It can shatter windows or render old people completely deaf with one screaming, extended solo in a minor key. It was Kurt Cobain's prize guitar, the one he carried from concert to concert and never smashed onstage. His was a 1966 model. Mine's a 1965 with sunburst coloring, just like the one in the picture.
I bought my Fender Jaguar when I was a high-school junior, after having played guitar since second grade. That was in 1980. It was years before the grunge rockers "rediscovered" the Fender Jaguar. But its unpopularity didn't matter to me. It didn't matter that my friends gave my guitar funny looks and asked me why I hadn't bought a Les Paul or a Stratocaster. I liked it and it sounded good, even if I wasn't a virtuoso.
It cost $350, several months of working as a restaurant cook at $3/hour. It replaced a Gretsch 12-string that was on loan from a friend of my sister who one day, out of the blue, demanded it back. I didn't want a 12-string electric guitar anyway.
Since 1980, I've lived in a lot of places, but I've always found a place for my Fender Jaguar. I've changed amps, and I've played with lots of different people, but I've never changed guitars.
During the days when Kurt Cobain and others were repopularizing the Fender Jaguar, I saw the value of mine triple, then quadruple. It didn't matter, of course, because I wasn't selling. Too bad those high-school friends of mine had all scattered to the winds--I didn't get a chance to tell them I told you so.
It's also too bad I became a lawyer and not a rock musician. But sometimes these things don't work out exactly like we want them to. I can still pretend I'm a rock musician. I do it sometimes late in the evening when no one's around, and I'm on my third beer, and the amp's turned up as loud as it will go. Mine goes all the way to 11.
Publication note: Originally published 8/19/04.