Project Offset Phase Six - A timely update of how the Squier VM Jazzmaster has continued to be tweaked
Time flies when you're having fun. It has certainly been a long time since I last updated the 'Project Offset' series of blog articles, but a nice customer recently got in touch and reminded me of this series so I thought I'd follow it up, despite the years gone by!

For the most part, the guitar sat unchanged really from the last installment. It was played and enjoyed, taken to guitar shows for people to try out the Gabriel Tenorio strings and McNelly Pickups and has proudly hung in my son's bedroom (as it has been gifted to him should he want it when he's older).

But I have made some cool changes which will be nice to touch on.
One change that was made, was a slight tweak to the wiring. If you recall, I originally wired this guitar with the traditionally used 1MEG lead circuit pots and .033uF capacitor. I did this primarily to show how the McNelly 46/58s fared with a more traditional Jazzmaster configuration rather than the McNelly recommended 500k and .022uF values. So a year or so of enjoying the 1Meg set-up, lead me to give the pickups a try with 500k pots and a .022uF in the lead circuit. The little bit of work wasn't in vain, as these pickups continued to surprise me in their dynamic response. Although they sounded great with the traditional configuration, changing to 500k seemed to bring out more of the P90 aspect of their pickup design. Aspects of a great P90 design that we all enjoy, the stride and grit they can provide but with great dynamic response only this time with the added clarity and chime of their JM wide flat single coil aspect of the design too. I felt they didn't loose any Jazzmaster characteristic, but gained a little more too. A big difference and shows what fun can be had by experimenting with pot and cap values in your guitar. I have since recorded plenty of demos with the guitar in this configuration, so I thought it might be nice to share one with you here!



I also decided to step away from the KTS Titanium saddles I had originally installed on the project. Although they sounded great, I wasn't completely sold on the lack of further development of the saddles past their re-creation of the Mustang saddle design. So I installed a Staytrem unit, which is a superb further development of the great Mustang barrel saddle mod often carried out on these guitars. Although the KTS items sounded lovely due to the titanium saddles, it did sadly suffer from some similar issues found when fitting Mustang saddles to a Jazzmaster, which I touched on in more detail on an article all about alternative bridge options for Jazzmasters and Jags HERE.

The original Squier tuners were swapped to a lovely set of Kluson Supreme staggered height tuners. These look as per traditional vintage 6 in line tuners, but have staggered height tuner posts to help with string angle tension past the nut. They're also an impressive 18:1 ratio, meaning they're incredible accurate and reliable tuners. Around this time I also fitted some cool Fender AVRI off white witch hat control knobs too.



As time went by it was in need of a bit of TLC to be honest, so I took the opportunity to address a niggling frustration I had with setting the pickup heights. Jazzmaster pickups mount and adjust in the body via 4 wood screws and a simple strip of firm foam sat underneath the pickup. But over time that foam can squash down and not allow the pickup to be raised close enough to the strings (depending on your neck angle/action of course). So upon a string change, I decided to tweak this and replaced the foam under the pickups with a slightly thicker piece as well as adding some pickup height adjustment tubes similar to that on a Strat or Tele pickup for example. This helped a great deal, and now allows me to adjust the pickups to a more optimal distance from the strings which is great. A long overdue task but glad I finally gotten around to it.

More recently, I also decided to give the Descendant Vibrato unit a try after becoming the UK dealer for them! I had received a few requests from potential customers asking about trying one out, and I also wanted some hands on experience for product knowledge about the installation, adjustment and using it too. So out came the original AVRI unit you may remember the guitar having, and in went the incredible Descendant Vibrato unit. What a creation! This addresses so many details about this design of vibrato and guitar style, again, I've written specific articles about this so I won't go into crazy detail here but you can read some of the articles on the product page for Descendant here on the Home of Tone website. Here is an install video I made of the Descendant showing the guitar as it is currently, might be nice to see it!



Safe to say that this humble Squier VM Jazzmaster has been on a serious journey! Body and neck aside, I think everything has been changed and/or modded. Either through my desire to learn more about this wonderful guitar design, interest in product knowledge, demonstration or just further refinement of the guitar specifically after many hours of playing it. It's a true labour of love project, and it's safe to say the current incarnation is pretty astonishing! Sounds stunning, plays beautifully and looks rather nice indeed! It's been a great project and thanks for joining me on it via this series of articles. The Project Offset!

James.

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