tell me about the... Jazzmaster

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by fatback, Nov 22, 2005.


  1. fatback

    fatback Member

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    Howdy Y'all

    I've always had a eye for Jazzmasters, ever since I first saw one in High School, but got distracted by Tele's, Strats, LP's, and various boutique guitars and never actually got around to owning one... until now. I just pulled the trigger on a refinned '65 Jazzmaster that was too good a deal to pass up. It should be here by the end of the week.

    So... Jazzmaster fans and players, any tips for a Jazzmaster newbie?


    Jazzmaster Jimi holding it down for Wilson Pickett
    [​IMG]
     
  2. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

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    Oh man, I love JMs! Have a rare CS masterbuilt relic, and I'm certain to get another JM as soon as I find the right one. IMO, it's way underappreciated. Has a fat and articulate tonal palette, with great sounds from ALL settings. The pickups have surprisingly robust output, and easily push amps/pedals into a lovely overdrive. It can go from surf, to blues (very LP-like in middle setting), to twang/funk, and yes, to a great jazz mode. The trem can be locked, but works well IF you keep the string gauge at 10 or above...they have a tendency to slip from the saddle notches with the trem engaged during big bends. Hasn't happened to me (I use 10s, no trem), but an easy fix if you must use 9s is simply cut the notches slightly deeper. There is a product (Trem-stop?) which can also alleviate without altering the guitar. Another quirk is a tendency for the bridge height screws to slowly lower. Easy fix...Loctite. It is among the most comfortable guitars to play standing and seated (one of the original design mandates), and the control layout allows for easy on-the-fly switches. You'll love the JM, and probably wonder, as I do, why it wasn't even more popular. But the again, that's what I like about it! Major mojo!
     
  3. johnmfer

    johnmfer Supporting Member

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    Well, my biggest complaint was always with the saddles. If you play too hard the strings can move around on the stock multi-grooved saddles, changing up the spacing and going out of tune. Graph Tech makes string savers for Jazzmaster/Jaguar, I highly recommend using them as they only have one channel for the string, deep enough to keep it from moving around. Unlike the similarly shaped Mustang saddles, the String Savers also offer individual height adjustment in case you decide to go with a flatter fingerboard radius.

    Nowadays, my biggest complaint is with the hum the pickups tend to generate. They're as bad as P-90s. I love the tone, but can't stand the hum. Haven't found a solution to that. I read a couple years ago Bill Lawrence was doing hum-free Jazzmaster pickups that sound like the real thing, but they were never listed on his website.

    Other than those two complaints, I always come back to my jazzmasters. The body shape is perfectly ergonomic, the necks are great, they're as good of a platform as a strat or tele for modifications. The best Jazzmaster I ever played was a stock '65 player, heads and tails above any reissue in terms of tone, weight, and overall playability. That said, the '65 is the only real vintage one I've tried.
     
  4. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

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    Keep in mind, the hum is minimal in the middle setting, and P-90 level hum is fine with me anyway (a small price to pay for such tone). For whatever reason though, mine isn't as noisey as some other single coil equipped guitars I own. Perhaps it's just the typical varience we see in all 'like' guitars.
     
  5. drolling

    drolling Member

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    Dick Dale would disagree, but the JM's the ultimate 'surf' guitar. With a tone as distinct a strat or a les paul, it's also a great choice for primordial instrumental rock.

    Lots of players use them for modern music, but I've got mine set up in the 'old school' style- medium-high action & heavy gauge flatwound strings.

    Those big single coils do make a hellova racket, so I usually keep the pickup selector in the combined hum-cancelling position. I keep most of the treble rolled off on the 'rhythm circuit' for a muffled pseudo-jazz tone.

    Some players swap out the stock bridge for a mustang bridge, as those funky threaded saddles can rattle if they're not properly adjusted. The height adjustment screws can turn in the saddles all by themselves, gradually lowering the action. I've been told that the best fix for that problem is a tiny drop of clear nail polish in each hole. The bridge itself also pivots on two posts sunk into slightly larger holes in the body. I tried stabilizing them by wrapping some electrician's tape around the posts for a tighter fit, but it deadened the tone a bit, so I removed it.

    The lock on the trem only prevents the bar from being pulled up- I think it might be something you're only supposed to use when changing the strings. The trem itself is a blast, feels more like a Bigsby than a strat tremolo. The tension can be easily adjusted to taste be tightening or loosening the big screw on the cover.

    Those pickups are as loud as P-90s. Huge shimmering clean tones, but the guitar loves a good fuzz, too.

    Neck's nothing like a strat or tele, but very comfortable nonetheless. The offset waist/body shape, on the other hand, is definitely an aquired taste. I still can't play mine sitting down!

    When it comes in, please post some pics, if possible.
     
  6. Pedro58

    Pedro58 Supporting Member

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    Killer guitar. Poorly conceived and executed bridge. Kind of like a Gretsch!
     
