Jazzmaster Setup and pickup questions

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Jazzmaster Setup and pickup questions

Postby jondom22 » Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:18 pm

Setup Issues - Have a Mastery Bridge on my new JM. Neck is 9.5" radius, 25.5" scale, bone nut, maple neck, rosewood board, 6105 frets made by Musikraft. Neck has a shim (guitar pic). Neck is very straight on its own and I took it to a tech who actually made it a little straighter cos we saw it didn't need too much relief.

I haven't taken out the shim or added a bigger shim, but I can't seem to get decent action on it without getting major fret buzzing all over the fretboard (especially on the low E-A-D strings). I've adjusted the bridge height and messed with the saddle heights/bridge radius, but still no luck with getting somewhat medium to lower action without getting the fret buzz. The neck is brand new, but the buzzing is all over the fretboard so I don't think any of the frets are unleveled.

Questions - Do you think this is the nature of the 6105 frets (they are slighter wider and much taller than vintage frets, but slightly less wide and a little taller than standard medium-jumbos)? Do you think that getting the frets leveled/dressed will resolve this issue? Do you think getting the nut re-cut or getting a new nut that is a little taller would solve the issue? should I remove the shim or put in a larger shim?

Pickup Questions - The JM came with Pickup Wizard Vintage for Jazzmaster pickups with the FormVar Wire and Alnico 5 magents. These are the darker 50's style pickups with the black bobbins, as opposed to the 60's brighter JM pickups with the plain enamel and grey bobbins. Has 1 meg CTS pots, .01uf Orange Drop Cap, and Rhythm Circuit doesn't have any pots in it, instead it is wired as a series/parallel switch. Copper Shielding and an Anodized Aluminum Pickguard (supposedly makes it brighter).

Anyways, after having the electronics checked out buy a reputable tech who said it was done well and all the parts are high quality, I played around with the pickup height to try and find some tones I like on the neck pickup. After messing around with it for countless hours, I find the neck pickup tone sooooo dark, that even when I play it through a Twin Reverb with the bass on 0 and treble on 9, it still sounds very dark, like a blanket over the guitar.

So after asking around a little bit, I'm thinking of putting in a new neck pickup...specifically a Seymour Duncan Antiquity II, as they seemed to be the brightest tone (while still retaining a balanced tone...aka not the MIJ/CIJ pups) based on the pickup comparison thread on the tech thread. I was also told Lollars would be a good replacement as they're supposed to have a clear and hifi sound to them, but based on that same demo thread, the neck pup still seems somewhat dark/strong in the bass and low-mids. Sounds great for playing...jazz (ha, go figure), but not for rock.

My tone for the project I will be using this with is basically JM > Hoof Fuzz > Twin Reverb and the Hoof is on 98% of the time. The current pickup Wizard neck pup sounds very muddy with the Hoof (even when I turn the tone up on the Fuzz and mess around with the shift knob), and I know that the fuzz isn't the issue cos the tone sounds very dark clean.

Questions - Do you think there's something wrong with the wiring somehow? If not, do you think the Antiquity II is the best pickup for what I described I'm looking for? Lollar (should I call them to tell them what tone I want in my pickup)? Any other pups?
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Re: Jazzmaster Setup and pickup questions

Postby araT » Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:12 am

I doubt the frets need levelling if it's a new neck and you don't think there are any high frets, can't hurt to check with a fret-rocker, though. I think it has more to do with the fact that you haven't gotten the setup quite right yet, I would try taking the shim out, lowering the bridge, seeing how low you can get the action like that, and then from there adding shims as necessary to compensate for high action.

Can't answer your pickup questions, but I hear great things about Pickup Whiz, do you have them raised high enough? if they're too low they could be muddy..
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Re: Jazzmaster Setup and pickup questions

Postby jondom22 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:18 pm

araT wrote:I doubt the frets need levelling if it's a new neck and you don't think there are any high frets, can't hurt to check with a fret-rocker, though. I think it has more to do with the fact that you haven't gotten the setup quite right yet, I would try taking the shim out, lowering the bridge, seeing how low you can get the action like that, and then from there adding shims as necessary to compensate for high action.

Can't answer your pickup questions, but I hear great things about Pickup Whiz, do you have them raised high enough? if they're too low they could be muddy..


thanks for the response. the original shim was only a .6mm pic (aka super thin), and when i added the larger pic, the action def got better, tho it still has some buzzing. im really thinking its gonna need a new bone cut cos i checked the frets with a rocker and theyre all level, but the nut is pretty low considering the frets are higher than average frets (6105 from musikraft).

as for the pickup, i tried raising it both higher and lower, and the only thing raising it higher does is make the output louder, which is not what i want. i got it sounding very good though by raising the neck pickup on the treble side and lowering it on the bass side, and i also angled it so that the part of the pickup closest to the bridge is higher than the part closer to the neck. veey nice to es, but i think im def in the market for a more 60's/brighter/less bass/cbs/grey bobbin/plain enamel pickup a la an sd antiquity II. its not that the current pickup doesnt have enough treble (although it is by no means bright), its that the bass/low mids are a little too much, which gets things muddy with fuzz, and makes me have to take out all the bass in my amp and keep the trevle high (which makes it a little spikey slunding with fuzz/od).

