Custom built Fender Jaguar USA. Fitting out the headstock. Tuners and a string tree

Things really are running slow. The workshop is even colder. The first snow of the winter means I just can’t face any work beyond the warmth of the kitchen table. Is it just me – or are things starting to get a bit “same-y”?

Things are already hard enough with the third UK Covid lockdown. I’ve got a few exciting custom items being put together in other people’s workshops, but that will all be for subsequent, warmer days to come. At the moment, there’s precious little else to keep me occupied on my various projects. Merely a collection of little tasks – each requiring the procurement of small individual components from various suppliers… delivery via the Postman… and then eventual assembly. That’s excitement these days, and it’s times like these when the simple task of fitting some tuners, (and then blogging about it), can be spun out to offer a whole days worth of entertainment.

Fender USA neck – pre-drilled for vintage style tuners

The Fender USA Jaguar neck I’ve already fitted to my Candy Apple Red Original 60’s Jaguar body, arrived already pre-drilled for vintage, Kluson-style tuners. At the rear – the pegholes are smaller than the usual 11/32″. Clearly – it’s not a straight bore through. Rather, it’s stepped – presumably to help support the tuner shafts at the machine head side, and keep them from deflecting too much under pressure from the strings.

If the bores had been drilled straight – I might have preferred using a set of Kluson SD510, vintage style tuners. These, I have discovered, have rock solid posts – aided by their “CARD” system carbon fibre support washers, which fit securely into the bores from the rear, in-between the headstock and the machine heads. However – these bores are stepped, and are therefore too small. Instead – I’ll use a set of nickel, Fender American Vintage, Kluson-style tuners, (Fender parts number 099-2074-000). These 15:1 ratio pegs are in the classic style, with a “Fender” logo stamped in a single line down the back of each machine head, (instead of “Kluson”, on the originals). These tuners appear to be made for Fender by Gotoh, in Japan – and if that is the case, they’re remarkably similar to Gotoh’s SD91’s. Either way – they’ll do the job admirably, although I’ve probably paid a few extra pounds just for those extra “Fender” logos.

Fender Jaguar neck with bushings fitted

My neck has bushings already fitted, and checking the internal diameters – it confirms they will suit my tuner choice. All I have to do is check the bushings are seated securely. I don’t want any loose or rattling fittings – but equally, I don’t really want to have to extract anything which isn’t already on the verge of falling out. Removing headstock bushings without the proper tools can result in a badly chipped headstock finish. Fortunately – all of these bushings are well seated, and rock solid.

Fitting Fender tuners to a USA Fender Jaguar neck

I really can’t spin this post out much more, can I…? With everything pre-drilled, all I have to do is attach the tuners with the screws provided. The only thing I can make a meal of, is in packing out each screw hole with a little sliver of matchstick. I’ve found that the thin screws can easily strip if they’re tightened down hard – and that can lead to loose tuners, and rattling in the long term. By sharpening the end of a matchstick slightly, poking it down into the hole and then pushing it all the way home with a bradawl – I find that this tends to add a little more “tooth” to the bottom of each screw hole. Each screw just feels to have that little bit of extra security as it taps home. I fit each tuner, and drive each screw until they are all just about, but not quite, secure. This leaves the machine heads themselves slightly loose, and ready for final alignment.

Fitting Fender tuners to a USA Fender Jaguar neck – final alignment

Once the heads are all-but there, a metal ruler is used as a straight edge, and each tuner is secured in-line with those adjacent. It helps to work from the centre out towards the edges, and providing the original holes are drilled in-line – the tuners line up nicely. A quick turn of each to check there’s no binding anywhere… and that’s pretty much it.

Fender USA Jaguar neck – string tree location

The string tree location is also pre-drilled on my headstock – so that’s even less for me to make a song and dance about. I’ve long preferred the vintage style, disc-shaped trees and – whilst a “butterfly” spring clip type might be more in-keeping with the traditional overall “look” of a Jaguar – I always preferred the tidy, finished look of these buttons. They are a regular feature on Precision Basses, (although much smaller here), and can also be seen on early example Telecasters. I suppose some might say that the disc type arrangment might possibly create something of a friction, (and therefore tuning stability), liability with tremolo-heavy playing – but these things can always be smoothed and lubricated and, for the moment, I think I might be eventually stringing up with flatwounds anyway. This is my Custom Jaguar after all…

Finished and fitted headstock

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