JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by CROSS_guitars » Wed Nov 18, 2020 6:54 pm

Would be awesome if there were a Jag-stang doco on Netflix.

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by BeeTL » Thu Nov 19, 2020 8:19 pm

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by HNB » Thu Nov 19, 2020 8:48 pm

BeeTL wrote:
Thu Nov 19, 2020 8:19 pm
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LOL
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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by jagstanger » Fri Nov 20, 2020 12:19 am

I see all of you shiver with antici-
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-pation :D
Just because you're paranoid, don't mean they're not after you!

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by Amon 7.L » Fri Nov 20, 2020 2:04 am

Here we finally are.
It took much longer than expected to compile this but we realised it would have been impossible to make this last entry the most detailed wrap-up without turning it into basically an over-lengthy novel. We therefore tried to simplify it and provide a more condensate version to ease-up the reading where the passages have already been discussed with bigger insight earlier on. For this reason, there will be hyperlinks in case you need to go back to more detailed paragraphs.

I have also realised that posting all the chapters at once would compromise the experience as you would be just clicking on the very last page to the big reveal but, most important, it would deprive you of the thrill of the real evolution of the detective work.

I then decide that now you’ll be the detectives, we will only share our findings and you’ll get to the conclusions.
To maximize said experience and to provide enough time to digest the big amount of data, later today I will be releasing the first introductive chapters, the other ones will follow up 1 per day (in a row).

We promise you, by the end of the last chapter, as much as you might hate us now for this choice, you will eventually love us.

Now, sit down, get your favourite snack & drink and let us welcoming you to the end of the journey.

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by jagstang » Fri Nov 20, 2020 4:05 am

oh man, what a thriller. Looking forward to every single word you will post. :w00t: :-*

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by Amon 7.L » Fri Nov 20, 2020 4:10 am

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Final Chapter - Part 1: “Prologue”
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We all know the story: at the beginning it was the Polaroid.

Kurt’s favourite guitars were the Jaguar and Mustang.
He took a picture of both, cut them in a half and put them together to make his ultimate guitar, half Jaguar/half Mustang:
The JAG-STANG.

Being him left-handed and struggling with founding good guitars, he wanted the JAG-STANG to be a quality guitar at an affordable price. He didn’t want it to be a signature though, he just wanted credit for the original design.

In 1993, Kurt got in contact with Fender.

Head of Artist Relations Mark Wittenberg and Custom Shop Master Builder Larry Brooks went to visit Kurt to discuss the project.
Larry was then put in charge of turning the concept into an actual guitar and he then worked along with Kurt during the various stages of its development.

After a few test bodies and few refinements, two prototypes were built.
The first one, finished in Blue, was successfully delivered and Kurt had the chance to test it.
Kurt unfortunately died when the second one, this time finished in Red, was in the process of being shipped.

Sure enough, the JAG-STANG(s) we came to know and what was put into the market are nothing alike that very polaroid cut-out and its more refined & detailed sketch.

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by Amon 7.L » Fri Nov 20, 2020 4:48 am

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Final Chapter - Part 2: “ The inception of the Reverse-Engineering”
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Fortuities.

They happen, right?
I feel like it’s well worth mentioning the fact that quite a few things during this soon-to-be research has happened by total fortuity/randomness/accident/limitations or combination of those.

First of which is the fact that being left-handed was cutting me off the market and most importantly, I didn’t like the odd quirks the Production Model ended-up sporting compared to the original Polaroid sketch and, yes… to the Blue Prototype itself.
For that reason only, way back in 2011, thanks to this very forum, I’ve founded all the information I needed to start building a guitar from scratch. At least, for a very first time builder: how to build a body.

One of the two guitars bodies I decided to built was in fact the “JAG-STANG done right” as per Cobain’s own sketch. Not much thought about it, just the “Jaguar/Mustang” crossover.
Since then I wondered how could the final incarnation of Kurt's original ended up being so differently. A question I had to just brush off as “an unfinished working in progress” stopped by Kurt’s death.

It wasn’t until sometime back in 2017 that I decided to build another JAG-STANG.
This time it was the Blue Prototype itself as -again- I didn’t like how different the official is from its predecessor.
With the only aid of some screenshots and my Mustang 69 RI as a reference, I started my journey towards this fascinating guitar with the goal of reconstructing its original shape and making a replica.

Without any crazy deep dive into the instrument, the most striking differences I was seeing in the Blue prototype VS the Production Model were:

1. Different and overall bigger shape;
2. The pickguard followed the shape of the lower horn in a harmonious way;
3. Much bigger lower waist portion below the control plate
.

After some takes, the 4th CAD revision looked good enough to start making some sawdust and proceed with the body construction.
At that point in time the “real goal” was just to get more experience with the guitar building and learn as much as I could whilst the prototype was just a “cool guitar to add to my arsenal”, hence the very easy going “close enough-good enough” approach to the reconstruction & its accuracy.

