The Current's Guitar Collection: Jeremy Ylvisaker, Squier Jazzmaster - J Mascis signature model

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Jeremy Ylvisaker stares down the neck of his Squier Jazzmaster. (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)
Alpha Consumer - Brain Doctor (Live on 89.3 The Current)
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In The Current's studio to do a session with the band Alpha Consumer, Jeremy Ylvisaker spoke to us about a guitar he bought in Minneapolis a couple years ago, after a 12-year search.

Which guitar are you playing today?

Today I brought in this Squier Jazzmaster, the J Mascis signature model.

How long have you had it?

I got it at Twin Town Guitars about two and a half years ago, and I'd been shopping for a Jazzmaster for about 12 years. A lot of players that I liked were using them, so I figured I would want one one day, but just never found one that felt or sounded right — always one part of the equation was off.

That is, until I was at a store somewhere in Ohio, and there was this red one behind glass. It was dusty back there and everything. I asked the guy, "I don't know what the etiquette is here, and there's no way I'd ever be able to afford that one, but I would just love to know what it's like."

And he's like, "Oh, totally."

Then he locked the front door, went back behind the glass, got it out. I played it, and immediately I'm like, "That's it, that's why I can't find one I like — because I can't afford the good ones."

It turned out to be a 1953 Jazzmaster with special headstock and paint. It was nine thousand bucks!

I was on tour with Andrew Bird at the time and our tour manager had worked with Wilco a bunch and he put me in touch with Nels Cline, to just start bugging Nels with questions like, "What do you think I should do? How can I afford a good one?"

Nels gave me all these ideas, and then one day, before an Andrew Bird trip to Europe, I popped in to Twin Town Guitars to get strings and picks and stuff, and this guitar was on the wall and I played it and I was like, "Cool — this feels great." Plugged it in; sounded great. Bought it and just brought it to Europe and played a whole tour with it. Just figured out how to use it on the fly.

What was it about the tone that struck you?

I don't know; a lot of people complain about the pickups on this one, and maybe they're right, but I sort of like these so far. Maybe one day I'll swap them out, but I'm not sure.

I used to be attracted to a lower series of overtones, like all the guitars I'd been playing and pedals and so forth, a more stable within one octave sort of thing. Over time, my ears — maybe as they got more damaged — started wanting to hear the top part of the sound, the more bell overtones, and it does that really well.

And everybody's hands are different; this just happens to fit my hands.

I should know more about what I like about it so I can ask for it next time. As my friend Paul Bergeron says: "Sometimes you get a good one."

Is this a go-to guitar for writing and arranging?

It is. It's the good one. I have this parts Tele that a fella in town named Jimmy Peterson built that is actually a better-playing guitar, it's more articulate in the left hand, but this one is good for when you don't know what you're about to do. It sort of gives you ideas. It's got just cool sounds that are always practical. It can wiggle the chords if you don't know what else to do; it's got a good tremolo.

It's a friendly instrument.


Alpha Consumer

Twin Town Guitars

Squier Guitars

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4 Photos

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    Jeremy Ylvisaker with his Squier Jazzmaster in The Current's studio. (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)
  • jeremy ylvisaker guitar 3
    Headstock of Jeremy Ylvisaker's Squier Jazzmaster guitar. (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)
  • jeremy ylvisaker guitar 4
    Reverse of headstock on Jeremy Ylviksaker's Squier Jazzmaster guitar, J Mascis signature model. (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)
  • jeremy ylvisaker guitar 5
    Jeremy Ylvisaker's effects rig (MPR photo/Luke Taylor)

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