Fender Jaguar, Jazzmaster, and Mustang Alternatives: What the hell is an “Offset Guitar”?

If you are in the guitar community, you’ve likely come across the term “Offset Guitar” a time or two. If you are anything like me, you probably thought to yourself “WTF is an offset guitar?”, The first time you see the term, that’s a reasonable reaction.

Having been a guitar enthusiast for most of my life, I thought I had a pretty solid grasp on electric guitars, the brands, the shapes, the pickup styles, etc. I saw strats, teles, super strats, les pauls, everywhere I went. I never noticed anybody swinging around an “Offset Guitar” or whatever the hell its called. Here’s the point I’m getting at.

If you are more interested in Fender Stratocaster Alternatives read this: Best Fender Stratocaster Alternatives (2020)

If you are more interested in Fender Telecaster Alternatives read this: Best Fender Stratocaster Alternatives (2020)

What is "frequency illusion"? What does it have to do with "Offset Guitars"?

Example: Why do you see your car everywhere after buying it? The fact is, those cars (or guitars in our case) have always been there, but you just don’t remember seeing them. Offset guitars have been around almost as long as the stratocaster and telecaster. The reason you may not have noticed them is because of a little something called frequency illusion? It’s the laymen’s term for the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

So, your brain is the most amazing filter for this constant stream of overwhelming information we call life. Our brain knows that we can only handle a fraction of that information. So it filters out everything that is not personally important to us as individuals. Things like models of car we don’t own, or styles of guitars we don’t care for. Hence your question, what’s an offset guitar? You’ve probably seen it a hundred times, but your brain filtered it out because it wasn’t important to you.

So, What is an Offset Guitar?

Luckily for you, you won’t need to rely on my word alone to define an Offset Guitar. I asked one of my friends from the guitar community. Long Beach, California guitarist for bands Vava Envivo, Kali Kazoo Band, and Fellow Robot. He is an Offset Player, and a well known expert on the matter of Offset Guitars.

AxeDr. – What is an “Offset Guitar”? Would you define it for us, in your own words?

Puisheen:

“Absolutely!

 

What is an Offset Guitar? An “offset” guitar simply refers to any guitar with a body shape that features a markedly offset, or asymmetrical, waist. Broadly, this includes Jazzmasters, Jaguars, Mustangs, post-1964 Duosonics, the Jazz Bass, Electric XII, Starcaster, and even the Gibson Firebird.

 

However, to most guitar enthusiasts, the term is used mainly as a catch-all for Fender instruments with the Jazzmaster and Jaguar body styles, a floating bridge, and the ‘offset’ (Jag + Jazzmaster) and Dynamic (Mustang) vibrato systems, though many hard-tail guitars do certainly fall under this definition.

 

When most people say “Offset” they really are only referring to Jazzmasters and Jaguars.”

Mike “Puisheen” Adams

If that’s not a great answer to the question “What is an offset guitar?”, then I’ve never seen one before. Now that you know what an Offset Guitar is, let’s get into the finer aspects of these beloved instruments.

Who invented the Offset Guitar?

Now that we’ve answered “What is an offset guitar?”, let’s talk about who invented it. The first patented Offset Guitar was made by good ol’ Leo Fender. The Jazzmaster is the first official appearance of the Offset Guitars body shape. The patent he filed is not only interesting, but gives you a glimpse at what it means to file a “patent”. This patented body shape was later used on various other Fender Offset Guitars. 

After the Fender Jazzmaster came the Fender Jaguar, and the Fender Mustang.

Jazzmaster Patent Leo Fender's first offset Guitar
What is an offset guitar? Fender Jaguar Alternatives

Looking for gifts for a guitar player? If so read this: Best Gifts for Guitar Players

What Brands Make "Offset Guitars"? Fender Jaguar Alternatives, Jazzmaster Alternatives, and Mustang Alternatives.

Aside from the obvious brand “Fender” there are many companies and individual guitar builders making killer offset guitars.

If you aren’t particularly keen on Fender Jazzmasters, there are more than enough makers of Fender Jazzmaster alternatives for you to choose from. Sometimes it’s nice to give business to the little guys, rather than support the massive corporations.

  • G&L Musical Instruments (Founded by Leo Fender) G&L Doheny
  • Veritas Guitars (Offset Guitars Model called the “Mini-Master”
  • Shelton Electric Instruments (Beautiful classic offset guitars)
  • Baranik Guitars (Sleek take on the Offset Guitars body shape.)
  • Bilt Guitars
  • Equitz Guitars
  • Duesenberg Guitars
  • Harmony Guitars
  • Electrical Guitar Company (All Aluminum Offset Guitars)

Fender Jaguar Alternatives

Offset Guitars Brands: G&L Doheny

G&L Musical Instruments make the Doheny, a beautiful Offset Guitar.

