Squier VM Jazzmaster Mod Project - I'M GONNA WRECK IT!!!

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by KhzDonut, Oct 25, 2014.

  1. KhzDonut

    KhzDonut Luthier, Gamer, Heretic

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    CHAPTER ONE: IT'S WRECKIN' TIME!!!

    Continued from my NGD Post: http://www.sevenstring.org/forum/standard-guitars/281915-ngd-squier-jazzmaster-pics-review.html

    Time to modify the holy hell out of a cheap Squier Jazzmaster! I've done the basic math on what I'll end up sinking into this guitar, and it'll end up being quite a bit more than I actually paid for it... But whatever. It's going to be a fun project.

    So, first things first... Before I can repaint it, I have to disassemble it:

    [​IMG]


    So here's what we have to work with. To many, this is probably a lovely guitar. To me, I think it a lovely pile of potential with a less-than-appealing paint finish. Not a vintage burst fan, not a vintage-tint neck fan. Other than the body shape there's really NOTHING on this guitar that fits my tastes aesthetically.

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    First, off comes the bridge. Fun Fact: The bridge is magnetic. Obviously not brass or aluminum. It stuck to the pickups once I got the big wood screw out of the back of the bridge. (and as I said in my NGD post... Wood screws shouldn't be used as necessary adjustment screws. Just sayin')

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    The jack is obviously not a Switchcraft, but does appear to be of adequate quality manufacture.

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    Once the pickguard came off I noticed that there was some weirdness in how things were shielded. The lower cavity is shielded, despite there being no controls there, but the area where the switch and the pots are located has no shielding paint applied. Whereas the ONLY part of the pick guard that's shielded is those two spots. Everything is only shielded from one side, which is just kind of weird.

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    Lots of foam behind the pickups to allow for height adjustment. I wonder where they got the foam from? It looks like it was used for something before being repurposed as height adjustment foam. Interesting. Another fun fact kind of thing I guess, but without actually having access to the facts...

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    I've never wired up a Jazzmaster before, just LP's, and even then, I usually don't have anything complicated going on. This looks like more wiring than I've ever done on a 3-way toggle, so at some point I'm going to check out what they actually did here. For a $300 guitar I'd say the wiring was pretty clean overall. I don't expect better than this at this price point, and I've seen worse on costlier guitars.

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    They grounded the whole thing to the conductive paint, which is kinda cool. Didn't expect to see that. I've always used shielding tape and just soldered directly to it, so I probably wouldn't have thought to do it this way, but I think it's kind of clever.

    Also in this shot: You can see there are some gaps around the corners of the neck heel. The sanding on the neck itself was a little sloppy.

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    So... We meet again, Mr. Bridge Post... And what's that? You have your friend with you, Mr. Bridge Stud?

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    There's a number of ways to get the bridge studs out of a guitar body. I prefer to use the AWESOME way! That's a chunk of Ebony wood cut off the end of a fingerboard blank underneath the hammer, keeping it from denting into the top of the body. Worked like a charm.

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    With a loud "pop" and a "squeak" the stud came right out.

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    I was really happy to find that the wood didn't crack or split and the paint didn't chip off. I was not expecting it to go so smoothly, especially given the fairly rough treatment. As I said, there's multiple ways of doing this, and about half of them are more gentle and precise than the method I chose. But the whole thing is getting repainted anyway, so I wasn't too worried about a little paint chip or two.

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    The string tree is the typical Fender style, but one cool thing was the little spacer was actually made of metal. I'm so used to seeing little plastic spacers that it just kind of gave me the warm fuzzies to see metal here. It's the little things.

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    Typical budget "vintage style" tuners. There's a bit of play in the tuning mechanism, but they're quite stable once brought to pitch. I've used worse, that's for sure.

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    Oh yeah... Vintage tuners have press-in ferrules. I always forget that. I'm so used to dealing with Schaller/Gotoh/Hipshot.

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    Nothing a simple screw-drivering can't fix! (Just be sure to support the headstock when popping out ferrules, and make sure the screwdriver is the perfect size or else all kinds of horrible things can happen)

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    Next the strap buttons, which were perfectly acceptable. They even had little felt bumpers, which I've seen omitted with disastrous results a few times in my career.

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    Fun Fact: The felt will "sink" into the finish, and this is a product of one or more of the following:

    Soft Finish
    Age
    Assembly before the paint is fully cured.

    Considering the age of this guitar and the type of finish itself, I think the most likely reason that the felt has marred the paint to this degree is a quick turnaround time in the factory. Considering it's from Indonesia, I think quick turnaround/mass production is a safe assumption anyway. Note: this isn't a quality thing, just a fun fact. Anything with a finish has this.

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    The neck plate has a very nice Squier logo engraved into it. Kind of a nice touch, really.

