Buildup of a 1963 Fender Jaguar
by Doug Lesho
(Revised 2/2006)
The following chronicles the assembly of a 1963 Fender Jaguar electric guitar. This Jaguar had been professionally refinished at world-renowned Lay's Guitar Shop in Akron, Ohio. The Jaguar was a parts-grade guitar project that I bought off eBay last year to replace a beloved '64 Jag that I regretted selling some months earlier. This time, I decided to build a Jaguar exactly how I wanted it, with the goal of recreating the look and feel of a low-use original. I will use only original and date-specific parts for the assembly, no reissue or reproduction parts. The body and neck were at Lay's for about 9 months, I spent this time gathering the best parts I could find. I did not seek perfect parts, but those that would be matched well and capture the flavor of a 41 year old guitar, used but not abused.

To that end, I had Lay's strip a previously applied Candy Apple Red refinish from the body and headstock. They then applied the yellow fullerplast sealer, shot a coat of white primer, then applied the Olympic White topcoat in nitrocellouse lacquer, just as Fender would have done in 1963. Next came a clearcoat of nitro, after which a junk set of control plates and pickguard were installed and the clearcoat was slightly tinted on just the exposed areas. This left the untinted Oly White under the guard and plates, and lends realism to a finish that had been yellowed by UV exposure. Finally, the finish was aged to provide the fine lacquer checking which typically occurs over time with nitro lacquer. Following is the glorious result
Note the white ďshadowĒ under the pickguard and control plate areas, and the paint stick marking in the neck pocket. The stick markings originally occurred at the Fender factory due to the body being bolted to a flattened piece of conduit to support it while painting. Also note the fine pink compound  left in the cavities from polishing.
Prior to assembly, there were a few small detail items that I wanted to recreate. First, I made small nail holes in four places on the body to recreate the method that Fender used to dry the bodies. The nails were used as legs and the body set on them for drying. This practice was used all along by Fender through the 50s and into the 60s, even after the advent of the  paint stick in 1963.  However, sometime during the following year Fender created a drying tree which also utilized the paint stick, and eliminated the nails completely. Thus, 1963 and '64 are the only years in which one will see both the paint stick shadow and the nail holes. But please remember that Pre-CBS Fender was largely a by-hand operation, timeline dates are approximate and features often overlap.
These numbers were hastily scrawled in and no particular care was given  to them by Fender originally, or myself now. An authentic factory date would include a month as well, example:  3/63
The nail holes are approximate, as this was a manual operation. Research has found these locations to be somewhat typical.
My next order of business was to start assembling the neck. This is not a mandatory step at this point, I was simply anxious to see the major pieces bolted together. When I purchased the guitar, I discovered the neck had a broken truss rod anchor (that the eBay seller conveniently forgot to mention). Lay's had to remove a section of the brazilian rosewood fingerboard to effect the repair. This was largely the reason for the 9 month lead time, this repair is very tricky and often a neck with this deficiency is simply scrapped. Even though I know the repair is there, it's difficult (impossible?) to see. There may be a slight difference in wood tone of the replaced section, but I cannot detect a seam and not for lack of trying! I find this repair nothing short of amazing.
This neck was manufactured in November of 1963, indicating that the guitar could not have been produced any earlier than this. People sometimes make the mistake that this date is definitive for determining the time of manufacture. Another common misconception is the model code 1. Often mistaken for a date, it rather signifies the model Jaguar. B is the width code, being medium (or standard) width.
I decided based on past experience, it would be best to start the tuner installation by dowelling the tuner holes. These holes are often wallowed out even if the tuners have only been removed once. Being a parts-guitar, there is no way of knowing how many sets have been on this neck how many times. It is safe to assume that at least some of the holes will be stripped.
For tuner holes, Iíve found that toothpicks and good old Elmerís Glue work just fine. They are readily available and often are already around the house somewhere.
After a short cure time, I cut the toothpicks off with diagonal pliers and flattened them with a ball peen hammer and small drift.
I set the tuners in place and drilled two small pilot holes in the headstock at each of the end tuner pieces. With the ends installed, it is easier to fit the remaining inside pieces and they are held together semi-tightly. I carefully drilled the remaining pilots and installed the tuners.
The tuners and string tree. These are original Kluson Deluxe single-lines as evidenced by the patent number on the bottom. The string tree spacer is metal, later these were changed to a nylon plastic.
The JAGUAR spacing on the repro (bottom) was a bit too wide, but I really liked the yellowed background and browned-out Fender lettering as opposed to the clean look of the genuine reissue decal at top.
At this point, I had a big decision to make. I had two decals on hand, one was a genuine Fender reissue logo, and the other was an excellent reproduction. I am normally prone to using only genuine Fender parts, but the repro was a quality aged silkscreen that I thought would look good with the slightly aged finish. Which to choose? I deliberated over this for awhile, setting each on the headstock and taking turns admiring them.
The repro logo won out, and Iím happy with it. I can always swap it later if I have a change of heart.  Now Iím ready to bolt the neck to the body. I will use an original-equipment plastic shim as called for in the Fender drawing. This allows the bridge additional height for clearance over the string mute, without compromising string action. (Since this article was initially published, I did in fact remove the repro logo shown here, and installed the correct Fender reissue logo. As a bonus, the repro logo left a yellowed area that looks quite realistic under the reissue logo!)
Difficult to photograph, the serial number on the plate is L11207. This picture of the neck pocket  displays the shim installed. It will  simply lay there and be sandwiched between the body and neck.
Now the body and neck are reunited ...
I had to reprise the Elmer's / Toothpick trick on the lower strap button.
Itís starting to look like a guitar
I decided to go ahead and install the tremolo / tail piece next. But first the ground wire will be run from the main control cavity to the tail cavity. It will be stapled in place as was the original. Please note that the staple location shown here is erroneous. There should be a very thin staple applied to the face of the guitar, over the bare conductor that is fanned out. Though the method shown here will function fine, it is not truly "vintage correct". I'lll change it next time I restring!
I used an original cloth-insulated black wire and fanned out the conductor near the top right screw hole (as viewed vertically). I later pulled the slack out of the wire back through the hole, which is necessary to ensure the tail fits properly in the cavity and the tremolo operates correctly. The mute slug is also visible in this photo, recessed into the body just left of the right bridge cup. The tailpiece as installed (right).
Itís now time to install the body cavity shielding. They are held in place with small triangular pieces of aluminum known as Glazier Points.  This is where I met my next challenge; I was short 4 glazier points. This is very frustrating as I just know I have a small baggie of them somewhere around here! Now at work stoppage, I decide to quit for today and plan to manufacture some glaziers tomorrow. I will need to procure a sheet of thin aluminum from the hardware store. Itís just as well; I need some new tips for my soldering iron anyway. (As a side note and bit of trivia; a kind reader emailed to inform me that glazier points are commonly sold intact at hardware stores. They are used to secure a glass window into the frame prior to glazing, hence the name!)
I left the pickups attached to the cavity shielding with the ground leads, in order to preserve as many of the original solder joints as possible. Both hot leads will have to be replaced to lengthen them and eliminate the gaudy splices.
The brass cavity shielding with ground wires attached. Note the small triangular pieces known as glazier points. Forums / Day One / Day Two / Day Three