Jaguar vs Jazzmaster: Which Electric Guitar is Best?


The Jazzmaster and Jaguar electric guitar models are incredibly popular options which are offered by both Squier and Fender, but which should you buy? In this article, I’ll compare all the differences between these two models of electric guitar including their tone, look and feel as well as take a deep dive into their key features.

The Quick Answer

The Jazzmaster electric guitar has a warmer and fuller tone compared to the Jaguar which sounds brighter and thinner. The Jazzmaster has wider single coil pickups and a longer scale length compared to the Jaguar. The Jaguar has an additional tone-cut switch unlike the Jazzmaster.

Comparing Features

First, let’s look at the designs of both guitars models. There are a few variants in the Squier and Fender ranges so I’ve chosen the models that are the closest to the original designs for comparison. Later on the article, we’ll take a more in-depth look at the other models in the range.

Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster

Here is a table comparing all the key features of the Fender American Original ’60s Jaguar and Jazzmaster electric guitars.

FeatureFender JaguarFender Jazzmaster
Body ShapeDouble CutawayDouble Cutaway
Body WoodAlderAlder
PickupsTwo Single-CoilsTwo Wide Single-Coils
Neck Shape’60s C’60s C
Neck WoodMapleMaple
Frets2121
Fretboard WoodRosewoodRosewood
Scale Length24”25.5”
BridgeTremoloTremolo
Tone-Cut SwitchYesNo
Rhythm/Lead CircuitYesYes
Pickup Selector3-way3-way
Weight8.5 pounds (3.9 kg)8.5 pounds (3.9 kg)
Fender Jaguar vs Fender Jazzmaster

Squier Jaguar vs Jazzmaster

Here is a table comparing all the key features of the Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar and Jazzmaster electric guitar models.

FeatureSquier JaguarSquier Jazzmaster
Body ShapeDouble CutawayDouble Cutaway
Body WoodPoplarPoplar
PickupsTwo Single-CoilsTwo Wide Single-Coils
Neck ShapeC-shapeC-shape
Neck WoodMapleMaple
Frets2221
Fretboard WoodIndian LaurelIndian Laurel
Scale Length24”25.5”
BridgeTremoloTremolo
Tone-Cut SwitchYesNo
Rhythm/Lead SwitchYesYes
Pickup Selector3-way3-way
Weight8.5 pounds (3.9 kg)8.5 pounds (3.9 kg)
Squier Jaguar vs Squier Jazzmaster

Jaguar

Jazzmaster

Images link to Amazon

Tone Comparison

The Jazzmaster has a wider dynamic range and warmer tone with a higher output compared to the Jaguar which sounds brighter and thinner. The two guitars have a fairly similar tone which is hard to distinguish unless they are played back to back.

As you’ll notice from the comparison tables above, both guitars have very similar specifications. However, there are some key differences which makes them sound slightly difference.

  • The Jazzmaster has wider single coil pickups compared to the Jaguar.
  • The Jaguar has a shorter scale length (24″) compared to the Jazzmaster (25.5″).
  • The Jaguar has a tone-cut switch unlike the Jazzmaster.

The first difference has the greatest impact on the tone. Since the Jazzmaster has wider pickups which are wound differently, it has more bass and mid-range which gives it a fuller sound compared to the Jaguar which has more treble giving it more crispness. Hence, the Jazzmaster sounds warmer than the Jaguar.

It’s worth noting that you can get variants of both models with humbucker pickups which will make the tone warmer and fuller but less bright.

The shorter scale length on the Jaguar makes it sound slightly warmer and fuller than you’d expect, and the longer scale length on the Jazzmaster makes it sound a bit thinner. This is why the tones are often confused because these differences oppose the differences created by the pickups. However, the pickups are more dominating compared to the scale length when it comes to determining the tone of the guitar.

The final key difference is that the Jaguar has a tone-cut switch. This is also known as a “strangle switch” and it’s role is to cut the low-end (bass frequencies) to make the tone brighter but less full. The Jazzmaster does not have this feature.

Both guitars suit a wide range of music styles, however the Jazzmaster is usually better for styles with more gain such as rock, whereas the Jaguar is better for twangier tones so will be more suited to styles such as country.

Check out the YouTube video below to hear both guitars back to back.

Look and Feel

The look and feel of the Jazzmaster and Jaguar is fairly similar, but again there are some key differences. The most notable is that the Jaguar has a shorter scale length which can make it feel a bit more manageable for players with a shorter wingspan compared to the Jazzmaster. For beginners in particular, the Jaguar will usually feel a bit more comfortable to play with.

