Squier Jaguar: The sleek cat of the guitar world
(John Gorbe | Posted 2011-02-25)
I must admit that I’m not a big fan of the Jaguar design that Fender introduced back in 1962. It sure went through a rollercoaster of popularity since then – from the “finest electric guitar ever made” to a forgotten footnote in history to being reborn again in the 90’s with bands such as Nirvana and Sonic Youth. But the Jaguar does have a unique history in the Fender book and now Squier is adding another chapter. I believe this chapter will be a long one and a really good read!
I picked up this Jaguar and it immediately felt comfortable, albeit slightly on the heavy side due to the larger body. My tester was a 3-color sunburst with a 3-ply tortoise shell/white/black pickguard. It looked and felt like classy and echoed yesteryear, when the model was popular. This Squier model, however, is not exactly like the older Fender. When the Fender Jag first debuted in the 60’s it was ahead of it’s time and perhaps too complicated. Musicians wanted a simpler guitar. Squire embarked on this retro journey of taking the Jaguar concept and making it simpler. Behold the new Vintage Modified Jaguar.
The Squier VM Jaguar features: Top-loading hard-tail bridge, Basswood body, Maple C-shape neck with polyurethane finish, Rosewood fingerboard with 9.5” radius, 22 medium jumbo frets, 1 Duncan Designed HB102B Zebra Humbucking pickup and 1 Duncan-Designed HB102N Zebra Humbucking pickup, stacked concentric controls which feature an 11-position dial for tone, 3-way toggle switch, vintage style tuning machines, chrome hardware, 3-ply pickguard, and a Stratocaster-type output jack.
I really liked the sound the Duncan-Designed pickups offered. On a clean setting the neck pickup was pretty warm, and I could roll off the highs using the stacked 11-position dial although I lost a little articulation. Both pickups yielded a nice blend of the bridge and neck pickups thanks to independent volume controls. The bridge pickup was bright and got the job done as I played some funk and scratched the strings, but I was wishing for a little more output, especially when I played with overdrive. The guitar still sounded good, however, and this is an area that people may further modify anyway. Overall I was happy with the sound and found I could dial in a few usable tones for different styles of music.
The volume worked very smoothly and performing volume swell effects was a breeze from the neck or the bridge pickup. I did appreciate the stacked controls on each volume knob for tone, but the dials felt scratchy as I turned them and it made me not want to bother with them much out of concern that they might break. On an upside, the volume knob and tone dials both were knurled to provide a nice grip.
The guitar felt very comfortable while sitting down due to the contoured body, which was carved in just the right places. My chest leaned into the top of the guitar with no problem and my right forearm fell comfortably in place so fatigue was not going to be an issue. The only issue I had was with the highly glossed neck, which did feel tacky as I moved around the fingerboard. Another “feel” issue was the movement of the 3-way selector switch – instead switching in a vertical manner it was positioned so that I had to flip the switch horizontally. This is a minor complaint only because this switch on every other guitar I ever played was switched vertically.
I started this review stating that I wasn’t a fan of the Jaguar style. But after playing this guitar I could easily see myself using this on a job or in the studio. There just isn’t anything about this guitar that makes me not want to play it. The Jaguar easily offers the intermediate player the tools to develop and mature. With a couple of upgrades, it can provide many years of enjoyment for any player.
Squire is definitely on the right track with the Vintage Modified Series. The VM Jaguar is a simple guitar with a nice feel andgood tone, and I couldn’t believe the $299 USD price tag. For this price, it would be a nice addition to any player’s collection.
John Gorbe is a guitar editor at MGR and teaches and plays professionally.