1965 Fender Jazzmaster

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Looks, versatile tones, neck, unique pickups, versatile circuitry, originality, condition, OHSC

Thumbs down: Size and weight, complex wiring, vibrato, standard sunburst finish

Decree: A fantastic all‑original pre‑CBS Jazzmaster in great condition, very playable and sounds as good as it looks

Model Description:

The offset, contoured‑body Fender Jazzmaster was introduced in 1958 as an alternative to the company’s Telecaster and Stratocaster. At the time, the upmarket Jazzmaster was the most expensive guitar made by Fender. As its name suggests, it was aimed squarely at jazz guitarists who might otherwise have bought Gibson guitars. The strategy proved unsuccessful, with conservative jazz players sticking to their familiar set neck archtops, rather than risk migrating to an untested solid body ‘new kid on the block’. However, the Jazzmaster’s salvation came about when guitarists from the west coast surf scene started using it as their go-to model in the early 1960s. The Jazzmaster was unlike previous Fenders with unique vibrato/bridge, large single coil pickups that were exclusive to the model, and an innovative dual lead/rhythm circuit. Unlike all other Fender offset‑body guitars, the neck’s scale length was the same as the Telecaster and Stratocaster at 25½”. However, the fingerboard, unlike the short‑scale Jaguar had one fewer fret, with only 21 frets. In 1962, four years after the Jazzmaster, Fender released the Jaguar, based on the same body as but technically quite different. Like the Jaguar, Jazzmasters were offered in a range of automobile custom colours in addition to the standard sunburst. The original model went through a number of specification changes during its life until it was discontinued in 1980. After a production hiatus, a resurgence of interest from punk, indie and alternative guitarists led to Fender reissuing the Jazzmaster from 1986 (made in Japan) and 1999 (made in U.S.A.). Like its close relation, the Jaguar, the Jazzmaster continues in production in various updated guises to the present day. Pre‑CBS examples (up to 1965) have now become highly collectable on the vintage guitar market. Rapidly increasing vintage prices means that clean, original pre‑CBS Fender Jazzmasters are becoming harder to get hold of at reasonable prices.

Guitar Description:

Here is another icon from Fender’s pre-CBS years, when head honcho Leo Fender was still at the helm of his company. A stunning 1965 Fender Jazzmaster with the all‑important (to some) ‘L’ serial number. Compared next to CRAVE Guitars’ Fender Jaguar from the same year, the ‘normal’ sunburst finish is a bit more garish, the maple neck isn’t so figured and the rosewood fingerboard is nowhere near as dark. It is this innate manufacturing variability that makes vintage guitars so intriguing. Neither does it sound like a Jaguar – the specification differences make it a very different playing experience to its close relation. The Jazzmaster’s neck’s scale length is the standard 25½”, unlike the Jaguar’s shorter neck. Strange then, that it has 1 less fret than the Jaguar, despite the longer fingerboard. Like the Jaguar, the vintage fingerboard radius is a tight 7¼” and the narrow frets give it its charm and playing feel. The vibrato, common to both the Jaguar and the Jazzmaster really is a ‘love it or loathe it’ device. As long as you don’t expect too much, keep it well‑maintained and don’t get too enthusiastic with it, it has a feel and sound all of its own. The large single coil pickups are unique to the Jazzmaster and, as you might expect, don’t sound like any other Fender. One can easily appreciate why alternative/indie guitarists love it. The offset contoured body is very much in‑vogue and seen as trendy. The dual‑circuit electrics are very effective and simple to get used to, despite decades of criticisms from nay‑sayers. Like the Jaguar, the Jazzmaster can give the perception that it is a bit of a handful in use. However, it is relatively light at just over 8lbs compared to, say, a Gibson Les Paul and small compared to a Gibson Firebird or Explorer. Apart from a few scuffs and scrapes, this Jazzmaster is all‑original and in remarkable condition for being well over 50 years old, with just enough wear to give it authentic vintage mojo. The Jazzmaster is difficult to pigeonhole, yet it is very addictive to play. A genuine underdog that has become a bona fide 21st Century classic.


  • Made in Fullerton, California, U.S.A. in 1965
  • Three colour sunburst nitrocellulose finish
  • Maple bolt-on neck
  • Unbound rosewood fingerboard with 21 frets and dot markers
  • Scale length 25½” (647mm)
  • Original tuners
  • Original tortoiseshell scratchplate
  • Original single-coil pickups, switches, pots, knobs and jack socket
  • Original bridge and vibrato tailpiece
  • Weight: 8lb 1oz (3.65kg)
  • Original Fender hard shell case


  • Elvis Costello
  • Bob Dylan
  • Noel Gallagher (Oasis)
  • Jimi Hendrix
  • Johnny Marr (The Smiths)
  • J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr)
  • Luther Perkins (Johnny Cash)
  • Tom Verlaine (Television)
  • Robert Smith (The Cure)
  • Stephen Malkmus (Pavement)
  • Thurston Moore & Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth)
  • Thom Yorke (Radiohead)


From the Fender catalogue in 1960, “FENDER JAZZMASTER – There is no more convincing proof of the fine playing qualities of the Fender Jazzmaster than its rapid acceptance by guitarists during the past year. This remarkable guitar incorporates all the well-known Fender developments including the new “off-set” body design, smooth tremolo action plus separate rhythm and lead tone circuits. In addition, it offers a comfort contoured body and truss-rod reinforced fast-action neck with rosewood fingerboard for effortless playing and faster playing technique. Every convenience is provided including the tremolo lock, adjustable master bridge channel with individually adjustable two-way bridges and completely adjustable high fidelity pickups. The Jazzmaster represents one of the finest additions to the Fender line and far surpasses other instruments in its price class.”

Detail Gallery:

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