Jazzmaster bridge Geometry

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Slowtwitch, Apr 2, 2020.

  1. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    I've only done Tele style bridge builds (plus zero neck angle)
    So for my next build I'm doing a kinda Jazzmaster/ Firebird/ Tele body with a Jazzmaster bridge (or TOM) bridge and Jazz Tremolo.

    I don't like TOM bridges, strings too high off the body, little intonation adjustment travel....

    But it's what I'm planning for on this one

    25.5" scale, bolt-on neck, 12" FB radius

    A few questions:
    1) The Jazzmaster bridge doesn't seem to be slanted like a LP bridge i.e the low E side is further away from the nut on a LP TOM bridge. I understand intonation and that the E will be further back than the e string, but why is the Fender TOM bridges 90deg to the C/L.? It doesn't seem like their saddles has much more travel available, so why not angled like an LP or acoustic guitar?
    Screenshot from 2020-04-02 20-45-10.png Screenshot from 2020-04-02 20-38-17.png

    2) Neck angle: Because of the TOM bridge, the strings sits much higher off the body, this also helps increase the brake over angle to the Tremolo which is much needed on the JM- strings popping off saddles due to weak brake-over angle, a common issue with the Jazzmaster
    Screenshot from 2020-04-02 20-43-32.png

    So Fenders have zero neck angles, but I understand with the Jazzmasters they often came out the factory with business card shims.
    For one I'm bringing the trem very close to the bridge to increase brake-over angle.Preventing the strings hitting the back of the bridge, I might need a bridge like this (NO I'm not paying Mastery prices!)
    Screenshot from 2020-04-02 21-05-33.png
    What's my options?
    -Sinking the bridge in the body to keep zero neck angle, but then will need to sin the whole trem
    -shim neck pocket
    -angle neck pocket
    -what else
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    All of those are acceptable options, you'll have to decide which one(s) you want to use. Lay your geometry out carefully using the actual bridge that you plan to use. Don't forget that most TOM's are fixed at 12 inch radius and 2-1/32 spacing is common.

    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/building-for-playability.991659/

    You'll need to calculate your initial compensation - the StewMac fret calculator gives some starting points for most ToM's

    Edit to add, the one guitar that I built with a ToM and a trem (Bigsby) I used a roller bridge - it works very well. I don't remember the break over angle but it is not excessive.

    Another trem bridge if you haven't committed might be the Kahler - they don't sit as high as a ToM and they have lots of adjustment. I've used them on three JagStang style guitars with about 1/2 degree of angle and normal overstand.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  3. AAT65

    AAT65 Friend of Leo's

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    • Use an angled neck pocket. Fender do this on at least the American Originals, and I’ve heard it said the vintage JMs were made like this too. Otherwise there’s nothing wrong with a shim.
    • Sit the saddle high to get the break angle.
    • Pull the trem close to the bridge if you want, especially if using light strings, but a well setup JM works just fine.
     
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  4. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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  5. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Afflicted

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    You won't go far in the world of Jazzmasters without finding this useful article:
    https://www.premierguitar.com/articles/25516-diy-how-to-set-up-jazzmasters-jaguars?page=1

    Some Fender Jazzmasters have an angled pocket, eg the American Original. This is the drawing they sent me when I enquired, but depending on your workshop equipment it might be most satisfactory to machine the neck pocket parallel and shim as necessary.

    508812-ab6f687890eb780e85599a0a35f7c3e9.png

    Edit - sorry to repeat what others have already said - I'm a slow typist.
     
  6. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch Tele-Meister

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    And If I angle the bridge, by how much does it angle off 90 degrees? i.o.w at what angle does an LP bridge sit
     
  7. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Look at the StewMac fret calculator. For a 25.5 scale they suggest centering the high E post at 25.562 +/- 0.030, add 1/16 to 1/8 for the bass side.

    I have found that if you locate the farthest forward adjustment of the high E saddle at the scale and add 1/8 to the bass saddle you will have lots of intonation adjustment. Remember that you never need to go forward of the scale.

    Edit - if you look at the ToM bridge in the picture of your first post it is definitely angled with respect to the pickup ring and the low E looks like its pretty close to the end of its travel. I don't like adjustments to be at their limit.

    I've installed quite a few tune-o-matics and always consider the types of strings that will be used with them. Several have been on jazz guitars with wound thirds - that ends up being a whole different pattern for the saddle compensation. If you really would like to calculate it based on strings and geometry you will be using I can give you a link.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
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  8. WingedWords

    WingedWords Tele-Afflicted

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    Neither my AO nor Squier VM Jazzmasters have any angle as far as I can eyeball them.

    The channel the saddle are in is about 15mm wide and I've had no problem intonating either the standard bridge on the AO or the Staytrem I put on the Squier.
     
