Telecaster Vs Jazzmaster – Which One Is Better For You?


Fender is the most famous guitar company in the world. During the existence of the company, it has created some of the most legendary guitars ever made. The spot within these guitars has Telecaster and Jazzmaster models. Them being made by the same manufacturer does not mean they are the same guitars; on the contrary. These guitars pack a unique set of specifications. 

The first look at these guitars will tell you that visually they are completely different and that they share almost no similarities. The Telecasters have an iconic single cutaway design, and the Jazzmasters have an offset body shape. Since they pack different types of pickups, the tone of these guitars is different, with Telecaster being brighter and more twangy. 

Both of the guitars have an Alder body with similar weight. The material of the fretboard is also different, with Telecaster having the Maple fretboard and Jazzmaster having the Round-laminated Rosewood fretboard. 

These two guitars are in the family of Fender’s best and most selling models that they have ever made. Throughout the years, Jazzmaster and Telecaster will earn their place in the history of great guitars that have been part of the greatest music ages of all times. These guitars do share some features, but with each of these guitars, you will get a different result. 

Fender TelecasterFender Jazzmaster
Body ShapeTele-styleJazzmaster
Body WoodAlderAlder
Neck ShapeDeep CDeep C
Neck WoodMapleMaple
Neck ConstructionBolt-onBolt-on
Fretboard MaterialMapleRound-laminated Rosewood
Scale Length25.5″25.5″
Number Of Frets22, Narrow Tall21, Narrow Tall
Frets MaterialNickel SilverNickel Silver
Type of Bridge2-Point Synchronized Tremolo with Cold-rolled Steel BlockJazzmaster/Jaguar Bridge with Panorama Tremolo
Tuning MachinesFender Standard Die-castFender Standard Die-cast
Pickups3 x Fender V-Mod II Single-coilDual Fender V-Mod II Jazzmaster Single-coil
Pickup Selector5-way blade pickup switch2-way slide switch (rhythm/lead)3-way toggle switch
Controls1 x master volume, 2 x tone (push/push add neck)2-way slide switch (rhythm/lead)3-way toggle switch
Weight8.5 lbs (3.85 kg)8.5lbs (3.9 kg)

Fender Telecaster History

You can consider Telecaster to be the grandpa of Fender electric guitars. It was first introduced in 1950 as the new version of Esquire. Originally called Broadcaster, it will live up to being among the greatest guitars ever made. 

The Telecaster guitar packed a unique feature for the time, the two pickups. The reason behind its name is the popularity of television at the time, so Fender added the “Tele” prefix to sell it better.  

Since its introduction, the guitar’s design will mostly remain the same. Over the years, you will find models with different hardware in all ranges of quality, but Fender has always kept the soul of the instrument to this day. Telecasters will live through some of the greatest eras in music and have a major part in almost every genre out there. 

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Fender Jazzmaster History

Fender’s first Jazz electric guitar is the Jazzmaster itself. Jazzmaster’s introduction was the result of a need for a response by Fender to Gibson jazz models. Oddly enough, it will not be popular among the jazz musicians as much as with the Souther surf rock musicians. This event will result in a new model called Jaguar, which is derived from Jazzmaster models. 

Fender Jazzmaster will not have a history as bright as Telecaster models had. Since it was introduced right before the hard rock era, due to its lack of sustain and humbucker pickups, it will disappear from the scene. Even the Fender will stop producing it for a while. 

The 1990s will bring the rebirth of Jazzmaster. The man most credit for this is Tom Verlaine, who regularly used Jazzmaster on TV shows bringing it back to light. It grew popular again, and Fender continued right where they left off. 

Bodies Compared

These guitars are not too similar to one another. Both of these models have a body made out of Alder. The only difference is in the shape of the body. Telecasters have that unique body shape everyone knows, while the Jazzmaster has an offset body shape type. 

Another thing these models share is the weight. Both weigh the same at 8.5lbs or 3.9kg. Both are credited for having a super comfortable body to play with, both standing up and sitting. Along with all that, their weight will make it easy for you to play standing up for a long time. 

Neck & Scale Length Compared 

The neck and scale of these guitars are almost the same. The only difference is the fretboard material and headstock shape, with Telecaster having a smaller and more streamlined headstock while Jazzmaster’s headstock is bigger and similar to Strat in shape. 

Both guitars have a 22.5” scale length with 22 narrow-tall frets. The necks are bolt-on to the body for both guitars. Telecasters have a fretboard made of Maple, and Jazzmasters have a fretboard made out of Round-laminated Rosewood. The neck of both models is a deep C shape, and it is comfortable. Most guitarists will gravitate towards these types of necks when it comes to playability and comfort. 

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Hardware Compared

One of the things you will notice is the difference in controls on each guitar. The Telecaster has a standard 3-way pickup selector with volume and tone knob. The Jazzmaster, on the other hand, are little more advanced. Apart from having a 3-way switch, volume, and tone knob, it also has three additional switches mounted on the body. 

