Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

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loveinathens
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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by loveinathens » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:44 pm

Tl;dr -- hope you find a solution if you're looking for a problem to solve, but there are other offset shapes available if you just want something that works!

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I get where OP is coming from with wanting any type of string to work on a Jazzmaster tremolo, but I honestly think this is an issue solved by better string construction, which most of us could attest to. I mean, string companies wouldn't have developed reinforced/specialized tremolo sets since if there wasn't a need for it. Since OP is proposing an engineering solution for this though, I'd love to see how it plays out.

Been thinking a bit about what they said too re: Fender lacking passion and drive/Leo not letting this continue.

Sure, it's been out there half a century but how long has it been relevant outside of niche spaces? You could argue that outside of say 62-67, barely anyone gave a shit about the design as everything was either Les Pauls, Strats, Teles, or archtops. Our asymmetrical little friends were gathering dusk on pawn shop racks while people started rocking through the 70s/80s.

I mean, took Fender until like, the 1980s to put out the two-point trem and at that point, G&L maybe had the dual fulcrum tremolo as well? How many of those ever made it on an official offset release? They weren't making them anymore, so I'm guessing zero outside of mods. My point being, yes the JM bullshit is kind of a pain in the ass but is also a product of its time.

If you like the ergonomics of a Fender Jazzmaster but don't want to put up with the trem, consider swapping yours out with an American Performer Jazzmaster with the Strat trem. Has more Strat-like pickups, but they're easy enough to replace with an AV65 set.

If you want a smoother trem experience and don't mind MFDs, the G&L Doheny is the offset form factor with more of Leo's post-Fender sensibility mixed into the instrument.

If you want a Jazzmaster with a Les Trem like you alluded to earlier, maybe a CME American Special JM is for you since those already come with AV65 pickups.

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Lamar Fandango
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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by Lamar Fandango » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:56 pm

Nobody uses nickel Fender Bullet strings? I keep strings on a long time, beat the trem hard, and rarely break strings. Maybe the bullet thingy makes them more durable at that particular weak point?

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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by loveinathens » Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:00 pm

Lamar Fandango wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:56 pm
Nobody uses nickel Fender Bullet strings? I keep strings on a long time, beat the trem hard, and rarely break strings. Maybe the bullet thingy makes them more durable at that particular weak point?
That was the point of the design I think, specifically for trem use? I've never tried a set but I've seen people swear by em.

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Lamar Fandango
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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by Lamar Fandango » Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:21 pm

loveinathens wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:00 pm
Lamar Fandango wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:56 pm
Nobody uses nickel Fender Bullet strings? I keep strings on a long time, beat the trem hard, and rarely break strings. Maybe the bullet thingy makes them more durable at that particular weak point?
That was the point of the design I think, specifically for trem use? I've never tried a set but I've seen people swear by em.
I love them. But I also like them after a week or two's worth of grime, and I've used them for so long that my amps are EQ'd just right and my Vol & Tone roller and knob comfort zones are based on those strings. So maybe I built up my sound around those strings where most people would buy different strings to tweak their sound. Now that I'm writing this down, it sounds kinda stupid.

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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by Horsefeather » Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:49 am

Yeah, there are other options that don't present the issues that the Jazzmaster does and it would be easy enough to build something with JM pickups that achieved the basic sound but without the fuss.

But I do like the Jazzmaster. I also like the idea of running it completely stock, to have as close an experience to the guys back in the early 60s as possible. Surf music is my passion so you get where I'm coming from?

But having to use specific strings or risk breaking them is just too much for me to take. I was cool with having to reposition the strings on the little threads every now and again and the rocking bridge didn't bother me as much in practice as it does in theory.

Faced with actual debilitating issues, though, I've been pushed over into Mod mode. They should have had roller bridges from the start and it's an easy (and reversible) swap so I'm going for it. And if it has an impact on the string breakage, great. If not, I'll then revisit that issue and see what I can figure out. I'm hopeful that ensuring the two bits of string coming off the ball end are horizontal is all it will take. Given that so many people don't have any breakage issues, I have to wonder if it's down to this little detail, which is probably governed mostly by chance.

