True or False: To distract from the fact that they couldn’t play their way out of a paper bag.
Every time I play out, some guitarist comes up to say how cool my Fender Jaguar looked and sounded. It's great to meet people on the scene, and nice to hear things sounded decent, so of course I thank them. We end up talking about the music and gear they're into, their band, etc. But I never have the heart to point out that the whole exchange started with a lie: The 6-string they'd seen me trying to wrangle onstage is a Jazzmaster, not a Jaguar.
To many, Jags and JMs are basically interchangeable. For some, the mistake is innocent enough. Both have that classic "offset" shape, those mysterious upper-bout controls, and the bridge-and-vibrato setup that seems weird/clunky to those reared on Strats, Teles, and Les Pauls. For others, the lumping together is an intentional slight: These guitars are flavor-of-the-moment rejects preferred by hipsters hell-bent on using something different to distract from the fact that they couldn't play their way out of a paper bag—which is why we don't mind the "inferior" hardware, "useless" bells and whistles, and "wimpy" sonics.
The haters aren't entirely wrong on the popularity front. Fender's most distinctive offsets have been enjoying a resurgence for years now, particularly the Jazzmaster—so much so that it's a bit head-up-the-bum to dismiss it as a trend. These instruments are undoubtedly influencing builders and parts-guitar assemblers everywhere, but if you're more interested in expanding your tonal palette than bashing "posers," you'd do well to reserve judgment. There's a hell of a lot more going on with Leo's original vision for these guitars than their looks and supposed "outsider" status.
I was late to appreciate the Jaguar's uniqueness myself, having never played one till Johnny Marr's signature model debuted a few years back. I thought it looked and played great, but I never really cared for the sound of its custom pickup and switching scheme. It wasn't till I plugged in a vintage-spec Jag that I was transfixed.
There's a hell of a lot more going on with Leo's original vision for these guitars than their looks and supposed "outsider" status.
Despite the similarities between original Jaguars and Jazzmasters, there are huge differences—equating them is almost like saying a two-humbucker Tele is basically a Les Paul. Just as a Paul's dual-volume/dual-tone switching and shorter scale (24 3/4" vs. a Telecaster's 25 1/2") imbue it with both a tonal flexibility and a physical playing experience you could never wring from a traditionally wired Tele, so also does a Jaguar afford responsiveness and electrical alchemy you couldn't possibly conjure on a Jazzmaster. (The same goes in reverse, too, of course.)
Surprisingly, a lot of hardcore guitarists aren't aware that Jags have an even shorter scale—24"—and yield even more of that slinky response we consider a defining trait of Gibsons. Further, Jag and JM single-coils are vastly different from each other in design and tonal characteristics. What's more, while both guitars feature an upper-bout "rhythm" circuit that engages dedicated volume and tone controls for the neck pickup alone (I usually use it as a sort of kill-switch-type circuit with rolled-off highs), a traditional Jaguar's main (or "lead") switching array offers twice as many options as the JM's: The latter's lead circuit has master volume and tone controls and a 3-way selector, while a Jag has master volume and tone knobs, an on-off slider for each pickup, and a third slider that engages a high-pass filter that simply has to be experienced to be appreciated.
Now, I can see how those words alone—"high-pass filter"—could be a turn-off for a lot of players. The type of thing that intrigues people more interested in twiddling knobs behind a board more than rocking the eff out. Even thinking about what the term literally means—i.e., that it highlights higher/treble frequencies—it's hard to not be, like, "Why would I be intrigued by a switch that's going to make my single-coils sound thinner?"
And, sure, the high-pass filter does remove some low end and low mids, but it's much more complex than that. It can make the bridge pickup more incisive, but also make the neck pickup or both pickups together sound spongier, mellower, and sweeter—almost like you've morphed to a different set of pickups. And when you engage your favorite fuzz(es), the high-pass filter can yield results so startlingly pleasing it's like you've just found a secret door to new tones.
The takeaway? Who cares what sort of player you've seen wearing a famous guitar type—don't knock it till you find out what it can do for your music.
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Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.