SPECIFICATION Modification from previous, in blue italics
- Body: Alder – 2 piece, 2.14kg
- Body Shape: Custom Shop Jaguar, by guitarandbassbuild.co.uk
- Body Finish: Olympic White nitrocellulose paint with clear gloss lacquer finish
- Neck: 24″ scale, 7.5″ Radius, Jaguar Neck (JGRO), Fender licensed, by AllParts
- Neck Material: Maple
- Neck Finish: Nitrocellulose clear gloss lacquer – rubbed back to satin finish on rear of neck
- Headstock Finish: Nitrocellulose clear gloss lacquer, (with slight vintage amber tint)
- Tuners: Gotoh SD-91 Vintage Nickel Tuners, with split posts
- Fretboard: Rosewood
- Fretboard Radius: 7.5″
- Number of Frets: 22
- Fret Size: Vintage style
- Position Inlays: White dot
- String Nut: Shaped and polished bone
- Nut Width: 1 5/8”
- Scale Length: 24″
- Neck Relief: 0.007″
- Neck shimmed to 1.5 degrees (+2.44mm at heel of neck pocket)
- Strings – D’Addario, Chrome Flatwound – ECG24 – .011 .015 .022w .030 .040 .050
- String Action at 17th Fret: Treble Side – 4/64″ (1.6mm), Bass side – 5/64″ (1.8mm)
- Neck Plate: 4 Bolt, Chrome Neckplate – serial stamped #70737
- Pickup Configuration: S/S
- Body Shielding: Heavy grade, copper sheet, with conductive adhesive backing
- Brass grounding plates: Hand cut from 0.5mm brass plate
- Bridge Pickup: Fuente, Custom wound Jaguar Bridge Pickup. Alnico 2 – short, flat poles, 51mm pole spacing. Heavy Formvar wire. 6K – 7K
- Neck Pickup: Fuente, Custom wound Jaguar Neck Pickup. Alnico 2 – short, flat poles, 51mm pole spacing. Heavy Formvar wire. 6K – 7K
- Pickup Switching: 3-Switch, lead selector plate, with additional rythmn circuit switch. Lead circuit – Switch 1. Neck Pickup on/off, Switch 2. Bridge Pickup on/off, Switch 3. “Strangle switch” tone circuit on/off. Rythmn circuit – Switch 1. Rythmn circuit on/off. (bypasses Lead circuit and main volume / tone controls).
- Controls: Lead circuit – Volume, Tone (Rotary knob controls). Rythmn Circuit – Volume, Tone, (Lateral mounted, roller-type controls).
- Switches: 4 x Switchcraft, DPDT, on/on
- Potentiometers: 2 x CTS, 1.0M. Modern taper. 1 x 1.0M, Linear roller . 1 x 500k Linear roller.
- Capacitors: 3 x Vintage NOS Sprague “Orange Drops”, Vintage 56k resistor
- Jack Socket: Switchcraft, Mono socket
- Wiring: Vintage, “Luxe”, cloth-covered wiring. Authentic, vintage colour coding.
- Hardware: Stainless steel screw set
- Bridge: Genuine Fender Jaguar bridge. Genuine Fender, “Vintage Style” mounting thimbles
- Mute: Genuine Fender Mute
- Bridge cover: Genuine Fender, chrome bridge cover
- Tremolo plate: Genuine Fender AVRI, chrome tremolo plate
- Control Plates: Polished chrome
- Shield “Claws”: 2 x Genuine Fender ’62 Chrome pickup shield claws
- Tremolo Arm/Handle: Staytrem tremolo collet upgrade. Staytrem tremolo arm, with Aged White plastic tip.
- Scratchplate: Brown Tortoise, 4-ply – Copper Shielded
- Pickup Covers: Aged White plastic, by AllParts
- Control Knobs: 2 x Kluson, Vintage reproduction, black. 2 x Genuine Fender roller-type, black.
- Strap Buttons: Vintage Fender Mustang buttons, Nickel, with white, recycled leather washers
- Guitar Strap – Souldier, “Dresden Star” Black/White/Blue – Black leather ends – Silver hardware
- G&G, Vintage style hardcase – Black Tolex with black, plush interior
I’ve revisited most of my early builds over time. Although I’m usually quite pleased with the way things have worked out – it’s always a valuable exercise to store things away for a while, and then re-examine with fresh eyes. And the real razor is in plugging them in to an amp, and getting used again, to the way they behave and react under my fingers. When I recently took to a re-evaluation of my Olympic White Jaguar – there were a few things that immediately struck me.
The original build was a first foray, for me, into offset designs, although the Jaguar form has always had a strong resonance. In one of my first projects, I managed to put a guitar together – undeniably a Jaguar in form – but which ended up somewhere in between the original “62” Leo Fender design concept, and perhaps a later, upgraded example. When I came to revisit the guitar after a year or so working, almost exclusively, with Stratocasters – it kindled an immediate resurgence of my fascination with offsets. Two more projects were almost immediately sounded out – and I decided to move my original concept, as far as I possibly could, towards the original 1962 design. Sometimes you can dilute your efforts by trying to over-reach in ambition. There’s more than enough to get to grips with in the original specification.
