Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Discussion of newer designs, copies and reissue offset-waist instruments.
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hamletpowpowpow
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Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by hamletpowpowpow » Fri May 22, 2020 12:02 pm

So, like the heading says: which version of the JM requires the least amount of modifications?

I don't get this idea of dropping $1100 or so on a MIJ or MIM only to have to gut the thing, add a mastery, new pickups, the whole shebang.

Is there a version out there that's just great as is? The Mod Shop American Professionals really tempted me with V65 pickups, but apparently, those need a new bridge and benefit from a pickup upgrade as well. I could always wait for a used AVRI to show up with a Mastery, but...

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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by garyptaszek » Fri May 22, 2020 12:21 pm

This is a pretty interesting question. I managed to score both my CIJ Jazzmaster, and CIJ Jag for under £500 each, I couldn’t imagine paying out what they’re apparently worth these days and then having to upgrade all the hardware and pickups... not to mention the tiny frets.

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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by Steadyriot. » Fri May 22, 2020 12:22 pm

Nothing needs anything. It comes down to what you want out of it. AVRI's are great out of the box, as are the new American Fender lines. The Classic 60's lacquer and Roadworn are great too. And the Classic Player, though not popular because of looks are rock solid guitars. Even the new Squier Classic Vibe's seem to be pretty good.

On all those guitars, (except the Squier I guess) the only thing to consider changing would be the bridge, as that's part of the offset set-up hassle. They don't need it though, it's just easier to some.

So the question is: what are your expectations?
It won't be a Tele, and it won't most certainly be a Les Paul as far as setup concerns.
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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by Severed Hand » Fri May 22, 2020 12:44 pm

I got my 1994 MIJ Jazzmaster for $500 and a AVRI Jaguar for $400 last year. I ended up trading the jaguar and $100 bucks for a Custom Shop Jazzmaster with a mastery bridge. I’d say if you’re patient enough and frequent ebay, reverb, letgo, Craigslist, and OfferUp there’s deals to be had especially in the next few months.

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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by chgiles » Fri May 22, 2020 12:45 pm

Steadyriot. wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:22 pm
Nothing needs anything. It comes down to what you want out of it.
This is it, they vary so much it depends on what's important to you. For me I wanted the traditional layout (pickup type, bridge, rhythm circuit and trem placement) but with headstock truss rod adjustment and preferably bigger than vintage frets, and it so happens the Squier CV is the only Jazzmaster in the current range that has all that.The only mods I did were to shim the neck and loctite the bridge post screws (the bridge doesn't need replacing if you do this). I was prepared to spend more but any of the other models would have required pretty drastic modification for me to be happy.

With that said, for me personally, I'm not too bothered about the pickups, they're good enough for me, but someone more discerning would probably want to switch them out. Similarly, it is a Squier, so the overall fit and finish is not as great as an American Fender (still pretty decent though) – that doesn't really bother me, but if if you care about that sort of thing, then it probably would.

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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by adamrobertt » Fri May 22, 2020 4:04 pm

No JM "needs" modification. The idea that every JM needs a Mastery, new pickups, new wiring, etc. is really not true. It just depends on how you like your guitar. Offset fans also tend to be tinkerers.

Most Jazzmasters are perfectly fine with the stock bridge if you set it up properly.

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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by Debaser » Fri May 22, 2020 4:15 pm

If you think a guitar “needs” something out the box, it’s a bad purchase—not for you.

If you already know in your mind what you want, then don’t let us stop you. When that happens to me, I never ask, I go for it. Just make sure you can return to stock ::)
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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by andy_tchp » Fri May 22, 2020 4:16 pm

None of them "need" a Mastery.
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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by mbene085 » Fri May 22, 2020 4:21 pm

adamrobertt wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 4:04 pm
No JM "needs" modification. The idea that every JM needs a Mastery, new pickups, new wiring, etc. is really not true. It just depends on how you like your guitar. Offset fans also tend to be tinkerers.