In 2019 that, by pure chance, our fellow member AcrylicSuperman posted a request for the specs of the JAG-STANG neck with the intent of making a prototype replica.
We realised after some private exchange on the subject that we were on the very same path but with two different pieces of the same puzzle, as he was focused on the history of the instrument whilst I was trying to reconstruct its main shape.
It was by then that I wanted to take a deeper dive on my previous revisions and reconstruct the real shape of the Blue Prototype getting as close as I could get alongside the historical research AcrylicSuperman was conducting.

That’s how the official Reverse-Engineering research thread started and developed until the digital reconstruction reached the point of “as close as I can get” to the photographic data in our possession.
Eventually, after a mad number of revisions, the goal was reached .
That could have been the end of our journey.

Thing is, as if it had its own will, along with the progresses in the graphic department, the actual history of the prototype was unfolding new details.

We just couldn’t stop there.

As per definition, a Reverse-Engineering is "the process by which an artificial object is deconstructed to reveal its designs, architecture, code or to extract knowledge from the object” and that was exactly what we were about to do.

We just had no idea of what was coming…

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by Amon 7.L » Fri Nov 20, 2020 5:35 am

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Final Chapter - Part 3: “ Blue – The prototype and its aftermath”
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The outcome of the background investigation, the study of Blue and its digital reconstruction gave us a new insight, most relevant of all was that none of the cardboard cut-outs comes close to Blue.
Red gets partially close to one of them but, still, It’s not a 1:1 match with either.

Along with it, the first anomalies came to the surface with the first batch of myth busting:

Myth: The Prototypes were built in Sonic Blue and Fiesta Red;
Fact: They were actually a custom Daphne Blue and Dakota Red.

Myth: The JAG-STANG neck was a replica of Kurt’s favourite;
Fact: Aside from the fact that the identity of said “favourite neck” was never mentioned, let’s completely disregard the Jaguar entirely and assume it was his Competition Mustang’s. Thing is, not only Kurt’s own Competition Mustang’s neck doesn’t find any match against the cardboard cut-out but truth is Larry carved the neck after his own Competition Mustang’s.
Furthermore, as we later found out, a template for the neck of the production model was never given, as all it was is just a slightly tweaked MG69 neck.

Myth: Kurt didn’t like the JAG-STANG and wanted contours;
Fact: Believe it or not, Kurt actually like it (and babied it) as it was increasingly put on rotation during shows (even for a full set).
On the contrary, he specifically requested “no contours”.

Myth: Blue prototype was equipped with a DiMarzio H8 and then replaced with a Seymour Duncan JB;
Fact: As per Kurt’s request, Larry commissioned Seymour Duncan a 59 he custom wound.
That is the pickup Blue was equipped with and, as far as we know, it was never replaced with a JB whatsoever.

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by BeeTL » Fri Nov 20, 2020 5:35 am

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by Rgand » Fri Nov 20, 2020 6:47 am

Great synopsis. And what a wonderful ride all the way to it.

:w00t: :D :?

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by Amon 7.L » Fri Nov 20, 2020 10:30 am

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Final Chapter - Part 4: “ Red – From prototype to production model”
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As much one would consider the work done, the history of Blue is so intertwined with Kurt’s custom requested Mustangs that the crossing data we were gathering was sometimes encountering issues within specs/timeline/factual departments.

For example, at the beginning, we’ve got the letter from Scott Zimmerman stating he built the two JAG-STANGS necks along with the custom Mustangs, only to later discover it was actually Larry Brooks the builder of both necks along with the JAG-STANG’s bodies.

We learned to take every information as a grain of salt and to check our data time & time again beyond any reasonable doubt.

Being Blue the main focus in the digital reconstruction, at that point Red wasn’t getting much attention aesthetically-wise and I was just assuming that its state was due to the fact that it was still a prototype subdued to approval and/or final refinements.

Let’s step back one moment and recap the evolution. What we have at this point is:
Pre-Blue prototype----> Blue prototype----> Red prototype----> Production model = 4 different shapes. (+ 2 cardboard cut-outs).


This is a VERY important detail, folks. Don’t forget it:
Whereas Blue was the very first Prototype and -as such- no serial number was given, Red has always been known for being not only one of the two prototypes ever made, but let’s remember it was also officially presented by Fender as “the first Production Model” and, as such, was given a plate with an etched serial number: V069200.


By semantics, a Prototype is by definition: “a first or preliminary version of an item from which other forms are developed”.
Therefore, if Red was in fact the first 1st Production Model in its definitive shape we’d have to assume Kurt had already given his approval, meaning that it was not more a prototype subjected to possible tweaks.
Fender’s marketing approach presented it as being both though.

