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Jazzmaster pickups? Other advice.

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Larry Mal, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. Larry Mal

    Larry Mal Tele-Meister

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    Hey folks, I've been the proud owner of a Japanese made Jazzmaster for over ten years now. I've sold Teles, Les Pauls, you name it, but I never would part with that guitar. You know how some guitars just seem perfect for your hands, and you can write on them effortlessly? Well, you hang on to that guitar, whether it's super expensive or not.

    But I've never actually done anything to fix it up- it's stock pickups and everything. The stock bridge, and if you know Jazzmasters, then you know that ain't a good bridge.

    So, I've got the Mastery Bridge coming my way as a Christmas present, that will take care of that. If anyone doesn't know it, it's this:

    http://www.masterybridge.com/home.html

    And it's a God damned expensive bridge, which is why I requested it as a present. I don't know if I could bring myself to pay that for a bridge. But, that should take care of the bridge.

    I also have some locking tuners coming for it, I'll get the frets dressed and all that other good stuff once I've reassembled it.

    But, I don't know what to do for the pickups. My first thought was to get the Fender '62 reissue pickups, and therefore I'd have the classic Jazzmaster sound. The Japanese made guitars are often said to be more like Strat pickups in a Jazzmaster covering, and so I thought I'd have the Jazzmaster sound if I did that. If I want a Strat sound I'll get a Strat. I know I don't want humbuckers in it or anything like that.

    But then I came across Fralin here:

    http://www.fralinpickups.com/jazzmaster.asp

    And I like the sound of the two pickups cancelling hum in concert with each other. What I don't know is if it will darken the sound of the Jazzmaster like a humbucker would. Bear in mind that right now it's a really bright instrument, and while I know that the classic Jazzmaster sound is more dark than the Japanese made models, I still want to preserve some of the sound that I like.

    Then I come across Novak over here:

    http://curtisnovak.com/pickups/jazzmaster.shtml

    And later Lollar:

    http://www.lollarguitars.com/mm5/me...uct_Code=210&Category_Code=jazzmaster-pickups

    And apparently there are still other boutique pickups for Jazzmasters that I don't know of yet. Let's say money isn't an object- we're all rich here, right? But I do want to preserve (and augment if possible) the sound and nature of a Jazzmaster- I don't need any hi-output heavy metal pickups in this thing, and I don't want it to sound like a Les Paul. I'm not wanting the P90s sound either, since I'll be getting one of those Les Paul 50s Tribute jobs soon enough specifically to get that sound.

    Also, I play "alternative" style guitar, not jazz, and not surf. I am hoping to make the guitar less noisy as well, which I'll get to below.

    So, any thoughts on the pickups? I'll probably just take a recommendation from somebody since I don't know squat about how to go about this, I've never switched out the pickups on any guitar before (and I've been playing for over twenty years).

    Now, I've got the guitar sounding more quiet because of the pickups, but I wonder if I shouldn't do some kind of shielding and rewiring while I'm at it. I don't know how to do any of that, but maybe I can learn, if I have instructions- there is a kit on ebay:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Jazzmaster-wiri...Accessories&hash=item5ad96aca62#ht_1938wt_907

    But I've never done anything like that before. I don't have any idea how hard it is. I can solder and all that. But I don't know the first thing about shielding, or if it will be necessary after I upgrade all of this anyway.

    So, folks- and I love the answers I get on this site, by the way- what shall I do? This guitar can be gutted and worked on for a long time, by the way, I've got a few new ones. Thanks all!
     
  2. Twangasaurus

    Twangasaurus Tele-Afflicted

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    I am a big fan of Novaks. Personally I have the JM-V in the neck and JM-180 in the bridge and I love it. The JM-V is sounds great and is vintage spec but I highly suggest you drop him an email outlining what you have just told us, the man can wind your pickups any way you please and will make some great recommendations. If your looking for noiseless I am pretty sure he can wind a humbucker damn close to a Jazzmaster pickup.
     
  3. Larry Mal

    Larry Mal Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for the thoughts!

    I want to take a second to give a word of thanks as well to Jack Hoagland, who is part of a nice little guitar restoration site:

    http://hoaglandbrothers.com/

    They are the folks who have the Jazzmaster wiring harness that I outlined above, and when I sent them an email, Jack responded within ten minutes... and this was in the evening.