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  9. beyer160

    beyer160 Friend of Leo's

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    Angling the neck pocket would be the most elegant solution, but slapping a business card in the pocket does the trick, too.
     
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  10. Ronzo

    Ronzo Tele-Meister

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    The idea of moving the trem closer to the bridge to get a better break angle is understandable; however, in my opinion, the length of the strings beyond the bridge to their anchor points contributes a LOT to a Jazzmaster’s characteristic sound and feel. The almost harp-like tones you get may disappear.

    I own 4 Strats, 4 Teles (including my Squier 51), and ONE Jazzmaster. It isn’t truly a one-trick pony - there are a lot of great sounds in it - but what it does can’t be accurately replicated by any other guitar I own. Each of my other instruments has its own voice within their families, but nothing else I own sounds or feels like the Jazzmaster.

    Love the quirks or hate them, but if you ever own one, I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean. It’s the only one of my instruments strung with 11-52 flatwounds, and it’s the only one one of my guitars and basses that I will not trust myself to set up. There are techs that are normally good, but a tech who understands Jazzmasters - really melds with them - is to be cherished, and used. JMO.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  11. cdwillis

    cdwillis Tele-Meister

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    Shims were good enough for Leo. When I got my Jazzmaster the first thing I did was change the strings to 10s (probably could go to 11s), shim the neck with a couple pieces of folded sandpaper (which together were a hair thinner than a business card) and raise the bridge up a bit. It's not a pro setup by any means, but you can't think of a Jazzmaster like a strat or tele.
     
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  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    The other option you have is don't sink the neck so deep in the neck pocket.
    Here's a JM I built from scratch with a LP Junior setup, scrap wood and just testing out the CNC program, roughly cut off the pickguard by hand to convert from JM to the wrap.. I set the bridge posts a little deeper. Another guitar I routed a channel under the wrap tail to drop the whole thing.

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    Why are you trying to avoid neck angle? You don’t like the feel of a bridge at Gibson height?

    The JM/Jaguar/Mustang bridge is a rocker design. Go to a TOM, and it theoretically makes things worse with vibrato use. Only do that if you will never use the vibrato…in which case you shouldn’t bother installing one at all.

    Stock Jazzmasters are not hard to set up right. You just have to know what you’re doing. You don’t need to cheat the vibrato forward, or convert to a non-rocker bridge, or use Loctite, or use a Stay-Trem, or a Mastery, etc. to fix your problems. It’s unnecessary, and they change the inherent nature of the JM/Jag vibrato/bridge/string geometry that are a large part of what makes these guitars what they are. All you need is some geometrical understanding, and a few basic tools.

    These guitars were designed with neck angle in mind, and high tension flat wound strings. Many of the original shims have been pulled over the past 60+ years, light tension string installed, saddles have drifted down deep into the bridge plate, and the setups all screwed up. Sadly, most new models are set up like screwed up vintage examples, as opposed to like stock vintage examples.

    Here is a summary of the problems encountered when you use a typical Fender setup on a JM:

    1) The strings have an extremely shallow break angle over the bridge saddles. This leads to a multitude of problems, due to not enough force being applied to the saddles by the strings: A) strings do not sound a pure note (“sitar” effect, and/or strings sound “plinky,” without a lot of sustain), B) saddles move, rattle, buzz, etc., C) strings easily get knocked around on saddles, jumping threads, or even coming off the saddles, D) strings slip over the saddles, instead of rocking the bridge like they should, E) saddle set screws tend to drift out of position, Usually resulting in the saddles slowly sinking over time.

    2. The strings contact the rear lip of the vibrato plate. This leads to interference with the intended smooth rocking motion of the vibrato, and scratches up the bridge plate over time.

    3. The strings contact some of the screws on the rear of the vibrato plate, scratching them up and interfering with their movement during vibrato use.

    You fix all of this by simply doing the following:

    1. Set your saddles as high as possible off the bridge plate, with the right radius. This clears the strings off the rear lip of the bridge and the vibrato plate screw, and increases the break angle.

    2. Raise the entire bridge until you get the maximum break angle without the aforementioned contact, then back it off a little to give you a little room for string height adjustments in a later step. After following the instructions in step number one, you might not be able to raise the bridge at all without creating this contact again. But if you can do so, do it.

    3. Shim the neck to achieve about the desired string height.

    4. Move the entire bridge up and down to fine-tune the over all string height.

    5. Fine-tune each saddle in order to achieve a more finally tuned radius, to your liking.

    That’s it. The only other thing worth mentioning is that it will also help you to move to higher tension strings. However, if you set them up really well, you can get away with lighter strings. Another note is that Jaguars are pretty short scale, so you probably want to use one or two thicknesses heavier than you would on a Strat, Tele, or Jazzmaster.

