Fender is very proud to introduce the Johnny Marr signature Jaguar® guitar, which puts the inventive ringing sounds and highly distinctive design mods of one of the U.K.’s greatest modern-era guitarists in your hands.

Marr is best known, of course, as the strikingly dynamic and influential anti-hero guitarist-arranger-all-around-musical-wunderkind behind Manchester quartet the Smiths, which virtually redefined and ruled U.K. pop throughout the 1980s. A master of melody, layering and texture, Marr has always brought his own instantly identifiable ringing, jangling genius to the proceedings, as he has done in post-Smiths stints with The The, Electronic, the Pretenders and Johnny Marr and the Healers, and right up to the present with Modest Mouse, the Cribs and innumerable guest appearances.

Johnny Marr

Primarily, I was attracted to the Jag by the way it sounded – this big, clear, ringing sound. My first proper experience playing one was with Modest Mouse in 2005. I had this riff kicking around that ended up becoming the song ‘Dashboard’, and it went from there really. The Jag suited the way I’d evolved as a guitar player, but at the same time my old stuff sounded absolutely right on it. It sounds like I’m supposed to sound.

Aesthetically, I think the Jag is beautiful. I love the body shape and chrome; the early-‘60s idea of space-age design. When Fender approached me to make my own signature Jaguar, I wanted to iron out some of the flaws that I felt the guitar had, and spent months on the road going through as many as fifteen old Jags working out what I liked and didn’t like about each one. I wanted to prove the naysayers wrong about the Jag and my world became the guitar and the length of my guitar lead!

Switching and Pickups

I love the chrome panels on the Jag and didn’t want to change those as I felt they were a crucial part of the design. I did want to simplify the guitar’s switching system, as I always found that over-complicated and soon figured out why players often covered the switches with duct tape so they wouldn’t turn the guitar off by accident!

I replaced the original three switch design with a single four-way Telecaster® style switchblade. The first three positions are standard, bridge, both on and neck pickup selections, but when pushed forward into the fourth position it puts the two pickups in series where they act as one big humbucker, giving a darker, thicker sound that you don’t normally hear on a Jaguar. To give that circuit more possibilities I added a filter switch to the top panel that gives it more high end. By contrast, I always liked the high-pass filter switch from the original Jag design and repositioned it on the upper control panel where the 'jazz circuit' switch is normally found. It was another way ofkeeping things simpler. We also lowered the height of these switches so they are less likely to be activated by accident. The pickups on my Jag are copied from vintage '62 pickups – I experimented with a lot of different setups but decided to change things from the original Jag design and had the pickups wound so that the polarity is the same on both instead of opposed. This definitely gives the pickups a more focused sound. We went through tons of different magnets and pickup wire to get the balance between the two just right.

Each guitar comes with an exclusive booklet featuring an in-depth interview with Marr himself in which he reveals why the Jaguar is so special to him—and what makes his signature Jaguar such a thoroughly distinctive instrument.

Photos: Carl Lyttle

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