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'Jazzmaster' bass(es) build thread

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by johnk_10, May 20, 2011.


  1. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    i've had a few TB members ask me to post a thread about the building process of a couple of basses that i made, so here it is.

    i always thought that the Fender Jazzmaster was a really cool looking guitar, and after they released the CIJ jaguar bass, it made me really think about building it's cousin', the jazzmaster. to maintain the look of the guitar model, i felt it had to have the same number of switches and controls on the pickguard. it also had to be lightweight (under 9 lbs) and balance perfectly on a strap. Since the jazzmaster guitar was at or near the top of the line, i decided to use bound necks, with either dots or block inlays, and have the narrower width jazz bass profile. even though the guitar version has two pickups, i decided to go with just using one quad coil (nordstrand MM4.4) to keep it's apearance simple and clean, yet still have quite a few tonal options.

    to keep it light, i started with the lightest piece of swamp ash i could get my hands on and draw out the body shape:

    jmasterblank-01.

    cut it out on the bandsaw, and started to make the pickguard for it:

    jmasterblank-02.

    The neck pocket was then routed so I could start drawing out the routes for the pickup, pots, switches and preamp.

    body-route-layout-01.

    next, the pickup and control cavities were then routed, received rounded edges with a 7/16" roundover bit, and then the arm relief and tummy cuts were made. body weight before paint was now only 3lbs 3.4oz (under 3.25lbs!).

    body-routed-01.

    .....a pic of test fitting the complete pickguard assembly:

    bodyw-pguardassembly-01.

    the pickguard assembly was shielded with foil tape, and then all of the components were mounted to it. the preamp is a vintage 2-band Stingray clone (thanks TB member unclefluffy!) that i built up for it.

    jmaster-pickguard-shielded-01.

    the pickup, a quad coil Nordstrand MM4.4, allows for complete hum-free operation in any mode, including the split settings. i rearranged the coils so it can run as a split p, all coils on (series and parallel modes), and reverse p configurations. here's a pic of it mounted with the battery clip also in the bass. i used solderless connectors on both the pickup and the battery so it would be simple to assemble, service and change the battery.
    jmasterbassbodyw-pickup-01.

    i wanted the pickup to have a similar appearance to the Jazzmaster guitar's soap bar pickup, so i modified a the pickup cover, converting it to a four tab mount system as opposed to the 3 point mount system on a stingray. it mounts using four 4-40 stainless machine screws, into 4-40 threaded inserts in the body (like a stingray).
    jazzmasterbasspickup-01.

    next i sealed the body, and shot it with shoreline gold nitro. once cured, I painted all of the cavities with conductive shielding paint:

    jmaster-body-shielded-01.
     
  2. loopee

    loopee Supporting Member

    May 12, 2009
    Surrey, B.C. Canada
    subbed
     
  3. BassPenguin22

    BassPenguin22

    Jun 5, 2010
    This looks like it will be pretty cool. Subbed
     
  4. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    the swamp ash/onepiece maple neck one was then assembled and string up with TI jazz flats and i couldn't be happier with the way it looks, plays and sounds. total completed weight is 7lbs 9 oz, and it balances perfectly on a strap with NO neck dive.

    jmaster-completed-01.

    jmaster-completed-10.



    when building thses basses, at first, I thought that I could save some time and money by ordering an unrouted Jaguar bass body from Warmoth. so, I ordered one in alder with just the neck pocket route. it ended up taking 7 weeks to get it, and to be honest, I was VERY disappointed with it. the shape was horrible (completely wrong), the roundover on the edges was 1/2" and looked like a blob, and the arm relief and tummy cuts looked like an amateur built it. the good: it was a nice piece of alder and it was sanded very smooth.

    the picture below is the way that it arrived. i placed a Jaguar pickguard on it to see if the dimensions were correct, which obviously they weren't! i seriously considered just sending it back since it was going to need a complete reshaping:

    warmothbody-01.

    in this pic, you can see where the pickguard will have to align with the lower horn. there's also way too much body behind the bridge as well. what were they thinkin'?!!!

    warmothbody-02.

    after reshaping the body all the way around it's perimiter on an oscillating drum sander, I drew out a rough line as to where the tummy cut will be deepened and reshaped:

    warmoth-reshape-07.

    here it is after the edges were rounded with a 7/16" roundover bit and the tummy cut reshaped:
    warmoth-reshape-08.

    Top view, showing the deeper and smoother transitioned arm relief:
    warmoth-reshape-13.

    here's #2's body with all of the routing for the pickup and controls, and with it's dot/bound rosewood fingerboard neck:
    jmasteralderw-neck-02.

    then i mounted the neck, bridge & pickup and strung her up to see how she sounded:
    jmasteralderw-pickup-04.

    jmasteralderw-pickup-01.

    2jazzmasterbasses-01.

    the Nordstrand MM4.4 pickup showing its four seperate coils:

    LPBJM-02.
     
  5. Love this. Great work. What color are you gonna shoot on the alder body?
     
  6. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses

    thanks!
    i shot the alder one lake placid blue with a matching headstock, but they both have parchment pickguards and parchment pickup covers with parchment knobs.

    shielded:
    LPBJM-01.


    completely assembled:
    LPBJM-07.

    LPBJM-10.

    the blue one ended up weighing 8lbs 5oz (only one ounce over 8.25lbs).

    2-jazzmasterbasses-02.

    2-jazzmasterbasses-01.

    and the controls on both of them operate like this:

    jazzmaster-controls-01.
     
  7. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    More awesome work man. Your quality is outstanding.

    I would love to have the gold one :)
     
  8. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    thanks! you have exquisite taste ;). that gold one is my #1 gigging bass. :)
     
  9. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I guess great minds think alike ;)
     
  10. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    I'm not familiar with Jazzmasters (and Jaguars). What do the treble and bass switches do?
     
  11. Luckie

    Luckie

    Jan 1, 2010
    Northfield MN
    Man, you do such incredible work John.
    If only I had the swag for one of your basses.
     
  12. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Those are treble/bass boost pots
     
  13. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    US-NY-NYC
    Do they use active circuitry to do it?
     
  14. That is above awesome!
     
  15. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    yep. again, here's a pic of the underside of the pickguard:
    jmaster-pickguard-shielded-01.
     
  16. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    BTW, i have since installed a 'bassmute' system on the gold one and i love it with the TI jazz flats to get the 'motown sound ' out of it.

    mute-1.

    bassmute.
     
  17. loopee

    loopee Supporting Member

    May 12, 2009
    Surrey, B.C. Canada
    what a great idea
     
  18. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    I dig the Bassmute - might have to get one (or more) of those for myself !
     
  19. antnebass

    antnebass Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2008
    Just Ordered one can wait!!!! Trying to decide if i should match the head stock
     
  20. Wow, sooo clean. Nice work!
     

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