Customized aJaguar-inspired Samick with a Wilkinson Tele-style bridge.
A few months ago I was in South Carolina at the Spartanburg Guitar Show, and I spotted this Jaguar-inspired guitar within 30 seconds of walking through the door. I looked at the $150 price tag, played it for a few moments, and then moved on. I wanted to see the rest of the show and assumed I’d find something I liked better. But after two hours of roaming the floor, I didn’t see anything more appealing, so before leaving I went back to the vendor and was relieved to discover no one had bought this guitar.
I plugged it in and it sounded pretty good, but I wasn’t crazy about the Kahler-style whammy it sported. In typical bottom-feeder fashion, I offered the owner $125 cash for the guitar and he took it—even throwing in a really nice gigbag.
When I got it home and plugged it in, it sounded even better than at the show. But two things bothered me about this guitar: First, the locking whammy system, which is not my thing. Second, the high-E string was too close to the edge of the fretboard, and this caused the string to frequently slip off the neck when I played.
This Wilkinson 3-saddle bridge replaced a Kahler-style whammy. To get the Wilkinson positioned correctly, my tech trimmed back its metal bridge plate.
So this called for a trip to Asheville, North Carolina, to see my tech, Jack Dillen. I showed him the problems and also brought a Wilkinson bridge I had hanging around. These 3-saddle Tele-style bridges are my new favorites. They have the traditional ashtray lip, but they have compensated brass saddles that intonate almost dead on and sound great.
Jack pointed out a problem with my plan: The whammy removal would leave a giant cavity in the body that the Wilkinson could not totally cover. I told Jack to do the best he could, while keeping the price cheap. It took him several weeks to figure out the best way to handle this conversion, but when I picked up the guitar, I was truly blown away with my new purchase.
Removing the whammy left an exposed cavity in the body. To cover this, my tech cut a triangular piece of pickguard material and mounted it between the pickguard and bridge.
Jack was able to resize and relocate the new bridge far enough from the edge of the fretboard to no longer be a problem. He also cut and installed a small piece of pickguard to hide the plugged cavity next to the bridge. He charged me $60, which was in my cheapskate ballpark.
Bottom Feeder Tip #582: If something is bothering you about a guitar, either make it play to your liking, or cut your losses and sell it. Why keep guitars around that bug you? Life’s too short.
I love the look of offset-waist guitars like Fender Jaguars and Jazzmasters, and this Jag wannabe is equipped with P-90-style single-coils, which makes it a sweet blues machine for under $200. So is it a keeper? Yeah, at least for now. It’s my newest go-to guitar ... until I find something else. You know how that goes.
Will Ray is a founding member of the Hellecasters guitar-twang trio. He also does guitar clinics promoting his namesake G&L signature model 6-string, and produces artists and bands at his studio in Asheville, North Carolina. You can contact Will on Facebook and at willray.biz.