Mod Garage: The Johnny Marr Fender Jaguar Wiring
Learn the guitar setup used by the Smiths legend, along with different ways to implement it and make it your own.
Welcome back to Mod Garage. This month we’ll take a deeper look inside the Fender Jaguar and what can be done to its wiring to make it more practicable. The 1962 Fender Jaguar is one of the offset outlaw axes and we dipped into this subject some years before in “Mod Garage: Rewiring a Fender Jaguar.”
This time, we’ll focus mostly on the controls of the standard Jaguar, instead of focusing on the numerous switches and additional pots as I covered before. I’m always happy about receiving requests to write something about such guitars, as I really like these outlaw buddies and I don’t think they get the attention they should. So here we go.
Today we’ll dissect the Johnny Marr Jaguar wiring found in the Fender Johnny Marr signature Jaguar model. My PG colleague Charles Saufley recently did a great interview with Johnny Marr, so definitely read it if you want to find out more about him.
The U.K.-born Marr is best known as the guitarist and songwriter behind the Smiths, who redefined and ruled British pop in the 1980s. He’s also known for playing with The The, Modest Mouse, the Cribs, and, of course, his solo work as well as playing on countless sessions. Rolling Stone listed Marr at No. 51 of the 100 Greatest Guitarists and No. 67 on the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time. What else can one say?
Sound familiar? It is! The 4-way pickup switch is the 4-way switch from the series Telecaster wiring and the bright switch is the good old mid-tone cut switch (aka “strangle switch”) from the original Jaguar wiring but in a doubled version.
Marr started playing a Fender Jaguar around 2005 and used it during his stay with Modest Mouse, resulting in his signature model, released in 2012. The guitar and its wiring underwent several changes since then, and today we’ll talk about the actual version built by Fender (model #0116400705).
Regarding the electronics, you can spot the differences at first glance: Instead of the typical three switches on the lower-horn chrome plate, the Johnny Marr Jaguar sports a custom chrome plate with a Fender-style 4-position pickup selector switch. On the upper-horn chrome plate, the two additional pots were replaced with a second slide switch in a custom chrome plate, which sports two slide switches. In addition, the guitar has several hardware upgrades, custom-wound pickups, and the original master volume/master tone configuration.
Let’s look under the hood as to what these elements are doing on the Jaguar, here, in Fender’s own words:
Four-Way Pickup Switch:Rather than traditional slide switches, Marr’s signature Jaguar has a special four-way blade pickup switch on the lower horn, delivering the bridge pickup alone, the bridge and neck pickups in parallel, the neck pickup alone, and the neck and bridge pickups in series.
Two “Bright” Slide Switches:In an extra-special design element, the upper horn of the Johnny Marr Jaguar features two slide switches—a “universal” bright switch that kicks everything up a notch or two, and a separate bright switch that only affects the “series” pickup switch position.
Sound familiar? It is! The 4-way pickup switch is the 4-way switch from the series Telecaster wiring and the bright switch is the good old mid-tone cut switch (aka “strangle switch”) from the original Jaguar wiring, but in a doubled version.
In addition to this switching matrix, we find the typical vintage Jaguar master volume/master tone controls under the hood: two 1M audio pots with a 0.01 µF tone cap and a single 56k resistor on the tone pot.
Before we dissect the wiring in Fig. 1, please note that it’s in an optical simplified version for a much better overview. The two switches are the typical Jaguar on/off switches—the ground of the bridge pickup is connected to common ground and not to the pickup-selector switch, same as for the Telecaster 4-way wiring.
Replacing the pickup switches with a standard pickup-selector switch not only makes operating the guitar a lot easier, but it enables an additional tone a standard Jaguar doesn’t have—both pickups together in series for a very fat and loud lead sound. It’s the same 4-way switch that you all know from the Electroswitch company (formerly Oak Grigsby) that’s used for the Telecaster. The downside of this mod is that you need a new custom chrome plate for the switch, but this type is available from several companies for a decent price. Fitting the switch can be a problem regarding the depth of the routing in the body. I’ve done this modification to several Jaguars, and in all cases I had to reroute the body to make it fit. It’s not a big deal with a good handheld router tool, but you should know about this problem. If you order a new Jaguar body, you should mention that you need a deeper routing at this location, so it’s a trouble-free operation.
