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Offset Guitars: What Are They & Why They Are Awesome

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.*

If you’re a guitar enthusiast or a musician looking to explore new sounds, offset guitars are definitely worth your attention. These unique instruments have gained a devoted following for their distinctive design, ergonomic advantages, and versatile sound characteristics.

In this article, I’ll take you on a journey through the world of offsets, discussing their history, iconic models like the Jazzmaster and Jaguar, the features that set them apart, tips for choosing the best one for you, and more.

So, let’s dive in and discover why offset guitars are truly awesome!

Key Takeaways:

  • Offset guitars have an asymmetrical body shape that sets them apart from traditional guitar designs.
  • They offer enhanced ergonomics, making them comfortable to play during long sessions or gigs.
  • The Jazzmaster and Jaguar are iconic offset guitar models that have left a significant mark on music history.
  • These axes have a unique sound characterized by bright and twangy tones, making them popular in genres like indie rock and alternative.
  • When choosing an offset guitar, consider factors such as brand reputation, playability, and your budget.

Why Offset?

red bass offset guitar


The offset guitar is characterized by its asymmetrical body shape, with a longer lower bout and a shorter upper bout. This design gives offset guitars a unique and eye-catching appearance.

Why Musicians Prefer The Unique Contours

Many musicians are drawn to the distinctive contours of offset guitars because they offer an alternative to traditional guitar shapes. The offset design provides a fresh and visually striking aesthetic that stands out on stage.

The Ergonomic Advantage of an Offset Design

One of the key advantages of offset guitars is their ergonomic design. The offset body shape allows for greater comfort and ease of play, making them popular among guitarists who value playing comfort during long gigs or practice sessions.

A Brief History

The history of offset models can be traced back to the 1950s when Leo Fender, renowned for his innovations in the electric guitar industry, introduced the Jazzmaster model. Originally designed to target jazz musicians, the Jazzmaster quickly found its way into a wide range of musical genres, owing to its unique features and versatile sound.

guitarist playing on fender mustang offset guitar

Following the success of the Jazzmaster, Fender introduced the Jaguar model. The Jaguar featured a shorter scale length and a more compact design, appealing to guitarists who preferred a smaller instrument. The Jaguar, like its predecessor, gained popularity beyond the jazz scene and became synonymous with alternative and indie rock in the 1990s.

These Fender offset guitar models, the Jazzmaster and Jaguar, became iconic instruments that shaped the sound of bands like Sonic Youth and Nirvana. Through their innovative designs and distinct tones, these offset guitars captured the attention of musicians seeking a fresh and unconventional sound.

Here’s a really good video about how it all started!

As time went on, other guitar manufacturers recognized the appeal of offset guitars and introduced their own versions of this distinctive style. Today, vintage offsets, particularly those made by Fender, continue to hold a special place in the hearts of collectors and musicians alike.

Looking beyond Fender, brands like Yamaha, Gretsch, and Eastwood have added their own twist to the offset design, offering a variety of options for guitarists seeking that unique flare.

Overall, the history of offset guitars showcases their enduring appeal and influence on the music industry. From their origins in the 1950s to their continued popularity today, these instruments have carved out a special place in the hearts of guitar enthusiasts, bridging the gap between traditional and alternative styles with their distinctive designs and tones.

Iconic Models: Jazzmaster and Jaguar

When it comes to iconic offset models, the Jazzmaster and Jaguar are at the top of the list. These vintage axes, both introduced by Fender, have left a lasting impact on the music industry.

The Jazzmaster, originally designed as a high-end model for jazz players, quickly gained popularity among surf rock and indie rock musicians. Its unique tone and versatility have made it a go-to instrument for artists across genres.

Here’s mine J Mascis JM:

squier j mascis jazzmaster header real photo

The Jaguar, on the other hand, was intended as an upgraded version of the Jazzmaster. It features a shorter scale length and a more compact design, appealing to guitarists who prefer a smaller instrument without sacrificing playability.

Here’s my CV Jaguar:

squier classic vibe jaguar body

The Jazzmaster and Jaguar have become iconic instruments in the world of offset guitars, known for their distinct sound and playability.

The Jazzmaster’s warm, mellow tone and extensive tonal options have made it a favorite among musicians seeking a versatile sound. On the other hand, the Jaguar’s bright, cutting tone and shorter scale length lend themselves well to genres like indie rock and punk.

Whether you’re drawn to the vintage charm of these iconic offset models or the distinctive sound they deliver, the Jazzmaster and Jaguar are sure to inspire your playing and help you create your own musical identity.

JazzmasterA high-end model introduced by Fender in the late 1950s. Known for its unique tone and versatility, it has found popularity among surf rock and indie rock musicians.

Example: Squier J Mascis Jazzmaster
JaguarAn upgraded version of the Jazzmaster, featuring a shorter scale length and a more compact design. Its bright, cutting tone appeals to guitarists who prefer a smaller instrument.

