In my November ’22 column, Ceil Thompson’s class-project guitar was nearing completion – the lacquer coats were applied and, after it cured for two weeks, she was ready for final sanding, buffing, and assembly.
1) Mounting-screw holes for the switch plates, control plates, vibrato, pickups, bridge posts, and tuners were all drilled, so Ceil did a dry-run parts install except for the Mastery bridge-post cups because they’re machined, and once pressed in can’t be removed without damaging or destroying them.
2) With that in mind, I machined brass sleeves with the same outer and inner diameters as the Mastery parts.
3) We pressed them in to slightly below the surface of the body, then, after the finish had cured, removed them by pulling with a tap that grabbed their inner wall. To our surprise, each left a perfect ring in the lacquer, which will be covered by the flanges on each cup.
4) Ceil checked the cups for fit, then got the body ready for final sanding and buffing.
5) After sanding, she finally got to use the StewMac buffer, but only after hearing a few pointers on what not to do with it, such as don’t buff on a corner or hard edge, and don’t present the body to the wheel below center, where it could grab the guitar and send it to the floor (that has never happened to me, but the potential is there). She had no trouble and was soon ready to start installing parts.
6) Using an X-Acto knife with #11 blade, she shaved parts of the pickguard to custom-fit hardware and pickups.
7) While wiring the switches, switch plates, and StewMac Lipstick pickups, Ceil changed several capacitors from the actual Jaguar circuit because she wanted them wired as humbuckers rather than single-coils.
8) She installed the bridge, vibrato, and Rickard Cyclone tuners, strung it, and plugged it in – everything worked as it should.
9) We realized we hadn’t drilled holes for the strap buttons, and because it’s a set-neck, Ceil had to use a flexible drill to get the proper angle.
10) With the buttons mounted, she was done.
In all, Ceil worked on the guitar for seven months (with a long break during summer) and it turned out great – I’m very proud of her. We hope you’ve enjoyed the project.
Dan Erlewine has been repairing guitars for more than 50 years. He is the author of three books, dozens of magazine articles, and has produced instructional videotapes and DVDs on guitar repair. From 1986 through his retirement in late 2019, Erlewine was part of the R&D team for Stewart-MacDonald’s Guitar Shop Supply; today he remains involved with the company, offering advice to the department and shooting video for the company’s website and social media. This column has appeared in VG since March, 2004. You can contact Dan at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared in VG’s January 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.