Difficulty of a parts JM

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tune_link
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Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by tune_link » Thu May 06, 2021 6:13 am

Was thinking of finally pulling the trigger on buying an MJT body and making myself a Jazzblaster. Then last night I saw a post on Mike Adams' Instagram page where he got an MJT body and is making himself a parts Jazzmaster and there was some discussion there in the comments on the difficulty of getting it right. I've put together a parts offset before but it was all done through Fender/Squier parts. I've never had to drill pickguard holes or strap button holes. I've never had to route out bridge post holes for thimbles when they aren't large enough. You see where I'm going with this.

I'm really comfortable working on my own guitars for a lot of stuff (neck relief/shimming, soldering, replacing pickups, swapping bridges, swapping necks, swapping trems, swapping pickguards,etc....). If I did go MJT am I buying myself trouble though? There was a period where I saw a bunch of MJT bodies regularly pop up from incomplete projects on Reverb where someone else got into it and clearly gave up.

Those of you who have completed projects like this, maybe not the luthier level people who I know are also part of this forum, what did you find easy or challenging about these kinds of builds? I'm leaning toward doing it regardless but I would love to know about others' experiences.

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HarlowTheFish
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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by HarlowTheFish » Thu May 06, 2021 9:55 am

I'm working on one right now (Mustang body with a 25.5" scale length and a JM/S/JM pickup combo), and it's been pretty chill honestly.

I've been working slowly, and most of the stuff I still need is the guts (pickups are expensive and the routes are shallow so I need a very specific switch for the wiring I want) and the neck (got it from Best Guitar Parts/Sound Guitar Works with all the bells and whistles, and they've been super backordered) which I need for lining up the pickguard.

If you're ordering from MJT or somewhere similar, odds are you're already getting a finished body, which is one of the more labor-intensive parts. If you can get yourself a drill press or are particularly confident with a hand drill, enlarging thimble holes isn't particularly difficult as long as you go slowly. Pickguard screws aren't a big deal, especially if you can get your other parts in to help you line it up.

I think a lot of folks drop it because it ends up not being much cheaper than just buying a whole guitar if you're putting really nice parts on it -- I'm gonna be about $300 off an American Ultra when I'm done with my build -- and it takes a lot of time to make sure everything is dialed in just right. I also see a lot of "great guitar, just wasn't what I wanted" when I see basically mint partscasters on Reverb because it's also a bit of a guessing game to get the stuff you actually want vs. what you think you want, because you can't try it out in a store or return it if you don't like the finished product.

The easy part is the assembly, the hard parts are picking your specs (which took me like 6 months), finding the right suppliers for the neck and body, and spending a few weeks dialing everything in -- because there's no factory setup and no recommendations -- before deciding whether it's for you or not for you. Worth it if it works, but it can be frustrating if it doesn't quite land and you're just out the money you spent.

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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by schoolie » Thu May 06, 2021 11:44 am

For me, the assembly is the easy part. I've put together many guitars with just screwdrivers, files, and a hand drill. I have much more trouble with the setup, nut work, fret work, etc. It takes me weeks/months to get the guitar playing well enough that it's not triggering my guitar OCD.

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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by kingmedicine » Thu May 06, 2021 1:03 pm

I think as long as you're careful when measuring and drilling it isn't super hard, there's just a little bit more to do for JMs so it can take some time. I've built up 5 partscasters at this point, with my first one being a JM build, and only had basic setup and pickup replacement knowledge when I started. As long as you double check all your measurements and alignments before drilling (especially the mounting screw holes for the vibrato) and go slow, you should be okay. I think the biggest challenge was the time investment in general...but I probably expected it to come together unrealistically fast.

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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by HNB » Thu May 06, 2021 1:28 pm

Best way to learn and get better is by doing. It isn't terribly hard. Just takes time and making sure to check info before you do stuff to make sure there isn't a simpler and more effective way to try to do what you are doing. Use forums like this and youtube to help answer questions. :) The best advice is to not rush. If you are frustrated, take a break. Trying to work too fast or when you are getting irritated can lead to harder problems to fix. :)
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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by tune_link » Thu May 06, 2021 3:26 pm

Really appreciate the advice! I’m gonna do it! Very stoked now!

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rank
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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by rank » Thu May 06, 2021 4:45 pm

tune_link wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 3:26 pm
Really appreciate the advice! I’m gonna do it! Very stoked now!
I think you'll love it & have a definite resource of all the amazing builders on here. I second taking it slow & tackling one aspect at a time & I'll help anyway I can!
We are merely moving shadows.

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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by leslie846 » Thu May 06, 2021 6:28 pm

I agree with the time issue. I just finished my JM partscaster and it took months rather than weeks to completely get it done. Drilling the bridge holes was scary, but I measured it repeatedly a ton. Good luck!