Eventually, other details were catching my attention as much to notice that Red looked like it wasn’t even matching the Production Model.
Even though I did collect a discreet amount of very straight reference pictures that were proving fret spacing and nut-to-bridge locations to be on the spot, I couldn’t get my head around the feeling of something being off.

After further research and enough visual proof, another previously unknown & undisclosed piece of the puzzle came to the surface: The Production Model JAG-STANGS weren’t always made identical.

The count of the JAG-STANG shapes now changes from 4 to 6 (+ 2 cardboard cut-outs).

I personally contacted Fender Consumer Relations to ask about when production actually started and I’ve been provided an accurate list of specs minus details of the bridge pickups, which we know they change from generic Fender humbucker to the “Santa Ana” later during production.

Data-wise, the Japanese JAG-STANG was produced as it follows:
1st run_ introduced in 1995 - discontinued 1/1999;
2nd run_ introduced: 7/2003 - discontinued 1/2005.

In the quest of finding explanation to the evidence I was encountering, AcrylicSuperman gets in contact with FujiGen only to discover that, as a matter of fact, at some point in 1996 something obscure happened.

Without any given reason, Fender requested FujiGen to return the first body & pickguard set of templates (let’s call it “1st gen”) and sent new ones with a redesigned shape (let’s call it “2nd gen”) for the rest of the production.
The most evident reshaping affects horns & neck pocket areas.
Curious fact & worth noting: NO left-handed JAG-STANGS were made with the 1st gen early templates.

As far as we know, Red never had a proper 1:1 faithful clone even though was supposed to be the 1ST production model & matrix of all the future ones.
Instead, even the 1st gen of MIJ 95-ers looks close but not entirely identical.

This raised plenty of questions and theories to which we were starting to find more & more elements to support our reasonable doubts.
Still, nothing definitive, but facts were suggesting a story that was very different from what we’ve always been told.


Now folks, time for a history class with AcrylicSuperman.

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by AcrylicSuperman » Fri Nov 20, 2020 2:13 pm

Since we are making you wait until tomorrow for Part 5, I thought I would give you a bonus post and share some concert footage with you. This is February 24th, 1994 - Milan, Italy. You'll get to see Skystang 1 for half the show, the Jagstang for the other half and Oranjstang at the encore.

https://youtu.be/MKFPSdZkWQ8

We've mentioned the custom pickup in the Jagstang was based on the 59 model, and we'll touch on that a little more later on, but I did want to touch on this because it was something that I haven't discused. I think most of us if asked to choose one pickup for the Nirvana sound, we'd say the JB, the Hotrail or the Super Distortion, depending on the era that you prefer. I was a little surprised to hear that the pickup was a custom based on the 59 as well because that is not what I expected. You may ask yourself, why would Kurt have chose a 59? And you're probably thinking that is doesn't make any sense.

Well, actually, it does. In the early days of Nirvana, Kurt used a lot of different guitars, but while they were a 2 guitar band, Jason Everman had one guitar that had one of Kurt's Hiflyer pickups in it to try to nail Kurt's sound and his other, his telecaster, had a 59 model so that it sounded different. This was intentional.

When the In Utero tour is set to begin, Kurt puts JB's in his Mustangs and his Jaguar. And while Big John Duncan (who was extremely easy to talk to, by the way) filled in on guitar a few times, it wasn't until September 25, 1993 that Pat Smear officially joins the band. Some of Pat's gear, such as his Hagstrom HIIN, Hagstrom III and several of his Stratocaster that were given to him by Kurt through his endorsement deal, all featured JB humbuckers as well. Of course, Pat also closely followed Kurt's pedal board. When you consider the fact that Kurt recieved the guitar in October, it was probably a welcome change. Not all of Pat's guitars featured the JB, some of them had humbuckers from Gibson and DiMarzio.

I believe that the reason the pickup was requested by Kurt was to differentiate from Pat's gear the best way he knew how, by using the pickup that was once the contrast to his own sound. Pat also used a 59 as the neck pickup of his Hagstrom HIIN. Between Jason, Kurt and Pat, the 59 model did have a place in Nirvana's sound, it is just heavily over looked.

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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by HNB » Fri Nov 20, 2020 2:20 pm

Didn't the Vandalism Strat have a 59 in the bridge?
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Re: JAG-STANG Prototype - Reverse Engineering

Post by AcrylicSuperman » Fri Nov 20, 2020 2:31 pm

HNB wrote:
Fri Nov 20, 2020 2:20 pm
Didn't the Vandalism Strat have a 59 in the bridge?
According to Ernie Bailey it was either a JB or a 59. Personally, I am of the mindset that it is a 59, but I can't confirm that for sure.

EDIT: according to a post here: https://www.offsetguitars.com/forums/vi ... 8&start=30

On Wire Instruments facebook page in 2012, Earnie claimed that the guitar featured a Mahogany body and a 59 neck model in the bridge.

Earnie left the Facebook platform, so this post no longer exists.

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