The History and Influence of the Fender Jazzmaster

When creating my timeline, I quickly realized that my greatest challenge with this project would be how to go about detailing the history of Jazzmaster guitars in a way that would properly convey the deep connections that players have with these objects. The control, the connections, the feeling of metaphysical extension, all of these sensations felt understandable to me, but I knew my discussion could quickly be confused as mere idolatry if clear developments of sound, style, and culture were not included into the conversation. In order to understand why the way the jazzmaster “breaks the rules” of traditional playing and sound, the reader must first understand said what rules/sounds the instruments deviated from in the first place. As a result, the first half of my posts focus on the steady evolution from lutes (and other stringed instruments) to the familiar look and sound of the electric and classical guitars we use today. Using audio, video, and images greatly assisted in this process, as so much about these guitars cannot be described and understood, they can only be witnessed. Once the groundwork was laid out, my focused shifted onto the guitar itself: the story of the model’s rejection and triumphant return is almost baffling, and remains a testament for how this guitar, quite unlike any other, possesses so much potential for the player to develop a rather unique relationship with it. Ironically, much like the young 80’s rockers who wielded them, early jazzmasters were initially ignored, and only became noticed by the public once they became a symbol for disharmony and raucous. Within a few short decades, an instrument which may have easily been lost to time, instead became a symbol for a booming independent rock movement, and was even popular enough to eventually be reproduced.