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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by loveinathens » Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:17 am

Horsefeather wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:49 am
Yeah, there are other options that don't present the issues that the Jazzmaster does and it would be easy enough to build something with JM pickups that achieved the basic sound but without the fuss.

But I do like the Jazzmaster. I also like the idea of running it completely stock, to have as close an experience to the guys back in the early 60s as possible. Surf music is my passion so you get where I'm coming from?

But having to use specific strings or risk breaking them is just too much for me to take. I was cool with having to reposition the strings on the little threads every now and again and the rocking bridge didn't bother me as much in practice as it does in theory.

Faced with actual debilitating issues, though, I've been pushed over into Mod mode. They should have had roller bridges from the start and it's an easy (and reversible) swap so I'm going for it. And if it has an impact on the string breakage, great. If not, I'll then revisit that issue and see what I can figure out. I'm hopeful that ensuring the two bits of string coming off the ball end are horizontal is all it will take. Given that so many people don't have any breakage issues, I have to wonder if it's down to this little detail, which is probably governed mostly by chance.
Eager to see any developments! Also, I think the Kahler saddle mod is pretty interesting. Were you thinking Mosrite when you came up with that?

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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by timtam » Tue Feb 18, 2020 4:37 pm

Horsefeather wrote:
Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:49 am
They should have had roller bridges from the start and it's an easy (and reversible) swap so I'm going for it. And if it has an impact on the string breakage, great.
If roller saddles somehow improve your string break issue, that's good. But the original rocking bridge design relies on high friction between the saddles and the strings. Leo describes it that way in the original patent. So unless it's a JM with a fixed TOM/AOM bridge (which does need low friction saddles), low string-saddle friction can lead to inconsistent rocking, where the bridge does to return to where it started after trem use. The strings must 'grab' the saddles and move the bridge as far forward and back as the strings themselves move over the bridge point. The need for friction is one reason why higher gauge strings (greater tension) and/or greater string break angle (eg tapered neck shim to get the bridge higher) often improve bridge performance.

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Bronco Billy
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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by Bronco Billy » Wed Feb 19, 2020 12:48 am

I've had this issue for years, with Ernie Ball's, D'addario, and almost every other brand.

It happened when I put on the Mastery bridge on my guitar. I emailed Woody at Mastery, and he told me it happened to Nels Cline and Thurston too with D'addarios. He switched them over too GHS Boomers, which lock the ball end differently, and no issues after that.

My personal perspective on why it happens, is the pull over a non-rocking bridge, is too hard. If your guitar is shimmed to get good hight on the bridge, allowing the string to have bigger push on the saddles. I once accidentally forgot to tighten the two small screws holding the baseplate of the mastery, which made the bridge a bit loose, and not fixed. I didn't break strings at that point.

My solution now, is to solder the windings, or play GHS Boomers or D'addario NYXL.

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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by Horsefeather » Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:48 am

Timtam, I clarified back on page 1 that the bridge will be fixed. Otherwise it would be nonsensical. The way I did it on my Mustang was to remove the stock thimbles, drill the holes out a bit larger to accommodate some steel bushings I found, and insert those flush with the body. The bridge posts are actually smaller than the inner diameter of the bushings but due to a slight offset between bushing spacing and post spacing, the bridge ended up fitting in them very securely.

With the JM I'm going to do it differently, though. I don't want to make a permanent change. I think I'm going to fab a new bridge piece--in large part because the saddle hole spacing on the stock one doesn't match my Kahler saddles exactly--and I will make it with simple holes at the ends rather than posts so I can use either studs or bolts somehow. Yamaha did it nicely with little bits that push the saddles all together from either end.

Image

It has also occurred to me that a (thick) metal pickguard with the bottom edge turned up 90 degrees to function as the saddle anchoring flange could work too but I just got this gold guard so I'll stick with it for this project.

