BUILD GUIDE - 2009/2010 Jazzmaster Build
It was 2008, and I was just about done getting the "bucketlist" guitars I wanted. I had the Jaguar, Jag-Stang, and Mustang, wanted a Jazzmaster, and considered the Paul Dean an "impossibility". I wanted a Jazzmaster, but by 2008, the "Hipster" movement was in full swing, so the prices of Jazzmasters were shooting up like wildfire. And to add insult to injury, I always had a couple problems with the Jazzmaster by design - in particular, weak bridge pickup with loud neck pickup, and the lack of a 22nd fret. I also wanted one that could fit in in a Heavy Metal context.

So I was looking around e-bay and came across Swamp Ash Jazzmaster bodies for $45, so I bought one. I spent a lot of time modelling my perfect Jazzmaster in the "offset dressing room", and had narrowed down to a pair of them - either I would make a natural finish blackguard one, or I'd build a clone of Ric Ocasek's 1974 guitar he used in The Cars, and put the Candy-O Vargas chick on the arm contour in tribute. When I got the body, the grain was gorgeous, so I decided to keep it natural.

Next step was finishing the body. At the time, Minwax had a brand new product called "Wood Sheen", which came in a bottle. I put four or five coats of Manor Oak Wood Sheen applied using a pair of bad holey socks that I could throw away afterward. The guitar then was hung outside during the daytime, then at night, hung in the bathroom with the door closed and the fan on, then final curing was allowed in my middle closet. When I was done, the tint was right-on.

Next came pickups, pickguard, and wiring. For pickups, I chose a pair of Canadian Pickup Wizards Jazzmaster pickups wound 10% hot. The hottest pickup would go in the bridge, and the other to the neck. Unfortunatley the neck pickup had problems, so I swapped it with a Fender AVRI pickup. This made the sound very balanced, but removed the Hum Cancelling in the middle position, which I was fine with since I'm already going to be managing hum in the bridge position anyway, as that's my most used pickup.

The Pickguard was an chinese made B/W/B pickguard designed for Japanese Jazzmasters, it fit the body perfectly though. The circuitry was from some kind of Wiring Kit, Acme I believe, and all done in cloth wire. The Rhythm Circuit was a real pain, I had to order 3-4 sets of Rollers just to find the right ones to fit the kit and the Jazzmaster. Then to add to it, I had to chisel out a trench for the rollers so they would roll smoothly, my mix of Japanese and USA parts was a bit of a tricky situation, but it worked out well.

Next came the bridge and tailpiece. I chose to use an import vibrato without a Trem-Lock because I NEVER USE a Trem-Lock on my offsets. For starters, I tend to set the spring a little tighter to where the plate sits about 1/16" or 1/8" inch higher than it normally does than a normally setup Jaguar or Jazzmaster for more range. Also, I find the Trem-Lock is a victim of a "good idea" that utilizes some rather "under-developed" engineering. I find they tend to come loose witht heavy playing like I do, and then slide in place when you don't want them - like after a Bar Dive. And lastly, I've never had to use one - this build is now entering it's 14th year with me as I write this, and I still have not broken more than maybe one or two strings on it in 14 years, so there's no point.

For the bridge, I recreated my Jaguar's setup. I used import string height adjustment screws from a Strat copy bridge saddle set, and bits of 3M scotch tape to jam up the threads in lieu of Threadlocker (which I don't like to use). Then a Humbucker mounting spring was cut in half and the two pieces were put on the high and low E string saddles to box in the other four in the middle, and add sustain, and stability - and prevent buzzing. The Low E was canted sideways at an angle to block-in the Low E-String, and the gross action adjustment screws were gummied up with 3M tape. The result was the same feel, sound (roughly), and stability my Jaguar has off the bat, with minimal or no buzzing, and no loss of the character that makes the Jazzmaster what it is. Actually, it seems to bring out the character a little more - the behind the bridge resonance is insane on this one because of the solid bridge saddle contact.

Now that I had pretty much the entire BODY section of the Jazzmaster done, focus turned to the neck. For the first 4-5 months (November 2009-Feb 2010), I ran a Squier Affinity Series stratocaster neck on it so I could start playing it. The guitar remained with this neck for couple YouTube videos and some Deliciously Infectious rehearsals until I found a more apropriate neck for it.

I found my neck in February/Marchish. A Chinese supplier known as "Tommy's Custom Bodies and Necks" was selling maple fretboard & black block marker inlay CBS style Strat necks with 22 frets. I bought one and recieved two, which lead to a months long debacle of trying to return the second one I got. So I wound up keeping both because I could not get the second neck back to China (shipping from US to China is incredibly difficult, I asked several couriers and they could not help, it was bloody ridiculous).

The neck was outfitted with a reproduction 1972-1981 Fender Jazzmaster decal, with 2 black string guides, and a set of Kluson Tone Pros split-shaft with bolt-mount machine heads. The guitar was strung up with Fender XL250 Bullets in .009-.042, and that is pretty much how it remains save for the change to Ernie Ball Paradigm .009-.042 strings in 2017.

Jazzmaster is Toward the End of this video....

The first show with the guitar was the "Down by the River" show with Deliciously Infectious when Ginine was still lead singer. Since then, it's turned up at a lot of different gigs, some playing all night such as thee Zombie Jihad Tony V's Garage Gig, and one show with the Sonic Dead just before t Pandemic started.

More Jazzmaster Action Somewhere in this Video