  7. Crazyquilt

    Crazyquilt Guitar Dad Silver Supporting Member

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    I love my JM. I've got a CIJ, now, but I'm seriously jonesing for an AVRI -- sure, I'd love a real vintage, but I can't see spending $3000 on it. Were it going to be my main guitar, yeah, but it's not (although it's in %heavy rotation.

    I don't have a problem with my trem or bridge. I use flatwound 11s, and a Warmoth modified Mustang bridge. Intonation is fine, tuning stability is fine, and the strings stay where they're supposed to be.

    Nothing sounds like a JM, and they sound gooooood.
     
  8. Marty Horne

    Marty Horne Guest

    My first guitar was a Jazzmaster because that's what the Ventures used. I used to just open the tweed case and stare at it awhile before playing it. I wish I had it now if only because I could sell it and pay off my mortgage. Great axe!
     
  9. fatback

    fatback Member

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    Thanks for all the info folks. I looked into the buzzstop,(tremstop;)) and it seems like a cool idea:

    http://www.northcoastmusic.com/buzzstop/

    Parts is parts carries them. The String Saver saddle also look like a great product for Jazzmasters. Between the two I should be having no problems with the bridge.
     
  10. haslar

    haslar Member

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    I owned a '60 refinned JM for a decade.
    What a GREAT guitar that was.

    Never had a problem with strings slipping, rattling noise or any other problem.
    Perfectly stayed in tune, also, even with trem abuse. It was a lot more stable than my current Suhr Classic, believe it or not.

    Sold it to buy a pair of Martin Logan speakers!
    :D

    Not a good guitar for blues, IMHO, as bends are really difficult, plus the low string angle at the bridge is not great for getting that "KERRANG" thing when hitting the strings hard.

    For other styles, though, this guitar is fantastic.
    I remember loving the way the strings resonate, between the tailpiece and the bridge: sounds like ghost notes. This guitar cannot be tamed, there is always something you cannot control in the way it responds to your playing.
    I think it's because of this section of strings, that resonates all the time.
     
  11. fullerplast

    fullerplast Senior Member

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    Great guitars! The buzzstop definately eliminates the bridge problem and is very simple, cheap, and non-invasive for vintage guitars. Leo would have approved....

    Here's my '59 with the buzzstop in place:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

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    I'll send a really cool pic if someone can host me.
     
  13. mccreadyisgod

    mccreadyisgod Member

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    A friend of mine has had his Jap reissue for several years now, and although it's had major mods, it's still a great Jazzmaster...

    He had a Gibson Tune-o-matic and stop tailpiece retrofitted to the guitar, put in Seymour Duncan Hot for Jazzmaster pickups (http://www.seymourduncan.com/products/specializeddescr.shtml#HotforJazzmaster), and replaced the vintage-style tuners with a nice set of standard Grovers.

    Unfortunately, when he went to replace the pickups and tuners, the neck had warped beyond truss-rod adjustment, so a heat treatment was needed... however, it's now extremely well set-up. The new pickups have the same tone but with added output and clarity. And between the new tuners and tail, it's tuning stability is great.
     
  14. dinrodef

    dinrodef Guest

  15. QuickDraw

    QuickDraw Member

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    my early '90's CIJ with SD hot pickups and a mustang bridge
    [​IMG]
     
  16. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    Well, the Keef TBird is my #1, with Rosie the Chirocaster close behind, but my Chapin JBird is a real treat! :)

    [​IMG]
     
  17. haslar

    haslar Member

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    The '60 JM I used to own:


    [​IMG]

    (refinned, and replacement pickguard but otherwise 100% original)
     
  18. dumb donnie

    dumb donnie Member

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  19. davidkiddmusic

    davidkiddmusic Member

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    Like others, my first guitar was a Jazzmaster in my first year of high school, purchased because I loved Nirvana. As years passed, I became a true loving Telecaster player.

    Now I have the best of both worlds. My "Jazzcaster" - a jazzmaster with a retrofit telecaster neck pickup and retrofit Telecaster bridge pickup - also solving the bridge issue with a vintage style hardtail bridge. This guitar sounds AMAZING. I get compliments on the sound at nearly every gig, then compliments on the look.

    hope you guys like it.


    [​IMG]
     
  20. michael.e

    michael.e Supporting Member

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    I am thinking about getting a Warmoth JM body that will take 2 or 3 P-90's. I want an anodized guard though and I cannot find anybody that makes a custom unit. Anybody have a line on who can custom make me an anodized pick guard? I am looking to get it set up for a Wilkenson as well. Should I order hollow? Hmm, I am looking for the axe to be super responsive. Nice light wood? Or a substantial slab.... Ash or Alder? I am going to go nitro I think..... No, Korina and a TV finish. Yep, I definatley need a gold anodized guard. Ever since I saw Nels Cline with one, I had to have one. His axe looks so intense. M.E.
     

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