Jazzmaster neck woes

Discussion in 'Squier Offset Guitars' started by ancientsurf, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. ancientsurf

    ancientsurf Squier-Meister

    Age:
    65
    136
    Mar 16, 2013
    Hawick, Scotland
    I followed a recent post about a Jazzmaster neck and reckon that the neck on mine is similarly afflicted.

    I bought mine new about 2012 just after I bought a Jag, and realised I just couldn't get the action down to match the Jag. I had just returned to playing after a long lay-off so wasn't exactly familiar with set-ups etc.

    The end result of all this was the JM hardly got played, as the necks on my Epiphone LP, Jag, and an Affinity Strat were all great, and every time I picked the JM up I just couldn't be bothered with it for long.

    Recently I decided to try and tackle the problem, and shimmed the neck with the good old top of the range credit card shim.

    Almost immediately I noticed a difference, although I had to raise the bridge quite a bit to cope with the new neck angle. However, after a week or so the strings started to buzz again. The bridge is sitting well up so I wasn't too keen to raise it much higher. I turned the truss rod the regulation quarter turn, and that worked for another few days. Since then I have had to keep turning the truss rod, and I reckon it must be quite near the limit of its travel. Same thing happens all the time, and I took the 11s off it and put on balanced tension 10s.

    The 10s seem to have eased the problem slightly, but I fear that I'm going to need to replace the neck. For some reason the neck on my VMJM seems to be made of very flexible timber and it is very easy to bend the neck backwards towards my body when I'm playing it. No other guitar I've ever owned has had a neck like it, with so much flexibility.

    I would try and attach photos but my mobile (cell) phone is crap with photos, and in any case there is no visible clue (to me) as to what is actually wrong. I suspect the neck is very slightly slightly twisted in a clockwise direction, in which case I think it's new neck time. I'll possibly try the neck off my Affinity Strat and if that does the trick I'll get a new neck.

    I've heard so many great things about these VMJMs, and I'd like to be able to spend more time playing mine rather than cursing it.

    I've recently gone down the Gretsch road, and find that the necks on those are far more stable than on any Squier. They too are made in China and Indonesia, but it seems different trees must be involved in their construction. Does anybody know whether this is a particular issue with the 2102 Made in Indonesia VMJM, or have I just been unlucky? It's still the same as it came brand new out of the box, except for the shim.
     
  2. squierbilly

    squierbilly Dr. Squier

    Apr 21, 2013
    sunny phoenix
    Is the neck properly seated in the pocket.. when the screws grab in the body it is real difficult to seat the neck without the screws binding first.. the cure is to clean the threads out of the body so the screws pass without binding.. the only threading should be in the neck..
    Also a twist in the neck should be visible if thats an issue..
    Sight down the fretboad from the nut and/or the heel.. either way should reveal a twiist in the neck if that is a issue..
     
    so1om, duceditor and Guitarmageddon like this.
  3. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier-holic

    Sep 27, 2014
    Canada
    What is your current relief setting and action height? If you're not sure, I can give you great video links.

    A credit card piece is also a super thick shim!
     
  4. ancientsurf

    ancientsurf Squier-Meister

    Age:
    65
    136
    Mar 16, 2013
    Hawick, Scotland
    Action height is roughly 1.4 mm at 12th fret on top E string, and 1.9 mm on bottom E.

    Relief setting is width of two sheets of normal printer paper between the 7th and 10th frets. I have a string gauge somewhere, but have misplaced it. I believe those settings are all within the normal ranges, although I can get the action down on all of my other guitars to about 1 mm on the high E.

    What appears to happen is the truss rod straightens the neck for a while, but it then bends back into a slight bow. I've tried deliberately putting relief in the neck by loosening the truss rod, but every time I do that the action between the 7th and 12th frets is too high on the top three or four strings, and gets higher over a few days. Adjusting the bridge height or string saddles just tends to make things worse. Since I put the 10s on I lowered the bridge slightly, and it isn't as bad as it was, but I still don't find it very comfortable to play at all, compared with my other guitars.

    I checked the neck by sighting along fretboard from the nut end and there is no discernible twist, as I believed was the case.

