When people think of J Mascis, they often imagine him with a Jazzmaster surrounded by a wall of Marshalls. Can’t think why…
Indeed, Mascis has already been honoured with two signature Jazzmaster electric guitar models: the Fender J Mascis Jazzmaster, released in 2007...
Followed by the Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster in 2011.
But Mascis’ love for Fenders goes a lot further than the Jazzmaster. In fact, his original intention was to pick up a Stratocaster. Alas, “I couldn’t afford it,” he says. “I could get a Jaguar for $200 or a Jazzmaster for $300, so I got the Jazzmaster. Although I liked the look of the Jag better. [The Jazzmaster] had big Grover tuners on it and the neck felt like a baseball bat. It was worn down and I liked that.”
Eventually, however, Mascis was in a position to expand his guitar collection to include Stratocasters. “The first Strat I got was a Roland Ready Strat to play guitar synth with back in the 90s,” he continues. “Then I got a Rory [Gallagher] Strat. I’ve got a ’59 Strat. It’s got gold hardware and it’s been refinished black – well, almost black, it has a bit of a grey tinge to it. I saw a video of Stevie Ray Vaughan playing a Strat in the studio and it looked like the same guitar. Maybe it was Stevie Ray Vaughan’s!
“The problem is, I find myself playing stuff that just sounds too much like a Strat. I like Teles and Jazzmasters better. I don’t always feel like myself when I play a Strat. It makes my fingers go a certain way. My ’59 Strat has got a tiny neck. Sometimes I like a bigger neck, but I don’t have a preference; it just depends on the guitar. I don’t know until I pick it up. It’s more about the whole guitar.”
Mascis’ inimitable lead lines are normally recorded using a Fender – often his blue sparkle (re)finish 1958 Telecaster. “It’s my favourite guitar,” he points out. “I play most of the solos on my records with it. It was refinished when I got it, so I painted it blue sparkle. It had a ’56 pickup put in which has a really nice kind of P-90 quality. It’s a top-loader guitar. There are no holes in the back. I’m used to top-loaders. It’s a little easier to bend [strings]. A lot of Tele people pooh-pooh the top loader, but I don’t know why.”
Based on the alt-rock icon’s “favorite guitar,” Fender will be releasing the J Mascis Telecaster next month. Priced at $1,349.99 this dazzling Tele features a Blue Sparkle finish, mirrored, chrome pickguard, custom J Mascis Telecaster pickups, top-loader bridge and Road Worn maple neck and hardware.
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Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World, Guitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.