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    What's a less-than-nice touch is the lack of a plastic bumper between the neck plate and the body. Not a huge deal, it doesn't affect functionality or playability, but I'm always surprised when this is omitted. Seems like such a low-cost item to help protect the finish of the guitar. Then again, it's not like you'd ever pull off the neck plate and see the finish underneath unless you were doing a serious adjustment or repair. Working in finish departments for so long has left me with a cringe-response when I see anything metal touch a guitar finish. :lol:

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    The neck pocket was relatively clean, so whoever taped it off did a pretty good job. I've seen expensive guitars that had much crummier looking neck pockets, so that was a super nice surprise.

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    This didn't leave me super confident that their truss-rod guy knew what he was doing, this just looks very sloppy and lacking in precision to me. Truss rods are such an important part of the construction, I'd like to see a little more care in this area.

    [​IMG]


    Likewise, the nut installation left a lot to be desired. It's one of those "it does the job" things, and you can only expect so much from a budget instrument, but there's so many areas where they exceeded expectation that I would have hoped this would be one of them.

    NOTE: This is not the original slotting. I widened the slots to accommodate a heavier string gauge, but didn't do a brilliant job because I'm not planning on keeping the nut. The original slotting wasn't great, but I didn't even bother to clean the burrs off when I did it, so don't fault Squier for that. It LOOKED cleaner than when I did it, but the slots were a bit high and would have needed work even without changing string gauges.

    [​IMG]


    But anyway... That ends CHAPTER ONE: IT'S WRECKIN' TIME!!!

    I give you the final picture for this installment: The body and neck, ready to go through the scuffing/reshaping process before getting refinished.

    TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR THE THRILLING CONTINUATION!

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Mprinsje

    Mprinsje st. anger ain't bad!

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    very cool man! dying to see what you're gonna come up with
     
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  3. KhzDonut

    KhzDonut Luthier, Gamer, Heretic

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    Squier VM Jazzmaster Mod Project Chapter II: Love & A Hacksaw

    So, now that I have the whole thing dismantled... Time to start Wreckin' It.

    The finish sanding on the body was reasonably good. Some slight faceting here and there, but nothing outrageous (at least I didn't think so to look at it/feel it over). I decided to use a Scotch Brite pad (FOR METALZ!) to scuff the body for a better bond with the new paint I'm going to be putting on it.

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    No turning back now!

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    The Scotch Brite pad worked like a charm. This is about halfway through the process, but you get the idea. And, a note: This stuff smells horrendous to sand. I don't know what kind of urethane they're using in Indonesia, but I'm really doubting it's something you want to breath in. I made sure to wet-sand to maintain really low dust accumulation in the air.

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    Next order of business is filling the holes left over from taking out the bridge posts.

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    A few drops of trusty Tite Bond...

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    A meticulously jammed-in-there piece of dowel.

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    Add a little more glue and wipe off the excess...

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    Once it's dry use some Timbermate wood putty to level out the top. It's my favorite wood putty for most projects. It cleans up with water, can be thinned and used as a sealer, can be used as a grain filler, and comes in a buttload of colors, and the neutral tones take stains very well. It's pretty awesome stuff.

    [​IMG]


    Just jam it on in...

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    Scraped off the excess with a piece of plastic (forgot to take a pic of that part) that came from the packaging for some Dremel bits (more on that later) and then waited for it to dry. Once it was dry I used a flat block and some 320g sandpaper and get it lookin' smooth.

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    Now the real fun begins!

    I'm not a Fender guy, never have been. I like some of the body styles (J-Bass, Jaguar/Jazzmaster. Never liked Strats or Teles... At all. Especially Tele's.) but the overall build methods and construction have never been things that appealed to me. There's also something just... Philosophically wrong to me about having a really rounded body style with a big, sharp, square heel. It's especially wrong to me on a Jazzmaster, because the whole body is SO ergonomic and the upper fret access is completely uninhibited.

    So yeah... Square heel has to go. (The green electrical wire is just what I was using to hang the body up on my bench while I worked on the neck. Ignore it.)

    Quick sketch on the body of what I want it to look like...

    [​IMG]


    Nothing a Hacksaw can't fix!

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    Well, I don't know exactly what shape you would call that, but it's certainly not a square any more!

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    Nothing some 100g sandpaper and a flat block can't handle!

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    Ahh... That's more like it. (sorry for the slightly blurry pic) You can see how thick the (I'm assuming) polyester basecoat is where the black transitions into wood. The dark brown is basecoat. It's not horrendously thick or anything, but I do have to say that during the process it smelled really awful. I've worked in a couple finishing departments for several manufacturers/refinishers, and this stuff smelled particularly noxious to sand.

    DISCLAIMER!!! ALWAYS WEAR RESPIRATORS/DUST MASKS. - This PSA is brought to you by my ailing lungs.

    [​IMG]


    That does leave us with one problem, however...

