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Photo Tutorial: Getting MJT Jag to AVRI Spec

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Joined: 08 Feb 2008
Posts: 3553
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 4:37 am    Post subject: Photo Tutorial: Getting MJT Jag to AVRI Spec Reply with quote

Hello All, I have seen many threads about MJT builds, but have noticed a lack of threads around what it takes to get a “finished” MJT setup to match up with vintage/AVRI bits for the fender jaguar. There have been some threads showing that the MJT bodies were not designed for these parts, and I can say that most of these problems have been addressed, but some changes are needed still.

First I have to say thank you to Jarin at Guitar OR Calgary, he helped a lot when I couldn’t figure things out from online articles or threads. He is a great luthier and the only guy in Calgary I get to work on my more complex jobs.

Let me preface by saying what this thread is, and is not…

-This thread is NOT a thread on the correct/only/right way to put together the MJT setup.
-The build was also done by myself with help from Jarin when I ran out of skills. This is NOT an expert build, but rather an attempt to show those worried about doing things themselves that basic tools and patience/research can make it work
-This thread will NOT cover setup, wiring, etc. and is only intended to show modifications needed to fit AVRI/Vintage parts

This IS a thread designed to help people to try things out themselves, and focus specifically on the nuances of the MJT Jaguar body and neck
This thread IS the sequential order I took to assemble, you might prefer to work in a different order, that is fine as well

A very important point for anyone planning to build one of these guitars, PLAN, PLAN, PLAN, and PLAN. There are many good resources out there, so make a list of all of the parts you need, understand what neck profiles you like, realize the difference between fender parts and aftermarket, etc. When in doubt, ask the online communities what you have missed out on. Jaguars are still rare when compared with your run-of-the-mill strat or tele, you might not be able to run to your local music shop for something like a 2-way slider switch, or 1 meg pot. I recommend keeping a file on your computer with a checklist of all components needed, and track everything. Nothing is worse than almost finishing your project, and having to wait for a week for a certain screw to be delivered.

With all that dry stuff out of the way, lets start off with what I got from MJT. Unboxing revieled the neck and body, wrapped separately. The neck had tuners installed (I had sent to them for aging) with the exception of the nut and string tree. A quick note on the precut nut and string tree, these items are installed once the instrument is ready to string up, and the nut fit great, only requiring a couple of quick passes on sand paper to fit snugly.

Step 1. Lay out all of your parts on a large work space, group everything together if it helps you keep organized (zip locks and a sharpie work great), and make sure everything from your checklist is on hand. Below is everything I needed to assemble this guitar. I also make sure to always support the neck at the headstock when working on the guitar.

Step 2. Lay out the tools you need, a lot of time can be wasted on searching for tools, especially if your tools are in the garage and your workbench is in the house. This build requires standard tools for guitar building (good quality screw drivers, soldering iron, wire, etc.), but a few specialty tools can help quite a bit.

Below are images of long wood drill bits, and a counter sink bit. Neither of these are very expensive, and will help significantly with drilling ground wire holes and saving your finish when drilling screw holes. You just paid a lot of money for the body, no sense in making “oops relic” marks.

Step 3. MJT bodies have never had the proper hole for the ground wire to run from the tremolo to the control cavity. Use a long wood drill bit (match size to the gauge of wire you are using) and drill a hole from the bottom corner of the trem cavity to the control cavity. This is VERY easy to miscalculate, so use a shallow angle, put some padding between the body and the bit, and drill SLOWLY. Blow out excess saw dust, and fit ground wire as shown.

Step 4. The MJT bodies have no holes for pickguard, control plate, or tremolo screws, which means they will have to be drilled. It is VERY important to take time on this step, as the orientation of the parts now will determine how the components go together. The pickguard I used was a Spitfire aged white guard, and vintage control plates. While they all look good, they still don’t fit 100% with the MJT body. I spent some time to get them to where I was happy with them visually, and kept the neck on as a guide point. In this step I realized the neck pickup route would need a bit of work to fit with the pickguard, but all other components fit well. Once the hardware is lined up, use a brad nail/screw/buide punch to mark the center of each screw hole. Once you have marked all of the screw holes, remove the hardware.

Step 5. Using the counter sink drill bit, drill a starting hole on each mark. Make sure these counter sunk holes are slightly bigger than the screws that will be used. If needed, you can use a caliper to measure the diameter of the screw, and measure the countersink hole to ensure you are getting the right size. I also countersink very slowly, a variable speed drill helps a lot with controlling the speed of rotations.

Step 6. Find a drill bit slightly narrower than the screws you will use (again, a caliper is a great help doing this), and measure how deep the screws will go into the body. I like to tape off the maximum depth on the drill, once the tape gets to the body you know you at the right depth. Drill down into each countersunk hole, and blow off excess wood with compressed air. Once everything is drilled, I like to test fit everything again, it is a bit more work to take everything back off, but it gives some peace of mind before moving further.

