So many of us think Fender got it so right with the Stratocaster and Telecaster and that the later Jazzmaster squarely missed the point.
59 years later, the Jazzmaster’s dual control circuit, for example, still leaves many of us baffled.
In truth, both the Jazzmaster has been garnering its own fans and players for many, many years becoming the almost default axe for anyone remotely ‘indie’: the anti-Fender for the anti-guitar hero. This continued rise in this offset’s fortunes is clearly evidenced by its elevation into the 2017 Fender American Professional range – previously the American Standard range.
The Jazzmaster comes in new colours: Sonic Gray, with a parchment scratchplate, and Mystic Seafoam, with a mint green scratchplate, but only with a maple fingerboard. The two classic colours – 3-Colour Sunburst (with mint green ’plate) and Olympic White (with black ’plate) – both come with rosewood ’boards.
Then we have other Professional upgrades such as new pickups, modern ‘Deep C’-shaped neck profiles, bone nuts, narrow-tall fret wire… there’s a treble bleed capacitor and resistor circuit on the volume controls, not to mention the neat lightweight moulded hardshell case that’s included. Price-wise, they top the range, along with the dual humbucking Deluxe Telecaster model.
In the flesh, this modern-spec piece feels immediately ready to go, especially the vibrato with the new screw-in arms that stay put where you want them, and the Mustang-style solid brass saddles that aren’t individually height adjustable, but, via different radii, achieve an arch that matches the modern 241mm (9.5-inch) fingerboard radius. The modern neck design has the 22nd fret on an overhang, truss rod adjustment is behind the nut, plus there’s the easy-to-adjust micro-tilt feature that makes neck shims a thing of the past.
The Jazzmaster completely ditches its original dual rhythm/lead circuit feature going for a three-way toggle pickup selector on the upper, not lower, tip of the scratchplate with master volume and tone controls above the output jack, as normal. As ever, all the controls are placed on the scratchplate, while the two classic large rectangular single coils mount directly to the body via the four screws that also allow height and tilt adjustment.