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Reader Guitar of the Month: Frankenstein Jazzcaster

Reader Guitar of the Month: Frankenstein Jazzcaster

This reader made his own fusion of the Telecaster, Jazzmaster, and Stratocaster.

Name:John Huston
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Guitar Model: Frankenstein Jazzcaster

I call this guitar the "Fender Coward."

The neck, bridge, and control knobs are from a Fender Deluxe Nashville Telecaster I purchased new in 2004. Once a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails was installed in the bridge position it became my best-sounding guitar. However, unlike my other guitars, I struggled with frequent broken strings, particularly the A string. At one point, I had my guitar tech install graphite bridge saddles, hoping they would help alleviate the breakage. Alas, nothing seemed to work.



I chalked the breakage up to the attack my right hand was making with the strings—most of my other guitars have arm and rib contours, while the Tele does not. I went back to my guitar guy and asked about sanding down the body, Jeff Beck-style. At the cost he estimated, I could instead afford to buy a custom Warmoth body. So that's what I did. I chose the "Jazzcaster" body (Jazzmaster shape/weight, but cut for Tele neck pocket and guts) and chose yellow, my favorite color.

Photo by Meredith Goldberg

I later had the guys at Chicago Fret Works install a Rio Grande Bastard P-90-style pickup in the neck position, along with a "super switch" between the volume and tone knobs. This allows me to activate the neck pickup at any time, giving me the all-important ability to choose the bridge-and-neck combination that I couldn't otherwise with a 5-way selector and three pickups. I also installed new white-knob, 15:1 gear ratio tuners.

It's taken a bit of a beating these last couple years with my band, Stomatopod, but I love this guitar. It's the perfect combination of Telecaster (bridge and string height from the body), Jazzmaster (shape and balance), and Stratocaster (the middle pickup gives me oodles of sonic diversity).

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