New projects come about due to many different circumstances. Sometimes, it’s just a logical extension of something else you’re looking at, or doing, at a particular time. Quite often, one project immediately suggests another – an alternative way of doing things, or a way of trying out other possibilities. Sometimes, there’s an opportunity to re-assess more than one project. Just recently, for me – it’s happened again with my various Jaguar projects. Let me explain…
The lay off I took, in order to get my vision problems sorted, left me with a whole load of other household tasks unattended to. These had been building up while I had to “get real” about my various technical limitations. Now I can see reasonably well again – I really need to shift some of the backlog. Guitar-wise, I’ve got a few offset projects in different stages of completion – and consequently, they’re also suffering from a lack of input. There’s literally so much to do – I’m in danger of not being able to do any of it! The other problem with jobs just sitting there, is that things remain open to change. Late at night is when it usually hits… making plans… reviewing previous builds… “maybe I should try it another way?…”
Another factor in all this, is that sometimes components become available. They then offer an alternative, sometimes better way of doing something. Just recently, I stumbled across a 2017 NOS Fender Jaguar neck for sale. Now the thing is, genuine Fender Jaguar necks are difficult to get hold of at the best of times – especially here in the UK, and especially with a 7.25″ fingerboard – so when an opportunity arises, I’m often quick to jump on it. This 2017 Fender “Classic 60’s” Jaguar neck (Fender parts number 099-1233-921) came from the STRATosphere, unused, and in its’ original box. After shipping and import taxes – it worked out just a little more expensive than some of the similar, Mexican-made, Fender “Classic”, Strat and Tele replacement necks available here in the UK. But importantly – it’s cheaper than the contemporary Fender “replacement neck” option, (9.5″ radius, rosewood fingerboard), and the only genuine Fender option I could find anywhere, with a vintage-type spec. It’s an obvious upgrade path – but for which one of my Jaguar builds?
Now to be honest – I’d prefer a rosewood neck instead of the Pau Ferro option, and if I was given the choice, I’d probably have the “vintage” nitro lacquer applied just a little thinner, and less amber in colour. However – I’m always keen to use genuine Fender components wherever I can, and I regularly review and “upgrade” components if I find more suitable items coming to market. It’s the thing about building “Partscasters”. That particular bit you’re looking for isn’t always available just when you want it. Instead, you have to be ready to snap it up when it suddenly appears. But since I currently have three Jaguar projects either completed, close to completion, or in progress – now that a new part has become available – I have to ask myself, “what’s the best way to fit this into my current plans?” Ultimately – since I have plenty of time to mull these things over – I’m minded to re-examine things, to see if I can find the best use for this new option.
The three Jaguar projects I need to look at are:
My Olympic White, “1962” Jaguar project from 2020 – this featured a nitro painted, alder, guitarandbassbuild.co.uk body – matched with a lacquered, Allparts JGRO rosewood neck. This was one of my very first builds, and I’ve been thinking about upgrade options for a while now. I’ve recently been impressed by the apparent accuracy of the “vintage” Jaguar body shape produced by guitarbuild.co.uk . I’d also value another opportunity to try an Olympic White paint job – (perhaps with a little less lacquer this time) – and the pickups should probably be upgraded to something with a bit more authentic Sixties tone. Although I’m quite pleased with the finish on the Allparts neck – I’m always on the lookout for a suitable, Fender, vintage style upgrade – and finding such a replacement will obviously generate a spare for use on another build.
My recently completed, Customised Fender USA “Original 60’s” Jaguar build – this featured a certified Fender “American 60’s” body, but matched it with a custom built Musikraft neck. The neck is block-marked and bound, and I’ve sprayed and colour matched the painted headstock. The guitar electronics have been reconfigured to a “Johnny Marr” style configuration, in order to work with the Creamery “Alt-88 Mid Range pickups. It’s my take on a vintage-style Jaguar, but brought a little more up to date for more contemporary tone. I’m really pleased with the result, and the guitar looks and sounds amazing. The only thing I wish I’d managed to improve on – is the exact colour matching. (Seems I used a slightly different gold basecoat to the original). Since the headstock and body are physically and visually separated, it’s not immediately apparent – but side-by-side, you can tell. If I use the neck with another new body – I should be able paint that to better match the neck.
The block-marked neck itself, is easily as good as – if not better than – the Fender 60’s bound neck I’d originally intended for the build. However, perhaps – on reflection – maybe it would be better to stick with the genuine Fender option, and make this a complete, (albeit somewhat modified and customised), Fender build? The only other thing I’d need to consider, is that I’d already swapped the hardware of the Fender neck with some gold hardware, for use on my recent White Blonde “Mary Kaye” Jaguar…
My White Blonde “Mary Kaye” Jaguar build – is currently coming together, and I did initially wonder if the new Pau Ferro neck with it’s amber and orange tones might fit right at home there. However – since I’ve only used a very slight amber tint to tone the translucent white nitro paint job – there’s undoubtedly something of a visual mis-match. The neck, although new and glossy, is “aged” with a deep amber tint to look a little bit more like a vintage example. The body will be polished up to a gloss finish too – but although it’s an accurate 60’s period reproduction, by guitarbuild.co.uk – it really looks too pale and pristine in comparison with the rich amber of the neck. I could opt to artificially age the body colour, and tint it a little bit more – but now’s not exactly the best time of the year for nitro work…
It seems to me, the best approach is to look at the necks I have, and to look at re-matching them to the available bodies, as best appropriate. If I revert to the original nickel hardware on the Fender bound neck, (bottom left) – it would be the ideal match for my CAR, customised ’60’s Jag. It was, after all, originally produced to go with that body.
