Jaguarillo gets new pickups and setup

This guitar is a friend of a friend’s. I worked on his acoustic before and I guess he was happy enough with it to come back. Sweet!

Jaguarillos are Jaguars but with two strat pickups and a humbucker in the bridge. The guy wanted to change the pickguard, and replace all the pickups – Novak lipsticks in the neck and middle position, and a Manlius Stud-Bucker in the bridge.

The pickguard needed some work because the humbucker wouldn’t fit. The radii of the corners were too big:


I already started working on it when I took this picture, see the bottom left corner.

I did the whole thing with files (Nicholson Handy File and a round file) and a razor blade turned scraper. It came out ok (forgot to take a picture), but not my best work. It would have been much easier to do with a router.

The rest of it was straightforward, except that when I put it all together I noticed that the tremolo clicks when actuated. This is a thing with the cheap, import tailpieces, and it can be avoided depending on how high or low the tremolo arm is set up. However, the owner of this guitar wanted me to set up the lock so the guitar can stay in tune if a string breaks, so I had to go in and start filing.

Mike & Mike Guitar Bar posted about this before, so that’s where I got the idea. You can read what else they wrote about import tailpieces here. Basically, I filed every surface so it is flat. I think that at the very least the molding marks should be knocked off, but if the plate is off the tailpiece and you’re filing, might as well go the extra mile.

There was one little problem that is worth mentioning – the Stud-bucker had only two leads – hot and shield. So the middle+bridge position were out of phase, and flipping the leads couldn’t fix it. The reason it couldn’t be fixed is because then the shield (and pickup casing) are hot, but the rest of the metal parts (and strings) of the guitar are ground. Then if the player touches both the pickup casing and the strings, or bridge, or any other metal parts, the signal will short. FWIW, Manlius offers these (and I assume all humbuckers) with coil taps, so the polarity of the pickup can be flipped. Here are a few pictures I took after it was finished:


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