Built a Jazzmaster, not really liking it

Alex_C

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I never played a Jazzmaster, so I decided to construct one.

No Moon Laser reclaimed cedar body, Carvin neck, Sperzel locking tuners, Fender Pure Vintage ‘65 pickups, StewMac Vibrato, Fender Mustang adjustable bridge, CTS/Fender/Switchcraft electronics.

It plays great, looks cool, stays in tune exceptionally well.

I don’t really like playing it.

The sound is just not my cup of tea. I can get a jazzy tone with the upper horn circuit, but the sustain is ‘meh’. I understand it is the break angle. I have shimmed the neck, which is a thing JMs need to increase the break angle. I also have an issue when fingerpicking, where I pop the high ‘E’ out of the saddle.

I’m considering a buzzstop for a steeper break angle and a TOM roller bridge to make it play more like most other guitars.

Anyone else have JM issues or advice?
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BorderRadio

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The plunky sound is what appeals to me, I don't want sustain for days. Increasing the break angle will get you away from the plink-plunk to thunk. It will never quite react like a Strat or Tele, and I like that.

Did you use 1 Meg pots? Take it down to 500k. PV65 are hella bright, I keep my TS American Vintage '65 Jazzmaster tone on 6/7 for less hearing loss.

Adjustable "Mustang" bridges have their own set of rules that need finessing like anything else. Most have a 'V' cut slot--you really want a 'U', like those from Staytrem. Saddle screws need some gunk on them to keep them from sinking. I brush lacquer (or clear nail polish) on top to seal the placement. Also, very important, the saddles need to be parallel to the bridge base, otherwise those plain strings slip out the V-cut. Don't use 9's without a Mastery. 10s are perfectly fine, 11s are the standard advice but not really necessary.

TOMs suck in general for a Bigsby or any vibrato that depends on a shallow break angle. Roller saddles make it better, I use ABM brands. I wouldn't convert to TOM, I'd get a Staytrem, Mastery, or Tele saddle bridge. What's your radius?

Offset guys hate the buzzstop. It's like Bigsby guy's hate for tension bar B5s and B7s--it kills the best part. I agree with that advice, the buzzstop is contrary. It inhibits the Floating Tremolo action and response, as desiged.
 

Alex_C

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The plunky sound is what appeals to me, I don't want sustain for days. Increasing the break angle will get you away from the plink-plunk to thunk. It will never quite react like a Strat or Tele, and I like that.

Did you use 1 Meg pots? Take it down to 500k. PV65 are hella bright, I keep my TS American Vintage '65 Jazzmaster tone on 6/7 for less hearing loss.

Adjustable "Mustang" bridges have their own set of rules that need finessing like anything else. Most have a 'V' cut slot--you really want a 'U', like those from Staytrem. Saddle screws need some gunk on them to keep them from sinking. I brush lacquer (or clear nail polish) on top to seal the placement. Also, very important, the saddles need to be parallel to the bridge base, otherwise those plain strings slip out the V-cut. Don't use 9's without a Mastery. 10s are perfectly fine, 11s are the standard advice but not really necessary.

TOMs suck in general for a Bigsby or any vibrato that depends on a shallow break angle. Roller saddles make it better, I use ABM brands. I wouldn't convert to TOM, I'd get a Staytrem, Mastery, or Tele saddle bridge. What's your radius?

Offset guys hate the buzzstop. It's like Bigsby guy's hate for tension bar B5s and B7s--it kills the best part. I agree with that advice, the buzzstop is contrary. It inhibits the Floating Tremolo action and response, as desiged.
I used 500K pots.
I have blue loctite on the threads, so no buzzing or rattling. The guitar plays and works great. I have 9s on it and they work perfectly well, except when I pluck up on the high E with my fingers. I can use a pick and do strong upstrokes, it is only when I pluck hard with my fingers. I'll try 10s next time.
I know the Buzzstop is as well respected as a Floyd on a Les Paul but I am struggling to like this guitar. It reminds me of 90's alternative rock sound when I play it. The pickups are their own beast, but in conjunction with the low break angle and behind the bridge resonance, I'm struggling to find a sound that I like enough. I have many great guitars, so the JM build just sits there, unplayed. First world problems...
 

Steve Holt

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I used 500K pots.
I have blue loctite on the threads, so no buzzing or rattling. The guitar plays and works great. I have 9s on it and they work perfectly well, except when I pluck up on the high E with my fingers. I can use a pick and do strong upstrokes, it is only when I pluck hard with my fingers. I'll try 10s next time.
I know the Buzzstop is as well respected as a Floyd on a Les Paul but I am struggling to like this guitar. It reminds me of 90's alternative rock sound when I play it. The pickups are their own beast, but in conjunction with the low break angle and behind the bridge resonance, I'm struggling to find a sound that I like enough. I have many great guitars, so the JM build just sits there, unplayed. First world problems...

