The latest instalment in our quest to find our readers Top Guitar is a head to head clash between the Fender Mustang vs Jaguar. You can check out our previous guitar battle between the Strat and Tele here.
Let’s start with a look at the Fender Mustang.
The Fender Mustang was launched in 1965 as part of a Fender design re-vamp of its student range of guitars, the MusicMaster and Duo Sonic. The Mustang was produced up until 1982 when it was sadly phased out. However, the Fender Mustang gained cult status in the 1990s when it became the instrument of choice for a number of alternative rock guitarists which included a certain Kurt Cobain. The Mustang was therefore re-issued in the 90s due to the surge in interest in the instrument.
When launched in 1965 the Mustang had an off-set waist body and was offered with two neck options. You could choose either a 21 fret 22.5 inch neck or a 22 fret 24 inch neck. The 24 inch neck proved more popular and so the majority of Mustangs produced had this neck configuration. However, even with a 24 inch neck it was relatively short being 1.5 inches shorter than the Strat and 0.75 inches shorter than the Gibson Les Paul. The shorter scale length, because of the shorter neck, made the Mustang a very easy guitar to play, especially if you had small hands. It was therefore an ideal student guitar.
The Mustang was fitted with two single coil pickups and had a unique tremolo system, the Fender Dynamic Vibrato Tailpiece. The tremolo on the Mustang was a popular addition and was a complete departure from the “synchronized vibrato” system found on the Stratocaster. It was also, for many Mustang players, the reason why they were attracted to the guitar. Leo Fender believed that this new design was superior to previous designs since the bridge actually moved backwards and forwards along with the strings during vibrato use. This, it was claimed maintained proper intonation even under duress, and prevented strings from binding. The floating bridge concept was first used on the Jazzmaster and proved successful so was used on the Mustang and the Jaguar. The floating vibrato mechanism also features a built-in lock, which helped the player preserve the guitar’s tuning in the event of a string breakage and easing removal of the vibrato arm.
As I mentioned above the Mustang was phased out in 1982 but retained a cult following. For example the guitar became a favourite for guitarists who liked to tinker with pickups and many Mustangs were retro-fitted with more expensive pickups. The design and sound of the guitar also made it popular for alternative musicians who wanted to create a different image at odds with the polished super strats of the hair metal era.
The Mustang is a hard act to follow but in the Fender Mustang vs Jaguar clash the Jaguar is a class act itself. Let’s see what it has to offer.
The Fender Jaguar.
The Fender Jaguar has a lot of similar design features to the Mustang but is a completely different beast in terms of its functionality. Introduced by Fender in 1962 it was a feature laden top of the range guitar designed specifically to lure guitarists away from Gibson. The Jaguar owed some of its design features to the earlier Jazzmaster. It had an offset waist body and featured a medium scale 24 inch neck, which was also used on the Mustang. Like the Mustang the shorter scale length meant the guitar was comfortable to play.
Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Jaguar, which was first introduced on the Jazzmaster, was the unusual pickup switching system with two separate circuits for lead and rhythm. Each circuit had separate controls, allowing for two preset tone and volume settings between which the guitarist could rapidly switch. The Jaguar, in a departure from the Jazzmaster, had a more complex lead circuit consisting of three switches and two dials on the lower bout: the first two switches were on/off switches for the neck and bridge pickups, respectively, while the third switch engaged a capacitor that served as a high-pass filter (sometimes referred to as a “strangle” switch). The rhythm circuit, set into operation when the upper bout switch is flicked upwards, had individual volume and tone controls but no option to choose between pickups. This rhythm circuit has a bassier, neck-pickup only range.
The Fender Jaguar gained a significant following amongst surf music musicians but it was not sufficient to save the guitar. In 1975 the Jaguar was phased out by Fender. Interestingly it was the Punk Rock scene that re-invigorated the fortunes of the Jaguar. Indie and alternative rock guitarists influenced by Punk wanted the Jaguar and Fender re-introduced the guitar in the mid-1980s. Since then Fender have continued to produce the Jaguar in the US, Mexico and China.
That’s it our summary of the Fender Mustang vs Jaguar. Two great guitars, cut from a similar mould with a slightly chequered history compared to their more illustrious brothers the Strat And Telecaster. But which of the two would be your Top Guitar. In a clash between the Fender Mustang vs Jaguar which would you vote for? Make you choice below.