It’s been long overdue. What, you say? Well J. Hubner owning a Jazzmaster, that’s what. J. Hubner is me, the guy typing this message. I don’t want anyone to be confused thinking we have a room full of monkeys typing up these posts you see on this this fancy blog site. If I could afford a room full of typing monkeys I surely would’ve had a Jazzmaster by now.
So for those of you perusing this particular blog and have no idea what a Jazzmaster is I will fill you in. It’s a guitar. Now, the Jazzmaster is made by Fender and they’ve been making this particular guitar since the early 60s. Initially the guitar was intended for what its name implies: jazz guitarists. Well, I guess the jazz guitarists in the early 60s didn’t care for the Jazzmaster. Not sure if it was its look, feel, sound, etc…point is, the Wes Montgomerys and Grant Greens kept their Gibson hollowbodys and passed on Leo Fender’s bizarre concept guitar.
So this strange jazz guitar pretty much became an anomaly and ended up in pawn shops across the bigger cities. Then for some reason, the punks rediscovered this guitar relic in the mid-seventies. I should say “post” punks. The CBGB crowd made the Jazzmaster their own. Television, Talking Heads, Sonic Youth; then in the late 80s shoegaze and noise bands -in particular J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr and Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine- made this guitar iconic(in my eyes, anyways). The weirdos and freaks took Leo Fender’s rejected monster and gave it love and a purpose. They also modded the crap out of ’em. Take a look at a few of the mods Sonic Youth did over the years. It’s extensive, so clear a few hours.
But me? It wasn’t until 2004 that my love and adoration for the Fender Jazzmaster began. My wife and I were in Chicago seeing Wilco at the Auditorium Theater. They were touring in support of A Ghost Is Born and this would be the first time for us seeing the new incarnation live. We hadn’t seen them live since April of 2002 when they were a 4-piece, so seeing Wilco as a 6-piece band was exciting. As soon as Nels Cline hit the stage and began filling in the blank spots on “Handshake Drugs” I was hooked. He was playing this beat up black Fender Jazzmaster with a turquoise pickguard. It was chipped, dented, fading, and it sounded glorious. The clarity I heard in that guitar was unreal. Every detail and nuance came out of that amp. The magic comes from those soapbar pickups. They’re quiet, but when pushed they can be fierce.
Needless to say, I was hooked. Some of my favorite albums were adorned with the Jazzmaster’s sound. Marquee Moon, This Years Model, Loveless, Green Mind, Daydream Nation, and even some Wilco. I began looking into the possibility of acquiring one of these beauties. Trouble is, they weren’t cheap. American Reissues were -back in 2007- around $1600. Not the kind of cash a dad rocker like myself can just lay down and have a clear conscience about. So I waited. And waited.
Then, last year it came to my attention that Fender was making a signature model Jazzmaster for J Mascis(Dino Jr). But it wasn’t being made directly by Fender. Squier was making them, which at first I felt a little iffy about. I guess I can be kinda snobbish when it comes to equipment. I had the stupid idea in my head that if it wasn’t made here in the good ‘ol USA that it was made cheaply. To some extent that isn’t far from the truth. But Squier has been a Fender company for many years and they hold their standards pretty high. It allows Fender to offer some decent instruments at a significantly less price. Sorry, starting to sound like a commercial.
To make a long story a little longer, my lovely wife told me last Saturday that I should go buy myself this guitar. When your significant other gives you their blessing to go spend more than $20 on yourself you don’t ask questions. You just do as your told. On Tuesday I headed to Sweetwater Sound in Fort Wayne, IN and picked up a Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster. Through my Vox AC15 and my ample stomp boxes I can say without a doubt and with 28 years of playing under my belt that I have never been this happy and excited to plug in and play. This guitar has changed me. I’m a reborn musician. All I want to do is play. It plays better than any other guitar I’ve played in my life. It’s versatile, going from a dark, jazzy tone with the flick of a switch to jangly indie rock the next second. I seriously cannot wait to record with this and start seriously writing with it. Right now, I’m just enjoying plugging in and playing for an hour or two and seeing what this thing can do.
The weekend is coming up. I know what I’ll be doing.