Jazzmaster build: musings and newbie questions

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djspecialistdjspecialist Frets: 698
edited March 2020 in Making & Modding
I've decided to take a plunge into the murky waters of building a partsmaster.  I'm starting from zero (both in terms of components, and experience!) - so I have many, many questions.  I'd appreciate any input from theFB hive mind, lots of whom I know have a ton of experience on this stuff.

Here's where I have got to so far in terms of planning.

(Mockup image created using the offsetguitars.com Dressing Room app)


Body

I'll go for a new body.  Should I agonise over the choice of wood (alder vs swamp ash), or just look for a lightweight body from a well-regarded builder?  Ditto 1 vs 2 vs 3-piece construction.

The finish will be aged firemist silver nitro.  I'll pay someone to do that.

Is it worth sourcing a body myself and then sending it off for finishing, or should I just ask for a body to be supplied and finished as one transaction?


Neck

My reference point is my 50s Baja: 9.5" radius, fat soft V profile, 42mm nut width, satin finish, medium jumbo frets.  I would love a neck with similar specs (but with a rosewood board); I could accept either a shade slimmer or with slightly bigger frets.

Though I love the look of bound + block necks, they seem harder to find and I assume might make it harder to roll the fretboard edges.

I'd get the headstock finished to match the body.

Something like the Mascis JM neck would be good, but they seem fairly hard to come by.  Are there any other second hand JM necks with similar specs?

If I went for a new neck, which supplier(s) would you recommend?  The JM necks from Hosco and Allparts all seem to have tall frets, which I really can't get on with.  Are there UK builders I should talk to?

I'm planning to level and crown the frets myself, but I'll get a tech to install the nut and do a final setup.

How hard is applying a satin nitro finish to the back of the neck?  Is it just a matter of careful masking and finding a suitable place to spray?  Or is is horribly tricky to avoid ending up with a blotchy mess?  Basically - should I try this myself, or should I add it to the outsourced headstock painting job?


Electrics

Mojo 58-64 with overwound bridge.  A3 magnets.  1 Meg pots.  Standard rhythm circuit.

I'll ask Mojo to provide a complete harness.
Edit: Marc no longer does harnesses.  Can anyone recommend another source?

Hardware

Staytrem bridge.  If I decided later to try a Mastery, would it be a drop-in replacement?

Mastery thimbles?

Vibrato: is the Fender USA AV unit decent?  Any others I should look at?


Pickguard

Parchment, 3-ply (P-black-P).

Does anyone know whether either of these are any good?


Tools

I know I'll need a drill, various abrasives and files - and of course good screwdrivers.  Do I need a drill press?  Anything else?


Finally ...

I'll admit the whole project makes me a bit nervous - but excited at the same time.  I'm methodical, patient, and willing to outsource bits of work which I don't feel ready to take on, in order to get a good result.

Am I going to regret ever starting this ... ?

Thanks in advance for any tips you can offer!

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Comments

  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 9200
    First things first. What is your budget? 

    I suggest that your investigate GSP Basses’ late Black Friday sale Discussion. 
    Be seeing you.
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  • First things first. What is your budget? 
    I started out all optimistic ... then I did some sums and got realistic ;)  I'd really like to keep it this side of £1000.  If I could get close to £800 I'd be happy.
    I suggest that your investigate GSP Basses’ late Black Friday sale Discussion. 
    https://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/175346/

    Thanks, but I think mahogany might be too dark tonally.  Shame because it's a great deal.  Also the fretwire is close in size to Jescar 47104, which I have (and like) on another guitar.

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  • robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 2449
    I've just done exactly this.

    http://offsetguitars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=112942

    Happy to answer any specific questions.

    R.
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 17634
    edited March 2020
    You've just described my MJT Jazzmaster build. I went for a Musikraft neck (dots & binding - you can still roll the bound edges, but you have to be careful to keep it neat as it's quite visible on the plastic), and I went Inca silver instead of firemist :)

    Mine was about 1k all-in, but that did include the Musikraft neck (not the cheapest option) and an original mid-60's pickguard.

    I'd be talking to @GoldenEraGuitars if I were you. If you want a matching headstock then you need that sprayed at the same time as the body, so it'll be much easier getting all of it done through one source imo

    In terms of specific questions...
    > the AV trem is excellent. Get the Staytrem collet and arm and it's perfect.
    > Don't go mastery thimbles if you want to use a Staytrem, as iirc they're designed specifically to hold the Mastery bridge in a fixed position, which is a little different to a regular JM bride. The Staytrem is excellent anyway
    > Mojo JM pickups are brilliant. Not sure re loom, Marc sold me the parts and I wired my own, but I do enjoy that process more than most.

