Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Discussion of vintage Jazzmasters, Jaguars, Bass VIs, Electric XIIs and any other offset-waist instruments.
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Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by Mechanical Birds » Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:37 pm

Never really popped into my head until just these past few days (I mean, I’d definitely realized it and a long time ago wondered about it, but definitely couldn’t have been too often.

Anyway Leo’s whole deal was constant progression, putting out an entirely brand new guitar from the ground up every single time they launched another model. From the body shape to the headstock (little less innovation I guess though just cuz almost of them were essentially Strat headstocks) to the pickups to the wiring to the bridge to the trem system, etc. all of them wholly new instruments. But the Jaguar borrows so many existing parts from the Jazzmaster that, were somebody to have posted about them here when they first came out, a huge majority of people would complain (myself included, no judgement!) about how it’s just a mishmash of parts

So I’m curious if there’s anything out there at all that explains specifically why the Jag was so different from their other guitars in that it used a ton of existing components? Maybe legit quote or book or whatever where there’s valid info that I can read about why Leo just recycled the Jazzmaster shape for the Jaguar instead of going fully original, I’d appreciate that beyond words, or if you have a story you’ve seen or read and can answer the main question cut and dry please do!

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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by BoringPostcards » Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:10 pm

The Jaguar does have a more pointy upper horn and somewhat deeper contours.
The body does feel different, but it's hard to notice the difference in shape, unless you have them right next to each other.

I get the feeling, that Leo wanted to improve the Jazzmaster, rather than make an entire new shape/platform.
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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by Trout » Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:15 pm

Besides being for constant progression, he was also very pragmatic.
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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by andy » Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:33 pm

Maybe he was on vacation?
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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by mortron » Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:37 pm

You sent me down a rabbit hole... And I found this article that was very informative:

https://www.fender.com/articles/gear/fr ... the-jaguar

It would seem that the Jaguar - like its name implies - was meant to be sleeker and faster playing guitar than others, with an extra fret. He stuck with the car names and at that time, a Jag was a classy, high performance machine. Makes sense.

It was to be their top, most feature laden guitar. Look at it as a culmination of all he had learned and done till then. As his designs neared his idea of perfect, the refinements became more and more subtle. When he perfected something, it carried over. So you see parts from the previous "top end" models. I think it's very Leo and don't see it as a mail in or half assed attempt, that's for sure.

The article does note the upper horn was apparently sharper than the Jazzmaster, and still is. I always assumed they were identical shapes. Maybe this is all marketing, but it's from the horse's mouth. Or at least the keepers of the stable.

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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by Steadyriot. » Wed Jun 24, 2020 10:51 pm

The difference is slight, but it is there:
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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by Mechanical Birds » Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:39 am

Yeah, no I know it isn’t a 1/1 interchangeable thing. Jaguar being short scale necessitates a tiny bit smaller/sharper body I guess, but for all intents and purposes, they’re the same.

I dunno nobody’s said anything I disagree with, but it still seems weird that so few changes were made. Two pickups that function the same ways as a JM only they look sort of different, and I guess the low-pass. Just doesn’t seem like his style.

I remember reading stories about his sales and marketing managers essentially forcing him to not halt construction on any of the guitars that came before the newest ones that were coming out, so it just seems to me that he liked reinventing the wheel as often as he could

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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by Ceylon » Thu Jun 25, 2020 1:17 am

If I would have to hazard a guess, Leo must have been really happy both with the body shape and the vibrato from the Jazzmaster.

You had a body that aesthetically suited the times, that balanced well on a strap and that was comfortable for sitting players, while offering very easy upper fret access. Testament to this is that it was good enough to carry over almost unchanged when they started making their first Electric 12-string - that was the body he wanted for that. The Bass VI retained that same general body shape in 1961 but had a slightly longer upper horn, I think mostly for the sake of balance, and even the Marauder which was meant to be the new top-of-the-line guitar didn't change the Jaguar body shape all that much. Guitar manufacturers in Europe and Asia started making their own Jazzmaster-oid offset offerings almost right away. If you reach that sweet spot between functionality and aesthetical potency, where are you going to go from there? If you set out to make a new top-of-the-line guitar in 1961, and you can't come up with anything better, you give it the best you've got.

I remember reading that the Jaguar was meant to somewhat bridge the gap between Fenders and Gretsches, Rickenbackers, Gibsons et cetera, all of which around this time - if they used vibratos - had less radical vibratos than the Stratocaster one, often utilizing some type of third bridge construction. Think Bigsby, Maestro Vibrola, Tremotone, Rickenbacker's Accent system and so on.
Arguably Leo's offset vibrato is an improvement on those designs in terms of functionality and range, that would still feel familiar to the players used to them.

