Based on the Jazzmaster which had a late-1950's surf rock following, the aim was to take the existing blueprint and make it more suitable for that genre. The neck's length was reduced, more switches were added for more tonal options, brighter pickups were used and a special device called a mute was created.
These extra features gave the guitar far more attack and a very aggressive percussive tone. Sadly, the Jaguar also had technical problems due to a complicated bridge design which affected the sustain and could render the guitar nearly unplayable if not set up just right. Both of these factors originally made the guitar very unpopular compared to the simpler and allegedly more versatile Stratocaster and Telecaster, and the instrument was cancelled after thirteen years in production.
But thanks to grunge-era heroes Dinosuar Jr., Sonic Youth, Nirvana and Pavement, these guitars enjoyed a slow but steady surge of popularity for their unusual looks, sounds and affordability compared to other vintage Fender instruments.
Many indepedant builders have created solutions for the more problematic design aspects, and Fender itself has released different variations in the past decade, made in America, Japan and most recently Mexico.
The Jaguar is still considered a "cult" instrument but more and more players are finding it is the best guitar for them.
Kenny: "Sweet. I've always wanted to get one of those."
Popular upgrades for the Jaguar include fitting a Mustang bridge or a Mastery bridge to replace the original, adding a Buzz Stop, changing the pickups and replacing the electronics. All of these change the tone and feel but can make the guitar more versatile and reliable depending on the player.