Example: Squier Classic Vibe Jaguar


features of offset guitars


Offset guitars have a unique anatomy that sets them apart from traditional guitar designs. The key features of an offset guitar’s anatomy include:

  • Solid body made of various tonewoods
  • Distinct asymmetrical shape with an extended lower bout and shorter upper bout
  • Neck typically attached to the body with screws or bolts
  • Floating tremolo system

Electronics and Sound Characteristics

The distinctive offset guitar sound is achieved through its electronics and pickups. Key characteristics include:

  • Single-coil pickups that deliver a bright and twangy tone
  • Distinctive sound character that suits genres like indie rock, shoegaze, and alternative

Hardware and Customization Options

Offset guitars offer a wide range of hardware and customization options, allowing musicians to personalize their instrument to their preferences. Some of the options available include:

  • Various bridge styles, such as traditional tremolo or hardtail
  • Different pickup configurations, including single-coil, humbucker, or a combination of both
  • Control layouts that can be customized to suit individual playing styles

How to Choose the Best Offset Guitar for You

how to choose an offset guitar

When it comes to offsets, there are several factors to consider in order to find the perfect instrument for your needs. In this section, I will guide you through the process of navigating different brands and models, provide a comprehensive buying guide, and help you understand pricing and value.

Navigating Different Brands and Models

There are several reputable brands that offer a wide range of offset guitars to choose from. Some of the most popular brands include Fender, Gibson, and Squier.

Each brand offers its own unique models and variations, catering to different playstyles and budgets. To find the best offset guitar for you, consider the reputation of the brand, the specific features and specifications that you desire, and the price range that fits your budget.

Buying Guide: What to Look Out For

When choosing your next offset axe, there are several important factors to keep in mind. First, consider the specific features you desire. This could include the type of pickups (single-coil or humbucker), the bridge style (tremolo or fixed), and the control layout.

Additionally, pay attention to the quality of construction, as well as the overall playability and comfort of the instrument. It’s also a good idea to test the guitar in person if possible, or read reviews from trusted sources to get an idea of its sound and playability.

By considering these factors, you can ensure that you choose an offset guitar that meets your specific needs.

Understanding Pricing and Value

Offset guitars are available at various price points, ranging from affordable entry-level models to high-end vintage guitars. When it comes to pricing, it’s important to understand the value you are getting for your money.

Consider factors such as the brand reputation, build quality, and the features and specifications of the guitar. In some cases, investing in a higher-priced offset guitar may offer better craftsmanship, improved playability, and a more versatile sound.

However, there are also great value options available at lower price points. Understanding the pricing and value of different models will help you make an informed decision based on your budget and requirements.

BrandsModelsPrice Range
FenderJazzmaster, Jaguar, Mustang$500 – $3000+
GibsonSG, Firebird$1000 – $5000+
SquierJ Mascis Jazzmaster, Vintage Modified Jaguar$300 – $700

These prices are approximate and can vary depending on the specific model and condition of the guitar.

By considering different brands and models, understanding what to look out for when buying an offset guitar, and recognizing pricing and value, you can confidently choose the best offset guitar that suits your playing style, preferences, and budget.


Offset guitars offer a unique and appealing option for guitarists seeking a distinctive sound and style. The offset design, ergonomic advantages, and versatile sound characteristics make offset guitars a popular choice among musicians.

Whether you’re drawn to the vintage charm of the Jazzmaster and Jaguar or prefer a modern take on the offset design, there are plenty of options available to suit your individual preferences and budget.

By understanding the history, features, and buying considerations of offset guitars, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the best offset guitar for your musical journey. So dive into the world of offset guitars and discover the endless possibilities they offer!

So, whether you’re a seasoned musician looking to expand your collection or a beginner starting your musical journey, consider the allure and versatility of offset guitars. From their distinctive design to their exceptional playability, offset guitars are more than just instruments; they are works of art that inspire creativity and elevate your music to new heights. Embrace the offset revolution and let your music take on a whole new dimension with an offset guitar.


What are offset guitars?

Offset guitars are a unique and distinctive type of electric guitar characterized by an asymmetrical body shape, with an extended lower bout and a shorter upper bout. They offer enhanced ergonomics and a distinctive sound.

Why are they so popular?

Musicians are drawn to the unique contours of offset guitars, which provide an alternative to traditional guitar shapes. The ergonomic advantage of the offset design also contributes to their popularity.

What is their history?

Offset guitars originated in the 1950s when Leo Fender introduced models like the Jazzmaster and Jaguar. They gained popularity in various genres and became iconic instruments associated with alternative and indie rock.

What are the iconic offset models?

The Jazzmaster and Jaguar, both introduced by Fender, are iconic offset guitar models known for their distinct sound and playability. They have been favored by musicians across different genres.

What features make offset guitars distinctive?

Offset guitars have an asymmetrical body shape, typically made of solid tonewoods. They often feature single-coil pickups that deliver a bright and twangy tone. Customization options and hardware variations are also available.

How do I choose the best offset guitar for me?

Consider factors such as brand, model, desired features, construction quality, playability, and overall sound characteristics. Testing the guitar in person or reading reviews can help ensure it meets your expectations.