anyone know how to make a wooden shim/where to get a pre-fab one? with the pic, im losing some contact between the sides of the neck and the neck pocket, which i noticed causes a tiny amount of less resonance?

thx
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Re: Jazzmaster Setup and pickup questions

Postby jondom22 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:52 pm

also, what kind of material (and where would you get it) would you use for a Nut Shim? How would you install it (how do you take off the nut, how to install the shim, how to reseal the nut)?
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Re: Jazzmaster Setup and pickup questions

Postby andy_tchp » Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:27 pm

The nut will not have anything to do with fret buzz. If the nut was too low it'd contribute to buzzing only when the strings were played open.
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Re: Jazzmaster Setup and pickup questions

Postby jondom22 » Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:38 pm

andy_tchp wrote:The nut will not have anything to do with fret buzz. If the nut was too low it'd contribute to buzzing only when the strings were played open.


I do get some buzzing when the strings are played open, but that makes sense. Do you think that the frets need to be grinded/dressed? I know the 6105 frets are very high to begin with and I've heard that a lot of times when you buy a brand new neck with new frets (including from Musikraft) it needs the frets to be leveled out nicely. Most of the buzzing I'm getting is on the E-A-D strings, with some on the G string.
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Re: Jazzmaster Setup and pickup questions

Postby Telliot » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:48 pm

jondom22 wrote:
andy_tchp wrote:The nut will not have anything to do with fret buzz. If the nut was too low it'd contribute to buzzing only when the strings were played open.


I do get some buzzing when the strings are played open, but that makes sense. Do you think that the frets need to be grinded/dressed? I know the 6105 frets are very high to begin with and I've heard that a lot of times when you buy a brand new neck with new frets (including from Musikraft) it needs the frets to be leveled out nicely. Most of the buzzing I'm getting is on the E-A-D strings, with some on the G string.

I'm sure, being a new Musikraft neck, it needs to be leveled and dressed. Those things basically come off the mill and into a box. Nice necks, but in my experience it's hard to properly level a neck or file a nut before it's been mounted and set up (truss rod, break angle, etc). My advice would be to take it to a reputable guitar tech and have them do a complete setup for you.
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Re: Jazzmaster Setup and pickup questions

Postby andy_tchp » Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:18 pm

Agreed with the above.

Also, regarding the muddy tone, the tone pot isn't wired backwards or something weird, is it? A Twin with the bass on 0 and the treble on 9 w/ a Jazzmaster plugged in with the stock 1M pots should have ear-splittingly harsh treble. '60s' vs '50s' spec repro pickups aren't going to make THAT much difference, something definitely sounds amiss there.
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Re: Jazzmaster Setup and pickup questions

Postby jondom22 » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:39 am

Just giving an update here:

Pickups - All of the electronics were gone over by a tech and there were no issues (pots were as stated: CTS 1meg, and cap was .033uf orange drop). We put in a .01uf cap to see if it made a difference. I ended up purchasing a Seymour Duncan Antiquity II for the neck and soldered it in last night (the first time I soldered anything other than a pair of speakers!!!).

IT SOUNDS AWESOME. Has the exact tone I was going for in my head (warm yet jangley, very balanced and tight but still with plenty of harmonic overtones, full but not overwhelming in the bass/low-mids, upper-mids have a tiny bit more bark). I really ended up liking the sound of my pickup wizard neck pup with the formvar wire and I think it's a great pickup and I highly recommend it for those seeking to replicate the late 50's-early 60's JM tone. I actually compared it to a bunch of early 60's Jazzmasters in nyc guitar shops and the Pickup Wizard neck pup (and my guitar) actually sounded better than all of them (no joke). I just had more tone and more resonance (though the mastery/setup prob have a lot to do with that), but I think the thicker "C" shaped neck on mine really gives it a lot of warmth and fullness.

The Antiquity II in comparison to the Pickup Wizard with Alnico 5 and Formvar wire did exactly what I wanted it to do...reduced the bass/low-mids, tightened up the bass/low mids, and added a little more presence to the upper-mids/treble. Overall, this really enables me to have more clarity and tightness (aka not as muddy) when I play power chords, stacked 4th's, and non-perfect intervals (i.e. maj7, b9, b5) on the lower E-A-D strings, ESPECIALLY when I use my Hoof Fuzz. VERY HAPPY!!! :) I'm gonna prob see how the .033uf sounds again and reinstall it sometime this weel as well.

Set-up: I showed it to some JM enthusiasts/techs at some nyc shops and they all said it looked pretty good, but I should reduce the shim a little, lower the bridge (obviously if I lower the shim), give the neck a little more relief, and have the frets leveled/dressed. So, I took out some of the shim (it was up to 1.84mm, now down to 1.14mm), lowered the bridge, gave the neck a little more relief (had to try it 2-3 times until I found the perfect amount), reset the radius on the bridge saddles back to 9.5". It sounds and plays very nicely, though I still am getting some buzz, and I wish the action was a little bit lower. I'm gonna end up taking it to someone eventually to have the frets leveled/dressed and I think that should be the end all of it (until I decide to put a Novak JM-90 or JM-180 in the bridge :?
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