Olympic White “62” Jaguar

Olympic White “62” Jaguar. Upgraded specification

Sometimes, trying to capture the intrinsic character of a particular instrument is more rewarding than merely grafting on the latest and greatest upgrades. In some ways, retro-fitting a standard type bridge to my Jaguar, might be seen as a step backwards. But with a Fender Mute, Flatwound strings and a bit of a tweak to the geometry – I think I’ve brought it closer to it’s 60’s roots.

Olympic White “62” Jaguar. Fixing and setting up that “troublesome” bridge

Clearly – the original Fender Jazzmaster / Jaguar bridge has it’s issues. For many – that’s enough of a reason to look for alternatives. However, I want to try and stick to the technology of the time on my “62” Jaguar project. If I can’t fix the bridge entirely – perhaps I can find a way to tame it, and make it work better by setting it up right.

Olympic White “62” Jaguar. Installing a Fender Mute

Since I’m decided on following the “62” vibe of my Olympic White Jaguar, to its’ logical conclusion – and since I just happen to have a surplus Fender Mute assembly on my new, Vintage USA Jaguar body – there’s really only one thing to do. But I’ll have to learn how to install the thing by looking first, at how to remove it.

The perfect Jaguar setup? Part two. Let’s face it. It’s the bridge – isn’t it?

One of the “received truths” about the Jaguar – seems to be that the original bridge design is at fault for just about everything – (although there are a whole series of common mods which address some sonic characteristics as well). With the bridge however – many of the “fixes” appear to cause problems, or unwanted knock-on effects, themselves.

…what does that mean for the setup itself? Is there a way to achieve a perfect balance between archtop form, and solid-body function?

The perfect Jaguar setup? Part one. Appreciating the design, and architecture.

Comparing the various Jaguar bridge options got me thinking. I just couldn’t work out what that Fender Tune-o-matic bridge was trying to achieve. Since I plan to have a few offsets to set up over the next few months, I need to work out how to solve some of the technical differences which make Stratocasters and Jaguars so, apparently, different. I began to realise, I’d have to look at things in a different way…

Olympic White “’62” Jaguar. Time for a small, cosmetic restyle…

That’s the way it goes sometimes. Guitars get rotated around, and sometimes you don’t play a particular favourite for ages. I recently started a few modifications on my Ash Stratocaster and, looking around for an alternative to hand, I took my White Jag out of its’ case for the first time in ages. I get to have a good long look at an old favourite with “new eyes”, and the benefit of a good few months working on other projects.

Olympic White Jaguar. Finished specification.

The Jaguar brought a new set of challenges. Nitro finishing, a fiddly wiring job and a bit of shimming to compensate for a higher bridge. The winter months have meant that the workshop is uncomfortably cold to work in – so the final finishing has been mostly done in the warmth of the kitchen. Over the last month or so, I’ve managed to finish both the Jaguar and the Strummercaster. Time to step back and have a look at what’s been achieved.

Shimming the Jaguar neck pocket.

It seems the Staytrem bridge must be taller than the stock design Jaguar bridge. Either that, or the neck heel is too deep. The action on the Jaguar is well above what you’d call normal – even with the bridge screwed all the way down to the deck. Fortunately – there’s a cure.

Fitting the Jaguar pickups.

As with most projects, all the individual elements build one on another – each relying on the quality and accuracy of the previous steps. So fitting the pickups feels a little bit like putting the pinnacle on a house of cards. Here’s hoping all my preparation leads to an easy installation.

Jaguar wiring – Day Two. Installing the circuit wiring.

I have a copy of an original, hand-drawn, Fender wiring diagram I found on the web. It’s dated 7th August 1962. That’s exactly the same week I was born, (and the same week Marylin Monroe passed). As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts – to me, the Jaguar design totally encapsulates that era. Rockets, chrome, conical bras, spacemen, surfboards, cars with fins. You can see it all in the lines of a Fender Jaguar. And it’s one of the reasons I embarked on this whole project to begin with.