Fender Reggie Hamilton pickguard on a standard Jazz.
I have a MIM Jazz bass. It is bone stock at the moment. My absolute favorite pickup is the Dimarzio Model P. I've owned two basses, a Hondo and a Westone, that both had Model Ps fitted, and I loved the tone, if not the basses themselves.
My ideal situation would be a PJ bass with a Model P and Model J pickup. I've tried a bass with Model Js but never owned one.
I see that WD Music sell Reggie Hamilton pickguards, which are routed for P pickups. I understand that the MIM Jazz bodies have wider routes around the neck pickup, but that I would have to remove wood still to get a P pickup to fit. However it would appear that a Reggie Hamilton pickguard locates the P pickup closest to where the neck J pickup is located on a standard Jazz (whereas an Aerodyne or Blacktop pickguard has the P pickup located closer to the neck).
To do the minimal amount of damage it would appear, short of going down the Warmoth route, that a Reggie Hamilton pickguard would be the best option to turn my J into a P J. I love the feel of the bass, the balance, the neck, the ergonomics, but I hate single coil hum and the slightly 'stubbier' tone I get with the J neck pickup. I love the sound of both pickups combined and I love the bridge pickup soloed, but I find the neck pickup to be too marshy and uneven sounding.
So, does a Reggie Hamilton pickguard fit a standard body? Screw hole misalignment I can deal with, but serious discrepancies around the neck route or control plate route will present a problem.
The wildcard option is to find a person in the UK to custom make me a pickguard using my existing one as a template.
Reggie Hamilton bass body;
MIM Standard Jazz bass body;
Very timely post for me. I've been dicking around with the idea of redoing a standard MIM J to fit a P pup in the neck position for some time now and have ordered a J guard from Warmoth with the P cutout to see how it fits on a standard MIM J body and it looks to put the neck pup real close to the same position as the MIM RH sig model. The warmoth guard fits the MIM neck and control plate real close and should be able to work with some minor tweaking. One thing to note on the RH versus the standard AND deluxe MIM J. Notice in your pics how deep the top end (closest to the neck pup) of the control cavity is on the RH and how much larger it is than the cavity on the std MIM. It is also enlarged on the Deluxe J but not as much and not as deep. Reason for this is the RH features an active/passive switch which requires a stacked master volume on the preamp where the Deluxe, with full time active only needs a single level volume pot. In addition to the depth/shape differences in the control cavities, there is also a (very small) difference in where the control plate lays on the body for all 3 versions due to the Deluxe and RH models having a side jack while the std has a top jack so you may need to fill and drill some new holes for your control plate to get it to line up right with the guard. There could also be some light sanding/grinding inside the cavity to get whatever guts you decide to use in the standard MIM J cavity. I attached a pic of an MIM Deluxe J body so you can see the difference between it, the RH, and the std body.
Regards routing for a P pup in the neck position on a std MIM j body, a local tech says it's a simple thing for him as he has the routing templates, router and proper bits to do the job. His price is much less than it would cost me to buy the templates and bits for my router so I've been trying to decide if I want to go ahead and do it or just bite the bullet and buy an RM and call it a day. I hate to buy the RH because I hate to spend that kind of money on something that has the drop D accessory on it. If I knew I could take the Drop D gadget off and put a machine head that matched the other 3 without having to drill and/or leave extra holes, I'd most likely just bite the bullet and get the RH, but since I can't be sure I'm lurking around hoping a good used RH at a reasonable price might bubble up while I study on redoing a standard MIM j to take a P pup in the neck position.
There is also now the recently introduced MIA Hot Rod 70's J bass with a P pup in the neck position, but it's $2100 for a (nitro) painted alder body. If it was a natural (nitro) finish over ash I might be temped but I can't see paying that much for painted alder. For $2100 you could build a really nice warmoth p/j on a figured ash J body.
Either way, sorry to be so long winded, it's just been something I've been studying on now for better than 2 years.
Thanks fhm555 for the well thought out post. I was expecting to see "don't do it brah" all the way down this thread by now. :p
The Warmoth pickguards I've seen appear to have the P pickup route located even closer to the bridge than on the Reggie Hamilton or Hot Rod Jazz basses. The pickguard looks really thin here.
