When it comes to iconic guitars, few are as instantly recognizable as the Fender Telecaster and the Fender Jazzmaster. Both have been played by some of the biggest names in music, and both have a long and storied history.
Let’s find out who wins the battle between the Jazzmaster vs Telecaster guitars.
So, what’s the difference between these two classic electric guitars?
For starters, the Telecaster is typically seen as a more versatile guitar, thanks to its classic “twangy” sound. It’s been used in a wide range of genres, from country to rock to blues.
The Jazzmaster, on the other hand, is often associated with surf music and jazz – hence its name. It’s got a warmer sound than the Telecaster, and its unique offset body shape is unmistakable.
When it comes to looks, the Telecaster is often seen as the more “traditional” option, while the Jazzmaster has a distinctly retro aesthetic.
However, the Telecaster has remained more popular overall, due in part to its iconic status in country music. One thing is for sure, Fender guitars are top-notch but when it comes to the Fender Telecaster vs Jazzmaster, which is the best guitar?
Let’s start picking!
Brief History of the Fender Jazzmaster
The Jazzmaster was designed as a more expensive alternative to the Stratocaster. It was first introduced in 1958 and was marketed to jazz guitarists.
However, it found favor among surf rock guitarists in the early 1960s. The Jazzmaster has a unique body design, pickup configuration, and bridge pickups are a Tremolo system that gives it a distinctively different sound and feel from the Stratocaster.
Although it was not widely embraced by jazz musicians, the Jazzmaster has become the goto guitar for surf rock and indie rock genres.
Fender has built a solid reputation in all its guitars, we also did a complete breakdown of Fender vs Ibanez.
Brief History of the Fender Telecaster
The Fender Telecaster was introduced in 1951 and was one of the first solid-body electric guitars. Designed with simplicity and reliability in mind, and also featured a number of innovations such as an integrated bridge/pickup unit and strings that were pulled straight over the nut.
The Telecaster quickly became a popular choice for country and western players due to its bright, cutting sound. In 1952, the control layout was simplified, although players soon discovered that the three-position switch could be used to create interesting in-phase and out-of-phase sounds.
The Telecaster remained largely unchanged for the next 60 years and remains a popular choice for both beginners and experienced players.
In 1973, Fender made the last of three major design revisions to the Telecaster. The Telecaster Thinline and Telecaster Custom were now joined by the Telecaster Deluxe, which featured two humbucker pickups, a Stratocaster-style headstock, and a choice of hard-tail or a tremolo bridge.
In the mid-1970s, the Telecaster was put to more diverse use than ever before, appearing in genres ranging from prog to punk to jazz to FM rock to pop.
Be sure to check out our review of these two telecasters: American Special vs American Standard Telecaster
The Specs Breakdown For These Two Fender Guitars
|Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster vs Fender American Professional II Telecaster|
Fender American Professional II Jazzmaster
Fender American Professional II Telecaster
Number Of Strings
|Sunburst, Blue, Green, Gray Burst||White, Sunburst, Blue, Green, Gray|
|Solid Body||Solid Body|
|9.5” Radius Jazzmaster/Jaguar Bridge with Panorama™ Tremolo System||3-Saddle Top-Load/String-Through Tele with Compensated Brass “Bullet” Saddles|
|Deep C||Deep C|
Number Of Frets
|22 Narrow Tall||22 Narrow Tall|
Hardware & Electronics
|Fender V-Mod II Single-Coil Jazzmaster (Single Coil / Passive)||Fender V-Mod II Double Tap Humbucking (Humbucker / Passive)|
|Fender V-Mod II Single-Coil Jazzmaster (Single Coil / Passive)||Fender V-Mod II Single-Coil Tele (Single Coil / Passive)|
|3 Way||3 Way|
Is the Jazzmaster a good guitar?
The unique tremolo system is both expressive and subtle, making it perfect for a wide range of playing styles.
The offset body shape is comfortable and unique, making the Jazzmaster stand out from the crowd.
The pickups are warm and well-rounded, providing a great tone that is perfect for a wide range of genres.
A unique tremolo system can be difficult to use, and the bridge design is also problematic.
