Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Talk about modding or building your own guitar from scratch.
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mathias
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Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by mathias » Thu Jun 04, 2015 7:33 am

Hi all,

I recently added up the numbers, and after lusting after vintage JMs on Reverb that I'll never get, and being disappointed playing AVRI's, I decided to build my own Jazzmaster with a Warmoth body and neck. I know these aren't vintage correct, but I'm hoping it gets me towards what I'm after. Among my stable of guitars, I have a Squier VM Jazzmaster already, and it's not bad, but that basswood body is super heavy. The Squier's electronics seem to be going already, too. (The SD JM pickups, on the other hand, I really like.) After adding up the numbers, it looked like the Warmoth body + neck was the cheapest option if I did the finishes myself. (Guitarmill would've been a better deal if I wanted them to finish it, I think. And now that I'm deciding how to finish it, I wish I had thought more about going that direction.)

I snagged a super lightweight (3lbs 11oz) one-piece Swamp Ash JM body off Warmoth's showcase and added a strat route to the middle, thinking that it will get me even a little lighter. But then I realized I could put a pickup there. Still haven't decided on that -- maybe a strat-sized Novak Lipstick, but I'll have to think about switching. I ordered a tortoise guard to go with it.
Image

I particularly love how the grain changes around the elbow contour!

The neck is a custom Warmoth Pro Construction, with roasted maple and rosewood. I don't like gloss guitar finishes, and I've had a few oil finished necks, so I figured that I'd like raw wood even better. If I don't end up liking the roasted maple, I can get it sprayed with a light coat of satin clear, I bet. The roasted maple has a darker color than other maple, which is nice. And I'm told it smells like maple syrup -- so we'll have to see if that is true when it comes. Pretty basic specs on the neck: 6105 frets, 1-11/16" nut width, GraphTech TUSQ nut. Vintage-style Gotoh tuners.

Current plan for hardware is Novak JM-V neck, JM-FAT bridge, a Mastery bridge, and an AVRI vibrato. I'm starting with the traditional switching/wiring. I've got a wiring kit on the way with cloth-covered wire, CTS pots, a Switchcraft jack, and orange drop caps.

As far as the finish, as I mentioned, I really don't like gloss finishes. They feel like plastic and I just don't like them. I've got a semihollow Telemaster that I'm finishing up right now (Padouk top with an f-hole on a heavily-internally-routed Alder body) that I'm putting a Tung oil finish on, and I like that. But since the Warmoth body is Swamp Ash (albeit with a nice grain, if I do say so), I didn't want just a clearcoat or stained finish. (Not a fan of the dark brown stain finish that so many Fenders got in the 70's..). The grain is too nice to cover up with an opaque color, in my opinion.

So I decided to attempt a sunburst on it, with the contingency plan to cover it in a solid color finish. After doing research, I settled on Wudtone, which doesn't seem to be that popular outside of the UK and has both good and bad reviews, but the video made it look rather easy and similar to the way I apply a tung oil finish. I've ordered a sunburst kit with their Goldenrod and Mahogany, along with a body finish kit with full black (for the edges, but again, I could stain it all black if the burst doesn't work.) So we'll see how that goes. To help offset some of my anxiety about pulling off a perfect sunburst on the first try, I went online and found a place selling a stack of 1/8" thick swamp ash boards. I'm going to sand those down to a smooth finish and practice the burst edge on them one or two times before trying it on the guitar body. (Here's a shot of a Wudtone sunburst: http://www.wudtone.com/australia/wp-con ... 5x1024.jpg" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; )

I learned a ton from reading http://mmguitarbar.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; 's blog, http://jimshine.com/jazzmaster/intricac" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; ... jazzma.htm , and lurking in threads here, so I just wanted to thank everyone for creating this resource. I'll try to document the build process as parts arrive, but I'm about to go on work travel for a week so there will be no progress until I get back.

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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by Footbutt » Thu Jun 04, 2015 7:51 am

i'm looking forward to this project!

what are you going to do about a pickguard? Warmoth bodies usually need Warmoth Guards...
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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Thu Jun 04, 2015 8:41 am

That's really nice!!! It will be very nice to see this come together. I'm usually a Warmoth guy (still love them, just want to try my own hand at a body next time) and the wudtone finishes are gorgeous!!

I'm really curious to see how it's gonna sound with an ash body. I love the grain of ash (and yours is a beauty by the way!!!!), not to mention the weight, but I'm planning a JM project myself and I always think that traditional JM's are alder. Please post a video when it gets done!!
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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by mathias » Thu Jun 04, 2015 8:51 am

Footbutt wrote:i'm looking forward to this project!

what are you going to do about a pickguard? Warmoth bodies usually need Warmoth Guards...
Ordered a pickguard in tort from Warmoth at the same time. Got the Strat pickup route in the middle on it, but may cover that up to start since I'm not decided on the middle pickup.

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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by mathias » Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:03 am

Short update: I've got the body, pickguard, and quite a bit of hardware. I still need to order the pickups.

The neck came today. Warmoth's roasted maple is really neat! I love natural finishes and this neck needs no finish at all..