Most Jazzmasters are perfectly fine with the stock bridge if you set it up properly.
Exactly this. Enjoying tweaking things and "having to" are two different things. I mean, I "had to" do some nut and fret work to my Bullet Mustang, it was binding at the nut so badly that you couldn't get it to keep tune the first moment you bent a note. Its frets felt so grimy that without a polish they made my teeth hurt when bending a note. THAT is "having to" do some work on a guitar.

None of my other offsets had playability or intonation issues. In fact, I've had more issues with persistent buzzing on one of my Mastery bridges than I ever did on any of my stock bridges. My Mustang/TVL/Staytrem bridges and my other Mastery have all been issue-free as well.
Severed Hand wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:44 pm
I got my 1994 MIJ Jazzmaster for $500 and a AVRI Jaguar for $400 last year. I ended up trading the jaguar and $100 bucks for a Custom Shop Jazzmaster with a mastery bridge. I’d say if you’re patient enough and frequent ebay, reverb, letgo, Craigslist, and OfferUp there’s deals to be had especially in the next few months.
I remember those scores, they were absolutely epic deals. I agree that patience is a virtue and have had a string of very successful trades and purchases as well. Not that long ago, I scored an all original '66 jag in good shape for the equivalent of $1900 USD, traded it for a '62 refin worth about $3500, then got it back in a second trade, and traded it to someone else a couple years later for $1600 cash plus a modern JM worth about another $1600. That was my lucky guitar for sure, I came out about $3-4k in the black between the three trades that involved it and the three trades that led up to reacquiring it in the middle, but I was only able to do that because I was willing to make like 6 incremental transactions over 3 years, two of which involved driving to towns 1-2 hours away and two involving shipping guitars 1000km away.

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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by Larsongs » Fri May 22, 2020 8:35 pm

I've tried a few different JM's.. They all needed something... I finally bought an AV65 Jazzmaster.. New Strings & Set up to my liking... Needs nothing... Except to be played!

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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by mbene085 » Fri May 22, 2020 9:15 pm

Larsongs wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 8:35 pm
I've tried a few different JM's.. They all needed something... I finally bought an AV65 Jazzmaster.. New Strings & Set up to my liking... Needs nothing... Except to be played!
You've got me there. I got my av65 used, and it didn't even need a setup. It was just instantly the most sublime JM I've ever played. Fender knocked it out of the park with those.

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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by Mechanical Birds » Fri May 22, 2020 10:53 pm

garyptaszek wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 12:21 pm
This is a pretty interesting question. I managed to score both my CIJ Jazzmaster, and CIJ Jag for under £500 each, I couldn’t imagine paying out what they’re apparently worth these days and then having to upgrade all the hardware and pickups... not to mention the tiny frets.
See, to me, this thread is just another on the giant pile of “what version of this should I buy?” threads that either answer their own question in the OP or are so devoid of details that you can’t make a suggestion because you don’t know what the poster wants. I’m really not trying to be a dick, I swear. It just feels like at least once a week there’s one of these and way more often than not the answer is something that just seems like common sense to me. Either the reissues, which are the most accurate replicas, or something that comes stock with common complaints addressed like the Troy Van Leeuwen.

It’s also subjective - everyone likes their guitars/setups/hardware based on preference so someone could love the stock bridge because it’s so finely adjustable or they can hate it because it seems complicated so they go for something else like a Staytrem or whatever.

Really comes down to what you feel is necessary and what’s not.
Last edited by Mechanical Birds on Sun May 24, 2020 1:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by hamletpowpowpow » Fri May 22, 2020 11:00 pm

Ideally I'm hoping to score a black AVRI 62, but I'll admit I'm getting impatient, and I've been looking at the Mod Shop American Pros...
I've had so many negative experiences with "vintage" guitars, that the idea of a brand new, modernized Jazzmaster sounds pretty appealing. I've also seen a ton of experienced Jazzmaster fans call it "boring" and "uninspired." :bored:

I've been burned by Fender a lot in the past, and the problems I read about various JMs kind of jive with that: weak pick-ups, cheap electronics and hardware. Bear in mind, the "nicest" Fender I've ever owned was a 1970 Mustang, and it wasn't that great of an instrument. Looked gorgeous and felt fantastic, but played terribly. So I moved on, got into things like Travis Bean, spent my money there.