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    There's a couple ways to go about solving this problem:

    A) Use some of those little round ferrules/washers on the back of the body.
    B) Just glue the neck into the body and do a faux-setneck kind of thing.

    I went with:

    C) Do something really time consuming and generally ill-advised unless you have all the right tools (which I really didn't)

    That's right: Time to reshape the neck plate and recess it into the body!

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    I couldn't find my go-to routing bit for my Dremel, so I bought these, which worked way better anyway. I mean, WAY better. Perhaps a little TOO well.

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    DISCLAIMER!!! ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK YOUR DEPTHS! - This PSA was brought to you by my many failures.

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    I never really thought it'd use this router-guard thingamajig for my Dremel, but it worked really well for this.

    [​IMG]


    So yeah... The bit worked really well. So well that it hogs the material off faster than I can really compensate, so it's a bit jagged. I thought about going in and cleaning it up with sandpaper and a file and all that, but decided not to for two reasons:

    1) The thick polyester basecoat on the Squier coupled with the soft Alder body wood makes precision operations like this a tad difficult.
    2) Laziness.

    But hey, I've seen worse, and I'm starting to get past the whole "it has to be perfect" thing when it's my own guitars.

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    Of course, now I had to make the neck plate fit. Time to bump and grind! (well, at least grind...)

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    Well, my grinder works.

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    And Shazam! It works!

    Of course... Wow, I don't know how I overshot it that much when grinding, but that gap is nothing short of embarrassing. I had it really close, and then that last pass I just mangled it. Oh well... It will do the job perfectly well, but I had hoped for a better result. Really, it's just the embarrassment factor, because I know I could have done way better if I had just been a little bit slower and checked it a couple more times.

    Live and learn.

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    That's all for this installment. Too many damn pictures to post, so I'll get some more up on Saturday if I don't spend the whole day sleeping off a sugar coma from eating all the candy I bought (with no intention of giving to trick-or-treaters. They can get their own damn candy :evil: )
     
  4. KhzDonut

    KhzDonut Luthier, Gamer, Heretic

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    I'm dying to get it finished to see what I come up with :lol:

    It's going to be something of a monstrosity when all is said and done, but it will definitely be a one-of-a-kind Squier.
     
  5. KhzDonut

    KhzDonut Luthier, Gamer, Heretic

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    Squier VM Jazzmaster Mod Project Chapter III: Angling For Some Modding

    One of the things I'm not too keen on is really tall bridges, so things like Jazzmasters and Les Pauls generally feel a little weird to me. I really prefer the low profile of a flatmount bridge. With the Jazzmaster, the neck pocket angle is not flat, so just putting on a flatmount bridge isn't an option unless you change the angle of the neck pocket.

    Well, since that's the kind of thing best done with routers & jigs (or a CNC machine if you just happen to have one of those laying around...) the next best option (I use the term "best" loosely here) is to change the angle of the neck heel itself.

    I wrote down the measurements of the neck heel for reference, though really all that matters is that I just keep checking the angle with a straight edge as I'm going, and that will help to make sure the bridge height is correct. But hey, data points are never BAD...

    [​IMG]


    Once again a flat block and some 100g sandpaper make reasonably short work of the problem. And this is another of those times that I look at the beautiful bone-ivory color of maple and boggle at why they'd want to cover it up with a yellow-tinted paint. I get the appeal of vintage aesthetics, but I really think maple is a beautiful wood, and I'm really not a fan of this shade of yellow. To each his own, though.

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    Checking throughout the process with a razor blade to ensure things are as flat as possible. Razors make a great straight edge for small surfaces like this because they're very easy to handle due to their small size and light weight.

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    After all was said and done and the angle finally looked right (or at least very close to it) I had taken about .070" off the end of the heel. That's a little over 1/16 of an inch or about 1.7 millimeters. It might not seem like much, but that's apparently the difference between a Jazzmaster bridge and a Flatmount bridge when it comes to neck pocket angles. I tried to be conservative with my sanding, so once the whole thing is assembled I'll probably find I need to sand a little more.

    [​IMG]


    Now to take care of those sharp fretboard edges. This is how I roll (fingerboard edges) It's fast and easy, and during the scuffing process I'll end up sanding out any chatter. It seems like a haphazard way of going about doing this, but it's actually pretty easy to get a good result, and you can go all the way up to the fret if you want to, which is helpful if you do the ball-end fret thing. (which I'm not doing here. Maybe if I refret this neck in the future, which I almost surely will. I chew through nickel frets like they were Beef Jerkey)

    [​IMG]

    It doesn't take much to go from uncomfortable to pretty damned comfortable. Just barely enough to show bare wood underneath the finish, and the neck didn't have a super thick basecoat like the body did.

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    Now to scuff the fingerboard. Scotch Brite to the rescue again!