Replacing the two additional pots with two switches on the upper horn also means that you need another new custom chrome plate, but this one is also available without any problems. The adaption of two individual strangle switches looks confusing, but, for whatever reason, Marr wants a general one influencing the whole wiring plus a special one only for the pickup position with both pickups in series. I can think of several applications for this wiring but it’s a matter of personal choice and preferences. If you have the playing chops of Marr, you’ll sound excellent with every guitar and every wiring inside. Us mere mortal pickers need some support from the wiring, so it’s no crime to mod it, but more about this later. In general, the bright or strangle switch uses a 3000 pF cap forming a fixed high-pass filter. In other words, it cuts bass, so the sound gets much brighter.
Using two 1M audio controls for master volume and master tone follows in the heritage of the Jaguar, same as for the single 56k resistor on the tone control together with the 0.01 µF tone cap. Nothing new here.
The combination of all this works, at least for Mr. Marr. But let’s break it down in sections.
The 4-way switch we all know from the Telecaster 4-way mod works perfectly and is a great addition to any guitar with two pickups, not only for a Jaguar. The switching order is the same as on the Telecaster (bridge only / bridge+neck in parallel / neck only / bridge+neck in series), so it feels like home. I don’t think there’s a useful variation for this mod: It’s perfect the way it is.
It’s up to you if you need a strangle switch, or if you need two of them. I think you should give it a try and play it for some time to see if you like it. Personally, I don’t need or like this feature, and in my own Jaguar I would use the two switches to add a kill-switch and phasing like we did with the Duo Sonic guitar in 2021. The series feature is already present in the Marr wiring, so the second switch would be my kill switch in this wiring. You can also tinker with the value of the bright caps on the two switches. Reasonable values would be from 1000 pF up to 6800 pF and everything in between. I think Marr’s concept behind the two switches was that he wanted to play a fat rhythm part without the bright switch, but when switching to solo mode (both pickups together in series) the sound gets very loud and fat and the dedicated bright switch helps to cut through the mix in this situation. So, it’s a kind of preset sound you can dial in—a concept that has tradition at the Fender company.
I really like 4700 pF on a Jaguar to dial in some fine nuances of warmth.
Regarding the two pots using 1M audio pots, this strictly follows the Jaguar vintage route and is boon and bane at the same time. The benefit is that with the pots fully opened, they’re close to a no-load pot with full high end. The downside is that in the Jaguar’s pure passive system the useable range of the pots is close to zero, acting like an on/off switch rather than a useful control with an effect over the whole rotation of the pot. Personally, I would change out both pots for two 250k audio pots or a 250k volume and 500k tone pot if you want a tad more high-end. The useable range is much better compared to the 1M pots, but this is also a matter of personal choice. Marr seems to like it, so it’s worth a try.
The standard volume control is perfect the way it is. I would add a treble-bleed network to keep some treble alive when rolling back the volume. For more info about this please have a look at “Mod Garage: Deep Diving into Treble-Bleed Networks.”
And last, the tone control. Choosing a 0.01 µF tone cap clearly shows the Jaguar was not designed for dark jazzy tones and that the tone should still have some good portion of treble when using the tone control. A 0.01 µF cap is a good choice, but if you need darker tones, go up to 0.015 or 0.022 µF and beyond. If 0.01 µF is still too dark for you, go down to 6800 pF and beyond. I really like 4700 pF on a Jaguar to dial in some fine nuances of warmth.
The 56k resistor on the tone control is a wired construction and there has been countless debates about it for decades. The physics behind it are very complex and I think Fender wanted to offer something new and versatile, but, as it often goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Meaning, it works on the drawing board but not so good in reality. In very simplified words, it’s a mixture of limited tone control and a little bit of Gibson ’50s wiring. With the tone control fully opened, everything is normal and as you know it from other guitars like a Strat or Tele. When you start to close the tone pot, the 56k resistor is slowly pushed into the signal path, forming a low pass together with the 0.01 µF cap, resulting in attenuating the tone and the resonance peak. With the tone pot fully closed, it acts like a ’50s wiring and there is no resonance shift.
It’s not a bad design per se—some like it while others don’t. An interesting detail is that when you start to close the tone pot, the pickup’s inductance will be decoupled from the cable capacitance, resulting in a glassy and ice-picking tone, and I think this was exactly what the Fender designers had in mind. In reality, this effect is completely offset because of the following high-end roll-off caused by the guitar electronics. Maybe Fender wanted to try something new, putting as many tonal features as possible into the Jaguar. It shall remain a secret and a mystery.
