The Current's Guitar Collection: AJ Haynes of Seratones, Fender Jazzmaster

Seratones perform the title track from their 2019 album, 'Power,' live in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)
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AJ Haynes of Seratones talks about her Fender Jazzmaster guitar
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AJ Haynes is the frontperson of the Shreveport, La., band Seratones. Following a recent studio session, Haynes took some time to tell us about her preferred tool of the trade: the Fender Jazzmaster guitar.

You play a Fender Jazzmaster, and it sounds like that's been a go-to instrument for you for a while.

It has! It's been a go-to. It was actually — before I had the Jazzmaster, I had this old Teisco with these crazy microphonic pickups that I would scream into sometimes for fun. It was just such a beast to wrangle, and then I found a Jazzmaster and I was like, "That's the only guitar for me!" (laughs)

It just felt — everything about it — the design just feels very ergonomic to me. And it's also a very versatile guitar; you can do anything from Sonic Youth to surf stuff to jazz. It was created as a jazz guitar, but ironically, I think I hear more jazz on Teles than I do — actually, isn't that crazy? — than on the Jazzmaster.

It just suits me. I love a good surf sound and it's got that impeccably.

AJ Haynes of Seratones playing guitar
AJ Haynes of Seratones plays her Fender Jazzmaster in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)

Would you say when you're writing, you go to the Jazzmaster, or do you start on an acoustic?

Actually, if I'm writing a song, I typically write on the electric guitar. If it's made to be on acoustic guitar, then I write on an acoustic, but typically I actually write on the Jazzmaster.

"Fear" was written on the Jazzmaster; "Crossfire" was written on the Jazzmaster as well. All of the songs [on the album, Power], I can safely say — with the exception of "Permission," which I didn't write the guitar part for; Austin Jenkins did a phenomenal job, he was so fun to work with — were all written on the Jazzmaster and recorded on the Jazzmaster. It's the sound that I want; it's not too tinny. It's just like a big, warm cushion!

Watching you perform in our studio, do you prefer to use a pick or do you use your fingers a lot?

I've been experimenting since I started playing guitar. I used to use a thumbpick, actually, because I couldn't hold on to a pick. And then I started to learn how to play with a pick and it became more familiar. Recently, I've been experimenting with the flamenco style; I just really love the percussive quality of that. Also, I drop my picks pretty frequently because I'm high on sugar all the time from all the honey! (laughs) So I'm just, like, erratic. Whenever I drop the pick, there's no smooth way to bend over and reach it; in theory, I should have those pick things that are on the mic stand, but I'm just not that logical, I guess. And so I've developed this style now.

Also, my boyfriend has been playing with flamenco guitar a lot, and so I'm kind of picking up on that, and it's so fascinating, the flamenco style. So it's cool hearing it on the electric guitar because I like a lot of resonant, weird noises. I think that's the beauty of being a strong rhythm player is all these weird, peripheral noises you can get from playing.

I'm just kind of experimenting with [flamenco] more. I wish that I had thought of that more with this last record, actually, but it ended up not needing it. But live, I think, playing with the finger, flamenco style, it sounds cool!

And you recently signed as a Fender artist, correct?

Yes! For the 60th anniversary of the Jazzmaster. It was such a huge honor. I definitely have impostor syndrome! (laughs) So I was like, "Oh my god, all these greats, and I get to be in the same series as them." So it was really validating, because I've always thought of everything in music as a means to an end — very utilitarian, you know? And in a lot of ways, I picked up the guitar to write songs; it was a means to an end. Now, I'm developing a relationship with the guitar and understanding more about it, and it's exciting; it's like every day, I learn something new.

External Links

Seratones - official site

Fender Jazzmaster - official site

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  • Seratones play a 'Power'-ful session in The Current studio The Shreveport, La., five-piece visited The Current to play songs from 'Power,' their second full-length release. 'I'd never really had an anxiety about a sophomore record,' says lead singer and guitarist AJ Haynes. 'You know: buy the ticket, take the ride.'

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  • Seratones
    Seratones - Power (New West Records)
  • Seratones perform in The Current studio
    AJ Haynes of Seratones plays her Fender Jazzmaster in The Current studio. (Mary Mathis | MPR)