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    Not bad. Ended up getting the frets a bit, but no big deal. The real problem is that there's little shiny spots on the fingerboard right NEXT to the frets.

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    I just folded up a bit of 320g sandpaper and very gently sand in little diagonals away from the fret. If you just run the paper along the fret it's really easy to leave little trench-like gouges in the finish without realizing it. You won't be able to see it until you put more finish on the fingerboard, and that's never fun to find out.

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    Didn't quite make that last half a millimeter, but it's better than it was. Good enough that I'd feel comfortable putting more finish on it.

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    I'm planning on putting a Graph Tech nut on it, so the current nut has to go. Before pulling it off I have to get all the finish off the side of the nut, though. Otherwise it'll pull bits of paint off with it.

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    Once again, a razor blade is one of your best friends as a luthier.

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    Just cut along the glue lines and then slide the razor blade under the little square of paint and lift it right off. Viola!

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    D'oh! Ok well that'll happen when you're pulling the nut off. Should have checked that a little better. This could have been easily prevented.

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    But no matter... I used a little piece of Delrin I had laying around to make a tiny sanding block and used some 320g.

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    Nobody will ever notice once there's a different color paint on it.

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    That's all for this installment. Next time around: Reshaping the Neck Backshape! A process that is almost guaranteed to be an absolute disaster!


    Here's a sneak peek!

    [​IMG]


    Oh yeah, doesn't that just look like fun on a bun? What could possibly go wrong?
     
  6. Fretless

    Fretless Knob Fiddler

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    This is a pretty big inspiration. I'm tempted to do something akin to this to a squier bass vi!
     
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  7. Stooge1996

    Stooge1996 SS.org Regular

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    Dude this is awesome! Keep up the good work, this is really a good read
     
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  8. Blue1970Cutlass

    Blue1970Cutlass emberwolfmusic.com

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    Love. This. Thread.
     
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  9. KhzDonut

    KhzDonut Luthier, Gamer, Heretic

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    Squier VM Jazzmaster Mod Project Chapter IV: Neck Shaping - What Could Go Wrong?

    So, first thing's first... I want to know how much material I actually have to work with when it comes to shaping the neck. I like a thinner, flatter profile than the guitar came with, but ultimately I'm not too concerned about the taper/thickness, it's mostly just the shape. I like something more akin to a D (maybe a U shape?) shape, and this is more like a C shape. No shoulders whatsoever.

    Before I go shaping the back of the neck and hit truss rod (which would surely spell the end of this project unless I wanted to invest a lot of time/effort/money into doing some super crazy mods... Which is a little beyond my current time/effort/money budgeting at the moment.) I have to find out how much neck there is before hitting truss rod. Easiest way to do that?

    [​IMG]


    That's right: drill into the neck with the tiniest drill bit my Dremel set has and go until I hit truss rod! If you try this, just be sure to do it right around the middle of the actual truss rod's length, so between frets 9-12 or so, because on a vintage-style, one-way truss rod that's where it will be tallest, and that's where you'll be most likely to go through the wood.

    [​IMG]

    This also told me how great of a job the person doing skunk-stripes that day did at their job. The answer in this case? Not great. I felt the bit get through the wood and then drop about 1/16" - 3/32" (1-2mm or so) before hitting truss rod. The idea is to get it snug without squeezing the rod. Didn't quite work out this time... At least I haven't noticed any rattling while playing, which is the obvious concern with something like this. However, if you smack the neck a bit, you can hear it knocking inside.

    This is where I have to remind myself it's a $300 guitar and suppress my general annoyance...

    To get a measurement of how much room I had to work with I took the drill bit out of the Dremel, dropped it into the hole, and put some tape around it, getting as close to the base/surface of the neck as possible without lifting up the bit.

    [​IMG]


    Then I measure how much bit was inside the neck. (The observant of you will notice that I actually did this BEFORE sanding the neck heel and setting the angle, but it wasn't really relevant at the time so I rolled these photos into this post)

    [​IMG]


    So, now that I know I have about .200" to work with. Well, realistically, I wouldn't want to take more than about .050 off... If I want to stay in the ballpark of 1/8" of wood between the back of the neck and the truss rod, and factoring in the 1/16"+ gap between rod and neck, I should probably really take it easy towards the middle of the truss rod.

    But now that I have my measurements it's time to fill the hole back up. To do this I just used a toothpick with some super glue on the end.

    [​IMG]


    Jammed it in there good and snug and waited for it to cure.

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    Then snipped it with some wire cutters.

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    Good enough for now. I'll just end up reshaping the whole thing anyway.

    [​IMG]


    So let's see how thick this neck is: 1st Fret.

    [​IMG]


    A pretty spot-on .830"

    But what's this??

    [​IMG]


    So it turns out the calipers verified what my hands were feeling in the NGD post; there is a dip in thickness between the 2nd and 5th frets of about .010-.020 depending on where you measure it.

