Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster: 6 Best Go Head To Head

This is our review of the Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster Electric Guitar battle.

Which is the better electric guitar? What areas do they excel in?

Although both brands have many variations. I’ve gone with 6 guitars from Budget, Standard, and Pro level to give you a good idea of what to expect from both models.

Both Jaguar and Jazzmaster guitars are very popular brands. Especially since the 90s alternative indie and rock scene. Can I mention Kurt Cobain yet? Too early?

The list of famous players for both brands is huge. This alone tells you something about their many qualities.

Read on to 6 of the best go head to head and learn the main differences between Fender Jaguar and Jazzmaster guitars.

Product Range 

Fender Jaguar Vs Jazzmaster: Best Electric Guitars Review

1- Fender Player Jaguar

fender jazzmaster vs jaguar
  • Friendly Price
  • Superb Color Options
  • Shorter Scale Length
  • Modern Series, Classic Look
  • Easy To Play

The ‘Player’ Series of Fender is an evolution born from the ‘Standard’ Series that was very popular in the 90s.

This superb entry level guitar is very affordable and a perfect way to get your foot in the door with the Fender family.

As it boasts a 24 inch scale, it’s shorter and more playable for beginners and players with smaller hands.

With its chrome based hardware and Alder body, you’ll still be receiving a top-notch Mexican-made guitar.

A mouthwatering modern color selection is available. Classic Reservoir Dogs Black, the unique Orange Capri, 3-Color Sunburst, and the Tidepool Green (above).

fender jazzmaster vs jaguar

With the Player Series Alnico 2 single-coil pick up for tasty ear-piercing lead licks and the thick powerful Alnico 3 Humbucker, you’re guaranteed a large number of tones just like the more expensive version of Jaguar.

A solid performer entry-level guitar you can rely on.

2- Fender Player Jazzmaster

  • Affordable
  • Dark Soothing Tones
  • Coil Tap Feature
  • Perfect Entry Guitar
  • Blistering Gain

If you’re needing to cut through the mix with a blistering solo or fill out the band with thick warm tones. Then the Player Jazzmaster series is a safe option for you.

The big difference between the Jazzmaster and the Jaguar in the budget section is the two humbuckers, in bridge and neck pickup positions.

So if you’re hoping to gain more distorted tones and all round warmth of body, there’s nothing this trusty weapon cannot achieve.

Unlike the traditional Jazzmasters, the Player has slightly different circuitry. The ‘coil tap’ feature is something I would find really helpful as a live guitarist.

You may be in the middle of a blistering chorus with needs filling out with your Humbuckers. Instead of stumbling around stepping on your pedalboard in the dark. You can simply pull the tone control knob and release those single coil classic jangly tones for the verse.

When you’re ready to launch back into a chorus, simply press the ‘coil tap’ back in, and you’re back into Humbucker heaven.

This is also a wicked feature for building solos from shimmering chilled to explosive and fat.

jaguar jazzmaster

Once again we’re given an alder body with a stunning Buttercream, 3-Color Sunburst-Capri Orange, and Polar White. 

Just like the Jaguar Player above, these guitars are a very friendly price. This is great for any entry guitarist’s wanting to get started without spending a fortune.

I really like the ‘coil tap’ and double humbucking Player Series pickups, so the Jazzmaster gets my vote here. 

BUDGET WINNER-Fender Player Jazzmaster

3- Fender Kurt Cobain Jaguar

Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster
  • Replicated Kurt Cobain’s Iconic Modified Fender Jaguar
  • Superior DiMarizo Humbuckers
  • Surprising Price
  • Classic Nirvana Aggression
  • Exclusive Kurt Cobain Book

I thought it would be apt to feature a Kurt Cobain Jaguar. As he was solely responsible for distributing Grunge globally, with the help of his Fender Jazzmaster (and Neil Young!).

Kurts modified 1965 Fender Jaguar is now available for you. With phenomenal power and unmistakable looks, you can relive one of the greatest periods of rock music with his Jaguar.