    If you insist on setting up on these guitars without neck angle, then you’re going to have a hard time getting it to play ideally, and you might as well just go with a TOM bridge and stop tailpiece.

    P.S. Another trick to cheat a little extra clearance on the vibrato plate screw: Use Fender Bullets or Super Bullets. The bullet ends negate the need for the string to bend around the ball and and wrap back around itself. That keeps the ends of the strings significantly less thick. The bullet ends theoretically make the string ends shift less under vibrato use as well (makes sense to me, and my experience with bullet end strings bears this out).
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  14. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Check out the design of the older Classic Player JM (the older one with P90-esque JM pickups, not the new one with two HBs) which uses a tune-o-matic with the tremolo positioned a bit closer to the bridge for a better break angle (less strings slipping off the saddles). I think mine works great, wonderful tuning stability, trem works great, sounds great. Hard core JM purists scoff at the geometry mod and the hotter pickups, but I think when they made the Player series they were looking for small mods that made their guitars a bit more user-friendly. Apparently they also have a little bit steeper neck pocket angle as well.

    upload_2020-4-2_13-43-3.png
     
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  15. Norris Vulcan

    Norris Vulcan Tele-Holic

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    Here's a couple of pics of my Squier JMascis:

    IMG_055.JPG

    Uses the Wilkinson Roller TOM, like yours, I think ? Also shows how close to the bridge the trem is. Personally, I love this trem and the roller bridge works well.

    IMG_780.JPG

    And this shows the neck angle - kind of. I did put a thin shim of veneer in the pocket.

    It's a great setup. It's not traditional JM, but it works for me.
     
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  16. Captain Nutslot

    Captain Nutslot Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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  17. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    E7A6CE59-228E-40EF-9B93-F022DA37FC46.jpeg WRT question 1 I’d say the lack of the slant on the Jazzmaster bridge is because it has a much wider adjustment range than the TOM.
    I reversed the two TOM saddles and turned the screws to the locks so that is as much intonation range as you can get from a TOM.
    Using a TOM on a JM is a newer thing and I have not set up a JM with a Tom but it seems it works for others.
    Go to offsetguitars.com for endless debates about what bridge is best for a JM.

    You will find many users tearing their hair out over this issue.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2020
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  18. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Tele-Afflicted

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    If it were me I would angle the neck pocket (look at some of the jigs the LP guys make for routing the neck and pickup planes, that is what I use) and use the roller TOM. With the roller one, you can adjust the whole bridge forward and backward, or just one side, and then adjust individual saddles as needed.
     
  19. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    A recently made Squier VM Jaguar that I set up for my boss's kid, using 2 degrees of neck angle. This is what a JM/Jag with a setup on the extreme end of neck angle looks like. Plenty of break, saddles jacked up high on the bridge plate, and the strings behind the saddles aren't hitting anything.

    2 degrees of neck angle – almost as much as a classic SG. Strings are 11s.

    IMG_6632.jpg


    Saddles are plenty high off the bridge plate, and bridge plate is plenty high off the guitar.

    IMG_6633.jpg

    And here is a less extreme (only 1 degree) neck angle on my Jazzmaster. The only things I changed from the factory setup was to raise the saddles about one turn in order to get the strings off of the rear bridge lip, and also to angle the pickups to match the neck angle (and adjust their heights to my liking). This model came with the traditional bridge location, but with a 1 degree neck pocket (no shim required). Best factory setup I've ever seen on a JM/Jag. A real rarity. Not perfect, but almost.

    One degree angle:

    IMG_6199.JPG


    No contact with the bridge lip. Close on the high E, but not touching after I raised the saddles a small amount. I could still go plenty higher with the saddles, which I will definitely to after I put 10s or 11s on it next time. The strings are still 9s. I will go to 10s for sure, or 11s probably.

    IMG_6200.JPG


    No contact with vibrato plate screw:

    IMG_6202.JPG

    The whole guitar:

    IMG_6197-2.JPG
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2020
  20. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I think TOMs suck for vibrato use, or on guitars with a trapeze tailpiece. I’d get a quality bar bridge from Tru-Arc, Compton, or dBridge. DBridge will get your radius and intonation location spot on for a custom build. The same reason sold bar bridges kill on a Bigsby guitar is the same reason they will excel on a JM/Jag Floating Trem. Cant the posts if you like, but it’s not necessary for some of these bridges (dBridge again is full custom).

    As for the geometry, I’d route a 1 to 2 degree angled pocket and call it a day. I see diminishing returns as far as tuning stability is concerned by increasing break angle with a vibrato like a Bigs or JM/Jag. The optimal angle for a Bigsby is 3 to 9 degrees or so. Depending on the rigidity of your bridge situation, I’d go for a shallow 3 degrees behind the bridge.
     
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