    $300 guitar... :facepalm:

    And finally the 12th fret:

    [​IMG]

    So about .830 - .865, which is about what I figured it would be. This is my first Fender/Squier, but I've worked for OEM's that produced a lot of vintage-style guitars and most of the more clone/knock-off kind of things were about the same measurements. I was hoping the "modified" part of "Vintage Modified" would include an .800 - .830 D shape profile, but I guess we can't have everything :D

    So anyway... Might as well get on with it and start trashing this neck!

    [​IMG]


    Oh yeah, nothing like taking a rasp to a brand new guitar. Just look at that smooth, comfy texture. I was tempted to just leave it like this. :evil:

    [​IMG]


    I reshaped the area around the heel to conform to the new shape of the neck pocket. The line closest to the heel is the outline from the neck pocket itself, and the line closest to the shaft is where I'm going to stop the shaping. I figured that was close enough, and I didn't want to risk over-sanding and leaving a little gap. I've been down THAT dusky road before...

    [​IMG]


    Once everything was shaped I used a flat block with some 100g to do final refinement of the back shape. As you can see in the next photo, flat blocks will reveal the high and low spots left by the previous sanding personnel. Further verification that there was a lot of lumpiness going on: you can clearly see where there's an unsanded section between two fully stripped sections where the sanding block didn't even touch the neck while sanding down the two high spots.

    Flat blocks never lie.

    [​IMG]


    So after all was said and done I got a profile much more to my liking, and while I had no specific thickness in mind, ended up getting a pretty accurate .800, which is about .020 larger than what I'm used to playing, but the frets on this are also smaller so the overall thickness really doesn't feel much different. That shape is definitely odd, because for the last few years I've pretty much exclusively played 7-Strings with .780 necks. Quite a departure.

    [​IMG]


    At the end of the day I only took about .020 off the 12th fret area, because I don't spend a lot of time in the upper registers anyway, and just didn't care to risk hitting truss rod this time around. I have big plans for this guitar, but there's a limit to what I can do this round. The most important thing was that the neck measured a clean taper all the way down; no low spots or lumps.

    [​IMG]


    Before putting a finish on the neck I wanted to make sure the skunk stripe was good and sealed. I couldn't quite tell if it was Walnut or Rosewood, but either way, neither plays super nice with urethane finishes, especially Rosewood. I wasn't going to take any chances. I did it the annoying, but fairly reliable way and just used some super thin Super Glue. It's a pain, but I've done it 8 billion times and it's just what I'm used to. This is the brand of Super Glue I prefer for this (and in general).

    Satellite City has the longest shelf life of the super glues I've used, and I like the consistency of their thin the best. It's very easy to work with, accelerates easily, just everything. You can get it from Warmoth for pretty cheap (well, cheap after factoring in that you have a minimum order there) but I'm sure you can probably get it elsewhere just as easily. I had to order some parts from Warmoth anyway, so I just got it there.

    [​IMG]


    Just apply with a Q-Tip. You'll want to do numerous thin coats, sanding between coats to ensure flatness and proper filling of the grain. If you're doing a clear or transparent finish, make sure to get the dust out of the pores before applying subsequent coats. If you're doing a solid finish, screw it. Just leave the dust in there and saturate it with the glue to make a super lazy dust-n-glue grain filler. It'll look a little spotty, but it works just fine.

    [​IMG]


    Used Timbermate Putty to fill in the now superfluous fourth mounting hole.

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    Got lucky and didn't get a lot of speckling in the skunk stripe. Finished the back shape off with 320g to get that smooth-as-silk feel prior to finishing.

    [​IMG]


    That's all for now. Next time I'll finish scuffing the neck with the Scotch-brite pad and then finish it. I've always been a fan of that ultra-modern look, Carbon Fiber necks, or things with Ebony boards.

    Not having access to EITHER of those things I'll just do the next best thing: Black Spray Paint!

    [​IMG]


    Be sure to tune in next time for Chapter V: Black As Coal, Black As Pitch, Painting Necks Is Such A [Character Limit Reached]
     
  10. KhzDonut

    KhzDonut Luthier, Gamer, Heretic

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    Squier VM Jazzmaster Mod Project Chapter V: None More Black

    So before I get to painting the neck, have to finish scuffing the headstock with the Scotch Brite pads.

    Fun fact: The text on the back of the headstock is a silk screen that sands right off. Made sense once I thought about it. I worked for a small builder that used decals for the serial numbers, and that was a real pain when something went wrong. You either had to never screw up, or you had to always have doubles of all your serial numbers. I have no idea what decals run, I never had to do the ordering, but from what little I remember of talking to the painters I've worked with they're a little spendy.

    [​IMG]


    The Logo and everything on the front of the headstock is a decal under the clear coat. No damage there when scuffing.