The 3-tone sunburst is an exact match of Kurt’s guitar. The classic Stratocaster headstock and 50s style spaghetti logo are also a match. 

The DiMarzio Humbucking setup is a big step up from the Player Series.

Maple neck, Soft playable Rosewood fretboard with 22 frets. You’re almost guaranteed a crisp authentic Nirvana sound on the DiMarzio DP103 PAF 36th anniversary pickup. 

On the bridge pickup, you’re given ‘super distortion’ fitted retrofitted pickups for ultimate power. 

The controls at first glance can look a bit much but don’t be put off.

They’re quite simple. The selector switch in the down position on the shoulder closest to you will engage the rhythm circuit. This is selecting the neck pickup, overriding the 3 way pickup selector switch, tone and volume knobs. You only use the two thumbwheel pots to carve out a nice thick tone. 

Now shifting the switch down your back to the conventional guitar controls. You’re now able to make use of the volume and tone controls and rip out huge riffs like Kurt, Be careful! 

A well made, great copy of Kurt’s guitar. All in all, it really has that essential Nirvana tone in abundance. If you’re a fan (who isn’t?)

This guitar can be yours to re-enact Kurt’s huge wall of distortion or to show off to your friends as a collector guitar. 

You’re also going to get a Unique Kurt Cobain book with photos and commentary. Also worth looking into the interview with Nirvana’s guitar tech Earnie Bailey. This is gold dust if you really want to nail Kurt’s tone and volume.  

4- Fender Troy Van Leeuwen Jazzmaster

fender jazzmaster
  • Stunning Looking
  • Authentic Fender Twang
  • Superb Build Quality
  • Value For Money
  • The King Of Crunch

Troy Van Leeuwen is the super talented guitarist from Queens of the Stoneage. If you’re feeling the Kurt Cobain Jaguar is a little too hot for you. We have the perfect guitar in the Jazzmaster signature Van Leeuwen model.

Straight away I was struck by how stunning this guitar is to look at. I would say it’s the most attractive guitar in my review.

It comes in a super unique Oxblood finish and a four-ply tortoiseshell pickguard. You’re certainly not going to look like any other guitarist on the circuit with this cool looking axe.

Below the hood, we have classic Fender American Vintage ‘65 Jazzmaster single-coil pickups. They’re based on that distinctive Van Leeuwen chime.

As per most of the Jazzmaster market, we have a lead /rhythm toggle on top of the body for the live guitarist. Easily for those live band situations.

The C shape neck is a little closer to the fretboard, giving the hands more space to play faster or stretch over long distances.

The upgraded bridge has nickel-plated brass Mustang saddles to make it look like the original collection from the 50s.

The feature that grabbed my attention instantly was the period block fret inlays and vintage tuners. Now, if I were to build my own guitar from scratch, I’d 100% be adding those two tasty features.

So if you’re looking for a brighter more ambient Jazzmaster, this is made with the same spec as Van Leeuwens guitar.

You won’t be disappointed.

STANDARD WINNER: Fender Kurt Cobain Fender Jaguar

5- Fender American Original ’60S Jaguar

jazzmaster and jaguar
  • Chime King
  • Original Jaguar Specs
  • Gorgeous Colors
  • Unique Mute Switch found only on Jaguars
  • Vintage Original Spec from the sixtees

Now we get to the real thing. No more signature or modded guitars, it’s the Fender Original 60s Jaguar!

Do you want the true to vintage spec of a 1960s Jaguar but modern playability? It’s all here with the tall 60s frets and comforting C neck shape.

An Alder body and a gorgeous nitrocellulose lacquer finish. Pure vintage single line Fender Deluxe tuning pegs offers the original style as if you were buying it in 1962.

Check out the unique mute switch which sits around the bridge plate. You simply tilt it toward the strings and you’re given a gypsy jazz-type tone.

As you know muted notes are a huge part of guitar playing, this is a rare feature that brings another avenue to your sixtees style guitar playing.

jazzmaster and jaguar

The original best selling colors of daphne blue, surf green, and the all-time favourite 3-color sunburst will have you licking your lips. 