Step 7. MJT have improved with their routing work, but the bridge holes are still not AVRI/Vintange standard, and will need to be drilled out. The good news is that they have drilled a hole for the grounding wire. Find the right size drill bit and tape off depth (again, use a caliper), and use a drill press to open up the holes. Install the ground wire, and gently tap in the collets.

Step 8. This is optional, and can be skipped if you don’t want to run a mute. To center the required holes, install the pickguard and mark the center of the plunger hole with a brad nail. Now is also a good time to mark the center of the holes that will hold the mute to the body, and remove the pickguard. A Brad point drill bit and drill press are essential for this step, measure out 36MM on the bit, and drill the hole into the body. Take your time, it is VERY easy to drill through the body at this depth.

Step 9. Install the spring and plunger in the hole, after you have removed any wood shavings. This might take some time, as the spring has to sit upright in the hole for the plunger to be installed. AVRI blunger and spring will sit lower than vintage due to the shorter spring.

Step 10. The AVRI mute comes without a sponge and is not countersunk. I have a Jaguar foam strip on it now but might change this once I set the guitar up. Use your countersink drill bit to countersink the holes for the mounting screws. Use screws that are longer than pickguard screws to mount this piece, I believe mine were about an inch long, and self tapping. Setting this up perfectly isn’t going to be a big deal at this stage, just make sure it pivots and the bridge will fit on top without crazy high action for now.

Step 11. This is also optional, but I thought I would include it as people always bitch about the rhythm circuit switch. Cut a piece of silicone tube for each screw, and keep the switch at a lower profile. This will also work on the lower switches if needed.

Step 12. If you need to do any routing adjustments for your hardware, do it now. I don’t have any pictures for this as it will be different for each body/pickguard/hardware combo. Work slowly, measure twice, etc.

Step 13. Install brass shielding, I have some vintage bits, so I put it in the routs, and secured it with pieces of old razor blades. Break off triangular corners, hammer them into the wood, and solder to the brass.

Step 14. Unfortunately the rear trem corners on the MJT bodies are still round, this is no good for the JM/Jazzmaster trem and will need to be fixed. I used Chisels, they were cheap and worked well for this minimal work. Take your time, and square off the corners as shown. The raw wood is a bit ugly, but it is out of sight, and MJT still won’t do anything about this before painting. To avoid chipping the paint, I did the first couple of knocks horizontally along the wood surface to make a clean cut on the paint.

Step 15. There is no pretty way around this, without screw holes for the tremolo, you have to try to center it yourself which is a major pain in the ass. I used string, mounted the bridge and eyeballed to make sure the low and high E strings would be straight. I have no doubt that there are better methods out there, if you have any please share them. Once you have the bridge straight, and the slide lock still moves in the route, mark the holes, remove the trem, counter sink and drill the holes. Words cannot describe how nerve wracking this stage is, pick guard screw holes can be fixed easily, but these holes NEED to be accurate for your trem to function. SPEND LOTS OF TIME ON THIS.

Step 16. At this point you can reattach your neck, and do the initial string up. Check to make sure your strings line up on the bridge, trem, nut, neck, pickups, etc. If they do, measure where you want to mark your string tree, mark, countersink, and screw the tree in. I referenced a few jaguar headstocks to determine where I wanted my tree located.

Step 17. Take a look at how jaguar strap buttons are mounted online, and decide what angle you want on the upper horn. Mark, countersink, drill and install.

Step 18. Observe what a good job you have done! You are miles from being finished, but now it just comes down to wiring and a good setup, much less stressful than drilling large holes in an expensive body.

Last edited by finboy on Mon Dec 21, 2015 12:55 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 15 Apr 2012
Posts: 4089
Location: Puyallup, WA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the tremolo mounting, I put masking tape along the top, bottom, left, and right. I slid the tremolo to the left all the way and traced the edge, then to the right, and up and down. With the pencil marks at the extreme points all the way around, I could get a better visual idea of center by putting it in the middle of all my marks. I also dotted all the drill points on the tape and checked to see if the holes looked equal distance from the route.

Just another way to do it. Very Happy
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Best Poster 2010

Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 7798
Location: Westcountry

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ace thread - done a couple of MJT builds myself, but not to such an exacting level. Think I had repressed the terrifying feelings drilling holes in a beautiful body can elicit.
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The 25.5" subversion

Joined: 25 Apr 2006
Posts: 6731
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dude, stellar work + pictorial Shocked
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Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 20953
Location: UK

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 10:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

what a cool read, wow

also reminds me i need to get a 12" drill piece to sort out my bratomasters tailpiece grounding
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Joined: 09 Oct 2008
Posts: 3346
Location: Glasgow, UK

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great thread. A great resource and fun to read too Smile
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Joined: 08 Feb 2008
Posts: 3553
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Dec 20, 2015 3:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks all, I estimate 6-8 hours so far, with no wiring or setup done. Again, being a noob and double checking things slowed it down, but there is still quite a bit of work to go into these bodies before the work right.
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