Fender is considered by many guitarists as one of the most reputable and reliable manufacturers of electric guitars. In fact, it is included in the big three brands of electric guitars besides Gibson and Paul Reed Smith (PRS).
The company has released numerous top-selling series which have captured the taste of many guitarists including the names of Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Ritchie Blackmore, Rory Gallagher, David Gilmour, and many more.
One of the most iconic models produced by the company is its flagship Stratocasters which has a classic design and the capability of producing euphonious tones. Another notable electric guitar made by Fender is their Jazzmaster, which gained popularity among surf music guitarists. Both the Stratocaster and Jazzmaster are exceptional and premium guitars.
In this article, we are going to compare both electric guitars and discuss their similarities and differences to help you decide which one is best for you.
Brief History Of The Stratocaster And Jazzmaster
The Fender Telecaster debuted in 1951 and was the company’s first-ever successful hit. Even though it featured advanced specifications and an innovative design, the Telecaster still had negative feedback regardings its body’s comfort, tremolo bridge, tonal range, and lack of another pickup. However, these issues were silenced in 1954, when Fender introduced their latest model the Stratocaster which featured an identical design to the Telecaster, but with more advanced components and specifications. In short, what the Telecaster lacked was present in the Stratocaster.
Today, the Stratocaster still remains with the same design since its debut but with the latest hardware and comes with a variety of colors and finishes. This made the Fender Stratocaster sought after by many guitarists because of its capacity to satisfy the needs of most of its users. If you are searching for an excellent electric guitar, it is likely that you will hear the Stratocaster’s name frequently. The Fender Stratocaster line continues to remain an iconic guitar for over sixty years due to its ability to suit almost every musical genre.
The Fender Jazzmaster debuted back in 1958 as a result of the release and success of Gibson jazz electric guitars such as the Flying V and Explorer. However, this electric guitar gained popularity among surf rock musicians in Southern California, rather than jazz players. This led the company to refer to the Jazzmaster’s base design as the “Jaguar”.
Unfortunately, due to the rise of the Hard Rock era in the 70s and 80s, the popularity of the Jazzcaster drastically dropped. As a result, Fender stopped their production and erased them from their guitar line-up. However, this didn’t last long as Fender resumed the Jazzmaster’s production in 1986. This occurrence was sparked by Tom Verlaine, Jimi Hendrix, and other guitarists who’ve used this instrument in various performances and TV shows which helped the Jazzmaster slowly gain popularity and redeem itself to musicians.
Fast-forward to today, the Fender Jazzmaster is an amazing electric guitar that is renowned for its signature warm and mellow tones.
Distinction Between The Stratocaster And Jazzmaster
The Fender Stratocaster and Jazzmaster both feature a double-cutaway body structure which makes them easier to maneuver when playing upper frets. However, the Jazzmaster’s slightly offset body gives it an advantage over the Stratocaster with regard to upper fret access.
In terms of their body material, both electric guitars have alder bodies which makes them comfortable to play in either a sitting or standing position.
The majority of Stratocaster and Jazzmaster guitar necks are made from maple wood and are bolted on. Even though most of these guitars have a C-shaped neck, their neck shape directly depends on the guitar’s era of construction and version.
Both electric guitars also share the same fretboard material which gives you the choice of either maple or rosewood. Their distinction however is found in the number of frets they have, the Stratocaster has 22 while the Jazzmaster has 21.
The Stratocaster and Jazzmaster’s major difference is probably the pickup they feature. The Stratocaster is well known for its traditional three-coil pickups which generate warm and thin tones while the Jazzmaster is equipped with either two wide single-coil pickups or a pair of humbuckers that helps it produce warm and mellow tones.
The traditional single-coil pickup comes equipped with one magnet and generates brighter and warmer tones. Their only downside is that they are prone to humming and feedback on high-gain amplifier settings.
Wide single-coil pickups also have one magnet, but thanks to their shorter and wider bobbins which help them generate higher output, they are less likely to have humming and feedback. Due to this, wide single-coils are preferred to play with especially in distorted amplifier settings. In addition, this pickup generates warmer and mellower tones compared to the traditional single coils.
Among these three pickups, the humbuckers are the least susceptible to humming and feedback, this is courtesy of their two magnets. Furthermore, they also generate the highest output and produce the warmest and fullest sounds.
Although there are some Stratocasters who feature a humbucker pickup at the bridge or neck position. They are extremely difficult to come about making us focus more on the pickup most of them feature.
It is also understandable that both the Stratocaster and Jazzmaster have different controls since they don’t share the same number of pickup configurations.
The Stratocaster has three pickups installed, giving it a 5-way pickup selector that includes two tone controls and one volume control. The Jazzmaster, on the other hand, uses a 3-way pickup selector that consists of a switch (lead/rhythm), two tone controls, and two volume controls.
The lead/rhythm switch featured by the Jazzmaster enables its user to set up their guitar differently. The 3-way pickup selector, along with the master tone and volume controls, is accessible through the lead circuit. Only the neck pickup, the rhythm tone, volume controls, and the rhythm switch are activated when the rhythm switch is engaged.
The floating bridges of the Stratocaster and Jazzmaster indicate that they both have a tremolo arm. When playing, this can be pushed or pulled to alter the pitch of the strings. Despite the fact that both of them have floating bridges, the Jazzmaster’s tremolo sits further back on the guitar’s body, giving it a slightly different appearance.