Whether you want to emulate the surf tunes from the 60s or you might be a keen collector of beautiful instruments, the Jaguar has a rich history and will impress your friends. 

A truly wonderful specimen. A must-have for all Jag fans.

6- Fender Parallel Universe Volume II Spark-O-Matic Jazzmaster

classic fender jazzmaster vs jaguar
  • Seymour Duncan SM-1N & SM-3B Mini-Humbuckers
  • Outrageously Beautiful
  • High Quality Build
  • 5-Way Selector Switch
  • A Mix Of The Finest Fender Guitars

Purists look away.

The Spark-O-Matic Jazzmaster is a truly luxurious guitar. It would look very impressive in anybody’s collection. It would probably even suit your home furniture with its sleek timeless look, it would have all eyes gazing on it.

But as always, it’s not all about how it looks. The Fender Parallel Universe Volume II has top notch hardware and build quality.

The Parallel Universe Series is a collection of Fender guitars finest characteristics. The best parts are added together to make a super guitar (a bit like Frankenstein, but much more attractive?). The guitar oozes individuality and boasts high class hardware.

Soft Rosewood medium jumbo frets , American Pro bridge and tremolo and most importantly a satin nitro neck. It feels like silk on the palm of your hand. The satin nitro neck are a far cry from those overally glossed sticky dirty necks.

You’ll get the vintage 18-1 ratio tuners, which are my favorites in the Fender collection.

They just look super authentic. They are certainly the best option if you like to use the tremolo bar. The ratio tuners definetly help keep the guitar in tune better than the other types.

jazzmaster and jaguar

The body is constructed with a Mahogany center and two ash wings. This is extremely rare in Fender build terms.

A thinner Nitrocellulose finish means you’ll get more resonance and your guitar will age beautifully. If you love the natural road worn look, this is for you.

The 5-way pickup selector switch gives you ample sounds to dial into. This feature is taken from the many tones a Fender Strat can give you.

The superior Seymour Duncan Humbuckers elevate this guitars hardware above any other on the list.

In my opinion, the uniqueness of this guitar is amazing. It’s been designed from quality parts that have been a success on other Fender models. A super hero of Fender guitars.

A real gem in the Jazzmaster collection. A must have if you thrive on uniqueness and quality of hardware.

Pro Winner:  Parallel Universe II Spark O Matic Fender Jazzmaster

What Are The Differences? 

Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster


Tone is purely subjective and controlled by many variables the player can create.

Such as choice of strings, the thickness of the pick, bare fingers vs nails, and most importantly a player’s technique.

The difference between the guitar models may not make you a better player. But, you can find something that suits you and your music.

Let’s look at some clear differences i found between the Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster:


In my opinion, the Jazzmaster has a fuller sound. Some describe it as a warmer feel with fewer highs.

The Jaguar has a more crisp edge to its tone, it’s so much punchier. The Jaguar is also darker in the rhythm circuit position.

If you’re into your distorted sounds, you need power for your music, then the Jazzmaster absorbs distortion pedals and amp overdrive better than the Jaguar.

The Jaguar is far superior and cleaner in overall sound. With crystal clear shimmering tones.

This is only my opinion. The best way to tell the difference would be to listen to youtube videos, or go try the guitars out yourself, one after another.

That way you get a genuine idea of how the guitar feels in your arms.

Scale Length

I wanted to mention the difference in scale length as it makes a big difference in comfort and tone. 

The Fender Jazzmaster has a 25.5 inch length (just like the original specs) where the Jaguar is shorter and possibly more comforting compact feel at a 24 inch scale. 

Smaller players or children may prefer a Jaguar.

Look at our Best Kids Guitar Article right here


Jaguar generally will stick to the classic humbuckers or single coil pickups.

The Jazzmaster is much more unique and stylish, they use soap bar style pickups which carry the means to play much heavier.

Switching Variations

The Jazzmaster has a ‘3-way switching pot’ just like the Telecaster. There is also a simple ‘flicker switch’ which operates in the up or down position.