Stylistically – that led to the substitution of a tortoiseshell pickguard, in place of the JM inspired white pearloid plate. But that’s mere cosmetics. Technically – since the internal wiring and pickups were already strongly styled and constructed after 1962 principles – the main modifications were to revolve around replacing the bridge. The previous Mustang style, Staytrem bridge was a Johnny Marr inspired styling. A common upgrade rooted in function, rather than merely the “look” of the thing, and one which was meant to deal with some frequent criticisms of the Jaguar’s original design. In pushing the specification closer to the original concept – I’d have to look deeper into the correct setup of the original Fender Jaguar bridge
A good deal of research into some of the “drawbacks” of using a period correct Fender Jaguar bridge in place of the Staytrem led, eventually, to a complete re-evaluation of my original build’s geometry. The neck was shimmed a full degree and a half – which allowed the bridge to stand taller, and the corresponding additional downforce from the strings was further increased by stringing with heavier, flatwounds. Since flatwounds were the only viable option in 1962 – their use on the build not only contributes to better help capture the true period sound of the Jaguar – but also in a geometry inspired by the traditional archtop guitar form. They also help to eliminate some of the more common “problems” associated with the bridge.
A taller standing bridge also allowed for the installation of a Fender mute. The original Jaguar design incorporated this feature – although it’s now seen more as a gimmick, and many players have it removed as a matter of course. However – it’s inclusion certainly ups the chrome quotient, and since the pickups are now also raised to meet the higher strings – the chrome of the Jaguar pickup claws is also much more visible. The Jaguar was always about the chrome.
And there’s even more chrome on display once the new bridge cover is fitted. Like the mute – this is another common part that’s removed straight away by many players, but for me – it really helps complete the look. I can see the point of removing it if you’re heavily into palm muting – but for my build and my usual technique, my right hand just happens to sit nicely over the bridge, and I like the solid feel of the chrome cover. I can still roll my right hand onto the strings enough to mute, if I need to – but crucially, my hand is higher off the body of the guitar, and closer to the tremolo lever.
The bridge cover is a new USA Fender component, and appears a little flimsier than the few, vintage chrome examples I’ve seen previously. Curiously – it also appears that it needs “adjusting” to fit the bridge. (It even identifies the component as “adjustable” on the rear of the packaging. Fender parts number 005-4465-049). The cover fits over the bridge, and stays in place due to friction only, at the four corners. The cover fits my Staytrem bridges extremely well – but the four corner tabs don’t quite catch on my Fender bridges. Nothing for it – I have to bend the cover into shape.
Bending chromed metal is always a little risky – but the amount of movement required is very small. I have a few spare pieces of rubber sheet I keep around the workshop – specifically to pad the jaws of any pliers I use for tasks like this. Tiny, gentle “persuasion” is all that is required. You just need to provide enough spring at the corners to grip the bridge plate properly, and then the cover just pushes on, and stays there.
The original Olympic White finish has slightly yellowed over time – although it still looks quite fresh. As well as swapping out the white scratchplate – changing the pickup covers to a pair of Aged White examples helps to tone better with the body. I began to think that the “all white” appearance actually looked a bit anaemic.
Sound-wise – it’s all about emphasising that archtop geometry. The long string tails are allowed to ring out and add all those extra layers of harmonics. Work spent making sure the bridge is stable and that the string paths are clear, has resulted in an increased break angle at the bridge, together with a set of clean contact points where the strings touch the saddles. A proper job on the nut also helps. The guitar feels resonant and the notes ring out acoustically. Even with flatwounds – there’s still some sustain.
Amplified, and the guitar comes alive. This undoubtedly sounds better than before. It’s clearly a Fender sound. And clearly a Jaguar. The treble and bite has been slightly tamed though. I think the roundwound strings take a bit of fizz out of the notes, and I don’t get quite the same “icepick” harshness with the tone full up. What’s really noticeable, is how the timbre of the guitar now seems to suit the pickups better. The rythmn circuit and the neck pickup provide a nice rich smoothness. With the bridge pickup and lead circuit – the thing that really occurs to me, is just how much more natural that “strangle” switch seems. Previously – it all seemed a bit too tinny and scratchy with the strangle engaged. Now, it just seems to do enough to help the sound cut through, (which is what I believe it was designed to do). A bit like a treble boost might. That must be to do with the fact that the “natural” sound of the guitar is already a little more rounded with the use of the flatwounds.
All in all – there’s plenty to play with and explore again, and I’ll be looking at how I might want to make any adjustments on this basic setup, and then integrate that into my CAR Custom US Jaguar. Clearly – returning to a Sixties type specification will suit Sixties style playing, and it’s always useful to have a guitar which excels at one particular style – but I still really need to look into and explore how the guitar works with effects, and how it overdrives. Let’s face it – modern playing tends to rely on a little more expansion and flexibility. All that will likely contribute towards the development of my Custom Jag. I’ve always been intrigued by Johnny Marr’s redesign, and the way that has been driven by his own adaptations to suit his playing style around the original Jaguar framework. I’m sure I’ll also be able to explore the world of offsets further with other projects – including my JagStang, where I’ll be able to look at a more solid bridge, in combination with Humbucker pickups. For the time being however – it’s back to a pallette of clean tone, bite, spank and sparkling detail. That, for me, is what the Jaguar was originally all about.