Project Offset Phase One - A Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster goes under the knife
One task that's always at the top of my 'To-Do' list, is creating a collection of demo videos for the entire McNelly Pickups Range. Although I've recorded videos with some beautiful premium guitars, without doubt the best way of demo-ing pickups is by upgrading more 'budget' instruments. Why? Well this is a great way of not hiding behind higher quality woods and materials, and using them in perhaps more recognisable or related guitar makers and types. If it sounds great, then it's mostly because of the pickups doing their best work!
 
I'm always on the look out for budget guitars to do this with, usually the likes of Squiers and Epiphones as they provide great canvases for a project like this. So today I picked up this great value Squier Vintage Modified Series Jazzmaster second hand! Although a great instrument as it is off the shelf for the money, the Vintage Modified range really are great (and popular!) canvases for modifying so I felt it was the right model to do this with.

Home of Tone Jazzmaster Project

It's rather pretty isn't it?! I'm glad I managed to find an Olympic white one, as it looks superb! I've always been partial to white Fenders and even though it's a shop demo project, I figured I can still enjoy the process! The VM Series Jazzmaster features specifications very close to the original Fender Jazzmasters introduced in the 50s and 60s, with the same bridge & trem designs for example, warts & all. I say that because this bridge type isn't without it's own niggles. One you'll notice within a few notes of playing, is that the strings jump out their saddle slots with a lackluster set-up or string gauge choice. This can become quite frustrating quite quickly indeed and one of the reasons some players cast the Jag & JM aside as bad guitars! It's certainly not true though. Some people solve that with the Buzz Stop mod, but we wouldn't recommend that as it can zap some of the natural resonance of the strings and dull down the tone as well as negatively effect the string tension therefore losing some of the character of this type of guitar. Some of the unique charm of the JM comes from it's string space behind the bridge to the tailpiece, letting the strings ring out. The most popular ways to solve this troublesome bridge is to upgrade the bridge unit itself, which is one modification we'll be doing. In phase one of this project I'll be using the KTS Titanium Saddles, which use the existing bridge hardware but just replace the saddles. I'll get more into why I opted to try these saddles out specifically in future articles, so keep a look out for those. But there are also some other truly superb bridge upgrades by the likes of Staytrem and Mastery for example too.

Squier Vintage Modigied Jazzmaster

The main modifications will include a full new wiring harness, which will replace the low quality original pots, wire, caps and switches with premium, more reliable and consistent items. Then of course, the main intention of this project, is fitting a set of McNelly 46/58 Pickups! These guitars come from the factory with a set of 'Duncan Designed' pickups, which for the money aren't bad value at all. But upon first plugging it in, I noticed that they lack definition, the bridge pickup sounded a little too bright and tinny at times and the neck position a little woolly in contrast. Having said that, I honestly can't grumble at the sound when you consider the cost of these guitars, even new. But for a little bit of extra money you can get a seriously nice pickup set and transform the tone available from these guitars, which is what we'll be demonstrating here with the McNelly flagship Jazzmaster set, the 46/58s.

Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster

This project also runs alongside the launch of a new collection in our store, featuring parts and accessories specific to Fender Offsets! This collection will be growing further as I aim to create a handy one stop shop for replacement parts, upgrades and accessories for Jazzmaster and Jaguar models. View the collection here! This has been a labour of love on my part, I love offset guitars and really hope in time I can develop a nice range of parts for these great guitars.

I'll be posting up further blog posts showing this project coming together, as well as with some videos all being well! stay tuned for Videos when it's new McNelly pickups, Home of Tone wiring and KTS bridge are all installed!

Thanks for reading! 

James

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