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  • Two fantastic-looking guitars there!
    Lovely finish on the body.  That's exactly the level of aging / checking I'd be looking for - I'm definitely not going for a relic look.
    Is the neck from SCRelics?  What's the profile and fret specs? 
    You mentioned you were thinking of changing the scratchplate - did you switch to parchment / mint, or did you decide to stick with the gold?
    What happened to those funky gold knobs?

    You've just described my MJT Jazzmaster build.
    https://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/89955/

    Gorgeous neck!  Did you get it raw from MK?  What grade of birdseye is it?  Did the frets require much work?
    Where's the body from?
    You mentioned you were looking at alternatives to replace the rhythm circuit - did you ever try one out?

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  • robinbowesrobinbowes Frets: 2449
    Two fantastic-looking guitars there!
    Lovely finish on the body.  That's exactly the level of aging / checking I'd be looking for - I'm definitely not going for a relic look.
    Is the neck from SCRelics?  What's the profile and fret specs? 
    You mentioned you were thinking of changing the scratchplate - did you switch to parchment / mint, or did you decide to stick with the gold?
    What happened to those funky gold knobs?

    Yes, the neck is also from @GoldenEraGuitars.

    "The necks are modern C, 9.5” radius, medium jumbo frets, dot markers and have a wider headstock strat look to them."

    I'm still using the gold scratch plate - can't be bothered to mess around.

    One of the grub screws on one of the knobs broke, and they didn't look great anyway, so I went with Strat-type knobs.

    R>
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  • djspecialistdjspecialist Frets: 698
    edited March 2020
    I discovered the offsetguitars.com Dressing Room app is quite useful for playing around with colour schemes etc - at least it is once you have unearthed a browser which will still run Flash!

    I've added a mockup image of my build plans to the OP.
    Trading feedback | FS: Nothing right now | Jazzmaster build thread
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 17634

    You've just described my MJT Jazzmaster build.
    https://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/89955/

    Gorgeous neck!  Did you get it raw from MK?  What grade of birdseye is it?  Did the frets require much work?
    Where's the body from?
    You mentioned you were looking at alternatives to replace the rhythm circuit - did you ever try one out?

    Neck is AAA iirc, direct from Musikraft. I don’t read too much into that sort of thing, but it looks really special, and it’s only really visible from the back so I know it’s there but no-one else does :) 

    Body was from MJT direct, and they did the neck finish as well as miscellaneous hardware (tuners, neck plate, stroa buttons, thimbles & pickguard screws iirc). The frets have honestly had nothing more than a polish from new. I got a Strat neck via MK/MJT and that’s the same story. I did have to replace the nut on the Strat one to fix some dodgy spacing, but otherwise they were both perfect. I did roll the edges A LOT at my end, but I also like that towards the extreme end of things so YMMV. 

    I haven’t done anything with the rhythm circuit yet. My instinct is to make it a simple series/parallel switch, as I think that would be more useful than anything else.

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  • Thanks for the further helpful replies.

    I found a wiring schematic on OSG which I think I'll copy:
    http://offsetguitars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=110194&start=15#p1539844

    It will require a custom pickguard to accommodate the top switches.  Can anyone recommend a good source?

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  • Vintage-TVintage-T Frets: 220
    Thanks for the further helpful replies.

    I found a wiring schematic on OSG which I think I'll copy:
    http://offsetguitars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=110194&start=15#p1539844

    It will require a custom pickguard to accommodate the top switches.  Can anyone recommend a good source?

    Found these guys, says they do custom pickguards. https://www.sims.guitars/pickguards

    I'm getting a wiring harness from Blackstar Luthiers in Derby I think for my build. They're on Reverb.
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  • Sham61Sham61 Frets: 24
    edited March 2020

    My GSP Basses JM body and neck as painted by Rexter. Aged Firemist silver.  Beautiful job. Need to take some pictures of complete guitar.

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  • djspecialistdjspecialist Frets: 698
    edited March 2020
    @Sham61 that looks beautiful. Congratulations on your impeccable good taste   I'd love to see the full build.

    What are the specs of the @GSPBASSES neck?
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  • Sham61Sham61 Frets: 24
    edited March 2020
    This is the only pic I have at the moment. The neck feels quite chunky but not as bad as my old LP Traditional.I'll give it a measure tomorrow.

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  • Sham61Sham61 Frets: 24

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  • djspecialistdjspecialist Frets: 698
    edited March 2020
    Fantastic.  What brand is the sparkly trem unit?  Edit: I just realised it's a reflection of the carpet.  And I haven't even had one drink today ...

    The fretboard looks nice and dark, with lovely grain. Is it rosewood?
    Trading feedback | FS: Nothing right now | Jazzmaster build thread
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