Retro chic – Fender Jag-Stang (1995)
What’s the story?
The music press painted Kurt Cobain as a junkie hero who didn’t care, but Nirvana’s frontman was a dedicated songwriter and guitar geek (although there’s evidence he was fairly keen on drugs, too). The Fenders he played were all modified with custom pickups, and in 1993 he designed a hybrid of his two favourites: the Mustang and the Jaguar. In 1995 – after his death – Fender Japan began producing Kurt’s custom guitar.
Why should I want one?
The Jag-Stang is no longer in production, but although it’s rare, it’s not expensive. A shorter neck means notes are easy to reach, and because it’s a Fender it has a lower ‘action’ than other brands, so the strings are closer to the frets and easier to play. Combined with a quality tremolo and construction that’d survive a Nirvana gig, you’ve got the perfect instrument for beginners, garage grunge bands or anyone not too precious about their axe.
What to look for…
All Jag-Stangs were made in one factory so they’ll all play roughly the same. After that distinctive Nirvana sound? Get your local guitar shop to swap in Kurt’s favourite pickups – a Fender Texas Special in the neck and a DiMarzio H-series in the bridge. It won’t sound exactly like Kurt’s, but then again, you’re not a heroin-addled genius. Are you?