So, I’m building a Jazzmaster from parts.

As if I didn’t have enough guitars already, I recently decided to sell of a ton of music and recording gear I had not used in forever, or just simply didn’t want any more. I was able to upgrade/crossgrade a ton of my gear, and one of those things included buying the parts to build my own Jazzmaster. I’ve been wanting to build a guitar for a long time, but the cost of locating all of the parts always ended up being about the same or more than just buying a guitar that was all set to go.

One day while browsing eBay, I came across some auctions by MJT Custom Aged Guitar Finishes. They do custom painting and  aging of aftermarket guitar parts to give them that worn look. They were offering a package, where they painted/aged all of the items for a project guitar (with the exception of the electronics) for a flat price. It seemed like too good of a deal to get pretty much the exact guitar I want without having to source every little thing, and compromise with some off-the-shelf paint job.

But I digress. I’ve never been a fan of brand new guitars. I have a Tele that was built from parts by Old Town Music about 12 years ago, and it’s been through a lot, and it shows. Small dents all over, paint fading and yellowing, wear marks on the neck and body. And I love it. I love the feel of it, how it just feels… comfortable. My newer guitars just don’t have that personality. They will eventually, but it will take many years.

So, back to MJT. I have to say, my initial feeling about pre-aged guitars was pretty negative. At the same time, the price of a naturally road worn Jazzmaster is way more than I can shell out. With the faux aging, I always felt like it was somewhat contrived and fake, and I still do to a degree. And when Fender started offering their own line of aged guitars (albeit, poorly done), it seemed like that whole practice sort of jumped the shark. What I like about MJT is that their orders are all pretty much to the buyer’s specifications. I was able to choose my color, amount of wear, yellowing, finish checking, etc.

I wanted something that looks and feels used and broken in—like my Tele—without feeling like it is trying too hard to look old and road-worn. After working with Matt at MJT, I am extremely happy with the results, not to mention their amazing customer service. Truly worth more money than they are charging (but don’t tell them that!).

So, here are some photos of the parts, a rough layout of what it will look like when done, and the first part of the process for me, installing the nut.

Some quick specs:

  • Body and neck from Allparts
  • Neck is vintage spec, large headstock
  • Body and neck painted and aged by MJT. I went with Lake Placid Blue, which I’d never considered before, but I wanted something new, and really liked the aged look with that color
  • Hardware, pickguard, and knobs aged by MJT
  • Pickups by Manlius, are hand-wound to vintage specs and very reasonably priced
  • Pre-wired electronics harness by Hoagland Brothers (again, very reasonably priced compared to other pre-wired harnesses)

I’ll be posting more updates as I complete this build, and I hope to be able to offer some tips and insight, based on my experiences, to the Internet at large. I know that in my own research on this, information is so scattered or hard to come by, such as how to make the holes in the body accommodate the bridge mounting cups.

In the meantime, enjoy.


  1. Seratone
    Jan 9, 2014

    Very Cool. Thnaks for the links to the pickup and electronics.

    I’m building a Jazzmaster myself and just came across MJT’s site last night. I have the Purple J. Masic’s Japanese version and I love it – I just don’t like purple sparkle that much. In the past I was infatuated with the relics like Nash and Rock n’ Roll Relics (I have one of their Tele’s)….and the mother of them all – the Custom Shop Relics. They’re all a little cost prohibitive for what they are. I thought I was getting a huge deal on a Custom Shop Heavy Relic Strat for 2100$, only to find it had no resale vale whatsoever. I think the boat has sort of sailed on the demand for this stuff.

    I’m excited about building my own, and it will be a keeper, so I’m not worried about being picky. I want to create something better than a Japanese one or AVRI.

    How do you find the MJT trem system?…and what’s the overall weight? I think my JM is about 7.5 pounds.

  2. Bret
    Feb 10, 2014

    I’m not sure on the weight, but 7.5 pounds sounds about right. It’s not a noticeable difference from my Tele. The tremolo system has been fine, but my JM suffers from some setup issues and I think it’s time I bite the bullet and shim the neck. I did end up swapping out the bridge for a Jaquar bridge, which has made a big difference for playability. Strangely though, I find myself going back to my old Tele most of the time. Despite its age and need of a fret dressing and new saddles, it still wins. Best of luck on your build!

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