A very versatile, yet extremely unique, guitar.
I've lusted after the Jazzmaster for the past few years as I started to get into indie rock from the late '80s and early '90s, where the Jazzy is more or less the de facto standard. My birthday was coming up, so I decided to finally go ahead and get one, since I had the money.
When I got it out of the box, it took a little bit of time to get used to, since it had a longer scale and a different (but much more comfortable) neck than my previous main guitar, my Ibanez AS73 semihollow. But after a few days of it almost never leaving my hands, it just felt perfect for me. It's a nice medium C that's a good compromise between a baseball-bat '50s Tele or Les Paul neck and an Ibanez Wizard. The only gripe I have is that it only has 21 frets, but then again, it's supposed to have a vintage feel with modern improvements. I could always swap it out for a Warmoth if I need to, I guess.
How does it play? Very nicely. At first, I was getting a lot of fret buzz, which was disappointing, but I realized it was because it had a pretty low action (lower than I prefer, really), and I tend to play pretty aggressively. I've had to adjust my technique, but since then, I don't get any at all unless I'm fretting too hard or strumming/picking too hard. I definitely need to take it to a tech to give it a full setup, although the one it came with was definitely pretty good. The intonation is great, so much so that I'm not going to change the strings on it at all until I can get it set up for heavier strings. I'd do it myself, but I don't have a good enough tuner, and trying to intonate my AS73 was a nightmare (and ultimately a failure; it also needs some work on the frets, though, since there's some bad wear in certain spots, and that could be causing some of the intonation problems, which are primarily noticeable on the G string).
But enough of that rambling, let's talk about how it sounds. In spite of what some people have said about the pickups, they sound pretty Jazzmasterish to me, just hotter. I'm definitely swapping them out for some Curtis Novaks eventually, but they're good enough for now. Soundwise, they have that distinct Fender sound, but with a wider frequency response than, say, a Strat pickup. This gives them a very appealing, almost "hi-fi" sound. I kinda wonder what they'd sound like plugged into something with full-range speakers, like a keyboard amp. They're also incredibly bright, making playing through a really bright amp or amp model somewhat painful unless you turn down the treble and presence knobs a bit. People who aren't familiar with the Jazzy's idiosyncrasies compare Jazzmaster pickups with P-90s, but they really don't sound like P-90s at all to my ears. Not even these hotter pickups are. I've heard some people say the Classic Player's pickups sound like P-90s or even Strat pickups, but I strongly disagree. They're definitely Jazzmaster pickups, but hotter, and with adjustable polepieces, which is about the only thing they have in common with P-90s. These pickups are actually quite aggressive, and sound pretty decent with high-gain. The only downside is that, being single-coils, they're very noisy.
In fact, the noise is one of the biggest downsides to this guitar. It definitely needs better shielding, although that's not something that's uncommon for most guitars, unfortunately. But that's not a very hard thing to fix.
One thing I'm really surprised about is how versatile this thing really is. Obviously, it's a monster for indie and alt-rock as well as surf, but it can get a pretty cool stoner/sludge metal sound, a great funk sound in the middle position, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, given what genre it was specifically designed for originally, a decent jazz sound. It does country and blues pretty nicely, too. It won't do death metal, but I don't think anyone would it expect it to. It's also a very capable punk guitar. And I'm not just talking about post-punk, either, which it most certainly excels at. It's great for hardcore, although I don't know if its hotter pickups help to achieve that. It's certainly possible.
Yet in spite of its versatility, it has a sound unlike any other guitar out there. This is no doubt due to its combination of its unique pickups and perhaps more importantly the Fender floating trem, which makes it have a shorter sustain than most guitars. They've moved the trem up an inch or so, and also changed the angle in the neck pocket, which increases the break angle, which is supposed to increase sustain as well as reduce buzzing (their use of a Tune-o-Matic bridge instead of the terrible original one also reduces the buzzing problem), and while it does, it's still a little bit plinky compared to others. But the plinkiness is a good thing, in my opinion. It's a huge part of the Jazzmaster's distinctive tone, and I'd have been disappointed if it sounded too "normal." Its quirks are what make it great, albeit not for everyone.
Overall, it's a great choice if you're looking for a Jazzmaster and don't want to pay twice as much for the American Vintage Reissue. I wouldn't recommend it to someone who isn't into Jazzmasters, since they're one of those guitars you either love or hate, but even then, I suppose they're worth a try to see which category you fall into.