Jazzmaster GAS?

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by Redbell, Mar 13, 2006.


  1. Redbell

    Redbell Member

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    Recently I've become somewhat facinated with Jazzmasters, it may be turning into a serious case of "the GAS."

    Who has experience with these weird monsters?
    Looking for pros, cons, pics, comments, snide remarks anything that will talk me into or out of wanting one.
    Thanks Bros. & sisters.
     
  2. 56_Special

    56_Special Member

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    I had a '65 Jazzmaster, which I loved for a long time but recently sold to finance a strat purchase. Here are some pros and cons as I see them.

    Pros: They don't sound like strats or tele's. The cover a lot of territory between surf and country twang and trashy grunge. They look cool. Many of my favorite guitar players, from Elvis Costello and Tom Verlaine to Thurston Moore have played them.

    Cons: They are hard to play (I think they have an extra long scale). They have all the sustain of a banjo. They are no where near as versitile as a strat or tele.

    Martin
     
  3. satinsixstring

    satinsixstring Member

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    To correct mtlin:

    The scale of a Jazzmaster is the same as a Strat.

    That being said, the sustain and the "difficulty of playing" could easily be part of the poor set ups and trickyness of the standard Jazzmaster bridge. Check out the FDP for some more info.

    A Jazzmaster can become a sweet guitar with a couple of neck shims and some time put in on the setup.
     
  4. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    I had a 65. I really didn't like too much about it except that it looked pretty cool and I got it for not a lot of money. It was a very "polite" guitar, tone-wise. I thought the rhythm circuit was about as useless at tits on a bull. The biggest problem I had was the strings popping out of the saddles because of the break angle over the bridge (I didn't know about the "Buzz Stop" then, the previous owner had drilled 2 string trees behind the bridge)

    [​IMG]


    I don't miss that guitar at all.
     
  5. johnmfer

    johnmfer Supporting Member

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    I have had a Japanese Reissue for about 11 years and a fixed-bridge Warmoth for about three and a half. Martin, they're 25.5" scale just like teles and strats.

    Pros - Easy to play, very ergonomic, well balanced, great upper fret access, knobs and switches in good locations. The pickups twang well but are also very full, sound amazing and respond to playing dynamics.

    Cons - Pickups produce 60 cycle hum to no end!!! My biggest complaint. Ugh, if they didn't sound so good it would be unbearable. Also, the bridge can be tricky to set up properly. I recommend the string saver saddles for jazzmaster/mustang, they help immensely.
     
  6. Redbell

    Redbell Member

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    Aren't the pickups p-90's, they look like they are?
    Satin sixstring - what's the fdp?
    What exactly do those switches do?
    I've only played one, a newer Fender & that was just for a few minutes but it played well & had decent sustain.
    I couldn't tell much about the tone because I was playing in a guitar store through a Crate.
     
  7. atomicmassunit

    atomicmassunit Member

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    What I like is that the Jazzmaster doesn't sound like anything else, so I never inadvertently play SRV Hendrix Page etc kind of licks on it. Everything that comes out is uninhibited, all me so to speak. If I play a strat I end up playing Hendrixy stuff because I just can't help it! That's what it sounds like! That's the biggest JM benefit to me.

    I am a hardcore Jazzmaster guy. The trem stays in tune, there are cool notes behind the bridge. A good setup makes these things heavenly (if you play one it's best to learn to do setups, every month or so you need to tweak it). The trick to getting sustain and big tone out of a Jazzmaster is this: shim the neck so you can raise the bridge and get a harder break angle over the saddles, and use 11's or better for strings.

    I do a lot of session work locally and the JM always comes because it sits in the mix in a brilliant way. I dial in the sounds and they never need tweaking from there, where a lot of times if I use a strat or tele or humbucker guitar, they hog a lot of the mix and need to be eq'ed. If I play the JM at a gig, I don't need to be as loud because it's a very focused sound.

    The neck is the most comfortable shape to me, a healthy full C, which results in a lot bigger tones than the skinnier necks on my other fenders. The body is the ultimate in comfort, way more balanced and form fitting than a strat.

    The sounds... this is one guitar where I use every pickup setting. The lead circuit has a bright, cutting tone in the bridge pickup that I love for leads. The in between tone is a great rhythm sound, and for most people it's the classic jazzmaster sound. The neck pickup eases into strat territory for fat rhythm and lead, and the rhythm circuit sound is very useful for.... jazz! I actually use the rhythm circuit a lot. I like to roll the tone knob on the lead circuit down a bit to get a better overall balance, and it's just a great guitar. I think most people who don't like JM's are just too used to other guitars or haven't played a properly set up one. I'm saving up to get a vintage one someday.

