An icon of alternative rock, J Mascis’ sound is immediately recognizable with his fiery leads and massive riffs played on a beloved 1958 Telecaster. This Bottle Rocket Blue Flake signature model is a faithful recreation of the Dinosaur Jr. frontman’s favorite lead guitar, with custom pickups, a top-loader bridge and Road Worn maple neck.
Voiced to replicate the vintage Tele pickups from his original guitar, these single-coils deliver snappy high and snarly mids that set his amps on fire.
While J’s beloved ‘58 Telecaster was “yellowish” underneath, this re-finish stood the test of time, and now it lives on in his signature model.
An uncommon configuration used in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, this top-loaded Tele bridge provides slightly lower string tension for softer attack and slinky bends.
With an innate ability to create incendiary leads and giant hooks, J Mascis is an icon of alternative rock.
Whether it was his work as frontman of Dinosaur Jr. or as a solo artist, the Amherst, Mass., native set a standard that guitarists around the world have continually attempted to emulate. Fender guitar, running through stacks upon stacks of amps, generous use of fuzz … many have tried.
Still, there’s only one Mascis.
As he tells it, J caught the music bug when he was around 9 or 10 years old, influenced by his siblings’ records. His sister had a guitar, so that seemed like a logical first step, but he felt drawn to the drums.
Eventually, after manning the kit for hardcore band Deep Wound, Mascis founded Dinosaur Jr. with fellow Deep Wound member Lou Barlow on bass and Patrick “Murph” Murphy on drums. With nobody else to play the guitar, J took over the duties for his own band.
“I wanted to keep playing music, and thought I should switch to the guitar because I didn’t like any guitar players around here,” said Mascis. “I already knew Lou was good on the guitar, so he could just play the same thing on the bass.
“I was looking for a guitarist with an original sound, a noisy sound, an aggressive sound, with a percussive style, and there wasn't anyone around here like that.”
It would be understandable if most people associated J with the Jazzmaster — the main model he has played on stage for years — but a deeper dive into his history shows that a special Telecaster has also been a trusty companion.
In fact, J’s preferred model for crafting those combustible leads in the studio throughout his career, including 1991’s acclaimed Green Mind and 1993’s groundbreaking follow-up Where You Been, has been a top-loader ‘58 Blue Sparkle Tele that he picked up from someone at a familiar Boston studio.
Now, Fender is paying tribute to that iconic guitar with the J Mascis Telecaster. With custom J Mascis Telecaster pickups, a Bottle Rocket Blue Flake finish and top-loader bridge, it is truly as unique as the artist that bears its name.
“I didn’t have any guitar that sounded like that,” he said. “I’ve played basically every lead on record since I got the Tele. It sounded more interesting to me than stuff I would play on other guitars. It led me in other directions. I don’t know why.”