One of the most recognizable guitar tones is that of the Stratocaster. Even in stock condition, this electric guitar’s signature warm and “glassy” tones is always pleasing to the ear. They are thought to have the most authentic sound an electric guitar can produce which explains why so many guitarists are drawn to them.
Additionally, many musicians consider this guitar a chameleon because of their ability to produce almost any kind of sound. This is of course thanks to the support of its three single-coil pickups that can change tones with a simple switch position modification.
The Fender Stratocaster is the guitar that most guitarists would name as their go-to instrument in terms of versatility. Most likely, the Stratocaster with a humbucker in the bridge position offers the most tonal variety which can be utilized in any musical genre, ranging from light jazz to heavy metal.
The Jazzmaster’s tone is much fuller and warmer than that of the Stratocaster, which was Fender’s original intention. Jazz, country, blues, classic rock, and independent music are just a few of the musical genres that the Jazzmaster suits perfectly.
The tone control featured on the Jazzmaster is highly flexible, just like it is on Stratocasters. In addition, this electric guitar comes equipped with various controls to customize the sound you produce, including rhythm and lead circuits, separate volume and tone controls for each circuit, a master volume control, a tone control, a 3-way toggle switch, and more.
Besides that, because of the Jazzmaster’s low string tension, you may also play it unplugged and still hear its distinctive buzz. Throughout its history, this feature has had a love-hate relationship with a variety of guitars. However, if you don’t like it, you can fix it. You can customize them by adding a buzz stopper or even replacing their neck.
|No. of Frets
|Rosewood or Maple
|Three single-coils, HSS, and HSH
|5-way pickup selector with two tone controls and a single volume control.
|Two wide single-coils (Jazzmaster single-coils) or two humbuckers (HH).
|3-way pickup selector with a switch (lead/rhythm), two tone controls, and two volume controls.
Hardware & Others
|3.6 kgs or 8 lbs
|3.9 kgs or 8.5 lbs
Overall Similarities And Differences Of The Stratocaster And Jazzmaster
Based on the table and the discussion mentioned above, here are the similarities and differences shared by both electric guitars.
|Double-cutaway body shape
|Jazzmaster’s body shape is offset while Stratocaster’s body is contoured
|Slim and Lightweight design
|No. of frets: Stratocasters have 22 frets while Jazzmasters have 21
|C-shape neck shape
|Larger are wider pickups on the Jazzmaster and Standard sized pickups on the Stratocaster
|25.5” scale length
|No. of pickup configuration, the Stratocaster has 3-pickups while the Jazzmaster has 2-pickups
|Both are equipped with a pickguard
|Type of pickups in series, Stratocaster’s come in either SSS, HSS, and HSH versions, while comes in either SS or HH versions
|The Stratocaster has a broader color and finish selection than the Jazzmaster
|The Jazzmaster’s tones are warmer and fuller compared to the Stratocaster
|The Jazzmaster performs better in higher gain amplifier settings compared to the Stratocaster because they are less susceptible to humming and feedback courtesy of their wider single coils
List Of Models And Their Prices
In this category, you will evidently see that the Stratocaster line offers a broader variety of models which indicates that they are available in numerous color and finish options compared to the Jazzmaster.
The Jazzmaster’s limited smaller series line might also be affected by the fact that Fender stopped their production for a period in 1980 and relaunched them in 1986. Both the Stratocaster and Jazzmaster share an identical price tag.
|American Professional II
|American Vintage II
|American Professional II
|American Vintage II
Famous And Successful Artists Who’ve Used The Stratocaster And Jazzmaster
|Troy Van Leeuwen
Which Is The Better Option For Beginners – Stratocaster Or Jazzmaster?
Due to its lower price point, the Fender Stratocaster is a much better option than the Jazzmaster. Although this doesn’t mean the Jazzmaster isn’t beginner-friendly, it just so happens that beginners are advised to start with cheaper guitars because this is their exploration and practice stage in deciding whether they really want to pursue playing the guitar. Instead of just trying and giving up playing and wasting money. This method assures you get your money’s worth.
Both electric guitars are incredibly comfortable to play, especially since they have double-cutaway bodies that are offset or contoured which enables the guitar to rest better on your body in either a standing or sitting playing position. Additionally, due to their body shape, they provide you with effortless access to higher frets.
Overall, the Stratocaster is your best option if you’re a beginner starting from scratch and haven’t made up your mind about continuing to play the guitar. However, the Fender Jazzmaster is your best option if you are a beginner who is genuinely persistent and interested in playing the guitar, especially for heavy rock and metal music, as it is less prone to humming and feedback.
Overall, both the Fender Stratocaster and Jazzmaster are excellent and top-performing electric guitars. The decision on which of them is superior all boils down to the user’s preferred playing style and tone.
The Stratocaster might be the best option if you are just starting to learn how to play the electric guitar because it has a broader tonal palette which will surely satisfy your playing for a long time. In addition to sounding fantastic, you won’t have any trouble holding it while playing and will be less likely to experience back pains during long playing sessions.
For those who enjoy using higher gain and a warm guitar sound, Jazzmaster models are excellent. It is a beautiful guitar aesthetically, Jazzmaster’s are also effortless and highly customizable guitars which enhance its versatility so that it can fulfill your playing needs. The ideal models for more intense genres like metal and hard rock.