These guitar switches are there as a selector between rhythm and lead mode. These switches improve the control over the guitar’s tone and make it easier to achieve better results. The tuning machines of both guitars are, in most cases, Fender Standard Die-cast. 

Another thing you will notice is the different types of bridges. Most of the Telecasters will have a fixed bridge, while the Jazzmasters will have a floating tremolo bridge. For the guitarist who prefers using whammy, this is the selling point for Jazzmaster. 

Pickup Configuration Compared

The pickups of these guitars pack are completely different. Telecaster guitar will usually, if not modified, come with standard single coil pickups. Modified models will come with humbuckers most likely. 

On the other hand, we have Jazzmaster with “soap bar” pickups. At first look, many guitarists will mistake these pickups for P90s. Although these pickups do look alike, the soap bar pickups are flatter and wider with a brighter tone. 

The pickup configuration of these guitars is the HH or SS in most cases. Fender had put their mind toward the wiring of the pickups for Jazzmaster. This guitar is wired in such a way that with a simple pull of a switch, you can get different types of sound made for lead or rhythm. 

Fender Telecaster Tone

Being one of the most famous guitars ever made, many people will recognize the sound of the Telecaster within seconds. It is important to note that this guitar is highly modifiable, and many guitarists will go the way of modifying this guitar to it being unrecognizable. 

The standard Telecaster will have a bright, twangy, and punchy tone with a great high end. 

Considering it is very versatile with the tone, you will see this guitar being used in almost every genre there is. 

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Fender Jazzmaster Tone 

When compared to the Telecaster tone, Jazzmaster has a much more full and warmer tone. Taking into consideration that it is called “Jazzmaster,” you would expect it to be used for jazz only, but it ironically is not best for jazz. This does not mean you cannot get a good jazz tone out of them. 

Adding some distortion to the tone of this guitar and you will get great grunge and alternative sound. This way, you will get the full sound, such as with Les Pauls and the bright high-end only Fender guitars have. You can also get a great clean sound from them with amazing brightness and good low-end. 

Sure there are much better guitars for Jazz than Jazzmaster, but it will also serve the purpose of a Jazz guitar. If there are guitarists out there who play Jazz and heavily distorted genres, this may be the perfect guitar tone for you. 

Fender Telecaster Feel & Playability

In the guitar community, the Telecaster is known for being one of the chunkier guitars out there. This does not mean that it is uncomfortable to hold and play. On the contrary, it is a great guitar to play and hold in your hands. Along the neck, which tends to be chunkier, it features a single cutaway design.

There is a legend around playing the Telecaster. You can consider it as a test for guitarists since you cannot fake it while playing this guitar. What this means is that it will not forgive any mistakes the guitarist makes, and it will make sure everyone in the audience hears it. 

Fender Jazzmaster Feel & Playability

The Fender Jazzmaster was originally intended only for Jazz players, and at the time, the jazz guitarists were playing sitting down. This fact will make the Jazzmaster feel great in hands when sitting down at will make it really easy to play. The Jazzmaster may feel heavy when standing up, and it can be tiring for longer sessions, but it still is a rather comfortable guitar to play standing up. 

The balance between the neck and the body is as perfect as it gets. Fender really took care to create a perfect body-neck balance. It has one of the larger offset body shapes, which some people may like. 

Fender Telecaster Look

The Telecaster was a revolutionary discovery at the time of its creation. For the time, it had a unique look everyone would be able to recognize. This guitar is the first guitar ever to be put in mass production. From the beginning of its production, it has the iconic single cutaway design with a bolt-on neck. 

By today, Telecaster will see many different variations of design, finishes, and hardware. The reason behind this is the ease of customizability. The Telecaster guitar is the perfect base to get some experience with guitar modification. Simple replacement of pickups can result in a completely different tone and feel. 

Fender Jazzmaster Look

The look of the Jazzmaster is what will catch the eye of every guitarist. It has a truly beautiful design with great symmetry within it. It has an offset waist design which is beloved by many guitarists. 

When compared with Telecaster, the Jazzmaster has a far lead in terms of looks and design. Fender took its time with designing the Jazzmaster. Today, you can find them in many different finishes and different hardware. 

Famous Fender Telecaster Players

Jimmy Page

Jimmy Page is a guitarist known for playing many different guitars throughout his career. Like with many other guitars, he will add to the popularity of the Telecaster guitars. He had named his Telecaster “Dragon,” which he had received as a gift from Jeff Beck. This guitar will live enough to record the iconic Led Zeppelin song “Stairway to Heaven”.

During the psychedelic era in music, he will strip down the paint and give the guitar renewed paint job in the style of the era. Again, this guitar will later be repainted to the  “normal” state by Page’s friend.  