    So I asked him to take a look at what I wrote here- not knowing I was asking him to review his competition- and he was gracious enough to do so, and made a couple of suggestions.

    It turns out that I can get a "turnkey" solution from them, with the pickups (wound to my choice), as well as the wiring harness all setup with a pickguard that should be simple enough for me to install.

    But, I wanted to tell everone here what a nice guy he is, you don't always see that sort of response time anymore. So, if you're in the market for such a thing, give Jack a holler.
     
  4. superbadj

    superbadj Poster Extraordinaire

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    I have a JM-V in the neck of my 72 Custom Tele reissue (to replace the WRHB) and I couldn't love it more than I do. It's simply amazing. Great price, too. Can't go wrong with Novak.

    I haven't tried a Fralin Jazzmaster in anything, but I have one of his vintage-style tele bridge pickups and it's similarly amazing.

    It think you're doing just fine with either winder.
     
  5. BucksStudent

    BucksStudent Banned

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    I personally love my Classic Player. It's got all the mods, but MiM, and cheaper than the AVRI. What's not to love?

    EDIT

    By the way, I have a few videos on YT of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKfd01Ov1J4

    I was the first guy on there with the Classic Player. Pro Guitar is racking up views really fast, though, and will soon beat my 40,000. God, I hate that.:rolleyes:
     
  6. Larry Mal

    Larry Mal Tele-Meister

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    Nice video. Truthfully, I'm probably going to call Jack Hoagland, and let him guide me in this. He's been very communicative and knows his stuff, and I don't know squat, so why not let him do what he does. I'll let everyone know what I come up with.

    It'll be nice having it properly set up. I own a Les Paul, a Telecaster, and a couple of other things... but my Japanese Jazzmaster is just the best playing thing I've ever had.
     
  7. BucksStudent

    BucksStudent Banned

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    I had mine out this afternoon, and did not want to put it down.
     
  8. Bigugh

    Bigugh Tele-Meister

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    P-90's will drop right into a JM with no cutting or hacking - even the holes in the PUP covers line right up. Very interesting voice.
     
  9. Larry Mal

    Larry Mal Tele-Meister

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    No doubt, but the next guitar I buy will be probably one of those Les Paul Studio 50s Tribute guitars, and will have P90s in it already- that's the reason for buying one, actually. I otherwise have a Les Paul Studio with humbuckers, and while I want to keep it, I don't like that clichèd arena rock sound I get out of them.

    So, I want my Jazzmaster to be different sounding than the P90 sound, although I know it will have some similarities- and I know that P90s in a Jazzmaster will sound different than they would in a Les Paul.
     
  10. harpmaster

    harpmaster TDPRI Member

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    I like the Fender reissue myself they are classic Jazzmaster IMHO
     
  11. Mr.Reed

    Mr.Reed Tele-Afflicted

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    Using the amer. stnd. pickups so I can't say which boutique pickup will be best (haven't even heard of them). I can however voice my opinion on the mastery bridge. I did spend the money and it's quite nice and solid. It was a bit confusing to me at first, but that was because I've never experience the bridge type found in a jazzmaster. Hope you enjoy your guitar!
     
  12. Larry Mal

    Larry Mal Tele-Meister

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    That's good to hear about the Mastery Bridge. A lot of folks are scared about it not intonating properly, especially with a wound G string. I'm sure it's fine, and I don't use a wound G anyway, but still, good to hear.

    I think I've decided on a copper pickguard shielding from Rothstein guitars in conjunction with shielding paint from Stew-Mac in the cavity.

    Jack Hoagland of Hoagland brothers will take care of the pickups, he is going to do hybrid pickups for me- I'll quote Jack in an email he sent to me: "Some players with pickups that feature all alnico 5 magnets have complained that their lower strings sometimes sound a bit "mushy" and their upper strings sound a bit too bright (especially in the bridge position). So we offer a "hybrid". Alnico 5 magnets on the 3 larger strings - E, A, D - and alnico 2 magnets on the smaller 3 strings - G, B, E. It makes for a really well-balanced pickup."

