NOTE: These are not our guitars; just saving the images for history and showcasing what's out there.

Friday, November 16, 2007

1961 Fender JAZZMASTER Sonic Blue

images via this auction

"For those of you who enjoy a little background on these guitars, here's some history on the Jazzmaster:

When Fender introduced the Jazzmaster in 1958, it was designed to replace the Stratocaster as the top model. It featured a new body shape - the "Offset Waist Contour Body", that meant to provide a better balance and comfort. The Jazzmaster was an attempt to enter the jazz market, too, so it was equipped with newly designed pickups with a mellower sound than the Stratocaster or the Telecaster, rather like a hollow body guitar. Unlike the single coils of the Stratocaster, the single coils of the Jazzmaster are wide and rather flat, covered in a white rectangular housing. So they pick up a wider area of the vibrating strings and thus their sound is less "pointy".

The Jazzmaster was the first of Fender's guitars with a rosewood fretboard - which later was offered for the other models, too.

Leo Fender designed an all-new vibrato system (floating tremolo and bridge with individually adjustable barrels) and a new electronics circuit for the Jazzmaster: The circuit allows the player to preset two different tone- and volume settings and to change between the two settings simply by flipping one switch. One circuit controls only the neck pickup (the rhythm-circuit) and the other (the lead-circuit) has a three-way toggle switch that selects the two pickups alone or together. The guitar has brass-shielded cavities because the wide single coils are very sensitive towards hum and circuit-noise. Additionally, the two pickups are mirrored (coil winding and polarity) so when played together, a hum-cancelling effect is achieved.

Few jazz players were interested - despite the promising name and the design features - but soon the guitar was used by rock'n'roll- and surf guitarists...

And the guitar's specs:

Body: Solid, 2-piece alder

Finish: Sonic Blue, nitrocellulose lacquer

Neck: 1-piece maple, bolt-on

Fingerboard: Brazilian rosewood, clay dot markers

Number of Frets: 21

Pickguard: Tortoise/white/black/white plastic laminate

Bridge: Fender steel; Floating Tremolo tailpiece, chrome

Nut: Plastic

Tuners: Kluson Deluxe, enclosed, nickel

Pickups: Two, Fender single coil

Controls: Master tone, master volume, 3-way pick-up selector, rhythm circuit selector, tone and volume for rhythm circuit

Scale Length: 25 1/2 inches

Neck Width at Nut: 1 5/8 inches

Body Width at Lower Bout: 14 inches

Body Depth: 1 5/8 inches

Just a few more notes on the Jazzmaster's place in Rock and Roll History:

When Fender reps began to show the Jazzmaster to some of the players they hoped would raise its profile, reaction wasn’t particularly favorable. Some of the biggest names in jazz, including Wes Montgomery, Tal Farlow, and Jim Hall, noodled on it but showed little or no interest in making the model part of their regular instrument lineups.

But for better or worse it did catch on with younger players, with Southern California’s emerging garage band crowd showing the most interest. Perhaps the most important single player was Bob Bogle, guitarist with the instrumental/surf combo The Ventures, one of the foremost bands of the early 1960s. In fact, the song most associated with that band (and the surf music genre, in general) is the band’s number two hit from 1960, “Walk Don’t Run,” which featured then-lead guitarist Bob Bogle on a Jazzmaster. Later, rhythm guitarist Don Wilson would also make heavy use of the model, ensuring that most Ventures music did indeed sport its not-so-jazz-like tones, at least until the band signed an endorsement deal with Semi Moseley’s new Mosrite brand.

Another major-league Jazzmaster player was Carl Wilson, with The Beach Boys. Yes, they were renowned for their vocal harmonies, but the band’s early albums were also noted for their production, including the way they displayed Wilson’s guitar tones.

As the ’60s became the ’70s, the Jazzmaster continued to find a home amongst rock guitarists of many styles. Toward the middle of the decade, it was popular with the minimalist new wave and punk players. Elvis Costello arguably carried the highest profile amongst them, and the Jazzmaster was his trademark instrument. Though Costello is more noted for his songwriting, his guitar work is a pleasant bonus. His 1977 debut album, My Aim is True, offers a sample.

Also in ’77, Tom Verlaine played a Jazzmaster on Television’s debut record, Marquee Moon. Along with co-guitarist Richard Lloyd (VG, May, ’03), he introduced an innovative, technical element to their punk lead/rhythm playing that proved highly influential.

Then there was Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, who continued the tradition of non-mainstream preference for the Jazzmaster on his band’s landmark ’88 album, Daydream Nation. His deconstructive style been a notable influence on alternative rockers ever since.

And more recently, Greg Camp, guitarist with pop sensation Smashmouth, has used the Jazzmaster to augment his band’s ’50s retro/surf sounds.

So, perhaps saved by its versatility and a handful of influential artists, the Jazzmaster – chronic underachiever in the eyes of its creators – survived in Fender’s product line until 1980. And it was reborn in ’96, when the company saw sufficient demand to add an imported version to its lineup of reissues."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you have any photos of Carl Wilson with a Jazzmaster?