    When I shimmed the neck it was fairly loose in the neck pocket compared to the Jag, which was a very tight fit. The screws never offered much resistance at all when I screwed them back up.

    I've never played any other type of JM and am now beginning to wonder if it's just the case that they have higher action than I'm used to, for whatever reason. The only other guitar I have with a similar neck is an Affinity Strat and the neck on that is superb.

    I had considered finding a reasonably near guitar store that had a JM or two in stock, either Fender or Squier, and trying them out to see what the necks were like, but the only "local" store who stocks them only buys them in to order. JMs and Jags were pretty much unknown in Scotland the first time round, and I don't think I've seen any VM versions of them on display here either. I had to order both my offsets from a store in England.

    One option would be to buy a cheap Affinity JM and swap the necks over, but I'm now not sure that would make a lot of difference, after reading the last post about the same sort of issue. If I can bear to butcher my Affinity Strat I could try the neck from it as a temporary measure.
     
  5. squierbilly

    squierbilly Dr. Squier

    Apr 21, 2013
    sunny phoenix
    Try a set of 9s.. i think thats what it comes with from the factory..
     
  6. ancientsurf

    ancientsurf Squier-Meister

    Age:
    65
    136
    Mar 16, 2013
    Hawick, Scotland
    Funny enough, straight out of the box with its factory fitted 9s, it was a killer guitar, and it was only when I started changing up to higher gauge strings that I started to run into trouble. I probably don't have the knowledge or experience to start altering stuff I really know nothing about.

    I had a Bullet Strat for a while, and when I put 11s on it you could see quite a drastic neck bow. They came off smartish and I never had any more problems with the neck on it. I gave the guitar away to a friend and wish I hadn't, but the tuners killed it for me.

    The question has to be are/were the Squier VMJM and Jags of a lighter construction than their Fender counterparts? By all accounts they look and sound almost identical, but it would appear my JM just doesn't like being strung with 11s. I have 11s on the Jag and it seems to suit it OK. Lower action than the JM and a lot more comfortable to play. OK, shorter scale etc.

    I've read about people playing JMs with 12s and up, but it seems most of those were in days gone by when you measured action in feet and inches. I dare say with knowledge and expertise, you can string Squiers with whatever gauge strings you like, but in my ignorance of such matters I think in future I'll keep to the string gauge that they come with. I don't really like 9s, and might go up a step to a "half" gauge, but that's about it. People who played original JMs and Jags told me I "must" put beefier strings on them, but in my case all that has done is cause problems with the necks on both. The Jag neck seems short enough to cope with the additional tension (after a lot of tinkering, and nut groove widening), but the JM neck (on mine) just doesn't seem up to it.

    A little knowledge is a dangerous thing etc, and I've now decided if Squier JMs were meant to be strung with 11s that's the way they'd arrive in the box. I was considering buying one of the new CV JMs, but unless I can get to try before I buy I don't think I'll bother. If I'm ever near a big guitar store (what's a big guitar store?) I'll maybe check one out.
     
  7. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    72
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    Okay, there is something amiss here. The VM JM certainly should be able to use -- and in most user's experience, benefit from -- heavier strings.

    Nines are customarily used on new guitars for the simple reason that they are familiar in feel to a great many players. Heavier strings will make it appear as if the guitar is harder to play -- something of great importance in the showroom.

    Now the why of your problem is not something I can diagnose from a distance. From your descriptions along I think it possible that the relief adjuster on the neck is not doing what it ought. But this could be caused by any number of reasons from it being faulty in installation, to it being damaged through over-tightening, to it simply being misadjusted.

    I have used up to 12 flatwounds on my VM offsets. (I think I currently have 10s on my VM JM and 11s on my VM Jag) All are very stable.

    As to the use of a credit card as a shim, this is entirely appropriate for your intended purpose, which was not to make a small adjustment to the norm (which likely would have required a thinner shim) but to increased the downward force/rear deflection towards the trem unit.

    I did the same on my VM Jag and VM Cabronita with Bigsby. (In the later case it was required because of the screws on the Cabby's baseplate had been interfering with getting the ultimate setup of bridge/saddle height.)