  • CONSTRUCTION: bolt-on
  • SCALE: 25 1/2″
  • PICKUPS: Leo Fender wide-bobbin MFD single coil
  • BODY WOOD: Basswood

G&L Tribute Series Doheny Electric Guitar - Surf Green/Brazilian Cherry - TI-DOH-113R51R13

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Fender Jaguar Alternatives

Offset Guitars Brands: Veritas Guitars Mini-Master

Veritas Guitars is a custom handmade guitar company that produces an absolutely stunning version of the Jaguar.

  • Body wood: alder
  • Scale length: 25.5″
  • Bridge: rolling tunematic
  • Tremolo: Bigsby B5
  • Neck shape: medium C (.80-.85)
  • Headstock finish: vintage maple
  • Pickups: Pioneer Humbuckers

If you like what you see here you can read more about Veritas Guitars here: 7 Crazy Boutique Guitar Builders You Should Be Following in 2020

Ultimate Guide to Worship Guitar Tone Part 3: Veritas-Mini-Master

If you are interested in lesser known guitar brands you should read this: 9 Best Custom Electric Guitar Brands Youve Never Heard Of (2020)

Fender Jaguar Alternatives

Offset Guitars Brands: Shelton Electric Instruments

Shelton Electric Instruments are one of the coolest builders of Offset Guitars. They are the perfect blend of classic looks with high tech electronics.

  • MADE IN THE USA
  • FINISH: 100% Nitro Lacquer Aged Finish Or New
  • BODY WOOD: Ash Or Alder
  • NECK SHAPE:Medium C
  • SCALE LENGTH: 25.5 Inch
  • FRETBOARD RADIUS: 12 Inch
  • FRET SIZE: JESCAR — FW 47095
  • NUMBER OF FRETS: 21

Best New Guitar Brands - Shelton Electric Instruments Jaguar

Fender Jaguar Alternatives

Offset Guitars Brands: Baranik Guitars

Baranik Guitars make an Offset Guitar that is completely unique to them. Its a futuristic spin on the classic jazzmaster shape.

  •  Reduced weight
  • 12′ radiused top with hand carved bevel for ergonomics and comfort
  • Angled back neck pitch for optimum bridge/tremolo height
  • Neck includes a 13″ radiused fretboard with stainless steel frets and corian nut
  • The completely unique Baranik reverse headstock

Baranik Guitars - Offset Guitars

Fender Jaguar Alternatives

Offset Guitars Brands: Bilt Guitars

Bilt Guitars make a classic offset guitar with a custom feel to it.

  • Sustainiak Pickup – Neck Position
  • Hot Lipstick Pickup – Middle Position
  • Lollar El Rayo Humbucker – Bridge Position
  • Built-in Effects – BilT Fuzz and MXR Carbon Copy Delay
  • Neck Profile: medium “C”

  • Neck Thickness (IN): 1st- .85″ 12th- .90″

  • Fingerboard Radius: 10.00″

  • Nut Width: 1-11/16″

  • Scale Length: 25″

  • Neck Details: One piece maple neck with bound rosewood board and dot inlays.

  • Pickup Measurements: neck 8.4k ohms bridge 6.7k ohms
  • Weight: 8 lbs 8 oz

Offset Guitars
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Fender Jaguar Alternatives

Offset Guitars Brands: Equits Guitars

Truly beatiful guitars, built with excellence in mind, no doubt. I’ve just become aquainted with this brand of offset guitars, but its already one of my favorites.

Inspired by the fluid lines of classic offset designs, this guitar is well-suited for classic rock, rockabilly, jazz and blues.

The base model has a solid mahogany body, carved maple top with binding, rosewood fretboard and 25.5″ scale length. Try it upgraded to a semi-hollow with a Bigsby.

Equitz Guitars

Fender Jaguar Alternatives

Offset Guitars Brands: Duesenberg Guitars

  • Body wood: Alder
  • Neck shape: D
  • Neck wood: 1-piece Maple
  • Joint: Set-in
  • Scale length: 25.5 in.
  • Truss rod: Dual-action
  • Number of frets: 22
  • Control layout: Master volume, tone
  • Pickup switch: 4-way rotary switch
  • Bridge type: Tremolo/Vibrato

Offset Guitars

Fender Jaguar Alternatives

Offset Guitars Brands: Electrical Guitar Company

Electrical Guitar Company is known for masterful use of Aluminum in their guitars. Either in the neck or just entire guitars made entirely of Aluminum.

Any asymmetrical shape is fantastic, so we developed one of our own, which features a forearm relief standard on all versions.

The Series Five guitar and baritone models feature either EGC humbucker pickups or reverse wound/reverse polarity EGC single coil pickups with your choice of cover finishes. 

The control configurations offered for the Series Five are: 1 volume knob, 1 tone knob and 3-way switching with or without a rhythm circuit.

Best Electric Guitar Brands You've Never Heard Of (2020)

Fender Jaguar Alternatives

Offset Guitars Brands: Harmony Guitars

“C” Shape Neck Profile

A favorite with seasoned and beginner guitarists alike, this neck profile offers versatility for all playing styles.

