How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

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Futuraforthewin
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How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by Futuraforthewin » Thu Nov 16, 2023 7:06 am

Hello all!

I'm building a Vox Phantom set up like a Les Paul Special with P90s and a Jazzmaster trem.

On the Jazzmaster the trem is routed and drilled directly in the body. The bridge is mounted through the pickguard.

I'm going to have to mount the trem on the pickguard. Here's the question:

Can I cut a square routing hole in the pickguard and then attach the trem with screws through the pickguard and into the guitar or do I have to screw the trem into the guitar and then cut the pickguard around it?

If I mount directly through the pickguard will the extra height mess up the intonation?

I appreciate any advice!

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GilmourD
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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by GilmourD » Thu Nov 16, 2023 7:56 am

Futuraforthewin wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2023 7:06 am
Hello all!

I'm building a Vox Phantom set up like a Les Paul Special with P90s and a Jazzmaster trem.

On the Jazzmaster the trem is routed and drilled directly in the body. The bridge is mounted through the pickguard.

I'm going to have to mount the trem on the pickguard. Here's the question:

Can I cut a square routing hole in the pickguard and then attach the trem with screws through the pickguard and into the guitar or do I have to screw the trem into the guitar and then cut the pickguard around it?

If I mount directly through the pickguard will the extra height mess up the intonation?

I appreciate any advice!
It shouldn't affect intonation (as that's a function of the distance between the bridge saddle and nut/frets) but the added height will affect break angle with relation to the bridge, which is why a lot of offsets end up with shims in the neck pocket to allow the bridge to be raised while keeping action good. Also, with the pickguard being a softer material than the vast majority of body woods, I'm not sure what affect that would have on sustain and tone since the strings are anchored to the trem.

What I would do, if this were my project, is make sure you are absolutely 100% certain the trem is located correctly and the body is routed correctly for the trem. You can even do this initially with the trem mounted to the guard. However, once that's good to go, I would cut the guard so that the trem can be mounted directly to the body. I would do this by cutting the hole slightly smaller than the outline of the trem plate and then slowly and gently trim that until the trem can drop right into where it was, lining up with the screwholes you probably already drilled. The reason I suggest doing it this way is so you don't see body between the guard and the trem once you're done.

Now, one thing you may want to note is that your pickguard material may also be thicker than the trem plate. That won't be a functional issue and is also generally a thing with regards to Jaguar control plates being thinner than the pickguard. If it bothers you on a cosmetic level, you could probably create a shim out of some maple veneer of the correct thickness and cut it to the shape of the trem plate and the hole in the body.

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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by Futuraforthewin » Thu Nov 16, 2023 9:27 am

Thanks GilmourD! That's great advice.

I think cutting this pickguard is going to be one of the big challenges of the build. My plan is to buy two raw three-ply sheets and give it a shot myself. If I %^#% it up I'll try again. After that I'll call in a pro.

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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by GilmourD » Thu Nov 16, 2023 3:27 pm

Futuraforthewin wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2023 9:27 am
Thanks GilmourD! That's great advice.

I think cutting this pickguard is going to be one of the big challenges of the build. My plan is to buy two raw three-ply sheets and give it a shot myself. If I %^#% it up I'll try again. After that I'll call in a pro.
Just make sure you measure twice. And then when you think it's right, measure again. Then when you're ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE you have it dead on, measure another time to be sure. Then take your time cutting.

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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by MattK » Thu Nov 16, 2023 3:37 pm

At first I thought, what is this terrible idea? and now I am absolutely jonesing to make a Jazzmaster with a full-front guard and cutouts for the trem and pickups.

