My thanks to OffsetGuitars.com for being a wonderful source of collective information and guidance, as well as to Jim Shine, for his “Intricacies of the Fender Jazzmaster” webpage, a great reference. Special thanks to everyone who helped me directly.
In 2010, I began to repair and restore a 1960 Jazzmaster, starting from an old chestnut of a body and using original 1960 components. While the guitar is was not fully restored with 100% original parts, its close to 95% original, and it’s now relatively complete as a Jazzmaster after some months of work.
When I first received the vintage body, it was missing its coat of paint. Its original Sunburst paint had been covered over with Dakota Red many years ago, and then Olympic White, and then it was partially stripped down to the bare wood, but then finally abandoned at the white primer stage and left very rough. Also, several of the tail piece screws were lost in their holes (with broken off heads and with no easy way to remove them.) Additionally, it required a replacement neck. So, I set an agenda to have the body repaired and refinished in Inca Silver, an original Fender custom color from 1960, and saw about getting a new replica neck with a matching headstock.
The body was easily confirmed as 1960, with the appropriate routing and nail holes for that year. Under some layers of paint, the original pencil mark was discovered, dating the body to April, 1960.
The broken screws were pulled, the body was stripped again properly, re-sanded, and dowels were set.
The wiring was reassembled using a vintage wiring harness, a rhythm section set, a 3-way switch (amber tip), and vol/tone pots (pictured below) all resourced from 1959-1960 Jazzmasters.
Once I was finished repairing and resoldering the wiring, I was pleased that the harness looked as cleanly assembled as it does. My solder points probably won’t pass as original, but that’s okay for me.
The 1960 JM pickups I’m using, with the scatter wound enamel wire style I prefer over the later Formvar, are at least 8.5k each. The leads needed soldering repairs, but otherwise, the pickups were in working order and didn’t need any other help. Because they had been passed around a lot over the years, I was prepared to accept they might not be great examples of the period, but they are. Thankfully, they’re just to my taste and very dynamic.
The Inca Silver body, which I had professionally refinished, now has a lot of yellowing to the nitro clear coat and some wear in the places where I typically experience wear on vintage Fender bodies, done to my instruction. Overall, it’s not too heavily aged and has no artificial checking or grime (again, to my preference, as that will occur quickly enough, naturally).
The new pickguard and knobs are temporary replacements, slightly yellowed with tea, coffee, and amber nitro lacquer, to match the original pickup covers. The new pickguard screws were aged in vinegar and salt to match, as well. The original 1960 tremolo unit is stamped “Pat. Pending,” which is before Fender received the patent in 1962. I do have an original bridge, although I’m temporarily using an AVRI bridge as seen in the photos, while I work on replacing the original’s post height screws.
There is an original neck, but it’s too precious to be resprayed and on the guitar day to day, so it stays in the case. The “body double” neck is a Musikraft replica, with a very thin C shape. Again, that profile is not to everyone’s liking, but it’s what I wanted and luckily Musikraft did an excellent job. In case there would ever be an issue in the future, I decided I didn’t need 50/50 side dots, so that the neck could never be confused as original. But, otherwise, there are clay fingerboard dots, a rosewood slab board, etc. And I did additional fret finishing myself, so that the heavily rolled edges and fret ends were a perfect match to any 50 year-old Fender. (There was a particularly long taper to the fret ends that Fender used to do and I was happy to replicate that.) Not pictured is the neck plate, but it’s an original 1960 JM neck plateand not a reproduction, with a Fender serial number starting 43—.
As of this spring, I’m still keeping my eyes peeled for any 1960 Jazzmaster knobs out there (it’s hard to find any that fit those old, big solid shaft pots!), and maybe this year or next I’ll even consider an original pickguard and aluminum shield. But for now, I’ve been happy to sit down with my guitar as often as I can and get acquainted. It’s my new old friend.