I rarely consider the arrival of any particular guitar here “news” but this one touched on so many places that I felt it warranted something special. To start, how it came to me. For the last five years that I had my walk-in store open (out of forty-eight), up until 2017, my Fender rep was Tim Penn, as fine a person in every way as you could ever hope to know. Tim and I became great friends outside of our business dealings to the point where he was invited to stay with us in the house that four other guitar makers and I rented every year during the Woodstock Luthiers Invitational, Tim being the only person who worked “in the industry" that we ever welcomed into our family. When I recently mentioned to Tim that I was looking for guitars for an upcoming emailing he immediately said “Hey, I got some at home for you!”. One was a 1960 Fender Jazzmaster that had come to him from a relative of a friend of a relative of someone else from who-knows-where. Like they say, it had that certain "Je ne sais quoi but I don't know what it is", and I immediately loved it. Body refinished in the right color with the right stuff, the rest of it all original and showing just the right amount of six decades of gentle playing wear. You look at it and go “Yes!”, you pick it up and start to get excited, and when you plug it in you just sigh.
Turned out that it needed some coaxing to get it to play right and while I don't do this kind of thing very much anymore, leave most of it to my main man here, I was all over this Fender like white on rice. A mechanical challenge! My true love! So on to the somewhat balky jack, easy stuff. Next a few uneven frets, time-consmuing but doable. Then……. those few danged saddle-height adjustment screws that had got frozen in place real good from years and years of sweat from someone’s right hand rubbing all over the bridge. This turned out to be several hours worth of work but took me right back to my days of restoring old motorcycle and car engines, true machine shop stuff that I love doing and fortunately I still had all the right tools, and also replacement parts from our days here as a top Fender service center. And then, ulp, wouldn't you know it, that wacky and wonderful, unique tremolo system found only on Fender Jazzmasters and Jaguars, spoke up, smartly, said to me “Nope". Been years sine I had fooled with these and I know quite well how they're sposeta work (many folks do not), but who could remember how to coerce them into proper behavior? After too much head-scratching and experimental screw-turning, I finally admitted to what my brother-in-law, a noted physicist, calls “ RTFM”, which stands for “Read the f****ing manual”. And so online I went, not my usual MO, and there it was, and I had it all up and running smoothly in fifteen minutes.
And now for the capper. I had passed right over some papers that were in the guitar's case and among them I now noticed a photo of the original owner, or some early owner, playing the Jazzmaster in a four-piece what-looks-like-some-local wedding band. There he was, front and center, and the rhythm guitar player just behind him with a Strat, the drummer in the back, and both of those two wearing thick glasses and looking pretty geeky. BUT…..a tall, red-headed young lady accordion player! Wearing a white miniskirt and white go-go boots! The total package! Early 1960s perfection personified, the whole band! I gotta tell ya, this made my day, even made my week. Some days you just never know.