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Fender is justly famous for its two most popular basses, the Precision and Jazz. After all, a significant portion of all the bass-guitar performances ever recorded were performed on these simple-but-effective axes. In spite of the dominance of the P and J, Fender has continued to pursue other bass designs for decades. Some have hit the mark, others haven’t—but often that’s just because some players have such a low tolerance for anything that says Fender but isn’t a P or J.
The Jaguar bass, released a few years ago as a relatively inexpensive import model, is another Fender bass design that’s gained a following. While evoking many classic Fullerton bass qualities, the Jaguar is also much like its 6-string cousin—the funky-looking, switch-laden Jaguar guitar. The import 4-string has proven popular enough for Fender to give it the full-on American Standard treatment. The new domestic Jags are built in Corona, California, and spec’d with an upgraded complement of hardware and a higher level of fit and finish.
One Complicated Cat
Those who fancy themselves nonconformists are likely to love how the Jag somehow looks classic and just a bit off. But for traditionalists, the blunted horns, switch-y top, and block inlays may not seem as visually coherent as its more iconic cousins. For me, the combination is a bit busy.
The Jaguar’s construction, however, is hot, no matter your predilection. The hardware is robust and effective, the fretwork and fretboard dressing are impeccable, and the beautiful sunburst finish is skillfully applied to the alder body. I was especially glad to see a beefy, Fender High Mass Vintage (HMV) bridge, which offers both through-bridge and through-body stringing. It’s also cool to see lightweight versions of the classic paddle-key tuners.
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