Restoration of a 1966 Fender Jaguar
A few months back I was asked to carry out a restoration of a 1966 Fender Jaguar. This Jag belongs to Mark Refoy, guitarist with Spiritualized, Slipstream and The Petshop Boys. Although the neck and body were original, over the years many changes had been made to this guitar. In all, this Jag was looking a bit tired and Mark was keen to bring it back to its full glory.
After discussion with Mark it was agreed that I would carry out the following work on his guitar:
- Replace the headstock decal (the original decal had been removed for some reason)
- Refret the guitar
- Respray the guitar in a three colour sunburst finish. Nitrocellulose lacquer would be used for this respray
- Remove the black paint that had been painted onto the pickguard and pickup covers.
- Check that all the wiring and switching arrangements were mid 60’s correct.
The restoration of 1966 Fender Jaguar is not work that I do every day. Working on an instrument of this age raises a number of questions and issues. These being around the extent to which we make changes or “improvements” to the guitar whilst trying to keep its character, history and originality. Fortunately, these question were less pertinent to Mark’s guitar. For as we will see, so many changes had been made over the years to this guitar.
But I was keen to get on with the work and breath new life back into this guitar. I also decided to film the work. Here is a link to the VIDEO. The video gives a lot more detail about the work carried out and the thinking behind each step of a restoration of a 1966 Fender Jaguar.
I don’t know why this had happened, but the original decal had been removed. So the first task was to fit a period-correct Fender Jaguar decal.
When I removed all the pickguard and the various components I found plenty of evidence that this is a mid-60s Jaguar. This is discussed in further detail in the VIDEO
Sanding the body and refinishing
Mark told me that when he got the guitar the finish on the front and back of the body was lifting and peeling. And so he sanded off much of the finish. So what you are looking at is not natural wear. I found plenty of evidence that, at some point, the body had been resprayed. But this had not been done properly. Hence the reason for the finish peeling off.
Once the body had been sanded it was prepared for refinishing. Because of the age of the guitar it was right to refinish it with nitrocellulose lacquer. The respray was carried out by Bow Finishing, who are based in Godstone, Surrey.
Refret, final assembly and setup
The frets on this guitar were original. They were very low, making the guitar quite hard to play. So the neck was refretted with “vintage” sized fretwire. (2mm wide, 1mm tall). I removed the black paint from the pickguard and revealed a very beautiful tortoiseshell pickguard. The black paint was also removed from the pickup covers. These changes made such a difference for the better to the overall look of the guitar. The wiring and switching arrangements were all checked to ensure that they were mid-60’s correct. And finally, once the strings were fitted, the tremlock was setup so that it worked correctly. (often not the case on many a Jaguar).
In any year I am fortunate to work on a number of 1960’s Fender guitars. But is not often that I get to do a complete restoration of a 1966 Fender Jaguar. And I thoroughly enjoyed this project. Thank you Mark. As I said earlier, the VIDEO gives a lot more detail about the guitar and whole restoration project.