    Sounds good to me. I'm learning this as I go, and if that's what he thinks is best, then there it is. I'll probably just ask him to give me a classic Jazzmaster pickup, doing what he thinks is best to preserve the highs of the instrument and we've also spoken about string articulation. I'll just be going in broad terms, I'm sure it'll be fine. I'm not married to or demanding a particular sound, I'll be happy with what I get no matter what it is.

    I'll also have him do the wiring harness, I'm sure the one I have now is cheap and buzzy, so that should quiet it down and make it a good recording instrument.

    I'll let everyone know how it turns out, should be done by Christmas. Thanks all!
     
  13. romo

    romo Tele-Meister

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    Thats an interesting thought on the pickups. The lead circuit is pretty bright, especially on the bridge pickup, but I have attributed that mostly to the 1 meg volume and tone pots. I haven't modified my 62ri, but have heard from many people that changing the pots to 250k or even 500k tames the brightness. As for me, I just roll back the tone knob.
     
  14. MBT74

    MBT74 Tele-Meister

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    Pickup Wizard.
     
  15. Rothmans962

    Rothmans962 TDPRI Member

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    I have a set of Lollar JM pickups in a JM build I did a couple of years ago and really like them.Your amp and settings will also have a big influence on the sound you get(as I'm sure you know).

    It will be interesting to hear about the pickups from Jack Hoagland.

    I used copper sheilding in my build.It really wasn't a big deal to do.

    I maybe one of the lucky ones in that I've never had problems with the original JM bridge.Granted it did take a good bit to get it right,but once I had it, it has never been a problem.I did use some thread lock(not the undoable type) on the screws.My string size are 11s.

    Good luck with your JM..They are wonderful guitars.
     
  16. allen st. john

    allen st. john Friend of Leo's

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  17. Larry Mal

    Larry Mal Tele-Meister

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    Hey, good to hear from you! I still have some questions about the shielding. Did you use copper foil in the cavity, or just in the pickguard?

    And I think I know how to do it, but if you could tell me how you did it, that would be great.

    And do you know, if I only use the paint shielding sold by Stew-Mac or what have you, in conjunction with the pickguard shield, will that be sufficient? And will I have to ground the pickguard shield?

    I know it's a lot of questions, thanks.
     
  18. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    A little late to the party, sorry.
    I've had a CIJ Jazzmaster for a year now. It has Duncan vintage JM pickups in it. I also have a 'Mastery' bridge. It dropped on in about 30 seconds and it intonated better and quicker than any other tune-o-matic 'style' bridge I've ever had. I'm using flats with a wound 3rd on that axe too.
    I may find another JM and experiment with the Novak pkups - specifically the tele bridge version.

    What I've found about Jazz's and Jags is that it's really more about the distance from the bridge to the tailpiece and the fact that the strings DON'T go through the body that gives those guitars their distinctive voice. Less sustain, different overtones, different feel. I've noticed that most of the Jags and JM's that I've played that have the tailpiece moved forward or completely changed don't sound like Jags and JM's anymore - regardless of the pkups. They look cool but they don't sound the same.

    Enjoy! They're great guitars.
     
  19. Rothmans962

    Rothmans962 TDPRI Member

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    Here is how I did the copper foil..
    I took a peice of paper and made a pencil rub of the outline of the cavity.Transfer this to the foil and cut it out about a 1/4' bigger.I snipped the edges at the curves to help it lay flat on the sides of the cavity.You only need to make these snips abput a 1/4" long.Peel off the back and lay the foil in the cavity and press down.A word of caution..wear gloves as the foil is sharp.Smooth the foil out against the sides also.

    For the sides you want it to stick above the cavity around an 1/8 of an inch.
    Again make some shot snips at the top edge to aiilow the foil to lay on the face of the guitar.Peel off the back,press and smooth it out.Then fold the foil edge over the top..It should make contact with the sheilding on the pickguard,which should be grounded through the pots.

    I hope this helps...Here is a pic of my build part way through the sheilding.
    [​IMG]

    And one of the finish build...
    [​IMG]
     
  20. Mr.Reed

    Mr.Reed Tele-Afflicted

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    @Rothmans962; Nice build! Looks gorgeous.

    As for sheilding. I just wen willy nilly laying down large strips and smoothing them out. I'd recommend Rothmans' method, as it is probably a lot less frustrating.
     
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