Recently I started to notice that the neck on my Fender Jazz Deluxe was feeling a bit rough near the top of the skunk stripe. The first thing I did was thoroughly clean the back of the neck, thinking it might be dirt or something. No dice, still rough. Upon closer inspection I realized that the trouble seemed to be right at the seam of the skunk stripe and the neck, in fact it felt rough at the very top of the stripe and down the lower side about an inch or so. Well, this alarmed me as I was afraid the truss rod might be popping out, but the rest of the stripe seems stable. I decided not to mess with it, I’d been playing my P-Bass more lately anyway, so I’d just live with it.
Shortly after making this discovery my bass took a fall, resulting in a thumb nail size dent on the top of the upper horn. This seems to have been the only damage incurred and there was no change to the neck that I could tell. I was pretty bummed about the dent, and as that I felt the bass was no longer pristine, I decided to take some fine grain sand paper to the back of the neck to see if I could smooth it out. Try as I might, I could not get the neck to feel smooth. You can see in the above picture, if you enlarge it, how the lacquer seems to be pulling away from the stripe and chipping. I was afraid to do too much sanding as that I feared I might make things worse. So again, I decided to leave it alone and just live with it.
Well, it turns out I’m not that good at letting things be. I got the idea to get a new neck. At first I thought big, as in, why not get a neck from an American Jazz bass, an upgrade so to speak. That idea faded quickly when I saw how much an American Jazz neck cost, in some cases more than I paid for this bass in the first place. I looked at replacement necks from Warmoth, Allparts and MIghty Mite, but most cost more than I wanted to spend. While perusing the options on eBay, a Squier Vintage Modified 70′s Jazz Neck caught my eye. Interestingly enough, I had considered buying a Squier VM when I bought this bass, but ended up going with the Jazz Deluxe as I preferred the tone. When I got the idea to get a new neck I had decided to get a maple neck as that I have mostly played rosewood necks and I wanted to try something different. With the Black Block Inlays and Binding, the Vintage Modified neck was hard to pass up, especially for the price, so I went for it.
The new neck took about a week to arrive and installation was quick and painless. I can attest that a Squier Vintage Modified 70′s Jazz Neck is a direct replacement for a Made in Mexico Fender Jazz Deluxe Neck. I simply unscrewed the four bolts from the back of the neck, pulled off the old neck, put the new neck in the pocket and screwed the bolts back in. Seriously, it was that easy. No sanding, no struggling. I did, of course, have to adjust the truss rod a bit once I put strings on it and lower the action some, but now it plays like a dream. The satin finish on the neck feels great, no more rough spots. I put a set of Elixir light gauge strings on and am really digging the tone. Replacing a MIM Fender neck with an Indonesian Squier neck may seem like a downgrade to some, but I couldn’t be happier with the results. There is one thing though, looking at the bass now the tort pickguard is not doing it for me. I realized that I have sort of created a poor man’s Geddy Lee bass here so I’ve ordered a white pickguard to complete the image. I considered adding a BadAss Bridge but think I’ll stick with the Gotoh for now. I’ll be sure to post new pictures once I receive and install the new pickguard.