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My weird offset guitar preferences


I can't do Jaguar, but can do Jazzmaster.

It is totally true that the offset guitar (i.e. offset waist style body shape where upper portion leans toward the neck and the lower leans away from the bridge) does make for a much more comfortable play in the seated position.

Of the offset guitars out there, one I've not tried a long while is a "full" Mustang (meaning Mustang with vibrato such as the Squier Classic Vibe '60s Mustang). That specific guitar is on my to-do list to try out again. The last time I played one was over 10 years ago and I think it was a Fender Japan MG73 Mustang.

As for the Jaguar, yes, I have owned one before:

...and quickly returned it because I felt discomfort on my picking hand palm.

There are a few things going on specific to the Jag that my picking hand really doesn't like.

First are the "shark teeth" on either side of the pickup. Depending on guitar, sometimes these stick up past the pickup cover, sometimes they don't. It's rare that I pick up a Jag where the shark teeth actually pose a discomfort problem however.

Second are the rounded ears of the Jag pickup covers that can stick up out of the pick guard. Jazzmaster pickup covers have 4 little ears but they're on the sides, whereas ears Jaguar pickup covers have two larger ears on the top and bottom.

Third are the pick guard screws. One screw in particular. The Jag has one placed just ahead of the bridge right where the palm can rub on it, whereas the Jazzmaster has the same screw further back that's placed almost directly above the bridge and out of the palm's way.

When you look at the Mustang with vibrato, yeah it has that same annoying pick guard screw just ahead of the bridge... maybe. I don't know at this point if that screw in the Mustang would annoy my picking hand or not since I've not played a "full" Mustang in over a decade. Maybe that screw is placed where it wouldn't bother me. I won't know until I try the guitar later.

Oddly enough, the Telecaster vintage style "ashtray" bridge doesn't bother me at all. That's not an offset guitar, but that bridge style is a good example of something that annoys a lot of players because it has prominent metal "flaps" that stick up. If for example you look at the Fender American Vintage II 1963 Telecaster, oh yeah, those period correct flaps are on the top and bottom of the bridge are there just like they're supposed to be. It doesn't bother me in the slightest to play one of those. But I know most players would prefer the totally flat Fender Player Telecaster bridge instead. The dirt cheap Squier Sonic Telecaster also has the flat Tele bridge.

Since I know some would ask, what was the point of those flaps on the Tele bridge? Answer: To place a bridge cover if you wanted to. That cover is where the "ashtray" nickname came from. Guys would take off the bridge cover and literally use it as an ashtray. The bridge itself was never the ashtray part.

And why did Fender even offer a bridge cover? Answer: It's most likely due to the fact that many steel guitars (an inspiration for the original Telecaster design) had a cover to hide where the strings were installed to add a little more class to the instrument.

Back to the Jag.

It's that one pick guard screw and pickup cover ears that make the Jag a no-go for me.

On different Jaguars, yes, I said the only thing holding me back from the Contemporary Jaguar HH ST was the scale length. But then I remembered, "Oh, right... forgot about that pick guard screw thing." It's really easy to forget little-but-important things like that when you've not played a certain style of guitar for a while. So while true the HH ST doesn't have the pickup ears, it still has that annoying - for me - screw.

There's really only one proper way to fix that pick guard screw problem. It's not taking the screw out (looks dumb), nor is it switching the screw to flat top instead of rounded top (also looks dumb). To get everything all symmetrical and looking nice, I'd have to custom order a new pick guard with every hole drilled except that one. Or just get a guard with the pickup holes but not screw holes and drill them myself. Either way, ridiculous. I'm not doing that.

Yes, there are Jags with no pick guard such as the Modern Player from 2012, but "Full Jag" requires all 3 plates of the pick guard to be there so both the rhythm and lead circuits can be housed correctly. If you go all-in with Jag, all of the pick guard stuff has to be there and that's just the way it is...

...hence why I'll be trying a Mustang next. The Jazzmaster I just bought is staying, to be sure. But I'd still like to try a different offset guitar just to see if there's something other than Jazzmaster that suits me. That might be a Mustang, or possibly something else entirely like a Guild Surfliner.

Published 2023 Dec 5

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