My Olympic White Jaguar was an early project build – and I learned so much from it. It’s always been a favourite to play – but I seem to have become a bit more occupied with Stratocasters lately. That may well have to change.
I’m still really pleased with the way the Jaguar turned out – but having now worked with the specifics of a few different Stratocasters, I’m keen to take some of what I’ve learned, and feed it back into my earlier projects. Normally – that might involve upgrading components, or slight changes to particular specifications. In the case of my Stratocaster projects – this process has, in turn, led on to further, additional projects – each suggesting themselves in order to pursue particular styling, or technical configurations.
When I set out with my first Strat – I tried to cram a lot of different ideas onto the one body, (probably too many), – but in learning about the evolution of the model, and in trying to build differently inspired examples to help me along the way, I’ve slowly built up a small collection – each styled or specified to reflect, perhaps, a particular instrument or era of production.
With my Jaguar, I remember taking inspiration from the fact that the first production models were made in 1962 – the year of my birth. I was also positively inspired by the styling and techical modifications Johnny Marr brought to his signature Jag. Now that I’m looking at my guitar again, “with new eyes” – so to speak – I’m a little aware that it looks to be a bit of a “halfway-house” between the two stylings. I’ve learned that in cases like this – it’s rewarding to pursue and refine one particular goal to it’s own, logical conclusion – and to then pursue the second goal, just as fully. I realise this may well be the start of a significant expansion of my Jaguar collection. Great! – Call me “Two-Jags”. I can’t wait to get stuck in.
Looking at my first Jaguar – it’s clearly closer in look and function to a “62” spec than it is to a Marr-inspired upgrade. The pickups and internal electronics are certainly configured that way, and were, besides, always intended to follow that format. I think the pickguard colour was definately inspired by Johnny Marr’s Jag though. However, to follow that styling and configuration to it’s logical conclusion would necessitate a whole load of further changes and modifications. The pickups would need a bit of beefing up to match Marr’s custom BareKnuckles, and the switching circuit is completely different. (Note to self….. What about a separate, new, Johnny Marr inspired Jaguar project? And while you’re at it – what about a Kurt Cobain version too….??).
And that’s the way it goes. Watch this space for more offset fun and games in the months to come. I’m fascinated with the different possibilities the Jaguar switching circuit offers – and having slowly worked all-Fender componentry into most of my builds over time, I’m really keen to put together some all-Fender Jags to compare my original copy against.
But back again to my original – and my immediate task in hand. Since the general specification is closer to that of an early production example – I figure the one thing I really want to revisit immediately, is the overall styling. Most of the examples of white ’62’s I can find, tend to have red tortoiseshell pickguards – and I really don’t think, on reflection, that the all-white colour scheme, shows the elegant form of the guitar off to best advantage. It’s an easy fix – but I first have to source a pickguard which will fit. Since it’ll need to slip right in between the chrome plates as fitted – I’ll need to get an identical-sized alternative from the original supplier – or else there’s a risk I’ll have to re-drill everything, and completely refit.
My original plate came from Custom Guitar World, in Amsterdam – so I place an order for a brown tortoiseshell plate from the same range. I’m not that keen on the original look of the red plates – they always look, too much like chopped meat to me. I love the look of real tortoiseshell – but then that always looks better on the tortoise. Original, translucent, celluloid plates have their own beauty – but an original example is way too pricey right now. And besides – it probably wouldn’t fit. The brown tortoiseshell, printed plate looks like the best compromise.
While I’m at it – I also get hold of a set of aged white pickup covers from WD Music. I recall that my hand-wound pickups won’t actually fit the usual, 52mm spaced poles – and require a 50.5mm spacing. The ones from WD Music work just fine, with minimal adjustment.
Installation is no real drama. The old plate and covers are removed, and I stick a piece of conductive, copper foil onto the back of the new plate – just as before. Again – just like the white plate – there are a few, minor, fitting problems down to the plate not quite fitting between the neck heel, and the bridge-post bobbins. I have to slightly reshape the plate, by scraping away a little bit of plastic here and there – but gradually, I get the plate to fit just as well as the previous one. Most importantly – it fits correctly between the two, chromed control plates, without having to re-drill them.
The new pickup covers are fitted, and immediately, and I’m immediately struck just how much better the form of the guitar comes across. I’m closer to my original intent – of building a Jaguar, based on the original ’62 design. And whilst I’ll soon be working on modifications to my Ash Stratocaster – it looks like I’ll have a good few weeks to enjoy getting happily re-acquainted!