Fender Jaguar Switches

Fender Jaguar Switches Explained: Switches On A Jaguar

Fender Jaguar switches, what are they? How does Fender Jaguar switches work? Join us as we are going to check out this iconic electric guitar and how its feature switches work to help every player make their guitar tone much better than the typical guitars.

History Of Fender Jaguar

The Fender Jaguar is an iconic electric guitar that was introduced by Fender in 1962 as a high-end instrument aimed at jazz and surf guitarists. It was designed to be a step up from the popular Stratocaster and Telecaster models with its unique features and versatile tone.

The Jaguar featured a distinctive offset waist body shape, which gave it a visually distinct look. It boasted a 24-inch scale length, shorter than other Fender models’ standard 25.5-inch scale length. The shorter scale length contributed to a comfortable playing experience and added a unique tonal character to the guitar.

One of the standout features of the Jaguar was its electronics. It was equipped with two single-coil pickups, a lead circuit with a separate rhythm circuit, and a plethora of switches and controls that offered a wide range of tonal options. The Jaguar’s complex wiring and switching system allowed for various pickup configurations and tonal variations, making it a versatile instrument suitable for different musical styles.

Despite being initially marketed towards jazz and surf guitarists, the Jaguar found favor among alternative rock and indie musicians in the 1980s and 1990s. Its distinctive sound, twangy tone, and unique features made it a favorite among artists like Kurt Cobain, Johnny Marr, and John Frusciante.

Throughout its history, the Fender Jaguar has gone through various iterations and reissues, with some modifications and updates to meet the demands of modern players. It remains a beloved and sought-after guitar for its unique aesthetics, versatile sound, and rich musical heritage.

What Are The Two Circuits In Fender Jaguar Guitars

The Fender Jaguar features two distinct circuits: the rhythm and lead circuits. These circuits provide different control layouts and tonal characteristics, allowing for versatility in playing styles and sonic options:

Rhythm Circuit

The rhythm circuit on the Jaguar is designed to offer a mellower and darker tone, making it suitable for rhythm playing or when a different sonic character is desired. When engaged using the rhythm/lead circuit switch, the lower controls (volume and tone) are activated, while the upper controls (pickup selector and tone) are bypassed. 

This circuit has dedicated volume and tone knobs on the guitar’s upper bout, along with a separate pickup selector switch. The rhythm circuit provides a simplified control layout and a warm, smooth tone, ideal for jazzy or mellow passages.

Lead Circuit

The lead circuit is the default circuit on the Jaguar when the rhythm/lead circuit switch is disengaged. In this circuit, all the controls on the guitar are activated, offering a full range of tonal options. The lead circuit includes the traditional volume and tone knobs on the lower bout, pickup selector switches, and additional slide switches for pickup configuration and tonal shaping. 

The lead circuit provides a brighter and more versatile tone, allowing for a wide range of sonic possibilities from clean and chiming to gritty and aggressive.

These two circuits on the Jaguar provide players with different tonal options and control layouts to suit their playing preferences. The rhythm circuit offers a mellower and simplified control setup, while the lead circuit provides a full range of tonal versatility and control. The ability to switch between these circuits gives the Jaguar its unique sonic character and contributes to its appeal among a wide range of players and musical styles.

Fender Jaguar Switches On Its Lead Circuit

In the lead circuit of the Fender Jaguar, several switches provide additional tonal options and pickup configurations. These switches allow for fine-tuning the sound and offer a wide range of sonic possibilities, and these are how they work:

The first Fender Jaguar switches you’ll see in the lead circuit is the so-called “strangle switch,” which is a unique feature found only in these guitars. When engaged, the strangle switch activates a high-pass filter circuit that rolls off the bass frequencies, resulting in a thinner and more focused tone. It attenuates the low-end frequencies, emphasizing the mid-range and treble frequencies, giving the guitar a distinctive sound.

The strangle switch can be useful in various musical contexts. It can help a guitar cut through the mix, providing clarity and definition. It can also create unique tonal effects and textures, allowing for creative sound shaping.

Players can experiment with the strangle switch to find the desired balance and sonic character. By combining it with other pickup and tone controls, they can achieve a wide range of tonal variations and explore different musical styles.

Another Fender Jaguar switches that you can see in its lead circuit are the individual on/off slide switches for each pickup. As Fender Jaguar comes with a neck and bridge pickup, these switches allow you to activate or deactivate each pickup independently, providing precise control over which pickups are active. You can create unique pickup combinations and blend different tones to suit your playing style and musical preferences.

Fender Jaguar Switches On Its Rhythm Circuit

So, what are the Fender Jaguar switches on its rhythm circuit? The switching options in the Fender Jaguar’s rhythm circuit differ from those in the lead circuit. The rhythm circuit is designed to offer a mellower and darker tone, making it suitable for rhythm playing or when a different sonic character is desired. Here are the switches found in the rhythm circuit of the Jaguar:

Rhythm Circuit Slide Switch

The rhythm/lead circuit switch is located on the upper bout of the guitar. When engaged, it activates the rhythm circuit, bypassing the controls of the lead circuit. This switch allows you to toggle between the rhythm and lead modes.

Phase Switch

In Fender American Pro Jaguar guitars, they come with an active phase switch that works in positions 2 and 4 only. When this phase switch is activated, and both pickups are also activated, it is able to change its polarity, which results in a thinner sound that is perfect for playing reggae or funk.

Aside from switches, a typical Fender Jaguar also comes with knobs found in the rhythm circuit, and here are how they work:

Rhythm Circuit Volume Knob

This knob controls the overall volume of the guitar when in the rhythm circuit. It allows you to adjust the output level to suit your playing needs. 

Rhythm Circuit Tone Knob

The tone knob in the rhythm circuit provides control over the overall tonal character. It can be used to shape the darkness or brightness of the sound.

Famous Guitarists That Plays The Fender Jaguar

Suppose you are curious how a Fender Jaguar sounds; Johnny Marr and Kurt Cobain are two famous guitar players associated with playing the Fender Jaguar, and you should listen to their playing to get an idea of how this guitar sounds plus how impactful these switches are when used by a professional. Johnny Marr, known for his work with The Smiths, is often seen playing a modified Jaguar, utilizing its unique features to create intricate and jangly guitar tones. 

On the other hand, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana famously used a Fender Jaguar during his career, customizing it with his own modifications and playing it with a raw and aggressive style, contributing to the band’s iconic sound. Both Marr and Cobain have left a lasting impact on the popularity and recognition of the Fender Jaguar among guitar players.

So, what are the Fender Jaguar switches? There are lots of switches that come with a Fender Jaguar guitar. Its pickup selector comes in a switch, but the most famous of these switches is the mid-tone cut switch, which is also called a strange switch by many. When engaged, it activates a capacitor that rolls off the bass frequencies, resulting in a thinner and more focused tone.