The Allparts neck (top left), if refitted with the gold hardware now on the Fender bound neck(bottom left), is a much better tonal match for the White Blonde body I’m currently working on. I have already sourced gold control plates to fit out the body and, since gold plated Fender tremolos are exceedingly rare, I’ll eventually be fitting a gold Bigsby unit. Although taking some inspiration from the Fender “Mary Kaye” tonal palette – this guitar will consequently be quite a mongrel, and so perhaps opting for a reproduction neck is a much more logical approach.
The new Pau Ferro neck (top right) – with it’s deliberate 60’s toning and styling – on reflection, will probably work best as an upgrade and with my Olympic White body. If I do decide to go ahead and upgrade that body too, I could always look to tint it a little, and begin to try and reproduce a more “aged” look. The only thing with the neck that sits a little out of context – is the Pau Ferro fingerboard. The figuring and orange toning of the fingerboard is just not typical of any vintage 60’s necks I’ve ever seen. I think I might look at darkening the board with some black wax, or a spirit stain. I’ve used Bison Wax for relicing picture frames in the past, and it might be possible to tint the board more towards a warm, dark rosewood look. If I do decide to replace the body with a guitarbuild 60’s replica – I could look at bringing the neck and body together visually, with dark relic wax.
So that just leaves me with the block-marked Musikraft neck with the painted headstock (bottom right). It would seem that it’s looking for a new home all of its’ own. And that brings me back to how new projects sometimes suggest themselves…
Since I know my exact procedure for achieving the Candy Apple Red finish on the headstock – I’d value the chance to reproduce it, and this time exactly match it with another body. The question is – what kind of Jaguar do I “need”. I’d like to try and produce something which isn’t merely just a straight “re-working” of another build. With three vintage style body and neck combinations already in hand – I think I’m already well covered as far as “traditional styling” goes. The white “1962” model, when fitted with some real character pickups, will give me all of the vintage Surf mojo I’ll ever need. The “Johnny Marr” tones from the customised Fender offer a different, slightly darker, more contemporary sonic pallette. And my, still-in-progress, gold-plated, Bigsby-toting, White Blonde Jag still offers me plenty of further scope to explore some new territory, and break a few rules along the way. What might a fourth Jag look and sound like?
Taking a visual cue from those rectangular block markers – perhaps a humbucker-fitted Jaguar would be an interesting option to consider? A custom routed body, will provide an option to voice the Jaguar in another distinct way. I don’t have much experience with Humbucker pickups – but they are used on the Fender “Kurt Cobain” Signature Jaguar, and may suit the shorter, more Gibson-like, scale length. There’s only one way to find out really – but this example of a Fender Classic Player (modified to accept Gibson ’57 Classic Vintage pickups), has certainly got me thinking…
It’s great to get excited about another new project – but in making plans – I’ve also immediately created a whole host other tasks, to catch up with, on my other Jags…
Olympic White “1962” Fender Jaguar
- Finish new guitarbuild “Vintage” Jaguar body in Olympic, or “Vintage” White.
- Refit new body with original hardware
- Research, select, source and fit new “vintage voiced” pickups
- Remove and retain AllParts neck for use elsewhere
- Look at repairing the small area of lacquer damage on the headstock face
- Tint the Pau Ferro fingerboard on new Fender “Classic 60’s” neck with a spirit-based stain, or dark relic wax
- Match new neck to new body, and setup
Customised Fender USA “Original 60’s” Jaguar
- Remove and retain gold hardware from Fender “Classic 60’s” bound neck
- Refit original nickel hardware to Fender “Classic 60’s” bound neck
- Retain colour-matched Musikraft neck for use elsewhere
- Fit Fender “Classic 60’s” bound neck to Fender body, and adjust setup
White Blonde “Mary Kaye” Fender Jaguar
- Polish finished body, and fit out with hardware, (including gold control plates, gold “Bigsby” tremolo, and new pickups)
- Refit AllParts neck (from “1962” Jag), with gold hardware (retained from “Classic 60’s” neck)
- Fit neck to body and setup
Then there’s a whole new build for the Candy Apple Red H/H Jag, in addition to the other offset builds currently in progress – my JagStang and Jazzmaster. Add that little list to the otyher “jobs about the house” I’ve been ignoring, and you can see I have plenty to keep me busy…
…enough, perhaps, to keep me going all through Winter, and well into next year. I’ll attempt to keep the blog updated throughout.