    It's a shame, but entirely understandable, that you did not have this addressed when the guitar was new and under warranty. But hopefully you can get it right now without too much expense.

    Too bad you are so far from the many highly skilled guys here on S-T. I'm sure that if some were local personal help would be at hand.

    -don
     
    squierbilly likes this.
  8. kjmac

    kjmac Squier-Nut

    Age:
    62
    678
    Aug 14, 2017
    Omaha, NE
    The Jags and JMs come from the factory with 11s as they are a 24" scale I know that some people including myself have had problems with the Mickey Mouse Jag/JM bridge setup. It's kind of a semi floating system and I've found that if my strings begin to buzz on my Jag, I either toggle the bridge all the way up or down and that will sometimes stop the buzz. Other people have taken out the stock bridge, opened up the holes in the body and replaced the whole thing with a tune-o-matic bridge.

    So far as LPs and Gretsches are concerned, I can run them with far lower action than any of my Fenders or Squiers. I also have to run more relief in the neck of my Fender types which keeps me from lowering the action as much as I would like.

    In your case, you may want to take your Jazzmaster to a Luthier and have him (or her) do a complete setup and get the action spot on. That could be an easy $75.00 fix.
     
  9. Guitarmageddon

    Guitarmageddon Squier-holic

    Sep 27, 2014
    Canada
    With thicker strings the neck relief WILL shift, the geometry will change....but after a week at most it will settle, and you can re-adjust it.....

    1-1.4mm is WAY too low for these kinds of guitars....I bet I would have fret buzz if I played your guitars with 1mm top E action.....I have mine all set to 1.95mm.....I would try that....1.8-1.95.......I bet you won't have any buzz.....and the relief will be able to be set once the neck adjusts.....then you can tighten the rod to get the relief back to .010"
     
  10. so1om

    so1om Dr. Squier

    Age:
    51
    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago
    I believe all VMs come from the factory with 9s. I know for a fact my 2012 VM Jaguar did.
     
  11. so1om

    so1om Dr. Squier

    Age:
    51
    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago
    The guitars come stock with 9s, a lot of people open up the nut slots and go with heavier gauges. Sometimes when going up to the heavier gauges and dressing the nut, going back down, well the slots can be too sloppy.

    I shimmed my Jaguar neck about 0.010" to 0.012". I forget the exact. but overall it's not critical to this other than you may have shimmed TOO much. That means you have to really jack up the bridge to clear everything.

    The neck is supposed to have some bow -that is called relief.

    Also.. as mentioned bfore -the holes in the body for the neck screw have to have pass through clearance for those screws. There should be NO thread engagement. The screws should ONLY engage into the neck itself.

    Check the neck straightness with a straight edge or by pressing on the first fret (or capo) and at the fret where the neck and body meet (some say the 15th or 17th.. it's all good). There should be a gap near the 7th fret.

    Are the bridge pieces adjusted to the radius of the fretboard (9.5") or are they flat (no radius). That can give the illusion that something is off. I set the strings to arc with the radius of the fretboard.

    As you play, is the bridge overall getting lower and lower and lower? You may need some Loctite on those two screws to prevent it from creeping.

    I'm a little concerned by how much you say it's off a few days later. That just not seem right. I have tons of guitars and rarely am I if every tweaking a truss rod or adjusting a bridge. Very often that's a one time deal and then an check when I do a yearly maintenance on them. So that is odd.
     
  12. ancientsurf

    ancientsurf Squier-Meister

    Age:
    65
    136
    Mar 16, 2013
    Hawick, Scotland
    I think part of my problem is that I've read an awful lot and tried to put it all into practice without really knowing what I'm doing.

    I hadn't played much at all since the 80s, and the last guitar I had before I stopped playing was a Fender Tele, which was just about bombproof.

    I dipped my toes in the water again in 2012 with a couple of Strats, one a Bullet, and one an Affinity, and was very impressed with their playability, particularly the necks.

    I then saw the Jag and JM advertised and had to go on You Tube to see and hear what they actually were. I bought the Jag, and thought it was incredible, 9s and all, so I had to get the JM too. I had never seen anything like them before, but they were pure retro and so was I.