Image

Image

I have to leave for work travel again on Monday so no more progress for at least another week :squint:

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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by Jumpchamp » Wed Jul 01, 2015 9:23 am

i think you'll like the wudtone. i started using it on a build, but unfortunately the color didn't work out for me. it was their olympic white and i tried putting it over mahogany. i was worried about it being pink but the chart on their site said it would work out....buuuut it ended up being pink. or at least pinker than what i was going for.

i chalk that up as my mistake (aka - should have known better) but i wouldn't hesitate to use one of the darker colors, or the white on a whiter piece of wood. so easy to apply and looks really good buffed out just a touch.

enjoy!

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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by kdanie » Wed Jul 01, 2015 3:41 pm

Don't wait long to get some kind of finish on that neck, unfinished necks will twist or bend without some kind of finish on it. I waited 3-4 weeks to finish a neck once and it's totally useless now.

I like the idea/concept of Wudtone and have tried it twice, first was Hot Auburn on alder which turned out too orange, the second was Black Magic Woman on alder which turned out gray. I like the idea but I didn't get results that looked anything like the pics they show on what is obviously ash. Most of it was probably just me but now I'm reluctant to spend that much $$ on something that may not end up like I want. Good luck with the finish, I'm looking fwd to seeing your results.

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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by mathias » Wed Jul 01, 2015 4:32 pm

kdanie wrote:Don't wait long to get some kind of finish on that neck, unfinished necks will twist or bend without some kind of finish on it. I waited 3-4 weeks to finish a neck once and it's totally useless now.
This is Warmoth's "roasted maple" which they say doesn't need a finish, so we'll see how it does raw.

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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by mcjt » Thu Jul 02, 2015 7:52 am

How does maple twist when it is not finished for 3 weeks?
kdanie wrote:Don't wait long to get some kind of finish on that neck, unfinished necks will twist or bend without some kind of finish on it. I waited 3-4 weeks to finish a neck once and it's totally useless now.

ken

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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by Roadhouse » Thu Jul 02, 2015 8:07 am

I have built many Warmoths over the years and the quality has always been great. Barring some fret end polishing the necks have been great minus one neck that had one high fret. I think you will be very happy with guitar overall. I've been very interested in a roasted neck. Hard to believe it doesn't need a finish but that's great. I think once you go raw it's hard to go back. I haven't had a raw maple neck yet but I'm sure it feels great.

I think a light colored stain and clear finish on that body would be awesome!
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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by kdanie » Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:30 pm

mcjt wrote:How does maple twist when it is not finished for 3 weeks?
kdanie wrote:Don't wait long to get some kind of finish on that neck, unfinished necks will twist or bend without some kind of finish on it. I waited 3-4 weeks to finish a neck once and it's totally useless now.

ken
All I can say is that it was straight when it arrived and when I finally decided how I wanted to finish it there was a twist in the neck, not a big one but enough that it can't be used. It WAS in NorCal during a wet winter so I suspect the kiln dried maple sucked up moisture from the atmosphere and just took off.

I know that roasted maple is baked and even more dry than normal neck maple but that seems to me to make it want to suck up even more moisture.

ken
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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by jmac » Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:58 pm

Seems like more of a one-off thing. As long as you don't leave it out in the humidity, should be fine.

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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by mathias » Fri May 19, 2017 12:54 pm

Ok, this sat for way too long. I have picked it up again, and then remembered that I had a build thread here.

FWIW, the roasted maple neck sat waiting in my basement and my home office for two years without a finish and doesn't appear to be warped. We'll see once it is on the guitar whether it is twisted or ruined :P

The body still needs a finish. I never committed to the Wudtone. I was worried about messing it up. Trying to figure out what else to do. I've messed up spray can lacquer finishes in the past, and I've done a wipe-on tung oil finish in the past (that I didn't really like..) but I could attempt stain + tung oil on this body.

Curtis Novak pick-ups have been ordered.

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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by hpr_hpr » Fri May 19, 2017 2:09 pm

The neck will be fine if it hasn't been sitting under tension (i.e. with other stuff on top of it), roasted maple is really darn stable . . . .

Get some OSMO Polyx oil for the neck (Amazon has it) I have a roasted Maple neck finished with it and it really brought out a nice honey color (the raw wood was kinda blah) ... and raw naked wood has a bad tendency to attract grunge when handled like a guitar neck . . .

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-YDwZDBddVYY/ ... .29.09.jpg

You can see the difference between the raw wood and the oiled version here, the first pic is the raw neck and body (roasted maple for the neck, mahogany for the body), the 2nd pic has the neck coated with the oil (BTW the body in the first pic was stained with red mahogany and then coated with the oil). Sand the neck to 400 - 800 grit, apply oil (2 or 3 coats), let dry for a moth or 2 (you can play no problem during that time), then give the back of the neck another light sand with 800 grit . . . it'll be silky smooth and feel just like well sanded uncoated wood.

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Re: Building a Warmoth Jazzmaster

Post by mathias » Sat May 20, 2017 4:43 pm

Things are falling in to place. About 2 weeks ago I started emailing around to places I could find that build and setup Jazzmaster-style guitars. A builder that is located close to me got back to me today, and I'll likely go with him to do a nitro burst finish and do the assembly (mostly, I want him to install the bridge thimbles.) Once the Novak pickups get here, I'll wire up the pickguard -- I've got plenty of soldering experience so I can handle this myself.

Ordered a Mastery bridge and tremolo kit today, as well.

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