This guitar also has a very particular sound that some players may not enjoy.
Here are some features of this groovy electric guitar:
Classic offset body style
Unique “lead” and “rhythm” circuit switching
Two Supro “black dot” single-coil pickups
6-saddle vintage-style synchronized tremolo
That Funky Jazzmaster Sound
The definitive Jazzmaster tone was popularized by the Ventures’ “Walk, Don’t Run”. The song starts with a drum roll, and Bob Bogle’s guitar playing uses both pickups throughout the song.
The bridge pickup by itself has a sound similar to a Strat bridge pickup; the neck pickup by itself has a sound that falls somewhere between a Tele and a Strat neck pickup.
Many surf bands of the early 1960s used Jazzmasters as their primary guitar.
Check out this video on the Jazzmaster tone profile:
Why Do Telecasters sound so good?
The Telecaster typically has two single-coil pickups. The bridge pickup is wider and longer than the Strat counterpart, and it is mounted on the Tele’s metal bridge plate. This can give the Tele a more powerful tone.
The biggest contributing factor to the different sounds of a Telecaster is probably the baseplate on the bridge pickup. Installing a metal baseplate under a Strat’s bridge pickup can make it sound more like a Tele.
It won’t be exactly the same because the Tele’s pickup is bigger, but it’s pretty close. In fact, Johnny Hiland uses Strat pickups with a baseplate under the bridge pickup.
Another factor is the plate-style bridge. A hardtail Strat has more twang than a regular Strat – though it’s not quite Tele twang. This changes the tone considerably.
Finally, Telecasters are made with an ash or alder body and a bolt-on maple neck, which also contributes to their signature sound.
Is the Fender Telecaster a good guitar?
- A very basic design that makes it easy to play.
- Versatile and can be used for a variety of genres.
- Relatively inexpensive.
- Uncomfortable to play for extended periods of time.
- Can be difficult to play if you have large hands, due to its small body and narrow neck.
- Can be difficult to keep in tune.
- Can be difficult to find parts.
A few features that make this a great guitar to put in your bag:
- Solid-body with a flat asymmetric single-cutaway body
- Distinctive small headstock with six tuning pegs mounted inline along a single side
- 2 single-coil pickups (one in the bridge position and one in the neck position)
- A Fixed bridge with the original design has three individually adjustable dual-string saddles whose height and intonation can be set independently. (Many newer models have six saddles.)
Why do Telecasters sound so good?
You know when you hear that classic tele sound? It sounds bright and articulate but can melt your face off with power chords and crunchy rhythms.
Telecasters usually have two single-coil pickups, with the bridge pickup being wider and longer than its Strat counterpart. The tone of the Tele is further accentuated by its metal bridge plate.
Check out the clean sound in this video:
Jazzmaster vs Telecaster: What are people saying?
I have a Tele and a Jazzmaster man. Since getting the JM, I literally haven’t touched the Tele. The trem, the AVRI unit in particular, it’s the best there is in in my opinion. Generally I find a Jazzmaster a much more unique and versatile instrument than a Tele, but that’s personal to me. I’d suggest trying both and see what the score is after that man.
And another guitar player notes:
Gotta say, I have a telecaster, which I love, but I just bought a stratocaster for more surfy stuff. Best bet imo is to go somewhere and play one of each. I was torn between a jazzmaster and a stratocaster, but as soon as I played them both it was easily the stratocaster. Just more versatile, comfortable and lots of tonal variety.
So Who Wins Fender Jazzmaster or Telecaster?
Its classic looks, simple design, and versatility have led to the Telecaster’s dominance over the years.
If you’re looking for a guitar that can do pretty much anything, the Telecaster is a solid choice. Telecasters are great for blues, classic rock, and country music, as this is where they can shine.
As compared to its usual cousin the Telecaster, the Jazzmaster looks vintage and sounds modern, making it an edgier and wildcard choice if that’s the type of guitar player you are. One thing is for sure, Fender makes one hell of a guitar.
This combination, along with its floating tremolo bridge, makes the Jazzmaster an excellent choice for modern music, but it can also play blues, rock, and any other style. It’s really up to the player to decide.