Well, it has been nearly 2 months since I have posted here, but I can assure you that I have been busy and chatting with Amon behind the scenes. A lot has happened in 2 months, so expect this one to be a long one.
Well, so much has happened that I don't know where to start so I guess starting anywhere is the appropriate choice. As you all know, there was an interview with Larry Brooks who claimed the guitar was sonic blue, while master builder Jason Smith remembered it as daphne blue. In a desperate attempt to get a confirmation one way or the other, I attempted to reach out to the Fender Custom Shop as well as builders who worked there in 1993. Previously, my research indicated that Larry Brooks was deceased. I would personally like to retract that and inform you that Larry Brooks is very much alive. I will touch on that later.
Jason Smith informed me that the custom shop had no records of their instruments from that time and I was highly disappointed by that revelation. I didn't accept it at first. On four separate occassions, I reached out to the custom shop and I received four different answers. Two of which were wrong, one that directed me toward some books and one that flat out told the truth: we do not have records from that time. Just as I was prepared to accept that the records were lost, I came across the first two work logs from the custom shop in 1987. They provided serial numbers, description and color, comments, the customer, who signed off on the body, neck, assembly and set up, as well as dates started and ended. There are a couple initials that I wasn't able to decipher, but JP is John Page and MS is Michael Stevens.
At this point, I knew records existed, but I had hit a dead end. So I began trying to track down old master builders. Some responded, some did not, none of them had the answer I was seeking. I reached out to Gene Baker, who had just started working at Fender just weeks before the Jagstang project began. He pointed me in the direction of Larry Brooks, which is how I found out he is alive. Having said that, Larry is very difficult to reach out to. While Gene couldn't really confirm the color of the Jagstang, he did present me with some insight at the time. I brought up Jason Smith and Gene did confirm that Jason was working in the shop at the time, just not as a masterbuilder, so we were able to take Jason as a credible witness. When I brought up little things like the the neck pickup having a right handed stagger, Gene disclosed that there were times the shop was so overwhelmed that he custom shop may take pickups from the MIA line or a standard body or neck where nobody would notice. He even disclosed a few artists, but I'm not going to create a shit storm, so I will keep their identities safe. But Gene was always straight with me, the good, the bad and the ugly. I provided him with details we uncovered about the clear coat and Gene was able to determine that it was definitely polyurethane. I then mentioned Fender's lost records and I got an answer. Gene had this to say:
"They used a FileMaker data base for master builders that was rather off the company network, just shared on a floppy between John Grunder and Mark Duncan in sales and one machine in a front office that master builders used. But I don't think artist relations used the master builders database. Everything was pretty low technical in computer networking at the time since the internet was barely getting started. Ralph Esposito would have been the guy that would have kept that file if it's still there but he also passed away about a year ago after cancer complications. Not sure who would have carried the torch after him. Both Cruz and Jason Smith were only tune testers in the shop at the time and all other master builders from that era are gone from their employment, although Mark Kendrick did return and was part of artist relations too but I don't think he's working in Corona as a builder, I think he's more global quality control these days. But Mark worked close with Larry, as well as Alex Perez."
The record are lost because they are on an old floppy disk. Ugh!
I reached out to John Page who was also very difficult to reach, but he offered to help if he could. He directed me to Larry first. I did reach out to Larry and I waited and I waited and I waited.
So while I waited, I studied paint and clear coat. I was able to determine that at the time, Sherwin Williams was their paint supplier. I did also manage to get my hands on a set of old paint card and managed to find the old sherwin williams sonic blue. I say old because SW discontinued the color and created a metallic color for Ford that is called Sonic Blue. Luckily, between having a professional painter in the family and an extremely knowledgeable SW rep, I did manage to get my hands on the original specs for that color and provided the info to Amon behind the scenes.
Interestingly enough, while researching paint, I came across Fenders clear coat supplier: Cardinal. For nitro finishes, Fender uses the Cardinal 2000 series as it is fast drying. Having confirmation that the Jagstang was clear coated within a day, day and a half, it would require their polyurethane to be extremely fast drying. Fenders poly clear coat is Cardinal Luthierthane 6779-CLE19661. It is high gloss and fast cure. Dry times via air dry at 78 degrees F are as follows:
Tack Free: 10 Minutes
Dry to Handle: 30 minutes
Dry Hard: 24 hours
It is the perfect candidate and fits our timeline. It is also specifically made for musical instruments. Cardinal was founded in 1952 and while I can't determine if Leo ever used them, I do know that FMIC did from inception.
By this time, I still hadn't heard from Larry, so I asked his former colleague to reach out for me because Larry's social media is locked down tight. In a nutshell, because this is starting to drag on, Larry claims to have used sonic blue (old SW sonic blue) but darkened it to get it closer to the old daphne blue mustangs. He believed it was darkened by 20% (which makes sense because SW will saturate colors in 25% incriments).
It explains why the jagstang looks so different. We collectively determined that the old sw sonic blue actually closely resembles the mij daphne blue. Interestingly, saturating the old sw sonic blue actually turns the finish almost identically into the Duco Daphne Blue used by general motors. Larry, essentially aged a non nitro finish to closely match a nitro finish. Then, of course, it got a little bit darker once the clear was applied. I will let Amon showcase this as he is better equipped to do so. If you want accurate, then you want #88CEED. While a sonic blue was used as a custom base, the final product came out a daphne blue.
In my final analysis, the Jagstang arrived from Fender as follows:
Alder body, 1/4" roundover radius, 1.75" thick
Mustang hardware from Japan.
1 ply pickguard, 8 hole
DiMarzo H8 (bridge), right handed Texas Special (neck)
Wired like a standard Mustang
250k pots, .047 capacitor
Maple neck, rosewood fretboard, pearloid dots
.82 at first fret, .91 at the 12th
Gotoh vintage style tuners
7.25" radius fretboard
6230 fret wire
1.5625" nut width
Neck pocket 5/8" deep, 3" long, 2 3/16" wide
Pickup depths are vintage spec 5/8"
Control cavity about 1.25"
Switch depth about 1.25"
Custom daphne blue finish,
High poly gloss body and neck
Fender spaghetti logo on headstock.
Blank neck plate, no serial. Larry stamped every guitar he built numerically in the neck pocket. Number is unknown.
Mods made after received:
Wiring changes. Humbucker is on in both positions. Neck functions as normal.
Schaller strap locks
SH-4 Seymour Duncan JB*
Tremolo blocked, tail piece flipped
Gotoh ABR-1 bridge installed
Mustang switches chopped down to just above the pickguard.
Control plate drilled to accommodate 500k CTS pots. Capacitor remains the same.
I put this little * next to the JB because there is a possibility that the JB had long legs. Jim Vincent recalls the jagstang getting routed for the JB. The two mustangs that were delivered to Kurt at the same time as the Jagstang both received long leg JB models that were mounted directly to wood. It is quite possible that the Jagstang received this same treatment, however, I have been unable to confirm aside from Jim Vincent's, Kurt's guitar tech on the final leg, word for it.
Thanks for sticking around through this novel. Believe me when I tell you that I shortened it the best I could. Hope that it peaks your curiosity and makes the wait worth it.
Jagstang mystery solved.
Also, the red prototyp, for those that are curious, had a different body shape, 3 ply white pearl pickguard with 10 mounting holes and a dimarzio h3. Otherwise, wiring was the same, hardware was the same, etc.