Customised Fender USA “Original ’60’s” Jaguar – Reverting to the original plan, and a Fender, American ’65 re-issue neck…

After deciding to revert to my original plan, and fit the 60’s style, Fender bound Jaguar neck to my modified “Original 60’s” Jag – I’m going to be left with a spare, blockmarked, Musikraft neck, with a custom painted headstock. That, in turn, has led to plans for yet another Jaguar build – this time with an H/H configuration, but it’s one which I’ll be able to custom spray to exactly match the Musikraft neck – rather than just being content with “getting close”, as was the case with the Fender “Original 60’s” body. (I’ll also be keeping a Fender neck with a Fender body, and a licensed body with a licensed neck. Additionally, I think the humbucker bars will visually echo the white pearloid block markers too).

So – it’s back to my original plan for the customised, CAR Jaguar. The Fender “65” neck was always intended for an “Original 60’s” body like this, and is in no way a “downgrade”. Since I’ve already slightly modified the body to accept a “Johnny Marr” switching circuit – I think, on balance, that it’s probably a much better option to leave the rest of the spec as original as possible. My ideal combination of original, Classic 60’s Fender lines, with a slight, modern twist “under the bonnet”. I can always experiment with other, more radical departures, on builds which might not have quite so many original Fender components, to begin with.

Fender Jaguar “65 Reissue” Neck – Stripping and retaining the gold hardware…

But before I fit the Fender bound neck, I need to backtrack – strip off the gold hardware I’d originally fitted, and then refit my, originally specifieed, Kluson style, nickel fittings. Having found the task a little tricky before – I need to take things slowly. This is too good a neck to rush, and possibly damage, by doing things carelessly.

“Backing out” the replacement fixtures

I’ve already used “the screwdriver method” to “back” the original fixtures out. Once again – this is a technique I first saw in a video on Youtube by Billy Penn at 300guitars.com. It’s worked well before on this neck – plus, I shimmed the gold replacement bushings with thin strips of copper foil, to pack out the slightly flared peg holes. The adhesive on the foil softens on contact with lighter fluid and becomes quite oily. I can use a bit of lighter fluid to soak down around the fittings first – and then get the oily foil to act as a lubricant, as I back each bushing out in turn.

All headstock hardware removed – No damage 🙂

The additional lube works like a dream, and in no time – I’ve removed all of the gold hardware. It goes back into storage – waiting until it can be refitted to the lacquered AllParts neck, which has been re-assigned from my Olympic White Jaguar, to my Mary-Kaye Jag. The excess lighter fluid is wiped away, and allowed to completely evaporate from the pegholes. Then the neck is properly cleaned off, and buffed to a shine with Fender guitar polish.

“Deja-vu all over again”…

I’ve kept the nickel hardware I originally fitted to the “65” neck – A set of Fender American Vintage, Kluson-style tuners, (Fender parts number 099-2074-000), and a Telecaster style, “disc” string tree, (by Gotoh). The pegholes have hardly flared at all after the various bushing removals – and I’m delighted to find that the original bushings push firmly in place, and yet are in no need of any further packing. The tuners screw back into place on the reverse, (with the trimmed, Gotoh C-A-R-D inserts retained, since they also fit the Fender tuners exactly), and the string tree is re-fitted once again.

Fender Jaguar… Fender neck…

Finally – swapping the necks around is easy enough. I want to keep the flatwound strings, as they’re nicely worn in, and are way too expensive to change unnecessarily. By slackening the strings off, and then wrapping a little masking tape over and under them – close to the nut – I’m able to slip the ends out of the tuners, and still keep the individual strings from tangling. Anyone who has ever tried to disentangle a set of curled string ends, will know what an impossible puzzle it can be.

The taped-up strings are draped out of the way, (remember – the bridge is now loose, and can drop out unexpectedly – so best remove it and keep it on one side, until you need to re-string again). The neck bolts are loosened, and the Musikraft neck is swapped out for the Fender ’65. Once again – a little paraffin wax on the end of each bolt helps keep them turning into the heel of the new neck, and lessens the risk of the screwdriver slipping. Once the bolts are “pinch tight”, and the neck is rock solid – the bridge is refitted, the strings are laid out again, and the individual ends slipped back around their assigned posts. It takes a bit of a pull against the coil of each string end, to keep the string tension right at first – so that the curls fall back into their original positions, without crossing. Gradually – each original “curl” can be positioned properly, and the strings tightened. Once the strings are tight enough to stay in position on the tuners themselves – the tape which has been securing them can be removed. Finally – the guitar can be brought back to concert pitch.

