Miscellaneous Rumbles

Fender pickups

1

I’ve been comparing 3 Fender guitars at home through an AC15C1.

-87 American Standard Strat -Recent Squire Deluxe Jazzmaster -New American Professional Jaguar.

The Strat has been mine since it was new. The others are new or new to me. I like all 3 but putting them through their paces clean then with some grit, and then full on OD they all sound very close to each other, and to my ear the strat seems like it covers 90% of the tonal range of either of the others. The others can only cover maybe half of what the strat can accomplish.

Anyone else here have a similar experience? Do I need to be playing at stage volume or better hear the differences between these pickups? I expected more of a difference based on the reading I’ve done, more like the difference you hear comparing a Filtertron to a Classic 57 or PAF variant.

For the curious, I am floored at how good the Squire Deluxe Jazzmaster is in terms of fit, finish and sound. I expected something that would need some work and setup, maybe pickup swaps to sound good but it’s a heck of a guitar stock as is.

2

Well...you shouldn't need to play at stage volume to hear the differences among those guitars; not only are the pickups different among them, but a host of other features and design details come into play as well.

To me there's an essential difference in character, and I'm curious in what context the Strat could get 90% of the vibe of either of the other two. So I'm looking at the spec details of the JM and the Jag, and all I see that might somewhat smear their character is that the JM has an Adjustamatic bridge. (Love or loathe them, the bridges on the JM and Jag contribute importantly to their personalities). But the Jag has a properly Jaggy bridge, so I'm stymied.

The JM and Strat share their 25.5" scale length, also a factor in tone - while the Jag, of course, is short scale.

I have a 1982 '62 reissue Strat, Crafted-in-Japan Jazzmaster from the early 00s, and Squire Jaguar - and I find the combinations of pickups and build details not only produces recognizably different tone from each, but leads me to play them differently as well. I don't suppose there's night-and-day differences in tone, but with the builds and necks, they all fill different slots in my instrumental spectrum.

I'm curious what music you're playing - and how loud.

And...this is huge for me...strings. I have flats on both the JM and Jag, I suppose to accentuate their dry plunk, and find that key to the tones I most associated with them, and want from them personally.

I'm not at all surprised at the quality of the Squire Deluxe JM - I looked at one in Candy Apple Red, and with its coppery anodized pickguard, it's gorgeous - as I learned years ago to accept that most Squier stuff is really just that good. I have a Squier 50s Tele, Bass VI, and the Jaguar, and am more than pleased with all of them. I can well understand going to Squier for a guitar you don't think it necessary to commit pro-line money to, and still want something more than you paid for.

But I'm curious why you spent big on the Professional Jaguar (which looks like a beautiful guitar) if you were ambivalent or unsure about its sonic territory.

I have more sympathy with your observation that the JM and Jag don't cover as much territory as the Strat. After all the Strat has the third pickup, a straightforward bridge which transfers string energy to the body very well, and is by far a more common voice in the music of the last 70 years - so most of us can simply think of a lot more things to do with it, and are used to spreading it over lots of genres and tones. (Though I'd think the JM, with the Adjusta-matic and roundwound strings, could cover a lot of the same territory.)

I just find that the Strat does not do those particular quirky things I turn to the JM and the Jag for. And - I guess because the Strat is so ubiquitous - I tend to prefer the other two exactly because they're so different.


Ahh, on another reading of your post, I see you're playing them through the AC15. I did NOT have a happy relationship with mine (thought I held on for over a year), and much prefer my AC10. But it's possible the Vox is imposing so much of its own tone on the guitars that it masks the differences among them. Try them through another amp!

3

Thanks Proteus. Will try through a 65 Princeton next. Good point on the amp coloring things.

It is not that the Strat sounds the same, but similar enough that I was wondering if my ears need cleaning or if the differences get huge under conditions I am not pushing into. I was playing some basic chord and scale noodling clean, some blues licks and progressions dirty. All 3 guitars have basic round-wound nickel plated 10s on them.

Though I am listening to all 2-3 pickups and switch settings in this pursuit I do gravitate towards neck pickups. Maybe this preference of mine is part of the story here and I need to listen more carefully to the other options.

The JM is CAR with gold guard as you describe and is quite a looker. The Jaguar was just too good of a deal brand new at about 60% of what new ones run at MF or GC, and I have always been a Johnny Marr fan plus I can return it or resell if I wind up there after the honeymoon.

