1964 Fender Jazzmaster Electric Guitar

Hold on for the ride, folks, because this is a long story. The short of it, however, is that this is a '64 Jazzmaster with all-original everything except for its refinished body, some suspect neck width details, and the nut.  Internally, it's also very clean. It now plays like a champ and sounds the biz, as you might expect. I mean -- it's a '64 Jazzmaster! The prices on these are skyrocketing right along the swelling popularity of the model. What newer hip band does not have one of these poking-out from their live racks?

To start the long story, though, let's first talk about all the good -- it's got late '63-dated pickups and a serialization that suggests early '64 manufacture. All of the hardware, wiring, and bits are original. It even has its original bridge cover and the wiring harness has not been touched at all. I just needed to squirt a few shots of contact cleaner to get the harness operating tip-top.

When this guitar arrived for consignment, I was talking to its owner and giving the hairy eyeball to the finish at first. Then I began to convince myself it might be original because it had yellowed just-so and been worn-down just-so and has some clearcoat finish-checking here and there throughout. It doesn't look like proper nitro checking, though -- but I did know that some of these guitars weren't topcoated when they were shot in "custom colors" so I gave it the benefit of the doubt because it sort-of looked worn in an early-'70s Fender style.

Well, that didn't last long! With help from the Fender-fan super-squad of Ben & Victor of Future Perfect, boxes were ticked and evidence was collected and we were back in the camp of this being refinished -- sprayed over an original sunburst at some point. I think, though, that it had to have been done at latest in the early '70s. The wear, the yellowing of the finish, the fact that all of the celluloid on the pickguard and hardware on the body looks like it hasn't been opened since near-new (it's all shrunken since and would have moved more freely if it had been opened-up anytime in the last few decades)... that all suggests to me a pretty old job. What I'm trying to say is: it doesn't look bad! I think it passes for a period paintjob at a glance.

Next-up is the neck. It's stamped B-width at the heel but the nut does not measure 1 5/8" -- it's a hair under 1 1/2" at the nut which suggests it's an A-width neck. The benefit of the doubt would say that someone ordered an A-width neck but there were no A-necks on hand at the time so a B-neck was thinned-down. I mean, that's what the finish on the neck looks like. It looks correct and unmodified. The problem here is that the side dots are missing from the 12th fret to the nut. That suggests that the neck was thinned after it left the factory because it would be somewhat of an oversight to not put the dots back on, right? I suppose it could happen if they were overwhelmed and pushing stuff out the door, but to me that seems a little bit of a stretch as I can pop neck dots on a guitar in a minute or two. So there you have it -- it's an original neck but thinned to something like a late-'60s Gibson profile -- great for closed, sliding, chord-rocking up and down the neck but not so hot if you fingerpick or play complicated melody lines in first position.

The frets, interestingly, appear to be original fare. They track with the frets on other same-era Fenders I've worked-on and owned (briefly, before I needed to make that investment back, heh heh) and so either the neck was thinned and then fretted (which suggests factory work) or someone did a good job thinning the neck without disturbing the fret seating (which is pretty difficult, mind you, as I've had to do it a few times and the frets like to pop-out with powered sanders). The nut, at a glance, looks correct, but the ends are not the rounded, smooth ends I expect on a factory nut.

To recap -- if you like old Jazzmasters and you like a non-standard look and you don't mind a narrow nut width -- this creature might be for you. I was pretty excited to plug it in and lose an hour and a half due to the having-funsies after I finished work on it. Everyone who's picked it up in the shop has simply been excited. It's what these things do!

Repairs included: a fret level/dress and setup work. I added some thin metal shims under the ADGB string saddles at the bridge because the height adjusters for the individual saddles had frozen and I did not want to replace them to be able to get a proper match to the neck radius. I also added some (easily-removable) ferrules that slide into the bridge-leg sockets. These are not necessary but they do restrict the full movement of the bridge forward and back a little bit so that it's harder to put the guitar out of tune simply by tuning-up or bumping the bridge a little by accident. It's something I do for (modern) Jaguar and Jazzmaster owners. I also had to just slightly, slightly enlarge the bass-side bridge-post hole in the pickguard to allow the bridge-leg sockets to mount flush to the body correctly (the celluloid of the pickguard had shrunken and distorted the hole). I took off such a tiny amount as to be essentially unmentionable, but I like to be straight-up about instruments. My last adjustment was to replace the (now-solid) original "spring-foam" for the pickups with some new foam. The hardened coal deposits that were the old foam are now in the case pocket.

Body wood: not sure, likely alder

Bridge: original adjustable

Fretboard: rosewood

Neck wood: maple

Pickups: 2x original Jazzmaster, late '63 dates

Action height at 12th fret: 1/16" overall (fast)
String gauges: 46w-10 lights

Neck shape: slim-med C

Board radius: ~7 1/4"

Truss rod: adjustable

Neck relief: straight

Fret style: medium-low

Scale length: 25 1/2"

Nut width: 1 7/16"

Body width: 13 1/2"

Body depth: 1 5/8"

Weight: 7 lbs 14 oz

Condition notes: as-noted above -- thinned neck, refinished body, replaced nut, otherwise original throughout. There's minor wear and tear to the finish throughout and discoloration here and there as well (in a good way). The back of the neck is worn and shows discoloration (light) from playwear. The pickguard has shrunken a bit and has slightly "wavy" edges here and there like you'd expect on an old Fender. The bridge saddles are not height-adjustable any longer (they're frozen) but they do adjust front/back. I've added shims under the saddles to adjust their height to match the board radius but it's not ideal. Please see my repair notes for any other mild adjustments/changes to the setup style.

It comes with: the original hard case, bridge cover, and stupid amounts of style.