New Pickguard For My Jazz Bass

I received and installed the new white pickguard for my Jazz Bass and now feel that this project is complete.  Personally I think it looks pretty cool and am really digging the new neck.  For those of you keeping score, we have here a Mexican Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Body with Noiseless Pickups, a Gotoh 201 Bridge, a Squier Vintage Modified 70’s Jazz Neck, and a White Pickguard.  Geddy Lee eat your heart out!

 

 

 

My Neck Replacement Adventure – Fender Jazz Deluxe Meets Squier Vintage Modified

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.

Click to Enlarge

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.  

Ouch!

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.

Squier Vintage Modified 70's Jazz Neck

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.

Before
After


Fender Jazz Deluxe (MIM)

Well I had the itch to check out some Fender Jazz basses as that I have never had one or really played one before and ended up coming home with a new bass.  As I have mentioned before I have primarily been a P-Bass player, but I got to thinking about a Jazz after falling in love with my Mustang Bass.  Essentially the Mustang got me to thinking about the narrower neck on the Jazz and how I might like it.  About this time the latest issue of Bass Player Magazine arrived at my door with, wouldn’t you know it, the cover story being “The Fender Jazz Turns 50”.  After reading the story I was even more hooked.  A few searches on the Talk Bass Forums and I was ready to go out and play some Jazz basses.  At this point I was fairly certain that the Squire Classic Vibe Jazz was the bass for me, but I also wanted to check out the Squire Vintage Modified, a Fender Standard Jazz, a Fender Deluxe Jazz and the Highway One Jazz.  I was also interested in the Geddy Lee Jazz and the American Standard Jazz but really didn’t want to spend that kind of money.

The first bass I tried was the Squire Vintage Modified.  I really liked this bass and played it for quite a while but was really turned off by the painted on block inlays.  I’m also not that big a fan of the maple fingerboard.  Next I tried the Squire Classic Vibe, a nice bass, but it just didn’t do it for me.  Plugged in it just sounded blah.  I moved on to a Fender Standard Jazz and pretty much felt the same way as the Squire, decent bass, but blah.  The last bass I tried was the Fender Jazz Deluxe and wow!  It feels nice, plays nice, and once I plugged it in I was sold.  I dialed in such sweet tones I knew I had to take her home.  Thunderous lows, bright highs and everything in between.  This bass can thump.  To top it off, it was on some sort of special deep discount sale, not sure why, maybe it had just been there a while.  All I know is I got a great deal on a great bass.

So this is my first “Mexican” Fender, and I have to say it is nice.  Black with a Tort pickguard and active “noiseless” pickups.  The fit and finish on this bass look great and the setup wasn’t bad, just took a little tweaking to get it to my liking.  My only complaint is the bridge.  It has the standard Fender bridge, which I am not a fan of at all.  The bridge saddles actually slide around a little, side to side, which seems cheap to me.  Anyway, I couldn’t deal with it so I bought a Gotoh 201 bridge.  Now this bass feels complete.  I am completely happy with her and have been really getting into the jazz neck. Man I didn’t know what I’d been missing all these years!  Don’t get me wrong, I still like my P-Bass, I’m just also learning to love the jazz.