The Fender Jaguar was first released in 1962. It was based very much on the Jazzmaster, another Fender guitar first made in the late 50s. The majority of vintage Jaguars are sunburst. Other "custom colours" are more rare. These can include:
Apparently, a 5% premium was charged for these paint jobs (including candy apple red and olympic white, which are perhaps the most common colours after sunburst). Taking the extra charge for custom colours into account, it's little wonder that most 60's Jaguars we see are sunburst, because they were obviously the cheapest to buy. And at this time, the Jaguar was the most expensive Fender guitar available. If you look at this tag, you will see that the (sunburst) Jaguar it refers to cost $379.50 in 1962. If anyone else has old price tags for vintage Jaguars, in colours including sunburst, I'd be very interested in seeing them.
Jay Piersanti also writes writes in tell us:
"Hi, I'm the original owner of a '65 Sunburst Jaguar and I still have all of the hangtags, paper work, a full '66 catalog, and a '66 pricelist in the original case. I purchased it on 11/30/65 for $430 and the list on the hang tag was $491."
Fender would probably have painted a Jaguar in any colour that you could provide them with the paint code for. So early 60's Jaguars can turn up in more colours off the Fender (DuPont) paint chart. There are also sparkle paint jobs.
Sunburst was available with non-matching headstock only. Olympic white was available with or without matching headstock. Jaguars finished in transparent blonde always have ash bodies, and come without matching headstock only. All the other custom colours seem to come with matching headstock only (though there may be exceptions). Black Jaguars have just the "Fender" part of the decal on the headstock. The "Jaguar", "DES/PAT" and "OFFSET Contour Body" decal parts were probably left off, because they would have been masked out.
There are also Left handed Jaguars from the 60's. But they are quite rare. There was never a left handed tremolo for them though. So the bar insert is effectively on the opposite side.
The body was made of alder (with blonde finishes being an exception). The neck was made of maple with a rosewood fretboard and clay dot markers. There seem to be early 1962 fretboards that were made as slab . But after mid-late '62, all seem to be veneer. The neck and body are finished in nitrocellulose lacquer. The neck is stamped at the heel. For example, "1 OCT 62 B". I'm not entirely sure what the "1" means. But it's probably nothing to do with date, as every early Jaguar appears to have a 1 in that position. Perhaps this was simply the number that would indicate that it was a Jaguar neck. The "OCT" means October. "62"=1962. And "B" is the nut width, in the Jaguars case, B = 1 5/8". An "A" would mean 1.5", though they are quite rare. See the gallery for a '65 surf green A width Jaguar.
In the body route for the tremolo, there is a date written. With some other unreadable scribbling just above it. There are no markings in the neck pocket.
The headstock is what you could call the the first "CBS style" larger headstock (though somewhat smaller). It seems as the Fender guitars went along (Telecaster > Stratocaster > Jazzmaster > Jaguar) the headstocks got bigger. The decal was placed above the lacquer and has the gold transition "Fender" logo on. the gold part of the logo has a raised, speckled appearance. Beneath it in black reads "DES 186,826 PAT 2,960,900 2,972,923 & PAT. PEND". There is a little "OFFSET Contour Body" decal on the headstock as well.
Like all Fender guitars, the Jaguar neck is fixed in place by screws that are countersunk into a neckplate. The neck plate has a serial number on it. This number appears to be in accordance with how many Fender guitars were run off the production line. For example, serial number "89,685" means that this Jaguar was the 89,685th guitar made by Fender. Though it may have been a little more random than that. Meaning that the neckplate wouldn't have been fetched and put on any given fender guitar in any particular order. Later on when the production numbers of Fender guitars got to the one hundred thousand mark, the "1" in "100,000" was apparently stamped as an "L" by mistake, but the plates were used anyway.
The machine heads were the single line Kluson Deluxe Safe-T-Posts plated with nickel, that were on all Fender guitars at the time. They are 6 in line. With oval buttons and a little grease nipple cannily located at the "O" in "KLUSON" on the back of the gear housing. Jaguar hardware was also available with gold plate, instead of nickel and chrome. Usually on blonde or olympic white I think.
The tremolo system on the Jaguar is quite unique. On the plate there is a patent number reading "PAT. # 2,972,923".
The strings go from the lever tail piece over a rocking bridge that sits on 2 pins. The 6 saddles can differ. Some have 3 different sizes of groove thread on them (smallest for E and B, medium for G and D, and largest for A and E). Others 60's Jaguar bridges have all the same size groove thread. The bridge has dome shaped welds over the rivets. There is also a cover for the bridge assey.
Underneath the bridge is a spring loaded mute which can be flipped into position. It has a line of foam on it that cushions the strings when in position. After many years this foam usually perishes.
The controls and scratch plate area is made up of 3 metal control plates and a celluloid plastic pickguard. Brown tortoiseshell pickguard was usually used on sunburst, olympic white and blonde Jaguars. White pickguard was used on most other custom colours. The pickups are much like any other Fender single coil pickups that were around at the time. But the covers and bobbins were different. The pickups height screws tap directly into the body. The pickup sits on some squeezey foam that is underneath it in the route, and is forced down by the screws on either side. The covers incorporate a metal shielding claw. These claws have 6 'teeth'. The 2 shortest sit at one side of the claw. Some 60's Jaguars I've seen have these 2 short claws situated underneath the thin E and B strings. Other Jaguars have them underneath the thick E and A strings. But it is not completely clear which side these short claws are supposed to be under. Or what the purpose of having 2 shorter claws on one side actually is? Theories welcome. I have one or two or my own...
