, the way they growl when played together – mean that you’ll be covered for most single-coil applications.

The build quality is very good, too. The neck is thin, comfortable, and easy to adjust as necessary. The frets are alright: mine didn’t have any fret sprout, but some of the frets are a little dented and are hard to bend on. All in all, I think they did a good job. Squier guitars didn’t have a great reputation when I was a kid, but recently their guitars have been excellent.

Right now, my Jaguar is strung with Ernie Ball 11s and tuned to drop C. This tames the guitar’s natural brightness, but not so much that it loses its character. The single-coil pickups are pretty hot, and although they’re far from humbucker potency, it’s straightforward to dial in an awesomely heavy sound.

I replaced the bridge on my Jaguar, and I’m glad I did. I go into more detail in the linked article. It was an extremely easy modification to make.

Conclusion

If you’re curious about offset guitars, you can’t do much better than the Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar. Buy one today!

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