    [​IMG]


    Sprayed the neck black using Rustoleum Painter's Touch 2x Paint + Primer in Flat Black. Not bad stuff. First time I used it, and I don't hate it.

    [​IMG]


    So when you paint a neck black you kind of end up losing all the side dots. Silver paint pen to the rescue!

    [​IMG]


    I didn't really have anything in mind to do for side dots until the day of clear coating came and I just kind of decided "Hey, I know what would look cool! ROMAN NUMERALS!"

    Well, the XIIth fret sure looked sweet!

    [​IMG]


    Hrm... Ok, mental note: Roman numerals get really big as you go up in numbers, but the spaces between frets get really small.

    Admittedly, not my most brilliant idea, but I don't absolutely hate it either. At the end of the day the person playing it is the only one who will ever see it, and that's me, so... Yeah.

    [​IMG]


    This is AFTER the clear coat, and shows what happens when you don't quite get those 100g scratches out. This is why it's always a good idea to use some 180g or 220g between the 100g/120g and the 320g, and to make sure you check in some very good lighting before you spray everything. Oh well. Chances are I'll end up refinishing the neck at some point for whatever reason. I still can't quite decide what the end goal for the build is, it's kind of taking on a life of its own as I go.

    And I do have to say, the further I get in the project, and the more mistakes happen, the more liberated I feel in just plowing through the project. It's nice not having to try and make it absolutely perfect for once.

    [​IMG]


    I'm using Minwax Satin Urethane for the clear coat. This stuff is great for the doing the back of the neck. It's not a vintage satin feel by any means, but it's very durable. It doesn't gloss up nearly as fast as the majority of satins I've tried, including the more professional grade urethane satins. It's also very controllable in terms of texture. If you spray it closer than the recommended 10-12 inches it goes on thicker and wetter, but also very smooth, for a feel that's kind of like a cross between a vintage satin and a Formica counter top (as unappealing as that might sound, it's a very smooth and comfortable texture to play on)

    If you do more of a mist-it-on kind of thing at a longer distance you can get anything from a slightly textured feel to something really similar to truck bed liner. If you sand and spray a quick, close coat on a really rough textured surface like that, you get a textured surface with a smooth sheen/feel.

    As a bonus, it sprays in a fan pattern, and the nozzle can swivel to give you either a vertical or horizontal fan. Super handy for doing guitar bodies.

    Anyway, you can experiment and get some really good results with it.

    [​IMG]


    One thing I forgot to do before painting: Re-drill the tuner holes. Those vintage tuners are tiny, and I had no desire to continue using them after the first time. I've been spoiled by Schaller and Hipshot.

    [​IMG]


    Oops. Tried to maintain that stepped hole size that is recommended for the Gotoh ream, but while fine-tuning it the bit really grabbed and just plowed through the front of the peg face. Oh well, it won't affect anything. The tuners fit super snug in the holes. I used a 3/8" bit and used the Dremel to fine-tune the holes, because finding the 25/64" or whatever the hell the proper size is was an exercise in futility at my local hardware store, and I was afraid the closest size up was going to be a little loose.

    This is why using a drill press is way better than using a hand drill.

    [​IMG]


    Whether you're doing the whole neck and fingerboard, like I did here, or just doing the peg face, be sure to save yourself some hassle and tape off the nut slot.

    [​IMG]


    I had originally planned on using a Graph Tech nut for this build, but I decided to go with an Acetal (Delrin) nut for prototyping purposes. Also, it's been like a year since I've slotted a nut, and I don't have a bunch of Graph Tech nuts just lying around... I DID however have a chunk of Acetal that I had no plans to use for anything.

    [​IMG]


    Chunk of Acetal cut and installed.

    [​IMG]


    Graph Tech string retainer (crummy picture, sorry).

    [​IMG]


    Ok, here's a thing that I derp'd pretty bad on. I've sprayed whole necks black before, I have a bass I did it too awhile back. Thing is, I always use Stainless Steel frets for my builds, and most paints don't stick to the SS frets very well when they're freshly installed; they're usually pretty smooth coming from Jescar. It will pretty much just flake right off. However, these are Nickel Silver frets, and I scuffed the crap out of them when I was scuffing up the fingerboard before it got painted.

    So... The paint adhered fairly damn well to the frets. I pretty much had to just scrape the frets manually with a razor blade. It didn't take more than about 20 minutes, but that's 20 minutes I would have rather spent sleeping or watching cartoons...

    [​IMG]


    Of course, one nice thing about Nickel Silver frets is that they polish up really well with some steel wool. Can't really do that with SS frets!

    [​IMG]


    Sooo Shiiiny!

    [​IMG]


    Now to try out the new Gotoh Magnum Lock Trad Tuners! I've never used these before, I custom ordered them like a year ago for a 7-String build that never happened. I've used Schaller locking tuners and Hipshot locking tuners, so now that Gotoh has a thumb-lock style tuner I really wanted to give them a go.

