Cat got your tone?

Total Guitar - - THE TG TEST -

The Jaguar has al­ways been a cu­rio among Fen­der’s range, and its Player edi­tion is one of the line’s more in­trigu­ing of­fer­ings. Rather than the tra­di­tional SS lay­out, Fen­der has spec’d an Al­nico 3 hum­bucker in the bridge and Al­nico 2 sin­gle coil in the neck. The plot thick­ens with that diddy plas­tic switch on the up­per horn, which splits the hum­bucker for wiry sin­gle-coil tones. It’s styled af­ter the orig­i­nal’s un­der­used rhythm cir­cuit, which is wisely ab­sent here – we’d rather have a coil-split any day of the week.

The tweaks don’t end there: a Mus­tang bridge re­places the orig­i­nal Jag setup, which was prone to pop­ping strings with ag­gres­sive or finger­style play­ing. Re­turn­ing is the float­ing vi­brato and trade­mark 609mm (24") short scale length, re­sult­ing in one of the bet­ter-spec’d Jags we’ve seen.

For any­one who’s never played a short-scale gui­tar, we im­plore you to get your hands on one: they’re a breeze to play, es­pe­cially with this satin fin­ish. The same goes for the pau ferro fret­board. While some early ex­am­ples could be a lit­tle patchy, the grain on our re­view model is not dis­sim­i­lar to rose­wood, so there’s cer­tainly no feel­ing short changed here.

En­gage the neck sin­gle coil and have a play with the float­ing vi­brato, and there’s a very fa­mil­iar feel – that widescreen, crys­talline sin­gle-coil sound is present in abun­dance. For those un­fa­mil­iar, Jag pups aren’t as snappy as a Strat or Tele’s, but make an ex­cel­lent base for ef­fects. That bridge hum­bucker pays homage to Kurt Cobain’s mod­i­fied Jag, and al­though the Al­nico 3 mag­nets can’t come close to the out­put of the ce­ram­ics in Cobain’s Di­marzio Su­per Dis­tor­tion, it can ap­prox­i­mate that Teen­spirit snarl.

The util­ity of the coil-split could be called into ques­tion, how­ever. The split hum­bucker is pretty thin with clean tones, and is no­tice­ably qui­eter than the neck, while it yields a hol­low tone in the mid­dle po­si­tion, which is un­likely to see much use. Given the pickup height on our re­view model was as close to touch­ing the strings as we dared to take it, we won­der whether a higher-out­put ’bucker might have been bet­ter suited here. Nev­er­the­less, the split cer­tainly comes into its own with dirt, as it pro­vides a handy pre­set gain cut. In fact, ev­ery po­si­tion finds a pur­pose in this con­text, and it’s clear that’s this Jaguar’s nat­u­ral habit: rolling in filth.

widescreen, crys­talline sin­gle-coil sound is present HERE in abun­dance

The­jaguar­isone of the Player line’s more in­trigu­ing of­fer­ings

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