Sadowsky seem to do it right, by adding a bit more 'meat' to the pickguard around the P pickup route;
Which apparently translates thus;
I've contacted a guy in the UK who made me a pickguard before, to see if he can sort me out. It appears that the E - A pickup half needs to be where the neck pickup sits on a Jazz bass.
The routing for the body would appear to be thus;
Here's a pic of the warmoth guard laid on an MIM J body. Sorry for the crappy picture. While it's very hard to see it from this pic, the leading edge of the wrmoth P cutout is in line with the leading edge of the neck cutout. I have not put a scale to it, but it appears the top radius cutout for the p pup mount tab splits the MIM j neck route down the middle. That would put the p pup a bit further back from the neck than the pic you posted of where your guard places the pup, but would put it pretty close to in line with the J neck pup.
Using the warmoth guard as a guide, if there was any wood at all cut from the front of the MIM pocket it would be little more than a skim.
I've spoken to a UK luthier who will put one together for me. I will send him my original pickguard and he will use it, and a Reggie Hamilton pickguard template, to make something that both fits my bass and lets me fit the pickups I want to use.
That Warmoth pickguard really does not let you mess up the route for the D-G half of the pickup! I didn't realise you would have to hog out so much wood either. Even a tiny bit of finish chipping or tear-out could spread under the thinnest part of the pickguard and become visible. The Reggie Hamilton pickguard allows some wiggle room. I've become pretty good at widening pickup routes, but I only have some chisels and a dremel at my disposal. For this kind of work a router is uneconomical.
Sharp chisels and a lot of time and patience. At the end of it all we form a "PJ Jazz Bass" club? Your Warmoth work and my kludged MIM bass.
I hope I end up with this;
The neck pickup will be slightly closer to the neck, I don't have block inlays and I use a VVT control plate, but the idea is there!
I'll keep an eye out here and hopefully we can make this happen.
I'll tell you though, I've been thinking about a Warmoth Dinky J body with a P/J set up in ash. My US J Plus has a downsize J body and I love that thing. If it had a P/J pup setup I doubt I'd own any other basses. :D
Here's my little stock Fender dinky J.
Fender made a dinky range?
Just once for a few years in the early 90's. It was called a Jazz Plus and featured lace sensors and the same (active) preamp used in the Kubiki Factor basses. It also came with a Schaller quick change fully locking machined bridge. The 4 string neck is 1.5" at the nut but it is very very slim when viewed in cross section. It is the slimmest (front to back) bass neck I've ever held in my hands. It's a killer playing bass and the Kubiki pre made it a killer sounding bass that can sound like anything from a straight up P to a standard J and most anything in between. I always got compliments on my sound when playing it. It was the only bass I owned for many years until I bought my first MIM to use in a series of outdoor shows in and around the NW Florida panhandle in mid summer when the humidity was so high uncovered stuff would drip water after the sun went down. I didn't want to risk my Plus so I bought the MIM and it sold me with it's quality for dollar spent and ability to remain stable through extreme temp and humidity changes.
"So, does a Reggie Hamilton pickguard fit a standard body? Screw hole misalignment I can deal with, but serious discrepancies around the neck route or control plate route will present a problem."
SOrry I didn't bother reading the other replies. The pg will fit but you may have to route out the cavity for the P pickup--because the RH P pickup sits about 1cm closer to the bridge than other PJ pickguards.
Hey Chuck. That bass looks awesome! I love the figured control plate! The 2-saddle bridge is an interesting choice as well, cool stuff.
If that is a Reggie pickguard, it doesn't leave you with too much room for error! I'm practicing on a junker bass body. I don't own a router, but I do have a dremel with a bunch of different heads. With some careful measuring and templates I think I might be ok...
I'm going to get a pickguard made here in the UK by The Bass Doc (as he appears on basschat). I will send him the pickguard from my bass. He has a Reggie template,and he is even going so far as to check Dimarzio Model P pickups fit the route... a wonderful guy!
I used a drill & wood carving knives. Looks hideous under the guard but it doesn't show with the pg on. You'll do fine w/ dremel.
I've been experimenting with different dremel heads. I guess if I have to remove a lot of wood then I can use some forstner bits on a drill first... I like using chisels, but some bodies seem to carve like butter and others tear out badly. I can never tell which way it will go until I start hammering away.
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