    [​IMG]


    Oh the joys of drilling those tiny alignment holes...

    [​IMG]


    Ok so here's a problem I overlooked. When I bought the Gotoh tuners I bought them for a 7 String project. I forgot that rather than buying 7-Inline I had bought tuners for a 5+2 configuration, like the Ernie Ball John Petrucci model... D'oh!

    [​IMG]


    Quick Fix! Use one of the old Schaller locking tuners from an old 3x3 set I had lying around. You almost can't tell from the front, except the button is *slightly* different, and the washer on the tuning post is beveled on the Schaller, but not on the Gotoh. I prefer the look of the beveled washer on the Schaller, but if you ever wanted to recess the washer like Mike Lull does on his basses the Gotoh would be the better option for that.

    [​IMG]


    Next, I used some feeler gauges to mark an approximate rough shaping height for the nut. Basically I just do .050 higher than the fret height for the scribe line, and then just stop a little short. Close enough for a rough shaping.

    [​IMG]


    It's about to get messy...

    [​IMG]


    Looks like it snowed in here... If snow were made of space age polymers derived from Formaldehyde!

    [​IMG]


    Anyway, that's it for this post. Be sure to tune in next time for the thrilling continuation!

    In Chapter VI: Body Painting With Class - Where we'll be getting classy and sophisticated when we paint our Jazzmaster body!



    It will be Classy.



    It will be Sophisticated.



    It will be Understated.



    It will be SUBTLE!!!



    It will be....

    [​IMG]


    MUWAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!
     
  11. jwade

    jwade Doooooooooom

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    Love the black fretboard. I totally want to get a Bass VI and paint it purple, fretboard included.
     
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  12. KhzDonut

    KhzDonut Luthier, Gamer, Heretic

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    That actually sounds kind of cool. One time I saw a set-neck LP-style guitar get sprayed red, and because the fingerboard was masked off with blue tape the fingerboard did this crazy dark-to-light purple fade from the headstock and body towards the center of the neck.

    Always thought it was a shame we never just did a guitar that way on purpose, it looked really awesome.
     
  13. vkw619

    vkw619 Inspired Beginner

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    Subscribed. I can't wait to see how this turns out!
     
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  14. Dabo Fett

    Dabo Fett SS.org Regular

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    this is looking so awesome man
     
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  15. Mprinsje

    Mprinsje st. anger ain't bad!

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    You have the honour of being the first thread i've ever subbed to.
     
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  16. KhzDonut

    KhzDonut Luthier, Gamer, Heretic

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    Thanks so much! It's a bit of a train wreck, but it's definitely turning out to be a very fun train wreck :D

    You and me both :agreed:

    Damn, thanks. Glad you're enjoying it as much as I am.
     
  17. Neilzord

    Neilzord .Metal.

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    Really can't wait to see some more action on this Jazzblaster!
     
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  18. KhzDonut

    KhzDonut Luthier, Gamer, Heretic

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    Squier VM Jazzmaster Mod Project Chapter VI: Pink?

    So, the time has come to paint the body!

    I worked in the finish department of a guitar manufacturer for about 7 years. I never did any spraying, mostly doing sanding, buffing, masking, etc... Basically everything BUT spraying. And obviously, I don't have access to professional spray equipment.

    But I learned a few tips and techniques to get things done, and as you will see here, deviating from them tends to go wrong real fast. :nono:

    So the first thing I did is get any dust and oils off of the original layers of paint after they were sanded. The things I find work best for polyesters and urethanes are, Naphtha (Lighter Fluid) or my personal favorite: Denatured Alcohol. It evaporates quickly, is generally non-reactive with everything, is not a petroleum product (which the hippie in my likes) and is generally non-toxic unless ingested or the vapors are highly concentrated.

    DISCLAIMER: DO NOT DRINK OR CONCENTRATE FUMES! This PSA was brought to you by the department of don't be a moron with your chemicals.

    [​IMG]


    If I was painting raw wood I wouldn't degrease the body unless I actually spilled grease on it, or I would use acetone to wipe down things like Rosewood or Wenge in order to get a better bond, though I don't really have experience with that personally. Where I worked we always used a Rosewood sealer for woods that didn't like to bond.

    Anyway...

    So here's the body, hanging up and ready for paint (sorry for bad photo. The light in my garage is terrible)

    [​IMG]


    Then paint!

    But before I do: I wanted be sure I knew what the paint was going to look like by doing a test. My intent is to go mega-fleuroescent pink, something that will make eyes bleed and grown men weep. But before painting over something dark, or a burst, it's good to to know if the paint is high-solids or not.

    If you spray a translucent color over the burst, obviously it's just going to look like a pinker version of the burst. More than likely it will need a solid color basecoat. Something I learned in the finish department was that if yo have a bright neon color, white is usually the preferred color for a basecoat. The problem is that it's REALLY hard to get a completely uniform translucent color coat over white. It tends to go blotchy unless you've got a professional paint setup and know what you're doing.

