Kurt Cobain “Jag-Stang”. (Slow) progress.

It’s hard enough to find authentic bits for a Stratocaster, here in the UK sometimes. For various reasons – it seems parts for my planned JagStang are especially rare. Since the JagStang build will be made up to include some much rarer Mustang and Jaguar parts – there’s a delay already baked into this plan, before I even place the orders. Normally, I have to acquire a few, key components before I can get started – and even then, progress can be slow whilst things like lacquer finishes dry out, and custom parts are made to order. This project looks like it’ll be an especially slow starter.

Still a way to go, before I realise anything like this…

Covid restrictions and the various rolling lockdowns are a bit of a problem too, at the moment. Things are still moving, but US suppliers and manufacturers have been slowed up and backlogged. Random delays seem to roll around the globe, combining together sometimes, to form some significant supply bottlenecks. All I can do is wait until things arrive. Plan, and then wait.

Can you tell what it is yet??…

But the first parts are starting to arrive now, and I just about have everything I need to begin work on the neck. The body will have to be custom made by Warmouth in the US, and I still haven’t quite sorted the budget and order yet – although that should be underway soon. Current turnaround times from Warmoth?… including shipping?… I reckon it’ll be a nice Christmas present when it finally arrives. Even then – it’ll still need spraying and finishing. I’m really just doing the groundwork for, what will be, a 2021 project.

AllParts, Fender licensed neck

No point moping about though – these things are built step upon step, and through many combined tasks. You have to start somewhere and for the JagStang – I’ll be starting with the neck.

It’s an AllParts Jaguar pattern neck, (JGRO). The headstock is a Fender licensed, large headstock, Jaguar shape, and the fingerboard is a 7.25″ radius, rosewood slab. Nice, smooth (rock?) maple – this is exactly the same neck as I used on my Olympic White “62” Jaguar. Normally – these necks are readily available in the UK, but last year’s CITES blockade, together with the current Covid situation, has made them rarer than rocking horse droppings. Those that are available here in the UK are going for silly money, (no) thanks to the usual flippers and privateers. In the end, I got this example for a fair price, online, all the way from the USA. It took it’s time to arrive via snail-mail, and I ended up fielding an enquiry from the UK Customs authorities, who wanted to make sure I hadn’t caused the cutting down of any endangered trees – but that’s fair enough. These things should be sustainable. With taxes and VAT paid – the neck comes in at a competitive price compared to a genuine Fender item, but then they’re virtually impossible to find here anyway. This still needs lacquering, and the fret ends dressing – but it’s not a bad starting point.

The Japanese Fender JagStangs came with a “Jag-Stang” badged headstock – wheras Kurt’s prototype, (according to the video for REM’s “What’s the Frequency Kenneth”), sported just a simple “Fender” logo. From what I can see from the video – the Fender logo looks like a sort of “65” era, “transitional” logo. Black outline around gold block lettering. I’ll use a similar Jaguar waterslide decal, (trimming off the “Jaguar” bit). I’ve also managed to get hold of a few autograph-type waterslides, one of which I’ll locate on the back of the headstock, in place of the usual “Designed by Kurt Cobain” sticker.

Manchester Guitar Tech. lacquer – direct to your door

The headstock and neck will need sealing with lacquer before I can apply the decals, and even then, they will need further coats to build up a final finish – with the decals eventually locked into the nitrocellulose matrix. The body isn’t even on order yet – but I know it’ll be Sonic Blue. I might as well place an order and take stock of everything I’ll eventually need. Manchester, (my old home town) has recently gone into full lockdown again – so I’m more than happy to do my little bit to help keep another valuable supplier of essential parts in business. I nearly always use “Manchester Guitar Tech” nitro on my projects and, although I’ll be using a brush-applied, Mylands Lacacote sanding sealer on the body – I might as well buy in my stocks of primer, paint and clear coat, all at the same time. Even through the Covid restrictions – the lacquer is available via next-day delivery. Nice one.

Staytrem Jaguar bridge with Fender thimbles

Another specialist, (and relatively local), supplier – John at Staytrem – provides me with a new 7.25″ radius Jaguar bridge. After plenty of research into offset bridges – I’ve finally decided to have my Warmoth Custom body pre-drilled to accept Fender thimbles, rather than Gotoh TOM bushings. The Staytrem bridge will drop right into the standard Fender thimbles, and I’ve requested the “non-rocking bridge” option – wherby plastic collars are fitted to the post legs. These drastically reduce the rocking travel, and the bridge should be firmer like a TOM, whilst still flexing enough to allow for tremolo use. Since I don’t ever plan on using a tremolo on my JagStang however – the Staytrem should allow me to drop the playing action significantly, whilst maintaining bridge stability. If I ever should try and follow Kurt’s original desires to fit a Tune-O-Matic bridge option, (and I’m not sure why anyone would want to match a 12″ radius bridge with a 7.25″ radius neck anyway – but there’s no accounting for folk) – I’ll try and bodge in a spare Fender TOM, which I have stashed in the parts box. The threaded posts seem to drop into the standard Fender thimbles – but I’ll have to find a way to firmly fix the bridge height, and work out some way to allow for adjustment.

With the same order for the bridge – I also take the opportunity to obtain a Staytrem collet and tremolo arm for my Candy Apple Red USA Original Jaguar. This will match with another Staytrem bridge, (re-appropriated from my “62” Jaguar project), and will replace the original Fender collet on the Vintage USA tremolo assembly.

Fender Mustang “Dynamic Vibrato” assembly

Finally – back to the JagStang again. Opting for the Fender bridge thimble drilling on my Warmoth Custom body order, will mean that I can use the correct Fender Mustang tailpiece. The two should dovetail nicely. Once again – this is another USA only order – so, thus far, only the paint, bridge and thimbles are UK sourced. The tremolo unit took a few weeks to arrive, but it’s good to know I have one to hand whenever I eventually need it.

And for now – that’s it. I hope to have the order for the body in to Warmoth by Christmas, but meanwhile I should be able to begin work on the neck in the coming days. There will be plenty of time to allow the lacquer drying process to take full effect. No sense in rushing things these days.

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