Monday, February 7, 2011

2009 - J&D Luthiers Jagmaster - Modded to the max!

I picked this sucker up at the local pawn broker (can you see a pattern here?).
The electrics were shot, it wasn't in the best condition, but hey that is exactly what I was after.
You may have noticed that I sort of have an obsession for modifying things. Not everything I get, but things which need just a little bit of awesome added. That's what this guitar needed.
But it got a whole bunch of awesome poured all over it.

The first thing I did was replace the stock tremolo with a Stepmax tremolo, which allows full vibrato (both up and down) in the same place as a Fender style synchronised tremolo which only allows down and return to pitch.

This system works pretty well, but might not be to everyone's  taste. I will say that it's a lot easier to setup than a Floyd Rose style tremolo (I'll stick to my vintage style pivot tremolo thanks!).

After this I added in a Varitone capacitor bank, which allowed for 8 or 12 capacitors to be selected for different EQ curves. Fortunately the pickups that J&D used on this guitar were of the four wire variety and afforded the opportunity to add switched to split the coils and invert the phase of the humbuckers.

I also changed the neck to a reverse headstock Fender style, just for looks. It made tuning the damn thing a little harder though. Even so, it did look pretty sweet.

The coolest mod by far was the Sustainer.
I wrapped 8ohms of wire around one half of the neck pickup and hooked that up to a simple 386 based amplifier which was driven by the bridge pickup. The effect is similar to controlled feedback by standing in front of an amplifier and holding a note.

Sure Fernandes do it better, but I did it for about $12 in parts and a couple of hours labour.
If I've done my math right, it should be able to deliver 108 individual tones plus the sustainer function.

The guitar was sold so that I could get the Guyatone LG127t I posted about a few months back.
I have no idea who bought it, but I hope it's bringing them some far out sounds.

Infinite Sustain Project

DIY Sustainer Tutorial


  1. Wow looks really cool! I'll try the sustainer in a few weeks, but I'm totally new in electronics, never made something before. Think It'll work?

    1. It's a pretty easy build for the most part.
      If you use the design from my tutorial, the electrics can be put together in about 10 minutes. The coil might take an hour to wind.

      Test the wee amp on a small speaker, then try the coil over the strings, if you get no vibration, change the direction of the coil 180 degrees.

      Some strings might sound where others dont, usually lower strings, like A & E work best. You might be surprised.

      Also it doesn't need to be mounted in the guitar to test.

  2. I'm building a sustainer, so far unsucessfully. I have to ask, is the pickup still usable after winding the coil around it?

  3. Hi Paulo,

    Depends on which approach you take.
    Some people are adding a wrap to the top of the pickup, others on the bottom.

    I don't think wrapping around the existing coil will do much good, as the distance between your winding & the magnet might be a little too far.

    I can't remember what I did on this build, though I suspect that I gutted half of a humbucker.

    My more successful coils have been on a gutted single coil.

    Did you look at my tutorial?

  4. Thanks,I did look at your tutorial, and I think your reply explains why it isn't working. I wrapped around the pickup. I'll try winding on the bottom of the pickup next as there is some useable space under it.

    I'm also going to try using a tiny little amp I found on ebay. Its all surface mount on a 22 by 30mm board with a 50k pot mounted on it.

  5. I suspect that I was doing just about everything wrong. My amplifier didn't have a buffer stage and I think my coil designs were a bit of wishful thinking

    I'm waiting for a few parts to arrive now before making another attempt. I'm thinking of putting a hot rails mini humbucker next to a driver on a normal bobbin. It's all good fun

  6. Hello, tnx for the info but have a question. The drawing is simple but the coil is something I have question for. Why needing a coil and not using the humbucker itself connected on the amp? I mean using the pickup as a loudspeaker on this little amp?

    1. Hi, there are two reasons why the humbuckers's coil wont work.

      A: Resistance is too high for the driver circuit.

      B: The humbucker's wires aren't thick enough to handle the current from the little amplifier & would end up melting.