Shown here is the Powder Blue
model. Also available in Candy
Apple Red and Sunburst.
For those of you unaware of Fender’s highly touted Pawn Shop series of electrics, think of them of dream mash-ups that take a little bit of different classic models in order to make these guitars uniquely their own. Want a Stratocaster with Telecaster neck along with a double set of humbuckers? No problem! How about the sound and feel of Jazz bass with a Mustang body? They’ve got you covered – and those two are pretty simple compared to some of the more daring combinations the Pawn Shop line has available. Fender themselves describe the line as “guitars that never were but should have been,” taking some of “most audacious” guitar concepts from the mid ‘60s through mid ‘70s to create sometime completely new, albeit with enough modern sensibility and technology to rock out with the best of them. And from my own experience with the brand, they aren’t kidding! Today, we’re going to be checking out the Fender Pawn Shop Jaguarillo electric and see if this guitar really should have been.
The Pawn Shop Jaguarillo is one of the many updates to Fender’s 2012 edition of the series which – along with redesigned electronics – comes in H/S/S (humbucker, single coil, single coil) configuration. These Strat-styled single coils are found in the neck and center positions while the Atomic humbucker resides on the bridge. All three pickups are placed slightly slanted to improve sonic response. In fact, this makes the bridge humbucker especially hot. The pickguard houses the lever-type five-way selector, located where the triple-switch panel is usually positioned on a Jaguar. In contrast, the latter's chromed control plate is present and correct, complete with master volume and tone pots, plus output jack.
The bold-on maple neck is pretty much the same as previous models and equipped with a particularly enlarged headstock, carrying with it vintage-style Kluson copy tuners (same as those fitted on today’s modern Fenders and Squiers). The holes on the posts of the tuners are centered as you would expect but the top slots are a bit too shallow, making stringing a bit cumbersome for larger string gauges. Not a huge problem all in all. I should point out that the headstock lacks – aside from the Fender brand logo – the familiar model decal (such as Stratocaster, Telecaster, etc.) that you would expect from standard Fender electrics. This might have been a stylistic choice by Fender as its absence does add to the whole prototype feel of it, although it might also suggest a short-term limited run.
The neck itself comprises of a shallow-radius rosewood fingerboard and employs the Jaguar’s standard combination of a shortened 24” scale length and 22 medium jumbo frets so those of you familiar with the classic should feel right at home here. The end result allows for smooth and easily playability which is further helped by the guitar’s modern neck profile, albeit with some added gloss to give it a more vintage look. The alder body is essentially 100% original Jaguar – smooth contours and that classic offset shape – and comes available in three high-shine polyester paintjobs: Faded Sonic Blue, Candy Apple Red and traditional Three-Color Sunburst. And just like you would find on several other modern Jaguar deviations, the Jaguarillo features Fender’s Adjusto-Matic bridge which is essentially the company’s take on Gibson’s Tune-O-Matic, just fyi. The vibrato tailpiece is on par with what you’d find on a traditional Jag, although the long arm differs by being screw-in instead of the familiar push-fit version.
And now to the meat of the electric – the sound. Even before I plugged it in I found that it rings quite nicely acoustically. And better yet, it lacks the usual array of rattles you’d find on a standard Jaguar, meaning the addition of the Adjusto-Matic bridge wasn’t just purely for show. Although Fender describes the two Strat-style single coils simply as “standard,” they actually have a bit of bite to them and work exceptionally well paired with the Atomic humbucker on the bridge. The latter definitely lives up to its name as it packs plenty of that thick but warm bite you’d expect from a humbucker, optimally made for high gain situations and doesn’t sound too subdued under clean settings either. But it you’re simply looking for exceptionally clean tone, the two single coils – either on their own or together – is your best bet as they have that clear, crisp and twangy tone they’re known for. The neck- and-centre setting is hum- cancelling, while the middle- plus-bridge position offers a beefier variation on the classic funky Strat sound.
Unsurprisingly, the Jaguarillo works well with anything from moderate overdrive to heavy distortion, giving players the ability to churn out to anything from grungy punk and hard rock to a classic country and blues with a bit of a searing bite that's far removed from any standard Jag. The volume control comes in useful for cleaning-up duties here, while the tone pot rings the changes in an equally gradual manner.
All in all, this isn’t your typical Jaguar – and that is definitely not a bad thing. Featuring a broad array of possible tones in a far simpler package (doesn’t have the Jaguar’s infamously confusing settings), the Jaguarillo will definitely offer modern rockers plenty to like!