One topic of much debate amongst guitarists, builders and aficionados is the care and feeding of the Fender offset guitar. In the Jazzmaster and Jaguar guitars Leo gave us some of his most treasured- and in some cases, confusing- refinements of the electric guitar. Countless musicians have found a home in these guitars since the introduction of the model in ’58, with these guitars having enjoyed a recent spate of renewed interest at the hands of indie musicians.
So, what gives? Well, for all of the beautiful facets of the Fender offset guitar, there are a few annoyances that contribute to the confusion many people feel when faced with making any adjustments to their beloved instrument. That’s where this article comes in: I aim to share a few of my favorite tricks and tips in making the Jazzmaster or Jaguar sound and play even better than ever.
One of the major problems I see with the stock offset bridge is the fact that it pivots back and forth on two tiny screws, making precise intonation a nightmare. The posts don’t fit tightly into their thimbles, robbing the player of tone and precision. Some see this as a boon, with the bridge in time with the ebb and flow of trem use, but in my experience it makes for shaky intonation and lessens the joy of my playing experience.
“What can be done?” you ask? As you see in the photo, I like to wrap foil tape around the posts of the bridge to make the fit much tighter than before. It only takes a little bit of tape, but with a few wraps at a time your bridge fit snugly.
The only materials necessary are foil tape and a razor blade or scissors. Measure, cut, wrap and install. All of a sudden, you’ll find intonation to be not only achievable but stable, and you’ll also note a moderate increase in resonance. Another benefit: peace of mind!
After test fitting your bridge should still slide in easily but does not rock when in place. It’s that simple! This is something I can do in half an hour, and it’s really a fun project. If you’re interested, we can do this simple mod for you and bring your guitar to a much happier state of being.
Or, you could just get one of John Wooden’s glorious Mastery Bridges, which is what I did. Best decision I made for my Jazzmaster, and while resonance and sustain go through the roof, it doesn’t negate all of the cool, quirky things I love about my offset. I can’t recommend this enough!
More tips and tricks to come!