Differences:

  • The Jaguar has more chrome on the body whereas the Jazzmaster has more plastic.
  • The Jazzmaster has wider pickups compared to the Jaguar.
  • The Jaguar has a 24″ scale length compared to the Jazzmaster
  • The arrangement of the controls is slightly different on each model
  • Headstock shape

Similarities:

  • Colour options
  • Double cutaway offset shape
  • Neck shape
  • Tone and fretboard woods
  • Overall weight
  • Number of frets
  • Tremolo bridge

Comparing the Ranges

As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of variants of these two shapes in the Fender and Squier ranges which have different pickups, neck shapes, tone woods, prices etc. I’ve created the following tables to compare all the main models in the ranges (excluding signature and limited editions) and their average prices at the time of writing (these are subject to change. The tables are ordered from the lowest to the highest price so you can easily identify the models in your budget for comparison.

Squier Jazzmaster and Jaguar Guitars

GuitarOriginPickupsNeck ShapeTremoloPrice
Squier Affinity JazzmasterChinaSingle CoilC-ShapeYes$300
Squier Contemporary JazzmasterIndonesiaHumbuckerC-ShapeNo$450
Squier Classic Vibe ‘60s JazzmasterIndonesiaSingle CoilC-ShapeYes$460
Squier Classic Vibe 70’s JaguarIndonesiaSingle CoilC-shapeYes$490
Squier Contemporary JaguarChinaHumbuckerC-ShapeNo$490
Squier Jaguar vs Jazzmaster electric guitar ranges

Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar Guitars

GuitarOriginPickupsBody WoodNeck ShapePrice
Fender Player JaguarMexicoS-HAlderModern C$880
Fender Player JazzmasterMexicoH-HAlderModern C$880
Fender Noventa JazzmasterMexico3 x P90AlderC-Shape$1200
Fender Vintera ‘60s JazzmasterMexicoS-SAlderMid-60s C$1200
Fender Vintera ‘60s JaguarMexicoS-SAlder‘60s C$1250
Fender Vintera ‘60s Jazzmaster ModifiedMexicoS-SAlderModern C$1300
Fender Vintera ‘60s Jaguar ModifiedMexicoH-HAlderModern C$1380
Fender Kurt Cobain Jaguar NOSAmericaH-HAlderModern C$1450
Fender American Performer JazzmasterAmericaS-SAlderModern C$1500
Fender American Professional II JazzmasterAmericaS-SAlderC-Shape$1800
Fender American Original ‘60s JazzmasterAmericaS-SAlder‘60s C$2150
Fender American Ultra JazzmasterAmericaS-SAlder/ AshD-Shape$2200
Fender American Original ‘60s JaguarAmericaS-SAlder‘60s C$2250
Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster electric guitar ranges

Comparing the Controls

Both guitars are pretty confusing to operate, but have a lot of functionality which allows you to achieve very different tones without having to touch your amplifier.

Both guitars have a lead/ rhythm switch on most models. When the rhythm switch is on, only the neck pickup is active and it can be controlled using independent tone and volume controls on the upper horn of the guitar. When the lead switch is on, both pickups become active (although you can select between them using the pickup selector), and the master tone and volume on the lower horn is active.

The main difference between the Jaguar and Jazzmaster’s control is that the Jaguar has an additional switch on the lower horn called the “tone-cut” which cuts the bass frequencies. This is active when the lead circuit is on.

Apart from that, the look and layout of the controls are also different. The Jaguar uses switches to activate or inactivate each pickup, whereas the Jazzmaster uses a 3-way pickup selector to toggle between the positions. Also, the Jazzmaster controls are mounted on the plastic pickup guard, whereas the Jaguar’s controls are on chrome sections of the pickup guard.

Jazzmaster controls on the lower-horn (lead circuit)
Jaguar controls on the lower horn (lead circuit)

The exact controls not only vary between the Jazzmaster and Jaguar designs, but also within each range. For example, the Fender American Original Jazzmaster uses different switches compared to the Fender Vintera ’60s Jazzmaster.

I’ve written full guides for both guitars, so make sure you check them out to see what controls come on the exact models you’re interested in:

I’ve written a complete buyer’s guide for electric guitars which takes you through all the things you need to consider and a step-by-step method to narrowing down your selection and choosing the best option. Here is a link to the article.

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Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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