I admit to having been seduced by the current Jazzmaster craze. I have always liked the look of the body, with its asymmetric design offering an implication of motion. Too, as a modern guitarist, I liked being able to play behind the bridge.
First some background.
When I had a chance to review the Fender Blacktop Jazzmaster I jumped at it. To the other Jazzmaster attributes, it added a humbucker in the bridge position, and lacking any instruments with humbuckers, I actually bought it after the review. Though the stock Jazzmaster pickup in the neck position sounded great, after years of playing nothing but DiMarzio hum-cancelling single coils I couldn’t hang with the hum. As long as I was going to change it out I figured I would give a Sheptone direct replacement humbucker a try. It sounded like a PAF, so I now have a dual humbucker Jazzmaster.
My Jazzmaster jones made me want to try a more vintage model, with single coils in both positions and the classic dual wiring system. Fender was kind enough to send me the Squier by Fender J Mascis Jazzmaster.
This Chinese-made model streets for between $379 and $399—about what you might pay for a Jazzmaster back when Tom Verlaine and the Sonic Youth crew were snapping up the originals. It is pure vintage, save for bigger frets, a tune-o-matic bridge replacing the original Jazzmaster design, and no bridge lock.
The white guitar, with its anodized gold pickguard looks terrific. I have experienced feedback issues with anodized pickguards in the past, but the Jazzmaster exhibited no squeal, even at high volume through a fuzz. The J Mascis approved large frets were well finished and the setup was excellent right out of the box—literally, for this price a box is all you get: no case or bag.
The vintage pickups proffered the classic, distinctive, Jazzmaster low output tone: warm, but with some twang. The bridge pickup had enough of a midrange bump to push amps and overdrives nicely. The neck had a blues bite, and together they were perfect for chime or chug. Though they hum, the signal to noise ratio was more than acceptable; stay away from the amp and find the right angle and you will be rewarded with relative quiet, even in higher gain situations.
The tone and volume pots were smooth; the main tone knob was great for vintage woman tone sounds. Switching to the rhythm circuit revealed where the instrument got its name: the neck pickup engaged with a dark but articulate sound, perfect for traditional jazz playing.
Once I had purchased the Blacktop Jazzmaster, the first thing I did was have the bridge replaced with a Mustang bridge. Thanks to Matt, at 30th Street Guitar in NYC, I learned that this is a standard quick, cheap fix for the “popping out if the saddle” issue endemic to the breed. (Those that can afford over $200 often go for the Mastery Bridge). With the J Mascis Squier, no such mod is required: the strings sat nice and secure in the tune-o-matic style bridge that comes with the guitar. The only quibble was the tremolo arm, which kept falling out of its socket; plumber’s tape will, no doubt, fix that.
If you are looking for this classic model to add to your arsenal of instruments, look no further than the Squier by Fender J Mascis Jazzmaster. Fender offers Jazzmasters for two and three times the price, but it is hard to imagine doing much better.
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This Mascis model is not at all really a vintage style Jazzer. Its consists of the type of mods Mascis does to his vintage Jazzys. Brings the bridge forward and uses a tunomatic – heaps more sustain and attack from a greater break angle – rock. Much hotter pickups – thicker, more aggressive P90 – not that bell like – rock. I like ’em and have bought a couple of sets from people that swap them out for vintage reissue ones. The neck is great, sanded and smooth. Not sticky nitro or poly. Look fab. $380? Not a problem
I like the guitar but Jesus Christ not the review. What kind of grammar is this? “Too, as a modern guitarist, I liked being able to play behind the bridge” that should be an ‘and’ without the preceding full stop. Get your writing style right if you want anyone to take what you say seriously.
Good catch. Though it is used on occasion, it technically should not be at the begin of a sentence. I’m not sure it invalidates the whole review however.
Press the trem arm in it’s place with force and determination. 🙂
Takes a bit more force than you’d think. Once it clicks in, it will not fall off. It won’t even rotate by itself.
Don’t feel bad, I’ve seen two Mascis Squiers in music stores and both had the arms left too loose lol.
Sweet guitar. Made me a fan of Dinosaur jr. and gas for all things jazz/jag. 🙂