Each music genre has its standard guitar models.
Metal has Jackson and Ibanez. Classic hard rock has Les Paul and SG, among other models.
In the case of jazz, there was a guitar model that was supposed to fit this genre like a glove.
Designed by Fender, it was known as the Jazzmaster. Unfortunately, jazz musicians couldn’t care less about this instrument.
It seems ironic, but a guitar thoroughly designed to meet the expectations of Jazz musicians failed completely and found its place in rock music.
The Jazzmaster guitar model was an unnecessary addition to jazz music. This is because jazz musicians already had great guitar models that worked perfectly for jazz. Not to mention, the Jazzmaster didn’t provide the “darker” sound that the Humbucker pickups did, for example.
Stick with us til the end to fully understand the history of this incredible instrument.
Here we go!
A brief history of the Jazzmaster
The guitar model Jazzmaster was created by Fender in the late 50s.
At that time, Rock N’ Roll was barely emerging. The few artists that represented the genre (Elvis Presley, Little Richards, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis) were either in jail, out of the music scene, or dead.
This made Fender focus on “popular” genres of that era, like Swing or Jazz.
Unfortunately, Jazz musicians weren’t interested at all in Fender’s previous guitar models, such as the Telecaster or Stratocaster. With this idea in mind, Fender designed a model exclusively to embrace Jazz music.
As a result, the Jazzmaster was born.
However, jazz musicians completely ignored Fender once again.
It seemed that the Jazzmaster didn’t fit the jazz masters. But why?
Why not many jazz players use Jazzmasters?
We are going to “steal” this next quotation from Reddit because we believe it answers this question completely.
“The Jazzmaster was the answer to a question jazz player didn’t ask.”
First of all, Jazz players already had their top-choice instruments to play with.
Why change a formula that already works? Why try something new that could have backfired anyway?
Another aspect to consider is that Fender had already created two wonderful guitar models (Stratocaster and Telecaster). Adding yet another relevant guitar model was not going to make a difference.
It seems strange, but even Fender was not ready to compete with Fender. Especially after their Jazzmaster model ended up being a failure in Jazz music.
Lastly, we have to remember that jazz players preferred a darker sound. The Humbuckers pickups and the hollow body of the Gibson guitars were enough to provide satisfactory results.
There was no need on using another guitar model.
Can you still play jazz with a Jazzmaster?
As usual, there are almost no rigid laws in music.
In other words, you are free to play jazz with a Jazzmaster, and no one has the right of claiming the contrary.
We are not exaggerating. Although there are certain “standard” rules in the world of music, everyone is free of changing them according to their preferences.
In reality, most “Jazzstars” didn’t play with Jazzmasters. This means that, if you want to play jazz, you are not going to sound like your idols.
This, however, could be an opportunity to create a more unique sound.
After all, new sounds are the result of experimenting with different techniques, guitar models, and effects, among other things.
But all in all, let’s not forget that the Jazzmaster was designed to be an instrument solely for jazz musicians. Therefore, the guitar is designed to suit this genre, one way or another.
What’s the point of the Jazzmaster then?
Even though the Jazzmaster was not used by jazz musicians, it is still a wonderful instrument.
Truth is, lots of guitar players prefer Jazzmasters above other instruments.
The reasons are plenty.
First of all, the Jazzmaster has a fascinating sound. It sounds almost like a Stratocaster but with a fuller sound.
Some guitarists claim that the Jazzmaster model is great for studio recordings. This is, in part, because their pickups work wonderfully with distortion pedals.
The pickups of a Jazzmaster are not as aggressive as Gibson P90s pickups. What’s more, they are warmer than the pickups found on standard Stratocasters and Telecasters.
So, to sum up, the Fender Jazzmaster is a versatile guitar that suits plenty of genres.
Who uses Jazzmasters nowadays?
Although the Jazzmaster model was not popular among jazz players, it still found its place in surf rock, new wave, shoegaze, noise rock, and indie rock.
In this modern era, we find certain musicians that still pick a Fender Jazzmaster as their go-to guitar.
Some of them include:
- Johnny Buckland (Coldplay)
- Alex Turner (Arctic Monkeys)
- Jim Root (Slipknot)
- Taylor Jorke (Paramore)
Naturally, there are lots of bands out there that create music with a Fender Jazzmaster.
Will your band be one of those?
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.