Keith Richards

Keith Richards is the man who is most known for using the Telecaster guitar. Looking at him and his Tele, it seems like they have been born together. During his career with the Rolling Stones, he used many different models of the Telecaster, but one model became legendary.

The model that caught everyone’s attention is the Micawber Telecaster, made in the 1950s. This guitar has a great sound that cuts through the mix with ease. Keith had received this guitar as a gift from Eric Clapton, and the original guitar had single pickups, but Keith will replace them with humbuckers and put them on upside down. This will give the guitar a unique sound which he used to record songs such as “Brown Sugar.”

Steve Cropper 

Steve Cropper is considered to be one of the unsung heroes of the guitar world. Throughout his career, he used his Telecaster to record some of the greatest songs by Booker T.s. Not many people know that Steve Cropper gave the soul feel to the Blues Brother Band. Along with Blues Brothers Band, he will play with many different artists throughout his career.

Jonny Greenwood

The Radiohead guitarist Johny Greenwood is one of the most notorious guitarists of the modern era. The guitar of his choice is no other than the Telecaster, which served perfectly for the style of Radiohead music. 

The go-to Telecaster for him is the Telecaster Plus model with Lace Sensor pickups from the 90s along with many modifications like a killswitch and ball-end of guitar string screwed into the body near neck pickup. 

Bruce Springsteen

Along with many other guitarists, Bruce will fall in love with the Telecaster tone and feel. He will become one of the faces of the Telecaster. Like many others, he will also give his guitar a nickname. Bruce will nickname his 1952 Telecaster “The Mutt.” 

The guitar was bought by Bruce in 1953 from the record company, and the original model was heavily modified. He did not really like this since the additional electronics added to the overall weight of the instrument. He will strip down almost everything from the guitar and give it a “stock” feel.

Famous Fender Jazzmaster Players

J Mascis

J Mascis is the most famous Jazzmaster player out there. The guitarist of the Dinosaur JR uses his trusty Jazzmaster to achieve the distorted guitar tone only achievable with Jazzmaster. IT will take great effort to get this type of sound from any other guitar. 

He will live enough to earn a signature Jazzmaster model made specifically to his needs playing. It oddly has high action, jumbo frets, and a tune-o-Matic bridge. So if you are into specifics like this, the J Mascis signature Jazzmaster may be a perfect choice. 

Georgia Maq

Georgia Maq is the lead singer of the Camp Cope band, and she is another one of the guitarists who fell in love with their Jazzmaster. She resembled the Jazzmaster as being like a piano due to its harmonic clarity. 

Like many guitarists today, she likes to do things herself. She had wired her neck pickup straight to jack, so there is no volume control. This had added to the flavor of the Camp Cope sound. Along with only one pedal, her Jazzmaster delivers a great tone.

Lee Ranaldo

The lead guitarist of Sonic Youth has originally seen with the Telecasters and Jaguars, but after the tour with Dinosaur Jr, the Jazzmaster caught his eye. The reason why he liked the Jazzmaster is the similarity to the Jaguar, but it had a longer neck scale. 

Eventually, he will buy himself a Jazzmaster and, like many others, simplify the wiring of the electronics and replace the pickups for humbuckers, essentially creating a Jazzblaster. Fender liked it so much that they created a signature model for Sonic Youth.

Taylor York

Taylor is the lead guitarist of Paramore, and he had fitted his Jazzmaster to his needs. The reason behind this is the need for an instrument that can endure the heavy touring schedule. He will remove all of the original circuitry and add the three-way pickup selector. 

He also added humbuckers to the instrument to achieve his beefy tone. Since he likes to wild strum, Taylor had to move the jack to the bout of the body, allowing him to wild strum without any problems. 

Robert Smith

Robert Smith uses many different guitar models. The lead guitarist of The Cure will eventually use the Jazzmaster, which will stick to him more than any other guitar model. A major role behind his tone sits within his Jazzmaster model.

The ease of shaping and versatility of the tone is what Robert liked about the Jazzmaster. He will use his guitar model to record album hits such as Disintegration, Faith, Pornography, and Seventeen Seconds.

Conclusion

Telecaster and Jazzmaster are part of one of the greatest instruments ever made. There is no discussion on whether these are good instruments or not. Throughout history, the world will see them used in many different music genres and endure huge modifications. 

The question of which one is the right choice for you depends on what kind of music you would like to play and what kind of guitar player you are if you are into alternative rock or heavier types of music, Jazzmaster, with a few modifications, maybe the right choice for you. On the other hand, the Telecaster unmodified is great for genres such as Country, pop, rock, and others. 

Again, you need to consider that with the right modifications, you can achieve both tones from each instrument. In case you are in the beginning stages of playing, and you are not sure what genre you would like to play, the Telecaster may be the right choice for you. Going down to your local guitar store and trying both of these guitars will give you the right answer to the question of which one is the correct one for you. 

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Jacob

I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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