You would use the down position for the lead circuit and a brighter chord sound. The master volume and tone are fully operational at this point.

When the Flick switch is in the up position you’ll be utilizing the ‘rhythm circuit’.

The ‘roller’ tone controls are on the upper bout of the guitar body giving you many options to carve out and clean your tone.

At this point the lower control knobs (Volume and Tone, and 3-way switch) become redundant.

When selecting the rhythm option, the bridge pickup also switches off. Giving you the neck pickup only.

Don’t be put off by the many options. It’s simply because the lead and rhythm circuit use different potentiometers, and have distinctive electrical values.

The Jaguar works in a very similar way.

The only real difference is the Jaguar doesnt have a 3 way pickup selector (toggle switch). Instead, it has ‘3 button’ switches.

The button switches work in an on/off fashion. From: Bridge Pickup Neck Pickup on/off and Bass Cut on/off.

There you have it. Now all you have to do now is try both models for yourself!

Brief History

Fender Jaguar

In 1962 The Fender Jaguar was born on the back of the Jazzmaster.

It was originally designed to appeal to the Gibson players at the time. Although the Jaguar didn’t see much success in comparison to the lower-priced Fender Strat and Tele.

It’s safe to say the Jaguar’s first popular period was that in the Surf scene of the early 60s.

Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys being the biggest name on the Jaguar guitarist list at that time.

After production stopped in 1975 there wasn’t much sign of the Jaguar making a comeback until the indie rock, punk movement of the late 80s-90s.

Suddenly the Jaguar was in the hands of Kurt Cobain.

His unique brand of music with a left-handed style was light years away from what the guitar was used for in the 60s. The Jaguar was now far more popular than any other time in its history.

Kurts Modified 1965 Fender Jaguar was purchased around late 1991. He used this Jaguar at the start of the ‘In Utero’ tour in 1994

In 2011 Fender brought out the ‘Kurt Cobain’ Jaguar model, based on his 1965 guitar with the added modifications.

Makes you think how popular the Fender Jaguar/Jazzmaster would be without Cobain’s huge influence.

Fender Jazzmaster

The Jazzmaster was originally designed for ….you’ve guessed it, the Jazz guitarist in 1958.

It was actually manufactured with replacing the Fender Stratocaster in mind.

It didn’t go down well, in fact, it was completely disregarded by Jazz Musicians in general.

During the sixtees, the Jazzmaster did have a little success. It did get short periods of use with Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Pete Townsend, and various artists within the Surf scene. This alone kept the guitar in the Fender lineup.

The 70s was not a great era for Fender, with CBS crashing many amp and guitar models out of circulation. The Jazzmaster being one of those.

Due to affordability and the birth of punk music, the Jazzmaster had an underground resurgence.

Once again it was reborn and returned to the forefront of the Fender line, literally out of nowhere.

The 80s saw CBS ending their interest in Fender and ‘Fender Japan’ produced a vintage style 1962 reissue.

This model of guitar grew into something nobody had ever imagined. Sales rocketed earning this model success through to 1999.

The plot thickens. The Vintage Style 1962 reissue later became one of the most recognizable guitars in the 90s.

Grunge and Indie hit the scene with a new form of original music.

The Jazzmaster being at the forfront of this. Again showing itself to be one of the most iconic and versatile Fender guitars of all time.

The Jazzmaster seems to have the skill of reinventing itself over and over.

Grunge music! the furthest genre of music you can get from Jazz!

Maybe one day it’ll actually make waves in the Jazz Music sector?

Bottom Line- Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster

I hope you’ve gained some understanding of the differences between the two super guitars.

Once you’ve tried a few out you’ll know which one suits you the best.

About Lee

Lee has been playing guitar for over 25 years. In the 1990's he made a few TV appearances in London and supported a few big bands at festivals. He's recently sung on radio and worked as a full-time guitarist/singer. Lee is the founder of Authority Guitar, a site where he wants readers to enjoy every aspect of learning the guitar.