The pole pieces are completely flat and are flush with the top of the cover. Both neck and bridge pickups are more or less identical. Only, the bridge pickup cover appears to be more flat than the neck pickup cover. Note, both of the pickups on my Jaguar are wound normally and poles are the normal way around. There is no noise canceling effect gained by using the 2 in series. I know the '62 Stratocasters just had three normal wounds. The Jaguar has dual circuit electronic controls. The main switch is the one on the upper horn control plate.
When the main switch is flicked upwards, only the neck pickup is used. And the roller dials are the volume and tone controls. If the main switch is flicked downwards, then both neck and bridge pickups are used. Both can be turned on, both can be turned off. The on/off switches are on the diamond shaped control plate along with a bass cut switch. And the volume and tone dials are on the lower butt control plate, along with the output jack.
All the routes underneath the scratchplate have brass sheiling plates in them, fixed onto the body by small triangular shaped pieces of metal (glasier points) forced into the sides of the routes. There is also an aluminium shielding plate just on the underside the pickguard. All the pots are made by Stackpole. The wiring is cloth wrapped, in 6 different colours (green, yellow, blue, black, white and orangey red). The large pots on the control plate that houses the output jack are 1Mohm. They have letters and numbers stamped around the edges of them. They both read:
1 MEG AUD
There are 2 much smaller pots on the upper horn control plate. One is 1Mohm and the other is 50kohm. The volume pot reads:
And the tone pot reads:
1962-1964 Stackpole pots:
The last part of the stamping code has the date near the middle-"304-6232". and a week number at the end-"304-6232", meaning that these pots were made in the 32nd week of 1962.
The "1 MEG" and "50K" parts are self explanitory. I've been told the pots are arranged in Audio and Linear. Which explains why the smaller pots both say "LIN" on them, and the larger pots say "AUD". See a vintage wiring diagram here.
The case that came with the Jaguar and Jazzmaster was made by the Victoria Case Company. They were made out of vinyl tolex. The outside of the cases were available in brown/chocolate, cream and black. They had leather on the corners and upper sides. They have 3 catches, 2 of which have locks on. All the hinges and catches are plated in brass. Inside, the lining is usually orange pile.
It isn't too suitable for a Jaguar, because the neck doesn't find its way fully past the support properly. The end of the headstock doesn't reach the end of the case. For the Jaguar body to be sitting in the correct place, the headstock would have to be on top of the rest (as shown in this picture). So that means the body is pushed further up and the strap attachment on the upper horn eventually damages one side of the little compartment inside the case. One would have imagined that these cases were more suitable for the long scale Jazzmaster. But from the pictures I've seen, it doesn't fare much better. Inside the case, there isn't much padding, and overall it's really rather poorly designed in my opinion. Because of this, some people may wrongly assume their Jaguar has the non-original HSC. This is also possibly one of the reasons (aside from buckle rash) that Jaguars had body guards available for them. These body guards were evidently made for Fender by a company called Parker. The one pictured is black, but they were also available in transparent and red. A good idea, if the cases are to be used in a practical sense (i.e, going to and from gigs etc), is to roll up old socks or dusters as pads in the top right hand corner of the case. Then put a pad across over the top of where the nut is.
Sometime in 1963, the pole pieces on the pickups go from being all flush with the cover, to being raised and staggered. Also in '63, the company that made the tuners (Kluson) started putting their name in a double line across the back of the gear housings
In 1964 the Fender company was sold by Leo Fender to CBS. Though nothing about the guitars features immediately changed because of this. The pots start to be stamped on the base instead of the sides, like they were before.
In August 1965 the dots are made out of pearl instead of clay (Fender had probably started using them before this date though) and the Jaguar got neck binding like a Gibson guitar. As we can see here, when the binding is taken off these Jaguar necks, it reveals that the fretboard is veneer. It's probable that no other changes took place to these necks aside from them being routed round the edge for the binding:
At the same time, Kluson Deluxe tuners are replaced with Fender F-keys. The neck plates also got an "F" on them, probably in August '65. The frets may also have got bigger, like a Gibson guitar. A short time after August (possibly spring '66), Jaguars got pearl block inlays.
Around '67 or '68 Fender gave the Jaguar a larger headstock and stopped using nitrocellulose lacquer, and started finishing the neck and body in acrylic lacquer. As we can see in the pictures below, the '71 Jaguar neck is covered in thicker gloss. Also note how the decal changed. This decal was now underneath the finish. They have a Black Fender logo, surrounded by gold (as appose to the earlier ones, which had gold surrounded by black). The numbers are in a double line, and read:
"PAT. 2,960,900 2972,923 3,143,028 2,741,146 3,236,930 3,260,148 DES. 186,826"
The decal also gains the "R" registration symbol after the Fender part at this point too.
The final results of the gradual changes given to the neck of the Jaguar by CBS. A '71 Jaguar neck finished in acrylic lacquer with large headstock, binding, pearl block inlays and changed decal:
There seem to be very few Jaguars from the late 60's/early 70's onwards. Some 70's Jaguars are seen with maple fretboards and black block inlays. Black pickguards are also seen on sunburst Jaguars. Perhaps, seen as so few were being produced, the Jaguars that were made at around this time were more or less custom jobs (having seen an all maple neck that had "CUSTOM" stamped at the heel).
Although production numbers were very high at their peak in the mid '60's, the Jaguar was discontinued in 1975, probably due to low demand.
The Jaguar Time line