Thursday, November 12, 2009

Modifying the Jazzmaster Tremolo

before upgrade

after upgrade

The Jazzmaster has been a favorite guitar for lots of artists for a long time now. Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., the Smiths, just to name a few, use this guitar almost exclusively. I love this guitar, it has an interesting body style, a 25.5 inch scale length (just like a Stratocaster), and a fantastic tremolo bridge. The Jaguar has a similar bridge with a shorter scale length. The only drawback that I can see is that you get a lot of noise from the bridge. Since the strings are so long from the saddles to the tail, you get a lot of vibration and ghost notes that come throught the amplifier. I've heard other Jazzmaster users complain of this issue as well. Fixing the problem is extremely easy, with a simple screwdriver you can install a "buzz stop." This mod does not negatively effect the playability or tone of the guitar, and it's 100% reversable.

This mod fixes three problems with the Jazzmaster:
1. As I mentioned before, it stops the bridge from buzzing.
2. It holds the strings tighter to the bridge so there is no chance of the strings falling off the saddles.
3. It increases the bearing pressure* of the guitar.

*bearing pressure is the downward force of the stings on the nut and the bridge. As the angle of the string over the contact points increases, so does the bearing pressure. The higher the bearing pressure, the more attack and sustain a guitar will have. Fender Telecasters have quite a bit of bearing pressure because after the strings pass over the saddles, they make a 90 degree turn down through the body, this keeps things pretty tight. Telecasters are by nature snappy guitars with lots of sustain.

The Buzz Stop is simply a bracket with a roller. To install simply remove the strings, feed them through the roller, screw down the bracket with the two screws and reinstall the strings. Done! Now play for a while and decide if this is something you like, my guess is that you will.

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