The Fender Jazzmaster is a unique guitar which was originally popularized in the 60’s surf rock scene, and is now used my many great rock guitarists. To make sure the Jazzmaster sounds as good as it possibly can, it’s important to choose the best suited pickups.
The sound of a Jazzmaster is instantly recognizable. With a thick natural tone and great playability, it’s easy to see why the guitar has become so popular among modern indie bands. Below I'll talk about some of the most capable pickups for getting the best out of a Jazzmaster.
4 Best Pickups for Jazzmaster Guitars
Fender’s Pure Vintage ’65 channels the rich, wide-ranging tones of an early Jazzmaster model. This pickup utilizes enamel-coated magnet wire which creates a sound rich with harmonics and with added warmth.
The vintage construction allows you to combine a modern Jazzmaster with its famous original sound. The pickups are single coil, and wax-potted to minimize any microphone issues.
Much of the appeal of a Fender Jazzmaster is its traditional, old-school style. Installing these Fender pickups, which have been made by the original manufacturer to keep that vintage feel alive, is a great way to get the most out your guitar.
Seymour Duncan’s Antiquity is a single coil pickup, made especially for a Jazzmaster. Seymour Duncan are regarded as one of the world’s leading producers of pickups, so you can bet that adequate care has been taken when designing the Antiquity.
This pickup gives you the classic, authentic tone of a late 1950’s Fender Jazzmaster. It achieves this through a unique winding and 2 magnets which enhance the signature snap of the guitar.
The Antiquity pickup has a vintage look as well as a vintage sound. It has been aged in order to fit with the style of a Jazzmaster.
3. Fender V-Mod
Fender know the Jazzmaster better than anyone, hence their two appearances on this list. The V-Mod pickup doesn’t set out to recreate that vintage Jazzmaster tone though, unlike the previous items. These pickups intend to refine the guitar’s sound for the modern era.
The Jazzmaster had an unexpected resurgence among indie rock bands in the early 2000’s, and guitarists began to experiment with a guitar which before then was mainly known for its surf-rock background. Modern guitarists experimented with the guitar to give it a fresh new sound.
The single coil pickup set brings out the sharper tones of a Jazzmaster. These pickups feature taller coils and magnets which enhance the mid-range frequencies and sound huge when combined with distortion and overdrive, perfect for playing heavier riffs.
The last addition to our list is the Lindy Fralin Hum Cancelling Pickup Set. If you’re not fond of the natural humming of a Jazzmaster, these are the pickups for you.
By taking two coils and placing them on either side of Alnico V magnets, Lindy Fralin have managed to create pickups which have a smooth, thick tone, without any hum.
This makes them a great choice for rhythm guitarists who frequently play chords because the pickups are very focused on the mid-ranged frequencies which most chords consist of.
There is a natural compression to these pickups which makes them ideal for energetic playing. The compression allows you to be less considerate of strumming velocity, and focus more on the output of your performance. This is great for playing punk, garage rock or other energetic genres.
Jazzmaster – The Guitar that Came Back to Life
History isn’t always kind to guitars, but the Fender Jazzmaster has stood the test of time despite being dismissed as finished at one point in history.
As the name suggests, Fender originally made the Jazzmaster with the goal of creating a guitar popular amongst Jazz players in the 1950’s. This never really materialized, as jazz musicians overlooked the guitar, which led to rock guitarists utilizing the Jazzmaster for genres such as surf rock.
The guitar remained unchanged until 1980, when Fender discontinued it due to low sales. It seemed that one of the greatest guitars ever made would go off the radar for good, with hardly anyone noticing.
The resurgence happened when indie rock guitarists began to use Jazzmaster, re-popularizing it enough for Fender to bring it back into production.
Single Coil Pickups Explained
Single coil pickups are composed of one coil of wire which is wrapped around a magnet. This promotes the high-end pronunciation of a guitar, and a smooth overall sound.
When using guitars with a single coil pickup, I’ve noticed that they sound great on the clean channel, and respond really well to effects such as phase, chorus and flange.
One of the downsides to single coil pickups is the inevitable hum which they produce. This is what brought about the invention of humbuckers, or dual coil pickups, which cancel out the unwanted noise.
Some guitarists who have used single coil pickups have overcome the problem of unwanted noise by simply making it a part of their sound. Jimi Hendrix, for example, often incorporated feedback and pickup buzz into this guitar solos. Combined with wah-wah and some distortion, it sounded amazing.
The Good Old Days
Musical equipment production, discounting digital instruments, seemed to peak around the 1960’s. This has led to many modern manufacturers trying to get as close as possible to the vintage sounds produced all of those decades ago.
Pickups are a great way to emulate those vintage tones. Not everyone can afford to get their hands on a genuine 1950’s Jazzmaster, but through the use of pickups, we can get pretty close to the sound.
It’s a fun exercise to listen through some of the artists from that time period who were playing a Jazzmaster, and see how close you can get to their tone. Then, you can add elements such as effects pedals to give it your own unique touch.
The Art of Soloing
After choosing a suitable pickup for your Jazzmaster, it’s time to take advantage of its design. The neck and fretboard meet so highly on a Jazzmaster that you can easily get to the highest octaves of the guitar – making it so fun to play screaming solos on.
The Jazzmaster may not have been originally designed for that purpose, but as far as soloing goes, it’s one of the most satisfying guitars you can play.