4

I had one of those squier deluxe Jazzmasters and loved it (however I traded it, for a Dipinto) - if it's the Deluxe version that I'm thinking of it has a tuneomatic style bridge rather than the clinky/clunky stock JM bridges so already it's not exactly what a Jazzmaster normally promises. I think the Deluxe model Squier JM also has slightly hotter pickups than a normal jazzmaster, but "wooly" is the sound that I think best describes those pickups normally.

Despite Proteus' excellent breakdown, I would say that the tone that you get out of the pickups should be fairly different - and I would say yes to your needing to be at stage volume question.

I run my guitars through my TMDR (Tonemaster Deluxe Reverb) at the lowest setting when I'm not alone in the house (.5w? 1w? I can't remember). It's great for low volume practicing but I lose a LOT of tone. Until I crank it back up to 15w or 22w I don't get the same tonal properties.

Crank up the volume and I think you'll be able to pick apart the differences more easily.

5

How you play them makes a huge difference of course. If you're mainly a strummer then no, I doubt you'll hear massive differences. It's when you get into things like single-note lines, hybrid picking, etc that the differences become more obvious - at least to the player.

6

Also, I encourage you to put flatwounds on either the JM or the Jag. (And if you like the effect, you can put them on the other too.) A lot of those guitars were used and recorded with flats in the day, and there's a reason - it's a totally different sound.

I reckon it would be on the Strat too - but the Strat is so good at so many things as it is that you'd probably want to keep it as home base.

Guarantee if you put flats on one of the others, not only will it suddenly sound much different than the Strat, but it will make you play differently. Part of the reason for having Too Many Guitars is for just such variety. Thanks to the profusion of scale lengths, body types and their construction, pickup types and winds, pickup counts and position, switching, and strings (not to mention amps and pedals) electric guitar is maybe the most chameleon-like mechanical musical instrument ever devised. (I exempt purely electronic/digital instruments).

A large part of the entertainment value for me - and what has kept the electric guitar so fascinating to me for so many years - is in finding and imagining how to use those diverse tones, timbres, and textures.

7

Single-coil Fender solidbody guitars will always have something of a sonic family resemblance,and the differences will always be more apparent to those of us who play them than to the folks we're trying to sell drinks to.All that said,I always used my AVRI Jazzmaster to re-record the surf/instro covers I played- on a 6122!- back in the day.

8

I say strings thru body make a difference too. Still tweaky in-house A/B comparisons ..which I do with amps anyway, you hear the differences there but when you get on the gig with other instruments, and volume, PA and drums, etc I just don't hear nearly as much difference in that situation w/ tweak level stuff. Sure you will hear the difference of a Twin and Marshall, Les Paul and Strat, etc. but other differences fade away somewhat

9

Another couple of days of enjoying the offsets has changed things. Turning up the volume above bedroom levels but not obnoxiously loud made a big difference. If I treat the strat as “neutral”, to my ears:

The Jaguar has a really appealing snarl in half of the 6 available pickup options that the strat does not. I like the shorter scale.

The JM somehow maintains a single coil chime with a warm fuzzy something going on at the same time.

I like both a lot and plan to keep them. I continue to be super impressed by the Squire JM though. It is just a great instrument, there is no indication that any corner was cut; pickups, tuners and fretwork all seem top notch. I suspect my P90 LP will get quite dusty while this honeymoon continues.

10

Oh, and flats are in their future. Sadly when a local (and marvelous) guitar shop closed some years ago I bought most of their T-I flats at a deep discount and still have a few sets around here somewhere.

11

All excellent news. You had me worried - I was afraid I was only hearing genre stereotype differences betwixt and among’em.

Glad you’re keeping the whole trifecta. Fender’s crown jewel models (including the Tele) are, in my ear, remarkable for covering a lot of sonic territory with vehicles derived from variations on the slab-bolt-singlecoil theme.

12

While the Squier JM’s are amazing value, the pickups aren’t quite the same in their tonal quality as original JM pickups in my experience.

I’ve got a CIJ JM with AVRI 62 pups and I had a Squier JM. The 62 Jm pups are different to the Squier. A bit more clarity and less generic sounding is the best I can describe. Warm chime without woolyness if that makes sense. (The Squier now has p90s which are different again)

I’ve also got a Squier Jag with AVRI 65 pups. That’s definitely different again. More treble and jangle but a thin bitey tone with the bridge pickup.

Not great descriptions but hopefully that makes sense!


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