Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Modifications, Pt 2: Removing Factory Wiring

Looks like the quiet before the storm, does it not?

After I finished the Martin ukulele project, I took the opportunity to tidy up the workbench a bit. I have also been using carpet on the top to protect instruments and stuff from getting dinged up. What happens, though, is the carpet gets little bits of wood chips, component lead clippings, solder, chemicals and another unmentionables embedded in it. So instead of protecting stuff, it eventually has the potential to scratch it or worse. So it has to be periodically replaced.

I ran out of the last hunk of replacement carpet I had on hand, so I went to the nearby Despot and got a couple yards of new carpet. In a daring new color called "Desert Sand." Ooooohhh.

I've alluded to the parts-gathering for the Squire Vintage Modified Jazzmaster project. I did one post on this a few weeks back, but I postponed it due to delays in getting all the parts.

Guess what? The parts are all here!

What the heck could be in that can?

So let's get to it.

I had the pickguard removed a while back, but now I went ahead and took the pickups off the body so I could remove the whole assembly.

If this looks like a mess of spaghetti (mmmm), it's not far from it. What a disaster. Most leads are way too long and the solder joints are very poor. I think we now have part of the answer as to how Fender sells these so cheaply. All the money goes into the body and necks! Yikes. But we're going to fix all this.

Couple of things here. You can see the famous Jazzmaster pickup height adjustment foam blocks. Not a bad scheme actually. I'll remove these blocks and attach them to my new pickups.

But the other thing in the picture is a mystery to me. There are two leads with lugs attached to the body of the guitar. The other ends go to the tone pot where a bunch of other grounds wind up as well. Now, you'd think this is a good thing if it were an actual star grounding scheme. But it's not! The body is just painted wood...I have no idea why these lugs are there. They serve no purpose at all.

Luckily for me I'm going to do a proper grounding scheme, and I can reuse these lugs.

The other really scary thing I found is that there are shielded wires for a lot of the wiring. A good thing. However, the shields are grounded at both ends! They should only be grounded at one end! Grounding at both ends creates a ground loop, which means hum. Someone needs a lesson in wiring 101.

And finally, quite a few of the connections were done poorly. Rather than run a bare lead through a tab, they were just soldered onto the tab. One of them snapped right off. Very poorly done. Maybe that's why this guitar was a factory second?

I have a whole new pickguard I'm going to use. I decided to just take everything off the original pickguard and then reassemble it onto the new one to make sure it still worked before I do any wiring changes.

There were bits of that plastic that covers a new pickguard under the nuts for the pots. Just saying.

Here's the original Jazzmaster wiring rat's nest harness removed from the old guard.

Now to put it on the new guard...but first I'm going to do Modification Number One!

This is semi-related, bear with me.

So I was in Sears not too long ago getting some other tool and spied these allen wrench sets on sale. I couldn't resist. I think the metric set was 10 smackers and the SAE set (it says "inch") was like $11.99. What a bargain! I have a couple of other sets but none this complete. They come in these nifty convenient holders too. And they are labelled with sizes on the inside.

Everytime I use a hex wrench now I'm reminded of Toy Making Dad. Apparently his parental units used to collect them! He's inherited their collection and he has them displayed on a wall in his shop.

Anyway, I used my new 1mm hex wrench to take the roller knobs on the rhythm circuit off their controls.

Then I took the knobs outside to the Crawfish Spray Booth, primed them and painted them white. I thought the original black would clash with the new pickguard. This is Modification Number One.

Knobs on a stick, anyone?

Check out the page from the Kokomo Perspective I used to protect my spray table! I like to read while I paint.

In doing a test fit of the new pickguard, I found that about half of the mounting screws for the new one don't exactly line up with the old holes. You can see the old hole, and a mark I made where I'll drill a new hole.

The new one (which I got from the nice folks at WD Music) is for a US-made AVRI Jazzmaster reissue. Supposedly it's the closest pickguard to the VM Jazzmasters. And indeed it is, but there are a couple of small gotchas, like this.

The holes are no big deal. If you've read some of my other posts, you know I spend many hours filling holes and divots on guitars, so I'm not fazed in the least by having to fix some holes. (Could be the name of a song there...?)

Usually, on fine acoustic instruments, I fill 'em with hardwood sawdust: rosewood, ebony, maple, etc.

But this isn't a fine acoustic instrument, so I decided that spackling paste would be perfect. Quick and easy to apply. Who's going to see them anyway? Besides, who knows what Mystery Wood this thing's made out of?

All Posts on the Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Modification Project:

Part One: Starting Disassembly
Part Two: Removing Factory Wiring (This page)
Part Three: Shielding
Part Four: Wiring Modifications and Curtis Novak Pickups
Part Five: Neck Inserts and Installing Mastery Bridge
Part Six: Buffalo Bone Nut and Final Setup
Part Seven: Modified VM Jazzmaster Visits the Garden
"Ching" Rhythm Circuit Revisited: 28 April 2014


Post a Comment 5 comments:

  • Anonymous said...
    September 13, 2014 at 5:20 PM
    those lugs attach to a layer of conductive paint. there's your shielding.
  • Yr Fthfl Blggr said...
    September 14, 2014 at 9:49 AM
    Hi -
    I thought that too at first. Tested it for continuity. It's just paint - I believe it's primer.
  • Anonymous said...
    March 1, 2017 at 5:49 PM
    Hello, just got my new squier vintage mod jazzmaster and pickups started humming very loud at first after playing only half an hour, then there became strange buzz when I played with little bending riffs and now the mics are almost complete quiet, lots of hum and scratching when moving volume pot :( Could there be some wire popped of from the soldering? Very good guitar but the electronics don't seem so reliable to me... It's weird that when I push down where the tremolo arm is attached the hum disappears, is it grounded there? Thank you, if u have time to answer, I'm a newbie at electronics so I think I'll take it to guitar repairer to do the same thing as you did with yours...
  • Yr Fthfl Blggr said...
    March 2, 2017 at 9:19 PM
    The bridge is grounded, there is a ground wire that runs through the body and contacts one of the vibrato thimbles.

    It's possible that something has come loose, hard to tell without looking at it. You can see from some of the other posts that the wiring is pretty messy. Anything you can do to have it cleaned up is a pretty good idea.

    I agree with you, it's a cool guitar and a lot of fun, but it's clearly made to a price. And there is some cost-cutting in the way it's built.
  • Anonymous said...
    March 9, 2017 at 1:06 PM
    Hello, thx for answering :) Greetings from Finnland.

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