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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by hexes » Thu May 06, 2021 7:27 pm

tune_link wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 3:26 pm
Really appreciate the advice! I’m gonna do it! Very stoked now!
you've got the best library for offset partscaster knowledge here.

I made a parts jag and saved big on the body by choosing a mim player jaguar body. it took quite a bit of work with a router and some drills to get it to be a REAL jaguar.

just do your homework on MJT partscasters. the older bodies needed chiseling in the vibrato cavity, for example.

go slow, drill pilot holes for the pickguard screws. tape off your drill bit at the proper hole depth you want to act as a depth marker. a hand drill is perfectly fine if you can keep it straight and level, these actually help quite a bit: https://www.woodcraft.com/products/mile ... 20Products

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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by Lost In Autumn » Fri May 07, 2021 2:28 am

I've done several. It's not that difficult, just be patient and take your time. As others have mentioned, assembly is easy, proper setup is a pain. I usually do 98% of my build, then take it to my local luthier for fret dressing.

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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by tune_link » Fri May 07, 2021 3:34 am

rank wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 4:45 pm
tune_link wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 3:26 pm
Really appreciate the advice! I’m gonna do it! Very stoked now!
I think you'll love it & have a definite resource of all the amazing builders on here. I second taking it slow & tackling one aspect at a time & I'll help anyway I can!
:-* :-* :-* :-* :-* :-* :-* :-* :-* :-* :-*

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tune_link
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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by tune_link » Fri May 07, 2021 3:35 am

hexes wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 7:27 pm
tune_link wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 3:26 pm
Really appreciate the advice! I’m gonna do it! Very stoked now!
you've got the best library for offset partscaster knowledge here.

I made a parts jag and saved big on the body by choosing a mim player jaguar body. it took quite a bit of work with a router and some drills to get it to be a REAL jaguar.

just do your homework on MJT partscasters. the older bodies needed chiseling in the vibrato cavity, for example.

go slow, drill pilot holes for the pickguard screws. tape off your drill bit at the proper hole depth you want to act as a depth marker. a hand drill is perfectly fine if you can keep it straight and level, these actually help quite a bit: https://www.woodcraft.com/products/mile ... 20Products
Those drill guides seem like something that would be very helpful and I never would have even thought about that! Thanks!

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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by ohm-men » Fri May 07, 2021 4:14 am

As long if you use parts from reputable supliers, it's not very difficult. Especially when you are in control of the specs.
If you are using cheap supliers (for instance Ali express) you will be faced with specs that do not always fit the discription, thus making the task of assembly more difficult.

MJT has a good reputation and usually is compatible with Fender/Squier parts.
Other spupliers like Warmoth do their own thing, but are very honnest about this as well as they advertise this on their website.

I recently build a cheap Jazzmaster using mostly Chinese (Ali Express) parts (mostly to see if it could be done) But it was a lot of work and I only started this project because I had build my own bodies in the past and I'm pretty handy with power tools and had the expirience.
For a novice, I would not reccommend going this rout...
In the end the guitar turned out really good, but partly due to sheer luck with the parts I got send and because I got I pretty good idea of what to do with parts that were imcompatible with each other.

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Norrin Radd
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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by Norrin Radd » Fri May 07, 2021 7:15 am

HNB wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 1:28 pm
Best way to learn and get better is by doing. It isn't terribly hard. Just takes time and making sure to check info before you do stuff to make sure there isn't a simpler and more effective way to try to do what you are doing. Use forums like this and youtube to help answer questions. :) The best advice is to not rush. If you are frustrated, take a break. Trying to work too fast or when you are getting irritated can lead to harder problems to fix. :)
^^^^^^. This is spectacular advice right here. And time and doing are the only way you get better. I’ve been doing this partscaster thing for about six years now. Just yesterday I pulled apart 2 Strats that I have done and swapped the necks and some electronics. Now when I did that, I had to completely re-setup the guitars, because the neck pockets or the necks themselves are not identical dimensions. It wasn’t hard to do, mostly just a matter of adjusting saddle heights, but I wouldn’t have known to do that if I hadn’t put together a dozen guitars previously! I’ve just gotten to the point where I’m comfortable doing nut work, and the next step for me is to become comfortable doing fretwork. To me, the ultimate skill in making a partscaster play like a custom shop is getting those frets precise. Good luck!

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Re: Difficulty of a parts JM

Post by LVC » Fri May 07, 2021 4:32 pm

tune_link wrote:
Fri May 07, 2021 3:35 am
hexes wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 7:27 pm
go slow, drill pilot holes for the pickguard screws. tape off your drill bit at the proper hole depth you want to act as a depth marker. a hand drill is perfectly fine if you can keep it straight and level, these actually help quite a bit: https://www.woodcraft.com/products/mile ... 20Products
Those drill guides seem like something that would be very helpful and I never would have even thought about that! Thanks!
Something like this could also be very handy

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