I would remove the resistor and rewire volume and tone as in a standard Telecaster for a traditional control. Give it a try and see if you like the Jaguar method better. Who knows? You can also experiment with the 56k resistor; reasonable values are from 22k up to 100k.
That’s it for now! Next month we’ll cover something you’ve asked for a lot: a mod for both electric and acoustic guitars to enhance tuning stability.
Until then ... keep on modding!
- Mod Garage: Rewiring a Fender Jaguar - Premier Guitar ›
- Vintage Vault: 1966 Fender Jaguar - Premier Guitar ›
- Fender Johnny Marr Signature Jaguar Guitar Review - Premier Guitar ›
For these new recreations, Fender focuses on the little things that make original golden-era Fenders objects of obsession.
If there’s one thing players love more than new guitars, it’s old guitars—the unique feel, the design idiosyncrasies, the quirks in finish that all came from the pre-CNC era of instrument manufacturing. These characteristics become the stuff of legend, passed on through the years via rumors and anecdotes in shops, forums, and community networks.
It’s a little difficult to separate fact from fiction given these guitars aren’t easy to get your hands on. Fender Telecasters manufactured in the 1950s and 1960s sell for upwards of $20,000. But old is about to become new again. Fender’s American Vintage II series features 12 year-specific electric guitar and bass models from over two decades, spanning 1951 to 1977, that replicate most specs on their original counterparts, but are produced with modern technologies that ensure uniform build and feel.
Chronologically, the series begins and ends, fittingly, with the Telecaster—starting with the butterscotch blonde, blackguard 1951 Telecaster (built with an ash body, one-piece U-shaped maple neck, and 7.25" radius fretboard) and ending with the 1977 Telecaster Custom, which features a C-shaped neck, a CuNiFe magnet-based Wide Range humbucker in the neck position, and a single-coil at the bridge. The rest of the series spans the highlights of Fender’s repertoire: the 1954 Precision Bass, 1957 Stratocaster in ash or alder, 1960 Precision Bass, 1961 Stratocaster, 1963 Telecaster, 1966 Jazz Bass, 1966 Jazzmaster, 1972 Tele Thinline, 1973 Strat, and 1975 Telecaster Deluxe. The 1951 Telecaster, 1957 Strat, 1961 Strat, and 1966 Jazz Bass will also be offered as left-handed models. Street prices run from $2,099 to $2,399.
Fender '72 American Vintage II Telecaster Thinline Demo | First Look
Spec’d To Please
Every guitar in the series sports the era’s 7.25" radius fretboard, a mostly abandoned spec found on Custom Shop instruments—Mexico-made Vintera models, and Fender’s Artist Series guitars like the Jimmy Page, Jason Isbell, and Albert Hammond Jr. models. Most modern Fenders feature a 9.5" radius, while radii on Gibsons reach upwards of 12". Videos experimenting with the 7.25" radius’ playability pull in tens of thousands of viewers, suggesting both a modern fascination with and a lack of exposure to the radius among some younger and less experienced players.
T.J. Osborne of the Brothers Osborne picks an American Vintage II 1966 Jazzmaster in Dakota red.
Bringing back the polarizing 7.25" radius across the entire series is a gamble, and it’s been nearly five years since Fender released year-specific models. But Fender executive vice president Justin Norvell says that two years ago when the Fender brain trust was conceptualizing the American Vintage II line, they decided the time was right to “go back to the well.”
“We’ve been doing the same [models], the same years, over and over again for 30 years,” says Norvell. “We really wanted to change the line and expand it into some new things that we hadn’t done before and pick some different years that we thought were cool.”
“It takes a lot of doing to go back in time and sort of uncover the secret-sauce recipes.”—Steve Thomas, Fender
To decide on which years to produce, Fender drew from what Norvell calls a “huge cauldron of information” from Custom Shop master builders to collectors with vintage models to former employees from the 1950s and 1960s. The hands-on manufacturing of Fender’s golden years meant guitars produced within the same year would have marked differences in design and finish. So, the team had to procure multiple versions of the same year’s guitar to decide which models to replicate. Norvell says some purists would advocate for the “cleanest, most down-the-middle kind of variant,” while others would push for more esoteric and rare versions. Norvell says that ultimately, the team picked the models that they felt best represented “the throughline of history on our platforms.”
