Old Gold

Guitarist - - Contents - Pho­to­graphs by Joseph Branston

Another iconic in­stru­ment cel­e­brat­ing its 60th birth­day this year is Fender’s Jazzmas­ter. Launched in 1958 as a suc­ces­sor to the Tele­caster and Stra­to­caster, one of the new off­set Fender’s mis­sions was to tempt the jazz play­ers of the day away from their beloved arch­tops and onto a more fash­ion­able solid­body in­stru­ment. But the jazzers re­mained faith­ful to their big-bod­ied six-strings and the Jazzmas­ter went on to find un­ex­pected fame with the brand new surf mu­sic genre of the day. Lat­terly the Jazzmas­ter en­joyed a resur­gence dur­ing the new wave era of the mid-70s and more re­cently the with in­die crowd. In fact, it seems to have found its way into ev­ery form of pop­u­lar mu­sic ex­cept jazz, with play­ers as di­verse as The Ven­tures, Elvis Costello, Nils Lof­gren and Thom Yorke be­ing seen in its com­pany.

The Jazzmas­ter en­joyed a lengthy run in the Fender cat­a­logue, from 1958 un­til it was dis­con­tin­ued in 1980. How­ever, it didn’t take long for Fender Ja­pan to re­store it in the mid-1980s and it has sur­vived in var­i­ous forms since, in­clud­ing sig­na­ture mod­els like the J Mas­cis edi­tion. The most re­cent man­i­fes­ta­tion is the 2017 limited edi­tion pine-bod­ied Amer­i­can Pro­fes­sional model.

As far as the vin­tage edi­tion we have be­fore us here, a 1966 Jazzmas­ter in this kind of con­di­tion is un­usual enough, but the com­par­a­tively rare Blue Sparkle Cus­tom Colour adds to the rar­ity of this in­stru­ment quite sig­nif­i­cantly. Even af­ter all these years, it still hasn’t found a space amongst the jazz play­ers it was in­tended for, but for many the charms of the Jazzmas­ter can­not be out­done.

Gui­tarist would like to thank Vin­tage ‘n’ Rare Gui­tars, Bath for giv­ing us ac­cess to this fas­ci­nat­ing in­stru­ment. www.vin­tage­an­drare­gui­tars.com

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