    I became interested in them so started snooping around the forums, when the issue of the rattling bridges and string gauge raised their heads.

    All of a sudden I became obsessed with doing everything the way it "should be" and instead of just playing them I ended up wasting hours trying to perform every tweak I'd read about.

    The Jag was robust enough to cope with my ham fistedness, but the JM started to play up, until I reached the point where I just got fed up trying to get it all to work as it should. I also had an issue with the JM neck pickup failing to engage, and decided I must have bought a bad one, probably wrongly I'll concede. The pickup selector switch mounting had worked loose, but even I could fix that.

    The string saddles are more or less contoured to the neck profile, although I'll go back and check that out, and believe it or not I checked the neck this morning and discovered it seemed to have settled down a bit.

    Seems I'm looking to achieve too low an action in any case and I'll just have to get used to the idea that JMs probably weren't made for string tickling types like me. I've always had a very light touch when playing, so prefer low action, when I can get it. I'll go with the suggestions for action height that have been recommended and try to adjust to the guitar.

    The only pro tech guy I knew we had in this area shut up shop after a few months, but that might be the way to go right enough.
     
    so1om likes this.
  13. DaveDrums

    DaveDrums Squier-Nut

    900
    Feb 2, 2017
    MA, USA
    Identify the ‘bow’ step 1 is it 1, 2, or 3?
    0924FD06-6B9C-45ED-A0B7-B7BC0079A689.jpeg
    Then are you going clockwise or counter-clockwise while turning the truss rod if looking down the neck from the headstock?
     
    so1om likes this.
  14. DaveDrums

    DaveDrums Squier-Nut

    900
    Feb 2, 2017
    MA, USA
    Also check the height of bridge saddles to the bridge itself, those saddle set screws can loosen themselves with playing and that can be remedied with some blue locktite or nail polish (trace amounts) once at desired height
     
    so1om likes this.
  15. so1om

    so1om Dr. Squier

    Age:
    51
    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago

    I will have to measure my string heights. But mine are low and I do play with a light touch.
     
  16. ancientsurf

    ancientsurf Squier-Meister

    Age:
    65
    136
    Mar 16, 2013
    Hawick, Scotland
    Bow step is currently 3, although it was shifting to 1 after a few days. I was turning the truss rod clockwise about an eighth to a quarter turn when looking down neck from headstock.

    Since I took the 11s off and put balanced tension D'Addario 10s on it seems to have settled down. Action is now about as low as the Jag, and it's quite playable. Still can't find my string gauge tool to give accurate string height, but it seems to now be about 1.5 mm at 12th fret on high E. I know that's considered too low, but it suits me.

    I had a penchant for fiddling with the string saddles for a while but now leave them well alone. The bridge isn't prone to drop too much in normal playing. I know that can be an issue, especially if you strum heavily, but I'm not prone to do that.

    I think I'll be putting Loctite on a rattly Gretsch Streamliner bridge very soon, and I might just do the same with the JM bridge post screws.
     
    so1om likes this.
  17. so1om

    so1om Dr. Squier

    Age:
    51
    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago
    I once asked my brother about the string heights of his basses, he says he never measures. I never measure either. I get them all in the same ballpark. Trying to hit an actual number, eh.. it's different for everyone and I have found it to be different from guitar to guitar.

    I may have the same amount of relief of 2 guitars at the 7th fret -great! but it may be different when comparing numbers of both at the 6th. So.. oh.. and it's those little differences that can make you go in circles.
     
  18. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    72
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    Be sure it is Loctite BLUE. The red stuff is permanent. Blue allows for future adjustment.

    -don
     
    ancientsurf likes this.
  19. ancientsurf

    ancientsurf Squier-Meister

    Age:
    65
    136
    Mar 16, 2013
    Hawick, Scotland
    Thanks Don,

    It's hard to get any type of Loctite here, except the super glue, and I'll pass on that. I believe you need to apply heat to get rid of the red stuff, so I've ordered some of the blue stuff.

    You previously helped me out when I was learning what everything did on these, and I'm very grateful.
     
  20. so1om

    so1om Dr. Squier

    Age:
    51
    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago
    clear nail polish works, standard household white glue
     
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