    I don't have either, so I went with a slightly pigmented basecoat that is similar to the color I'm aiming for. In this case, a light pink basecoat was the closet thing available that was really light.

    [​IMG]


    But just to be sure everything was going to go as planned I did a test panel.

    The black was sprayed awhile back and was perfectly dry, the pink was sprayed moments before spraying the pink, and resulted in cracking, but it was good enough for a basic color test. Generally, so long as you give the basecoat some time to dry (often times just a few minutes, depending on the paint) the next layer won't crack or react too poorly with it.

    But as you can see, the fluorescent paint has poor covering abilities. It's probably 3x thicker over the black than it is over the light pink, and just barely looks pink. It's obviously got SOME solids, otherwise it would just look way blacker than it does. I'll come to find that this semi-translucence will be the bane of my existence :wallbash:

    Over the pink it turned a bit reddish, but under the garage lighting I couldn't really tell. This will be one of several setbacks to come...

    [​IMG]


    So, next step is to basecoat. You can't really tell from the photo, but it's actually like a lighter version of the old Fender "Shell Pink" color. I was tempted to leave it, it looked kind of nice.

    [​IMG]


    After waiting awhile for the paint to get tacky, but not wet, I figured a few light coats of the fleorescent would be fine to mist on. I mean, they're the same brand of paint, as long as it's dry enough for the basecoat layers to not crinkle on each other, surely the fluorescent won't crinkle like the test panel, right?

    Wrong!

    [​IMG]


    If I had any means of guaranteeing a controllable crackle, I'd be really tempted to actually do a crackle finish; maybe a black with bright pink basecoat so it looks like some sort of neon magma effect... Anyway, I digress.

    So... While it was still wet I just used some mineral spirits to wipe ALL the paint off. I re-sprayed the pink basecoat layer and let it dry for a couple days (I'll spare you the extra photos)

    Then I sprayed the fluorescent on, and this time I didn't get any crinkling... But it did seem a bit red. I assumed it was mostly a trick of the bad lighting.

    [​IMG]


    After all this spraying I did notice a peculiar side effect on my sneakers when I walked out of the garage into full daylight.

    [​IMG]


    It's actually closer to the color I wanted than the body itself.

    Anyway...

    If you've been following the thread you'll remember this photo:

    [​IMG]


    To hide the gap a bit I did a really cheaty cheat. (don't tell anyone)

    [​IMG]


    Sharpies are the sneaky/lazy painter's best friend.

    [​IMG]


    As you can see from the photos it really looks pretty red. I again chalked this up to lighting and thought "well once I put a black pick guard on it it will probably look better overall." Also, I didn't want to spend a lot of time or money on painting this thing without getting some "proof of concept" on the build. At this point I still don't know how well the neck pocket re-angle worked, or how well the pickup and bridge solutions were going to work. If I really wanted to I could always repaint it later, so I forged my way ahead because more than likely I'd end up changing some things on the build fairly soon after it was finished anyway.

    Big roll of adhesive copper foil I got from way back. The color of the copper really sets off the ugliness of the body, don't you think? Makes it look all salmony.

    [​IMG]


    Not sure how most people go about this, but usually do sides first. And man, you don't realize how much route there is in a Jazzmaster until you actually have to shield one. That's a lot of route!

    [​IMG]


    When all was said and done I ended up using like 2-3x more copper shielding than a Les Paul-style build. Not a big deal, as I had a crapload of copper shielding, but it's one of those things I like to take note of.


    [​IMG]


    So that's all for now. Next week we'll see things get really crazy (i.e. - needlessly complicated) when I decide to cut my own pickguard!

    So how did I go about making a simple process really difficult and needlessly complicated? Rather than spending the $15 on a sheet of actual vinyl pickguard material I decided to grab a $4 piece of acrylic I found at the hardware store!

    Guess what's way harder to cut than vinyl, and also needs to be painted because it's clear?

    Acrylic!

    [​IMG]


    So tune in next time for the thrilling continuation: Chapter VII: Nobody Ever Told Me Acrylic Was So Tough!

    Watch as I plow through a bunch of still-formulating ideas and end up with something that is altogether morally wrong!
     
  19. Pikka Bird

    Pikka Bird Vaya Con Cornholio

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    I love the amount of detail you're putting into each chapter in this adventure. And I think it's turning out pretty bad ass as well. :metal:

    ...can you get hot pink Squier headstock decals?
    But will fog up many plastics, so don't use it to clean sticker gunk off CD jewel cases or wipe laser lenses.
     
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  20. JoryGriffin

    JoryGriffin SS.org Regular

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    Looks great. I kinda like that reddy pink to be honest.
     
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