I love jags and jazzmasters, though I like looking at them more than I like playing them. I had a Fender jag for awhile that I just struggled to like. I added a buzz stop...that helped. I changed the bridge to a mastery, that helped too. Fixed the neck pocket which was cut at an angle (angled from treble to bass not angled the way it would be if it was shimmed for playability - thanks Fender). And all of that helped to make it a guitar I could pick up and enjoy, but I never loved it.

I sold it last year and built my own (surf green in the avatar). It's far better than the fender ever was, but still maybe not as enjoyable to play as a strat or a tele. That's just how it is for some people I guess.
 

BorderRadio

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I used 500K pots.
I have blue loctite on the threads, so no buzzing or rattling. The guitar plays and works great. I have 9s on it and they work perfectly well, except when I pluck up on the high E with my fingers. I can use a pick and do strong upstrokes, it is only when I pluck hard with my fingers. I'll try 10s next time.
I know the Buzzstop is as well respected as a Floyd on a Les Paul but I am struggling to like this guitar. It reminds me of 90's alternative rock sound when I play it. The pickups are their own beast, but in conjunction with the low break angle and behind the bridge resonance, I'm struggling to find a sound that I like enough. I have many great guitars, so the JM build just sits there, unplayed. First world problems...
Again, I had that same problem on a Blacktop JM with the adjustable 'mustang' bridge. The V-cuts were the issue. Staytrem is the only bridge that looks the part, and has a deep U-cut string grooves. No popping 9s. If you're really that percussive a player, it would always help to go up to 10s on a JM.

Low break-angle-behind-the-bridge guitars will always come with extra string ringing, aka 'wolf tones'. It's the nature of the beast. People used to Strat/Tele/LP paradigms may think it's a defect. Not for me, the 3 to 7 degree break is what makes the trem so smooth, just like a Bigsby B3/B6. Buzzstops add another friction point and just make for more possible string hang ups.

Maybe a Jazzmaster just isn't your thing? It happens :/
 

FuncleManson

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I was in the same boat. I had never played, or even held, a Jazzmaster until my partscaster project. On mine, I used this bridge. I had to rout/dremel the body and pickguard a little to get it to fit. I used a Musikraft neck with a 14" radius. It probably wouldn't work very well with a vintage radius. Also, although they look like JM pickups, mine are P90 construction, so I had to rout the pickup cavities a little deeper.

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alex1fly

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Haha well you can either sell it or put it away and come back to it later. Of course your expectations are sky high right now. But it'll make music which is what counts.

However...

Jazzmasters are NOTORIOUSLY fussy. OffsetGuitar forum might have some specialized advice for you.

I wanted to like the JM, but couldn't get around the absolutely massive body and the fact that it's nearly as long as a full scale bass guitar.
 

no doz

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offsets are my fave and i pretty much unanimously shim the neck whenever i'm working on jazzmasters. i prefer the full-pocket stewmac shims (the .50 degree shim seems to get used the most, but sometimes i need to go as high as one degree). it can take some trial and error but i've found that each individual guitar seems to have a shim sweet spot where the sustain really opens up and the break angle over the bridge is just right to prevent the strings from popping loose. i'll often stack shims or shave one down a touch to get the angle precisely where i want it. YMMV but it might be worth some neck angle experimentation, it really helps in my experience

here's a good offset specific shimming video for good measure, might help!

 

Peegoo

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I've always loved the tone of the JM pickups but the stock bridge and vibrato on them sort of suck, and I have no use for all that switching BS. So I built one about 15 years ago with a volume, a tone, and a three-way switch. I used a Wilkinson VS100 vibrato bridge (modern two-post take on the classic Strat design).

It's the perfect Jazzmaster for me. Purists will whine about it not being a Jazzmaster, but I don't care.

WaveSpy.jpg
 

BorderRadio

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I've always loved the tone of the JM pickups but the stock bridge and vibrato on them sort of suck, and I have no use for all that switching BS. So I built one about 15 years ago with a volume, a tone, and a three-way switch. I used a Wilkinson VS100 vibrato bridge (modern two-post take on the classic Strat design).

It's the perfect Jazzmaster for me. Purists will whine about it not being a Jazzmaster, but I don't care.

WaveSpy.jpg
Thats not a Jazzmaster.