I've never played an actual "great" Fender, but I know they're out there and that people love them. I've always wanted a JM (and maybe a strat), so here we are.

But yeah, I've heard from so many people that getting a mastery, changing the pots to 500, getting new pick-ups, all make a huge difference. I've seen MIJ's go for around $1100-$1400 lately. It seems crazy to put another $700 into that. If an AVRI or Custom Shop rocks as is, I'd instead put my money there.
Last edited by hamletpowpowpow on Fri May 22, 2020 11:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by adamrobertt » Sat May 23, 2020 4:43 am

hamletpowpowpow wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 11:00 pm
Ideally I'm hoping to score a black AVRI 62, but I'll admit I'm getting impatient, and I've been looking at the Mod Shop American Pros...
I've had so many negative experiences with "vintage" guitars, that the idea of a brand new, modernized Jazzmaster sounds pretty appealing. I've also seen a ton of experienced Jazzmaster fans call it "boring" and "uninspired." :bored:

I've been burned by Fender a lot in the past, and the problems I read about various JMs kind of jive with that: weak pick-ups, cheap electronics and hardware. Bear in mind, the "nicest" Fender I've ever owned was a 1970 Mustang, and it wasn't that great of an instrument. Looked gorgeous and felt fantastic, but played terribly. So I moved on, got into things like Travis Bean, spent my money there.

I've never played an actual "great" Fender, but I know they're out there and that people love them. I've always wanted a JM (and maybe a strat), so here we are.

But yeah, I've heard from so many people that getting a mastery, changing the pots to 500, getting new pick-ups, all make a huge difference. I've seen MIJ's go for around $1100-$1400 lately. It seems crazy to put another $700 into that. If an AVRI or Custom Shop rocks as is, I'd instead put my money there.
I mean, the way a guitar plays is all in the setup. Doesn't usually have much to do with how the guitar is built, unless there are serious quality control issues. I see this a lot though - people think their guitar sucks because it plays like shit... and all they need is a good setup. Most guitars ship with a bad setup, too. The only guitar I've gotten with a perfect setup right out of the box is my Thin Skin '65 Jazzmaster... but I think a lot of that has to do with the angled neck pocket.

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Re: Which version of a JM requires the least amount of modification?

Post by 601210 » Sat May 23, 2020 5:12 am

hamletpowpowpow wrote:
Fri May 22, 2020 11:00 pm
But yeah, I've heard from so many people that getting a mastery, changing the pots to 500, getting new pick-ups, all make a huge difference. I've seen MIJ's go for around $1100-$1400 lately. It seems crazy to put another $700 into that. If an AVRI or Custom Shop rocks as is, I'd instead put my money there.
I reckon the MIJs going for $1000 are either sought-after custom colors with matching headstocks or modern versions where pretty much all the famous issues have been addressed.

Anyways, you probably want an AV65. And you might still find you don't like it cause, well, you just don't like it.

If you feel like you've been burned many times by Fender then maybe Fender just isn't your bag. This past year I got into Doom Metal a little bit and really wanted an SG to play that kind of music with. Tried a fair handful of SGs of various price ranges: studios, tributes, standards, juniors, customs, epiphones etc hoping to settle on a nice mid-range one I can bond with. In the end I realized I just don't really like almost everything about the mechanics of an SG and settled on a cheap used G400 worn for messing around. I do still hate pretty much everything about it, but I enjoy playing it for the music I got it for, so that's a success overall.

Point is, if you're looking at a guitar and already thinking of all the things wrong with it, then either it's just not the guitar for you or you just have to accept your differences.
But yeah, I've heard from so many people that getting a mastery, changing the pots to 500, getting new pick-ups, all make a huge difference. I've seen MIJ's go for around $1100-$1400 lately. It seems crazy to put another $700 into that. If an AVRI or Custom Shop rocks as is, I'd instead put my money there.
FWIW, the mods you mention are way off from $700. PV65 pickups are less than $100, a Mastery is $200. Pots are $10 each on the most expensive side. Learning how to set up your own guitar is the cost of a set of allen keys and an internet connection.

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