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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by timtam » Thu Nov 16, 2023 7:56 pm

Cutting pickguards without pro tools is one of the most painful processes in guitar building. If you don't hate plastic now you will by the time you finish, if all you have is coping saw, dremel, files. There's a reason why people have built entire businesses just on cutting pickguards, both standard and custom. I have hoped for a long time that someone would come up with a way to do it with just a simple (trim) router and using an existing pickguard as the template (rather than needing a wood template for the router to follow). But I haven't seen it yet. These are the simplest approaches I have seen recently. One uses a simpler (plastic ?) template for a new pickguard shape rather than a wooden template, and also uses only a hobbyist-style benchtop router unit rather than a "pro" table router (but it's substantially more expensive than most handheld routers). The other does use a wooden template, but uses a handheld jigsaw for the rough pickguard outline cutout and a handheld router for the finer cut and the bevel.
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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by Futuraforthewin » Fri Nov 17, 2023 5:35 am

I'm joining a maker space so I'll have access to a CNC and a laser cutter. It might MELT the plastic, which would be a problem if you're me, which I am.

It's worth a shot though!

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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by Futuraforthewin » Fri Nov 17, 2023 5:38 am

Another issue is that the trem and pickups will be mounted to the body but the electronics and input jack will be on the pickguard. All a part of life's rich pageant.

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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by GilmourD » Fri Nov 17, 2023 12:07 pm

Futuraforthewin wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2023 5:35 am
I'm joining a maker space so I'll have access to a CNC and a laser cutter. It might MELT the plastic, which would be a problem if you're me, which I am.

It's worth a shot though!
That's a thing I need to do: join a maker space... I have so many weird, wacky things I'd love to do that I don't have room for or can't afford the tools. LOL

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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by MattK » Fri Nov 17, 2023 1:36 pm

Futuraforthewin wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2023 5:38 am
Another issue is that the trem and pickups will be mounted to the body but the electronics and input jack will be on the pickguard. All a part of life's rich pageant.
True of every Jazzmaster.

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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by Futuraforthewin » Fri Nov 17, 2023 6:01 pm

GilmourD wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2023 12:07 pm
Futuraforthewin wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2023 5:35 am
I'm joining a maker space so I'll have access to a CNC and a laser cutter. It might MELT the plastic, which would be a problem if you're me, which I am.

It's worth a shot though!
That's a thing I need to do: join a maker space... I have so many weird, wacky things I'd love to do that I don't have room for or can't afford the tools. LOL
The one here in lovely Rochester NY is BANANAS, I highly recommend checking one out near you!

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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by epizootics » Mon Nov 20, 2023 12:07 am

That pickguard material is actually harder than most body woods, it's only flexible because it is two millimeters thick. I see no issues with that. However, having the trem mounted on top of it means you'll have to unscrew it every time you need to get under the pickguard. That's not a massive problem but it can get annoying when you're finishing up. Make sure all of your electronics are in place and working before you string it up!

If you have access to a CNC machine, use it. A router, whether it is mounted on a CNC machine or not, is the only way to get clean bevels on a pickguard. It is also fairly easy to make a base for a trim router that's large enough to use it upside down, but you still need to find a practical way to cut & shape MDF to make templates.

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Re: How should I mount a Jazzmaster trem on a pickguard?

Post by Futuraforthewin » Mon Nov 20, 2023 6:50 am

epizootics wrote:
Mon Nov 20, 2023 12:07 am
That pickguard material is actually harder than most body woods, it's only flexible because it is two millimeters thick. I see no issues with that. However, having the trem mounted on top of it means you'll have to unscrew it every time you need to get under the pickguard. That's not a massive problem but it can get annoying when you're finishing up. Make sure all of your electronics are in place and working before you string it up!

If you have access to a CNC machine, use it. A router, whether it is mounted on a CNC machine or not, is the only way to get clean bevels on a pickguard. It is also fairly easy to make a base for a trim router that's large enough to use it upside down, but you still need to find a practical way to cut & shape MDF to make templates.
More good advice. I knew I was in the right place!

The oversized pickguard is going to be a pain. I'll have the wiring tested by an expert at the maker space before the pickguard goes on. That's one reason I chose an LP Special configuration over a Jazzmaster style - the wiring is a lot simpler.

It seems easier to mount through the pickguard?

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