It's a Wave Spy!😅😆
 

fleezinator

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Mine's a partscaster too and not having played one in the flesh either I wasn't sure what to expect. It plays amazingly (warmoth necks FTW) and has a Mastery bridge which helps prevent string skipping and reduces the need for shims or a higher break angle. Spendy but worth it IMO.

Not sure what sound you're going for. Mine has Novak JM-Vs in it, which is a pretty vintage sound. I dial back the tone to 4 or 5 to keep the shrill in check. If you want a thicker tone, Novak sells humbuckers, P-90s & more in JM formfactors. You might also try the pups from a J Mascis Jazzmaster which are closer to P90s.

I own a Mascis as well. A slightly different but ragier beast but both are great adds to the overall tonal palette guitarsenal.
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schmee

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Every partscaster or even Custom Shop build is the result of all the parts coming together. It is unpredictable. Even changing a neck on a guitar you like can change the guitar to feeling sterile.
Of course there are some things about certain designs that seem to replicate on most of them too.

One of the most sterile Strats I ever played was a Fender Custom Shop blue flame build I tried in about 2005. It was priced at ~$2500 back then at Hollywood GC.
 

bendercaster

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I had a 62 AVRI Jazzmaster that I loved. I never had any of the set up issues that people complain about. It was very tuning stable and sounded and played great. But, after gigging with it a couple times the plinkiness of it started to bug me. I eventually traded it for a Gretsch Duo Jet and have been pretty happy.

But, I recently picked up a Jaguar and Eastwood Sidejack and those have had me reconsidering the Jazzmaster. Sometimes I use rubber grommets to dampen some of the vibrations behind the bridge, which also seems to help with the plinkiness. But as much as I love the Jaguar for playing chords or riffs, I have a hard time playing lead on it. It's a little too slinky and plinky. The Eastwood has a clever bridge design with a much steeper break angle and rolling saddles. It is very tuning stable and less plinky that the Jag, but it's also more percussive which can make it hard to get big ethereal washes with multiple delay pedals. The Jag does that fine though.
 

sloppychops

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.9s are too light to be on a JM. .10 will put more tension over the bridge, and might remedy the high E issue you're having. But I'd suggest going to 10.5 Daddarios. A little more beef than the .10s, but more manageable than .11s

I couldn't tell, though, does your bridge have those threaded saddles or the Mustang saddles?
 

Alex_C

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.9s are too light to be on a JM. .10 will put more tension over the bridge, and might remedy the high E issue you're having. But I'd suggest going to 10.5 Daddarios. A little more beef than the .10s, but more manageable than .11s

I couldn't tell, though, does your bridge have those threaded saddles or the Mustang saddles?
The bridge has slots. The high E thing is not a deal breaker, it only happens when want a percussive pluck on the high string. 9s are working for me, I'll try 10s next time around.
 

Alex_C

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I've always loved the tone of the JM pickups but the stock bridge and vibrato on them sort of suck, and I have no use for all that switching BS. So I built one about 15 years ago with a volume, a tone, and a three-way switch. I used a Wilkinson VS100 vibrato bridge (modern two-post take on the classic Strat design).

It's the perfect Jazzmaster for me. Purists will whine about it not being a Jazzmaster, but I don't care.

WaveSpy.jpg
This is likely the direction I'd go. The extra circuit is cool, but not necessary, imo. The 2 point trem works fine, not as smooth but I prefer them to the JM style.
 

Alex_C

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offsets are my fave and i pretty much unanimously shim the neck whenever i'm working on jazzmasters. i prefer the full-pocket stewmac shims (the .50 degree shim seems to get used the most, but sometimes i need to go as high as one degree). it can take some trial and error but i've found that each individual guitar seems to have a shim sweet spot where the sustain really opens up and the break angle over the bridge is just right to prevent the strings from popping loose. i'll often stack shims or shave one down a touch to get the angle precisely where i want it. YMMV but it might be worth some neck angle experimentation, it really helps in my experience

here's a good offset specific shimming video for good measure, might help!


I have the neck shimmed. The guitar plays great and I can't pop a string out with a pick, no matter how hard I strum or pick. I played it this morning, unplugged and it is really nice and quite loud. When I plug it in, I'm underwhelmed. I may need to adjust the amp and pedals, something I don't usually do with my other guitars as they are all within a spectrum that works with their onboard controls.
 

Alex_C

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Haha well you can either sell it or put it away and come back to it later. Of course your expectations are sky high right now. But it'll make music which is what counts.

However...

Jazzmasters are NOTORIOUSLY fussy. OffsetGuitar forum might have some specialized advice for you.

I wanted to like the JM, but couldn't get around the absolutely massive body and the fact that it's nearly as long as a full scale bass guitar.
I'm on that forum. It really helped with my build.
 




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