…about the past couple months.

…about the past couple months.

Working in South Carolina!

For the second half of 2019, I played a large role in a project for work that had me working very diligently on the same IT system from day to day, which really took it’s toll on me after a few months. For those few months, I wasn’t really working on anything outside work, thus, the reason I have not posted in so long. But that changes today!

When the holidays hit, we had gone live on our work project, so the workload was much less, and I got a chance to really get some rest, and get my energy back for the new year. Just so happened around the start of the holidays, I decided I finally wanted to try to take my woodworking and very basic luthier skills, and take a run at building a guitar. The particular guitar that pushed me into making this decision was the Fender Jazzmaster.

A Jazzmaster Advertisement from long ago.

A guitar built by Fender in 1958 to appeal to the jazz players; a market which they did not have any previous offering for. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the jazz players did not like the Jazzmaster. However, a guitar players in a new genre started using the Jazzmaster, and it became the symbol of this new genre, called surf rock. From this point forward, it’s been used by many great players, and offers a single-coil guitar in a slightly less common package, common packages referring to Stratocaster or Telecaster guitars. It also offers a sound and tone that is slightly different, in that it’s a little bit more full sounding than standard single-coils. Enough about the guitar. Let me show you through the build process!

The Build!

My pre-shaped body from Supra-Tone, a company of veterans that make guitar bodies with the highest quality American wood. It’s a bit of work to get it adjusted up, but it’s worth it for a nice piece of wood.
My Mighty Mite neck mounted up to the guitar with the tuners installed. Had to do a bit of neck pocket adjusting, but got it pretty tight.
Because the Jazzmaster is what’s called an ‘offset guitar,’ the neck must be at a slight angle in comparison to the body to lift the strings across the bridge. Here you can see the tiny light-colored shim in between the neck and the body. It gives an angle of about 1 degree. You can also see what I call the fret-board “diving board,” which adds an extension of the neck over the body. I’ll mention this again in a bit.
Next, I test fit the pick-guard with the electronics, just to check for clearance in the body cavity. I had to make some minor adjustments for the volume and tone pots. The tremolo pocket also needed expanded a little bit. It wasn’t too hard with a Dremel and patience.
Next, I mounted the neck to the body with the pick-guard installed to check if the “diving-board” finger-board extension had enough clearance. Luckily it fit with about 1/32″ to spare.
Next thing I did was something difficult to learn, and took me 2 attempts to get right. It was the slide label logo on the head-stock, like you find on mass-production guitars. They consist of a thin film label that you hydrate in water to remove the backing, and apply to your surface. The label is extremely brittle and thin, and it’s very easy to tear. Luckily I had a successful second attempt, then lacquered over the head-stock to protect my work. In the finishing process, I made a slight boo-boo, but we’ll hit that in a bit.
The next step is the one I was the most terrified about, and it was drilling the bridge post holes. This is a task that must be done with extreme precision and accuracy, or you will ruin your entire body. Luckily for me, my holes were tight enough within the tolerances that everything worked fine! The bridge doesn’t sit perfectly straight, but the slight angle actual makes intonation a touch easier.
Test fitting the ‘thimbles.’ They are where the bridge will slide down into.
Test fitting the bridge!
The bridge is sitting level and looking good! This was a triumphant moment for me in the process of this build. Probably the biggest one, because it was the biggest challenge to overcome.
Pardon the feet. After fitting the bridge, I needed to then pull it out, and make sure the pick-guard fits. With only very small adjustments, the pick-guard fit perfectly with the bridge installed.
One last test once I got to this stage was to check the pickup covers to see if they’ll first fit through the pick-guard, and second, also line up to fit through the body. Again, with a few minor adjustments, I was able to get them to fit perfectly.
Now, on to my “happy accident” of this project. I was aiming for a butter-scotch kind of color, which would have been lighter than this. However, after seeing how the wood grain pops out, I am so happy I used the stain I did.
Once stain was on, I hit the entire guitar with some steel wool, then applied a mixture of polymerized oil and wax, and rubbed it in, then off. After doing that 3 times, I buffed the finish to a sort of glassy semi-gloss. You can get an idea for it in the above picture. It feels very nice to the touch.
Once all the finish had cured, I reassembled the guitar. This is about the point where it started getting really exciting, and my Snapchat picture above shows that, hopefully.
Now, here’s my boo-boo. In doing some wet-sanding on the lacquered head-stock, I managed to remove a bit of my slide-label at the bottom where it says “Pittsburgh, PA.” Nothing I can do now, and I’ve accepted it’s a part of the guitars personality. I’ve also installed a string tree at this point.
Here’s everything put mostly together. In this picture the nut on the neck is removed because I was amidst the process of replacing it with a Tusq self-lubricating nut, which significantly improved the guitars tuning stability, and helps the tone a bit compared to a plastic nut.
Once getting the nut on, I got it strung up to examine the bridge, and more specifically, the string angle. Everything looked better than I could have hoped for. Also this was when I had my first playing. All I’ll say is I got even more excited after playing it the first time.
This next step was a big change, even though it was only cosmetic. I switched the tuner buttons on the tuners to the proper Fender 1958 “butter bean” style tuners (right). It gives the guitar a very classy and vintage look.
This picture was taken just before I did the tuner buttons, but at this point, I had it pretty much finished. I was very happy with the results, however, me being who I am, I decided to add the rhythm circuit, mostly because I wanted the toggle switch to be moved to the lower horn of the guitar, because I kept hitting it when playing. The easiest way to do that is moving to a pick-guard with the rhythm circuit, which displaces the pickup toggle switch to the lower horn. I could have just, not installed the rhythm circuit, but when in Rome… This is a before picture.
Here you can see some wiring I’m actually proud of. The lower part is the Lead circuit, and the upper part is the rhythm circuit. The switch where the orange capacitor is in the photo, is a treble bleed circuit on a switch, which allows me to maintain the same tone through the entire sweep of the volume knob.
Here’s the front of the finished guitar! I have labeled the additional electronics added in the last step.
Here’s my quick demo! Someday soon, I’m going to try and post some music I’ve made with it.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this post! Sorry for taking such a long time off. Please consider commenting with your thoughts, as I’d love to hear them! Have a nice day!

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