As for the string ends, I think I'll bend some U-shaped (well, more like E-shaped but without the middle arm) pieces of wire to insert into the ball ends in pairs to keep them aligned with the holes vertical. That is, three pieces of wire total, each piece servicing two adjacent strings.

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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by StevenO » Wed Feb 19, 2020 3:34 am

Pepe Silvia wrote:
Mon Feb 17, 2020 1:58 pm
I run Ernie Ball RPS Slinkies to fix this issue. I have never had a breakage like this since.
This.

I recently just bought a set of Fender strings for my Jazzmaster, which I will solder the ball end of the strings, and I'm going to see how long the strings last in comparison. I had the previous Ernie Ball RPS strings on the guitar for over a year without breaking.

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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by Horsefeather » Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:57 am

A little update. I've just gotten my Jazzmaster back together after swapping the pick guard and I did two things: I swapped in some Kahler roller saddles onto the stock bridge and I made a little alignment helper for the top two strings out of a nail. It's crude but it does seem to work as envisioned.

Actually, I don't know if the ball ends ever rotate once they've been installed. Perhaps attention to that upon installation is all it takes to ensure that the hole of the ball is vertical and the two pieces of string coming off it are therefore lying horizontal. Anyway, I'll see if I get another string breakage.

Something else I discovered after installation of the new string is that I've been having an issue with the high E pulling out of the vintage tuner. Before my last break I was encountering this and had to keep tuning it up. I didn't realize what was happening at that time. Now I think maybe the stress of that is what caused the break. At any rate, I found an easy fix on youtube, which is to put the string end into the hole, make one wrap around the entire post, then make one wrap around just one half of the post, then continue as normal. Works like a charm.

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Image

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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by alexpigment » Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:04 pm

Horsefeather wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:57 am
Something else I discovered after installation of the new string is that I've been having an issue with the high E pulling out of the vintage tuner. Before my last break I was encountering this and had to keep tuning it up. I didn't realize what was happening at that time. Now I think maybe the stress of that is what caused the break. At any rate, I found an easy fix on youtube, which is to put the string end into the hole, make one wrap around the entire post, then make one wrap around just one half of the post, then continue as normal. Works like a charm.
That's a pretty cool idea with the nail! As for the high E, this is the one case where locking tuners have an advantage on the vintage ones (and I say that as a person who despises locking tuners). The strings are just flimsy enough to where the 90-degree kink doesn't keep the string inside the post. Glad to hear you've found the trick to keeping them in.

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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by DeathJag » Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:13 am

Wrap a full turn over the string first, the rest under. That has worked for me for ages. I don’t get what locking tuners are supposed to other than the same thing the above method does.

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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by JVG » Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:22 pm

There are numerous variations on this idea to stop the high E slipping. A guy who was working on a guitar for me years ago knew Hank Marvin, who told him that back in the day the preferred method was to put the string in the hole (as usual), then make a ‘figure 8’ pattern around the split tuner post, before tightening up. This creates three hard angles in the string rather than one, and makes slippage pretty much impossible.

Cheers!
J.

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Re: Jazzmaster String Breakage Theory

Post by timtam » Mon Mar 02, 2020 4:53 pm

JVG wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 12:22 pm
There are numerous variations on this idea to stop the high E slipping. A guy who was working on a guitar for me years ago knew Hank Marvin, who told him that back in the day the preferred method was to put the string in the hole (as usual), then make a ‘figure 8’ pattern around the split tuner post, before tightening up. This creates three hard angles in the string rather than one, and makes slippage pretty much impossible.

Cheers!
J.
My string breakages are mostly at the tuners, so I now avoid all stringing methods that add extra bending points/kinks to the strings (I've tried most of them). One sharp bend is unavoidable. The rest are optional. However it is probably a tradeoff between tuning stability and breakage rate. Someone needs to do a study on breakages/string slipping with locking tuners versus vintage slotted/holed versus non-vintage string-through. ;)

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