    Anyway... my Jazzmaster is a CIJ that I tweaked a bit. It has the Lollar Jazzmaster set in it and I upgraded the pots to full size CTS and the caps to vintage paper in oils. It sounds unbelievable. I intended to buy this one and slowly buy vintage parts on ebay until it transitioned into a vintage one, but it has turned out to be such a good guitar that I don't want to change anything, I'm going to keep it and buy a vintage one later. The AVRI ones are great too btw. Can't go wrong with any of the jazzmasters.

    One last tip... if you have a reissue with stock pickups, you can replace the pots (1meg) with 250k pots like a strat and it will get rid of all the icepick harshness and tide you over until you get some Lollars!
     
  8. atomicmassunit

    atomicmassunit Member

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    Redbell, the pickups aren't p90s, they're their own breed. They have a really wide but short type coil under the cover (although the Jap JM stock pickups are basically strat pickups inside a big cover... and they suck). From the side the coil looks like if you took a strat pickup and squished it, so it's not as tall, but way wider. It results in a really open sound. FDP is the Fender Discussion Page, which has a Jazzmaster and Jaguar forum.
    The switches go like this... you have a master toggle switch that switches between the lead circuit and rhythm circuit. The lead circuit has the 3 way toggle and standard volume and tone controls and is considerably brighter than the rhythm circuit. The rhythm circuit just has a roller volume and roller tone knob and has a capacitor that rolls off a lot of highs. It's intended to be a jazzy dark tone for rhythms and then you just hit the circuit toggle switch to go to a preset bright lead tone using the pickup of your choice. It's very versatile!
     
  9. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    Those are NOT P-90s. Generally close to the same size, but nowhere near the same in the character of the tone.

    The lower toggle switch is a 3 position pickup selector. The upper switch turns on and off the rhythm circuit, the rollers are the volume and tone. From what I remember, the rhythm circuit is both pickups run through a cap.
     
  10. satinsixstring

    satinsixstring Member

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    Redbell:

    The FDP is the Fender Discussion Page at www.fenderforum.com

    The pickups are NOT p-90's - they are big single coils, but they do not sound like a p-90 at all.

    The switches are essentially individual volume and tone controls that you can preset and switch between, so you can go from rythum to lead settings fairly easily.
     
  11. Ponec

    Ponec Member

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    I have had my JM since about '84. I did a lot of work to it in order to bring it back up to playable condition and it spent many years as my #1 guitar. (It has since been side-lined due to my current love affair with Gibson SGs.) I love the unique sound and feel of the JM and the unique control layout is a great concept. I don't understand why it hasn't been picked up and used on other models (except a couple of Fenders) and by other manufacturers.

    I have never had problems with the string jumping my bridge even though I do a lot of bluesy/big bend type of stuff. I don't bother putting the tremelo arm in it as I never use it but I replaced the nut with a graphite version just in case. Even though the scale may be the same, it does feel like a farther reach. Probably due to the body design and how it hangs on your body.

    All in all, a great, unique guitar. I highly recommend that you pick one up and play it for a while before you make a decision on it though.

    [​IMG]

    Hope this helps,

    -Ron
     
  12. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

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    The JM is a great guitar, and all aspects can be made to work brilliantly if you take care to set it up well. I think the sounds are amazing, and the reason, IMO, that so many fall in love with it, is that it really is so tonally versatile, much more so than is generally perceived. The pickups can sound thick and bluesy, go to great cleans and that surf-twang thing, and even get near LP territory in the middle position. Output is surprisingly stout. The 'rythm' setting is somewhat redundant, but has some uses, and is part of that quirky JM personality that I love. Most I know who bought one were surprised how much they like them, and wonder, as I do, why more players don't 'get them'. Very, very cool guitars. AC
     
  13. Uchison

    Uchison Supporting Member

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    Jazzmasters are amazing guitars. Didn't know untyil I tried one last week. Now I own a pre-CBS '63 Sonic-Blue, mathching headstock one:AOK
    Very versatile. Already made a recording, combined with a Strat, the two sound huge. Great sound.
     
  14. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    You'll read over and over that Teles are the hardest, most unforgiving guitars to play, but for me, it's the Jazzmaster. And that's not a complaint. The guitar is really versatile.

    They really like heavier gauge strings. So on a lark I just tuned my JBird up to open E for slide, and holy moly that mofo screams! :eek:
     
  15. mezcalhead

    mezcalhead Member

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    I'm a big Jazzmaster fan .. got four vintage slab-boards including a gold guard '59. They have a great sound all their own, especially with both pickups on.

    JMs are standard Fender long scale, like a Strat, which has led to the vintage ones being a slightly endangered species .. the necks are cannibalized to make fake vintage Strats which are worth about ten times the price of a JM. The headstocks are slightly different though.

    I don't find them particularly hard to play, but maybe I'm just attuned to them. A good setup is essential - they can be quite problematic otherwise. Not every guitar tech knows how to manage a JM, but I think most JM players eventually figure out how to set them up themselves. Definitely worth the effort.
     

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