Contoured Body Shape

Every section of this guitar, from top to back and even the armrest, is crafted for superior comfort and playability.

Premium Hardware

Their half bridge with compensated saddles takes tone to a whole new level, while custom cupcake knobs pay homage to our iconic history.

Harmony Mini-Humbuckers

Custom-voiced and hand-wound, our signature pickups deliver resonant and crystal clear tone from the get-go.

Harmony Silhouette Offset Guitars

Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster

Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster 3
Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster 3

When it comes to Fender Offset Guitars, the model names can get super confusing. The Jaguar is not the same thing as the Jazzmaster. And neither of those is the same as the Fender Mustang. That’s not even all the Fender Offset Guitar Models either. There is the meteora, the starcaster, and the list goes on.

So when it comes to the Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster topic, there are a few key details that distinguish the models.

Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster Differences:

  1. Scale Length: This one is easy to overlook especially when shopping online.
  2. Electronics: The way in which the pickups are wired to their volume and tone controls.

Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster Scale Length:

Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster 2
Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster 2
Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster
Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster

Scale length is a huge factor in telling the difference between the Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster. The Jazzmaster is the standard scale length of 25.5 inches. This is Fender’s standard scale length for most models.

The Jaguar, on the other hand, has a much shorter and noticeable scale length of 24 inches. This is the measurement of length between the nut and the bridge.

The easiest way to distinguish between the Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster is to see them standing next to one another. The Jazzmaster is a much taller instrument. This difference is also extremely noticeable when you sit down and play the two back to back. If you don’t know whether to pick the Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster, then you need to head to your local music shop and play both models. The safe choice for most players will likely be the Jazzmaster.

Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster Electronics:

So when it comes to Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster differences, the electronics is where things get confusing. The key difference between these guitars is their Primary Tone/Volume Circuits.

On the Jazzmaster, you’ll find a your typical Gibson style three way pickup selector. It sports one master tone knob, and one master volume.

On the Jaguar, you’ll find 3 mini toggle switches rather than the Gibson style 3 way pickup selector switch. Each toggle switch essentially turns it’s corresponding pickup off. Kinda cool if you ask me, but their is the danger of accidentally turning off both pickups. You can end up muting your guitar in the middle of a song if you aren’t careful.

Conclusion:

So that pretty much sums up my quick tour of the Offset guitar world. Of course, there are many more brands and models out there. However, this is plenty of information to get you started. Before you go, here is the answer to the question “What is an offset guitar?” one more time.

What is an offset guitar?

An “offset” guitar simply refers to any guitar with a body shape that features a markedly offset, or asymmetrical, waist. Broadly, this includes Jazzmasters, Jaguars, Mustangs, post-1964 Duosonics, the Jazz Bass, Electric XII, Starcaster, and even the Gibson Firebird.

Mike “Puisheen” Adams

 

Keep Rocking,

The Axe Dr.

 

  • What is an "Offset Guitar"?

    An “offset” guitar simply refers to any guitar with a body shape that features a markedly offset, or asymmetrical, waist. Broadly, this includes Jazzmasters, Jaguars, Mustangs, post-1964 Duosonics, the Jazz Bass, Electric XII, Starcaster, and even the Gibson Firebird.

    However, to most guitar enthusiasts, the term is used mainly as a catch-all for Fender instruments with the Jazzmaster and Jaguar body styles, a floating bridge, and the ‘offset’ (Jag + Jazzmaster) and Dynamic (Mustang) vibrato systems, though many hard-tail guitars do certainly fall under this definition.

    When most people say “Offset” they really are only referring to Jazzmasters and Jaguars."

  • Who invented the first Offset Guitar?

    The first patented Offset Guitar was made by good ol' Leo Fender. The Jazzmaster is the first official appearance of the Offset body shape. The patent he filed is not only interesting, but gives you a glimpse at what it means to file a "patent".

  • What brands make Offset Guitars?

    Aside from the obvious brand "Fender" there are many companies and individual guitar builders making killer offset guitars.

    • G&L Musical Instruments (Founded by Leo Fender)
    • Veritas Guitars
    • Shelton Electric Instruments
    • Baranik Guitars
    • Bilt Guitars
    • Equitz Guitars
    • Duesenberg Guitars
    • Harmony Guitars
    • Electrical Guitar Company

  • Fender Jaguar Alternatives (Fender Jazzmaster, Fender Jaguar)

    Some of the more high quality Fender Jaguar Alternatives, Jazzmaster Alternatives, and Mustang Alternatives are:

    • G&L Guitars Doheny
    • Veritas Guitars Mini Master
    • Shelton Electric Instruments
    • Baranik Guitars
    • Duesenberg Guitars

  • Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster vs Mustang

    1. Scale Length: This one is easy to overlook especially when shopping online. Fender Jaguar vs Jazzmaster: Jaguar is a much shorter instrument.
    2. Electronics: The way in which the pickups are wired to their volume and tone controls.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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