Simple and agile, the Fender Precision Bass—here in its new American Vintage II ’54 incarnation—earned its reputation in the hands of Bill Black, James Jamerson, Donald “Duck” Dunn, and other foundational players.
Norvell says the American Vintage II series was developed, in part, in response to calls to reproduce vintage guitars. Just like with classic cars, he says, people are passionate about year-specific guitars. Plus, American Vintage II fits perfectly with the pandemic-stoked yearning for bygone times. “For some people, these specific years are representative of experiences they had when they were first playing guitar, or a favorite artist that played guitars from these eras,” says Norvell. “These are touchstones for those stories, and that makes them very desirable.”
Fender’s electric guitar research and design team, led by director Steve Thomas, dug through the company’s archive of original drawings and designs—dating all the way back to Leo Fender’s original shop in Fullerton, California. They found detailed notes, including some documenting body woods that changed mid-year on certain models. Halfway through 1956, for example, Stratocaster bodies switched from ash to alder. That meant the American Vintage II 1957 Stratocaster needed to be alder, too. That, in turn, meant ensuring enough alder was on hand to fulfill production needs.
Among the series’ Stratocaster recreations is this 1973-style instrument, with an ash body, maple C-profile neck, rosewood fretboard, and the company’s Pure Vintage single-coils.
Thomas and his team discovered another piece of the production puzzle when researching how pickups for that same 1957 Strat were made. “We realized that if we incorporated a little bit more pinch control on the winders, we could more effectively mimic the way pickups would have been hand-wound in the ’50s,” says Thomas. “It takes a lot of doing to go back in time and sort of uncover the secret-sauce recipes.”
Thomas proudly calls the guitars “some of the best instruments we’ve ever made here in the Fender plant,” pointing to the level of detail put into design features, including more delicate lacquer finishes which take longer to cure and dry, and vintage-correct tweed cases for some guitars. New pickups were incorporated in the series, like a reworking of Seth Lover’s famed CuNiFe Wide Range humbuckers, which were discontinued around 1981. Even more minute details, like the width of 12th fret dots and the material used for them, were labored over. Three different models in the line feature clay dot inlays at unique, year-specific spacings.
Ironically, modern CNC manufacturing now makes these design quirks consistent features in mass-produced instruments. While the hand-crafted guitars from the ’50s and ’60s varied a lot from instrument to instrument. “Everything needs to be located perfectly, and it wasn’t necessarily back in the day,” says Norvell. “Now, it can be.”
Don’t Look Back
With this new series so firmly planted in the rose-tinted past, Fender does run the risk of netting only vintage-obsessed players. But Norvell says the team, despite being sticklers for period-correct detail, sought to strike a balance between vintage specs, practicality, and playability. The 1957 Stratocaster, for example, has a 5-way switch rather than the original’s 3-way switch. Norvell also asserts that the “ergonomic” old-school radius feels great when chording. “It might not be [right for] a shred machine, but it feels great and effortless.”
The 1966 Jazz Bass is also represented, shown here in a left-handed version.
Norvell also pushes back on the notion that Fender is playing it safe by indulging nostalgia and leaning on their past successes. He says that while the vintage models are some of the most desirable on the market, the team “purposely did not stick to the safe bets,” citing unusual year models like the 1954 P Bass and the 1973 Stratocaster.There’s a good reason why anything that hails back to “the good ol’ days” hits home with every generation. We’re constantly plagued by a belief that what came before is better than what we’ve got now. But with the American Vintage II series, Fender makes the case that guitars from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s can very easily be a relevant part of the 2020s.
JET Pedals Releases The Red Sea
The Red Sea was born out of the vision to provide complex signal routing options available to the live/performing musician, that up until now, are only found in a studio mixing environment.
Introducing the Red Sea, an all-analog signal routing matrix, designed for countless stereo and mono signal path routing options. The Red Sea was born out of the vision to provide complex signal routing options available to the live/performing musician, that up until now, are only found in a studio mixing environment. The Red Sea has accomplished this in a compact, easy-to-use, and cost-effective solution.
Wet | Dry | Wet
The Red Sea gives you the ability to run a FULL Stereo wet dry wet rig using only 2 amps or just 2 signals to the FOH, while also giving you complete control over your Wet & Dry mix! Use the Blend knob to control the overall mix between stereo wet effects and mono dry/drive signals.
