Gear Rundown: J Mascis

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Gear Rundown: J Mascis

J Mascis
Words by Alex Pink

The King of the Jazzmaster.

Indie-rock guitar god and king of the Jazzmaster, J Mascis boasts a career spanning four decades –predominately with his main act, Dinosaur Jr. Dinosaur Jr. are a tumultuous band that has gone through many different phases and line-up changes through out their existence, but the one thing that has always remained is Mascis’ unique guitar stylings. Mascis’ style blends hypnotic soft licks and fuzzy, lead break freak-outs.

Check out all our Features for more on iconic artists and the gear they’ve used.

Originally a drummer for hardcore band, Deep Wound, Mascis found fame around 1984 with Dinosaur Jr. He has collaborated with Sonic Youth members under the banner of Ciccone Youth, recorded as a solo artist under the banner of J Mascis and the Fog and even played in a Stooges cover band containing original Stooges members (though unfortunately no Iggy).

With Dinosaur Jr having released twelve studio album, Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not, we here at Mixdown thought the time was right to have peek into the gear used by Mascis over the years.


Jay Mascis Jazzmaster

Currently availanble as part of the Squire range, the J Mascis Jazzmaster is unique in that it features an anodised gold pickguard, offering a little extra brightness, coupled with startling good looks. The J Masis Jazzmaster features traditional single-coil Jazzmaster pickups, as well as conventional wiring, pots and switches for those familiar with a Jazzmaster.

More recently Fender also released a Telecaster, based on J Mascis’ 1958 top-loader Tele, and finished in a Bottle Rocket Blue Flake finish & features a mirror pickguard.

1963 Fender Jazzmaster Guitar

The main guitar used by Mascis is a 1963 sunburst Fender Jazzmaster. The pickup covers and knobs have been swapped out and the bridge has been replaced with a Tune-O-Matic, with the original frets being replaced with jumbo frets. 

1965 Fender Jazzmaster Guitar

In a interview with Premier Guitar, Mascis spoke of his main backup guitar; “That’s the other main backup one. I had a friend who worked at Guitar Center in New Hampshire and he was like, ‘Oh we got a Jazzmaster.’ And he sold it to me really cheap so I’d never even seen it, but it turned out to be pretty good.”


1968 Marshall Plexi Super PA Amp Head

In a recent Gear Rundown with Premier Guitar, Mascis stated; “I think it’s 68, Super PA, and I guess that’s the first plexi amp I ever bought. I was going to buy a 65 JTM 45 at the store. It looked cool, but I really didn’t like the sound that much and they had this and it was less than half of the price and sounded a lot better, so I figured I’d use this more. I think one of the sets of channels was modded to be a super lead.“

Vox AC15 Guitar Combo Amp

During the recording of Dinosaur Jr.’s last album, I Bet On Sky, Mascis stated to Music Radar; “I used a ’59 Vox AC15 and a (Fender) Tweed Deluxe and a Tweed Bandmaster.” The VOX AC15 was an essential amp on the record and was prominently used to fill it with thunderous tones.


Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi Ram’s Head

It is widely known that J Mascis is a huge fan of the Big Muff pedal. So much so that he owns one of the largest collections around. He even has some of the OEM (Original Equipment Manufactures) that EHX manufactured for other companies. The Big Muff is a staple to J’s tone, and is his go-to pedal when he needs to get dirty.

MC-FX Super Fuzz Copy

Perhaps one of the most interesting pedals currently on J’s board is the Super Fuzz clone made by Australia’s own MC-FX. According to Mascis, it’s “the smallest one to fit on the pedal board and it sounds good. Smaller is better to fit as much stuff on as you can.”

Electro-Harmonix POG2 Polyphonic Octave Generator Guitar Effects Pedal

The POG2 is another EHX pedal that has made its way into Mascis’ live setup. The pedal was originally constructed to enable guitarists the ability to conjure everything from the surreal jangle of an 18-string guitar, to rich, thick walls of symphonic sound. Live, Mascis uses the pedal to emulate the sounds off their latest record. On the record, Mascis notes the use of an organ and a guitar synth, therefore the POG2 is used to help recreate the original sounds on the live stage.

ZVex Hand-Painted LO-FI Loop Junky Guitar Effects Pedal

There’s a few ZVex pedals that feature on Mascis’ pedalboard, but perhaps my favourite one is the LO-FI Loop Junky, which J Mascis reportedly uses to fill in the gaps between songs, or incase he “breaks a string”.

J Mascis is mentioned in Reverb’s own The Pedal Movie, keep reading and watch here.