I think for what he wanted to do, those two elements that he already had were simply too good to change.
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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by mbene085 » Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:30 am

The stratocaster functionally improved on the telecaster by offering a second cutaway for upoer fret access. The Jazzmaster improved on the stratocaster via its offset waist for improved balance and comfort while sitting and standing. It's possible he just couldn't come up with a functional improvement from there.

I mean, the Electric XII repeated the body shape a third time with almost no changes. Stepping back a bit in time, the Bass VI modified the JM body shape a tiny bit in order to move the upper strap button further toward the nut to balance the longer-scale neck, and then the Marauder prototype more or less used a scaled down Bass VI body shape.

In short, it seems he only changed the body shapes on higher end Fenders when he could think of a functional improvement. The JM/Jag/XII were as functional a design as he could devise, but he showed willingness to modify it with the VI because the neck needed a different balance point.

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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by jvin248 » Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:43 am

.

The Jaguar, being shorter scale, was the 'student' version of the premium guitars, and why the family resemblance.
There were lower priced student options too, but the jaguar gave a kid a 'Cadillac' level choice. Now they are played by everyone.

As a sincere form of flattery: Gibson's "Fender Fighter" SG copied the Jazzmaster more than the Tele/Strat, after the failed Les Paul model (LP sales were poor and most of them ended up in pawn shops for cheap -- where some beginner teens bought them for low cash and later made a few famous records). However, it seems more like a committee design smash together of different ideas than the Fender offsets, resulting in problems like the neck dive and the tight pickup placement due to the 24 frets and neck tenon.

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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by Steadyriot. » Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:18 am

Leo Fender started off improving his designs by coming up with new stuff, but after a while he started refining the designs at hand.
Post FMIC he mostly just reworked strats and tele's for MM and G&L.
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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by BoringPostcards » Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:17 am

jvin248 wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:43 am
.

The Jaguar, being shorter scale, was the 'student' version of the premium guitars, and why the family resemblance.
There were lower priced student options too, but the jaguar gave a kid a 'Cadillac' level choice.
Untrue. The Jaguar was never intended to be a student model. There is no sign of it in the marketing or in any of the literature about the design process.

The Jaguar was meant to be the top of the line model. The 24" scale was used on the Jag, because feedback from Jazzmaster players was that the neck felt long, which is noticeable to anyone switching from a Tele/Strat to a JM.

All the student models were originally 22.5" scale, and did not become available with 24" necks until after the Mustang released in 1964. The earliest Mustangs were also 22.5"

The Jaguar was the first Fender to use 24" scale and not because it was intended to be a student model, but as I mentioned above, for ergonomic reasons.

In fact, it was the Mustang, which was the top of the student line, or as you put it, the Cadillac of student models. It featured a deluxe vibrato and phase switching, which made it a big upgrade from the DuoSonic and Musicmaster student models.
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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by adamrobertt » Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:18 am

jvin248 wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:43 am
.

The Jaguar, being shorter scale, was the 'student' version of the premium guitars, and why the family resemblance.
There were lower priced student options too, but the jaguar gave a kid a 'Cadillac' level choice. Now they are played by everyone.

As a sincere form of flattery: Gibson's "Fender Fighter" SG copied the Jazzmaster more than the Tele/Strat, after the failed Les Paul model (LP sales were poor and most of them ended up in pawn shops for cheap -- where some beginner teens bought them for low cash and later made a few famous records). However, it seems more like a committee design smash together of different ideas than the Fender offsets, resulting in problems like the neck dive and the tight pickup placement due to the 24 frets and neck tenon.
Nah. The Jag was never meant to be a student model. It was the top of the line Fender guitar when it came out. He made it short scale to appeal to surf players who (he assumed) wanted a fast playing guitar.

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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by algeriet » Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:33 am

jvin248 wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 3:43 am
The Jaguar, being shorter scale, was the 'student' version of the premium guitars, and why the family resemblance.
False. It was the top of the line model starting at 379,50$ followed by the Jazzmaster at 349,50$. Source 1962 Fender catalogue.

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Re: Why didn’t Leo Fender come up with a brand new shape for the Jaguar?

Post by MayTheFuzzBeWithYou » Thu Jun 25, 2020 6:47 am

adamrobertt wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 5:18 am

Nah. The Jag was never meant to be a student model. It was the top of the line Fender guitar when it came out. He made it short scale to appeal to surf players who (he assumed) wanted a fast playing guitar.
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