Stereo Dual Amps
Run dual amp modelers if full stereo w/ stereo effects. Gone are the traditional ways of one amp in the Left channel and another in the Right channel. Now use the Red Sea to seamlessly blend between two separate amps in true stereo. Think of this as a 2-channel amp where you can blend anywhere between both amps.
Stereo Parallel FX
Red Sea has two independent stereo FX loops. Use each FX loop to run stereo delay's and reverb's in parallel, where each effect does not interact with each other. Huge soundscapes can be achieved with washy reverbs and articulate delay repeats while being able to blend between each FX loops mix level.
The Red Sea can also do the following routing options:
- Wet | Dry utilizing a single amp
- Clean Wet | Dry | Wet (drives DO NOT run into wet effects)
- Wet | Dry | Wet with dual delays (one in the L channel & other in R channel)
- Parallel Dual Amps (run dual amp modelers in FULL stereo)
- Convert a tube amp's serial FX Loop to a parallel FX Loop
- Stereo and Mono analog dry through (avoid latency in digital pedals)
Crazy Tube Circuits Announces the Stardust V3
Stardust V3 was designed to capture the sound and response of 3 distinct amplifier models.
Stardust V3 was designed to capture the sound and response of 3 distinct maxed-out amplifier models. An all-analog signal path with discrete gain stages featuring MOSFET transistors provides juicy overdrive tones with great note separation that clean up to that sparkly sound that we all love and heard in recordings of the past. Set gain and tone and control everything from your guitar. Sparkly clean to crunchy mean are all there.
You can select the amplifier voicing via the onboard toggle switch.
BSM: Voiced after a blackface amp head that was primarily targeted for bass guitar players but got famous for electric guitar classic rock tones.
VLX: Voiced after a chimey 2x10” combo offering the perfect amount of controllable crunch
DLX: Voiced after one of the most popular low wattage 1×12″ combo amps that have found their way in countless recording studios and clubs around the world.
Stardust V3 now comes with top-mounted jacks and soft-click true bypass via a high-quality relay. The pedal has loads of output volume and enhanced headroom provided by 18V DC (boosted internally) so that it can also be used as a preamp going straight into your Power Amp or AudioInterface when combined with a separate speaker simulation device.
Street price: 199 Euro / 199 USD.
For more information, please visit crazytubecircuits.com.
EarthQuaker Devices Presents the Third Incarnation of the Sunn O))) Life Pedal
The Sunn O))) Life Pedal circuit has been meticulously tweaked from the original and includes a third footswitch.
Sunn O))) present an enhanced version of the Sunn O))) Life Pedal Octave Distortion + Booster, in collaboration with their comrades at EarthQuaker Devices. The Sunn O))) Life Pedal circuit has been meticulously tweaked from the original to squeeze every last drop of heavy crushing tone available. The octave section has been fine tuned to make it more pronounced without losing the bottom end and we added a third footswitch, utilizing Flexi-Switch Technology, for the octave to allow an additional method of quick and radical tone shaping.
“Working on this new version has been a great continuity of this collaboration which feels so right, and sounds so right,” says Stephen O’Malley. “It’s a really beautiful pedal and it’s also a beautiful art collaboration. I think we made something really interesting that people can enjoy to use for their own music, but also, it makes a lot of sense to release a piece of distortion as a release for our band. We’re really happy that this is a trilogy now.”
The Sunn O))) Life Pedal is designed to represent the core front end chain used in those sessions, to drive the tubes of the band’s multiple vintage Sunn O))) Model T amplifiers (or take your fancy) into overload ecstasy. This is a 100w tube amp full stack’s holy dream, or its apostate nightmare.
Sunn O))) Life Pedal is a distortion with a blendable analog octave up and a booster
- Features 3 different clipping options: Symmetrical Silicon, Asymmetrical Silicon & LED, and pure OpAmp Drive
- Distortion and booster can be used independently
- Expression and footswitch control over analog octave up
- Octave blend allows total control over how much Octave is mixed into the circuit
- True bypass with silent relay based soft touch switches
- Features EarthQuaker Devices’ proprietary Flexi-Switch® Technology
- Lifetime warranty
- Current Draw: 15 mA
- Octave Distortion: Input impedance: 1 MΩ / Output impedance: <1 kΩ
- Booster: Input Impedance: 500 kΩ / Output Impedance: <1 kΩ
- List Price: $299 USD