With the tuning restored, the strings are already well stretched – so it’s suprisingly straightforward, PROVIDING you’ve remembered to use the tuning lock on the tremolo plate. This prevents the tremolo spring from taking up all of the missing tension. A bit like using a temporary block on a Strat, to keep the trem exactly where you want it while you tune up). Since the neck architecture potentially differs from the original slightly – I’ll have to completely re-do a setup, and it’s obvious that the factory installed nut will need a little work. Normally, I’d swap the Fender nut for a new, shaped bone nut – but the binding on the Fender “65” neck complicates the issue somewhat.

The installed nut appears to be, what Fender call, synthetic bone. It looks like a hard plastic – something like Corian. Crucially – it appears to be set within the binding strips, with little tabs of binding material extending upwards around each end of the nut. The lacquer finish also appears to have been applied after the nut has been fitted – resulting in a well seated nut, which will be difficult to extract without trimming away either some binding, lacquer, or both. I’ll see how the original nut works out first, with the slots filed down to a proper, working height – rather than immediately swapping it out. So, the next step will be a complete setup – slotting the nut, and then adjusting all of the current bridge settings, to suit the new neck. Covering old ground – but essential to finally completing the build.

2 Replies to “Customised Fender USA “Original ’60’s” Jaguar – Reverting to the original plan, and a Fender, American ’65 re-issue neck…”

  1. Hey Ian, I love your offset projects! I live in Upstate NY. I too installed a Staytrem bridge and tremolo arm on my ‘64 reissue “Elvis Costello” tobacco sunburst Jaguar and can’t lower the action enough. If I lower the bridge too far it interferes with the string mute. So bushings don’t seem to be my issue. So my next option is indeed a neck shim. Did you ever resolve that problem? Right now I regard my Jag as “unplayable”. Luckily I have other guitars.
    Anthony

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    1. Hey Anthony.

      I feel your pain man. I’m right in the middle of the same issues myself. I think you’re right – a shim should improve things dramatically – the thing is getting the right neck angle, in relation to the body. Take a look at a Les Paul – the way the neck sort of drops away, with the headstock dropping back from the plane of the body – that’s generally what’s needed on an offset – and especially, it seems, a Jaguar with a mute. The thing is – Leo Fender’s original offset concepts were supposed to be based around that same, “archtop” geometry. With a tall bridge, you somehow need the neck to rotate back around the neck pocket, until the strings can run a little more parallel with the whole length of the fingerboard – rather than getting further away, the higher up the frets you go. With bolt-on necks, that’s always been done with a shim – (although some Fender bodies now have angled neck pockets, which can make things even more interesting)… The question is – how thick to make the shim?

      The situation seems to vary on just about every offset I’ve put together. The easiest fix I’ve found, is to get hold of a few StewMac, shaped, neck shim wedges. (If you’re US based – they’ll probably be a much cheaper option than here in the UK). They do a mixed pack – 0.25, 0.5, 0.75 degrees – all shaped to standard Fender neck pocket dimensions, (they do sometimes need slight tailoring to get the fit perfect – but they’re easy to trim to shape with a sharp blade). Try with the 0.5 first. You need the neck relief set fairly flat, otherwise any pronounced back bow will just shift your problems up towards the nut. With the strings tightened – you’re looking for them to more closely follow the line of the fingerboard, when you look in from the side. If they ground out too much at the heel of the neck, and you can’t even things out by raising the bridge a touch – then try the 0.25 instead. If 0.5 isn’t enough – try the 0.75. (I’ve even had to stack a couple of shims on one particular Jag, to get a total 1.5 degree uplift).

      My only real problem with the StewMac shims is the cost. The original Jaguars all came with a simple slip of pickup bobbin fibre wedged in the pocket – so simple shimming is the “authentic” thing to do. That said – the pre-cut and shaped shims make it so much easier, and they’re also supposed to be better in the long term. You might well be able to get the same results with a few thicknesses of cut-up business card, but the shaped shims offer a bit more support across the whole neck pocket area, and are supposed to offer maximum vibration transfer between neck and body, (if that’s important to you). You pays your money… you takes your choice.

      Remember – the Jaguar comes from a period where players didn’t necessarily expect super-low and feather-lite actions, and Fender’s standard setup recommendations might seem a bit on the high side to modern players. But then strings were thicker, (an important part of the neck/bridge equation), and the Jag may well probably always feel a little bit “stiffer” than a modern Strat. But once you get that neck angle dialled in properly – it all begins to make sense. Good luck – hope that helps – let me know how you go

      IanC

      Like

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