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: 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. 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') The jack is obviously not a Switchcraft, but does appear to be of adequate quality manufacture. 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. 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... 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. 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. So... We meet again, Mr. Bridge Post... And what's that? You have your friend with you, Mr. Bridge Stud? 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. With a loud "pop" and a "squeak" the stud came right out. 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. 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. 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. Oh yeah... Vintage tuners have press-in ferrules. I always forget that. I'm so used to dealing with Schaller/Gotoh/Hipshot. 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) 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. 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. The neck plate has a very nice Squier logo engraved into it. Kind of a nice touch, really. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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!