Price paid: $ 399
Purchased from: Paul Bothners Music
Sound — 9
When I bought this guitar, my primary genres were metal and the harder rocks, death and thrash specifically and this guitar handles both styles well. That is not to say it can't be applied to other styles however. When I rolled back the bass and turned up the mids, I was surprised at the twangy attack of the neck pickup. Using the middle pick on clean I found a very bright, almost funk like tone. The bridge pickup delivers a bassy attack that makes all clean riffs sound out. With distortion, the guitar shines. The neck pickup is made for high octane solos, retaining clarity while still screaming at lower volumes. The middle pickup is great for mildly distorted full chords. The bridge pickup executes all riffs with devilish cool. Very bass heavy, so be weary at higher volume levels not to get muddled in the mix. I play through a Laney LX10 with a Boss ST-2 distortion and it works well with my practice configuration.
Overall Impression — 8
For my current styles (which is mostly progressive rock, metal, funk and blues) this guitar handles well. For the two years I've had it, it's served me well. I grew to love the hard body finish, it's tough appearance and the image it conjured of Jeff Hanneman shredding on stage. I wish I had acquired a model with a tremolo arm and with a pair of strap locks, but live and let live I guess. If this were stolen, I'd be quite irate as it handles most styles well. This guitar is made for metal though and excels at it. If you're a jazz, pop or reggae player, I'd look elsewhere for a guitar. Otherwise, reliable, string and powerful.
Reliability & Durability — 8
As mentioned above, I have a bad habit of trying ot wreck guitars. As such, I tedn to purchase guitars that can handle my brand of abuse. Two years later, this guitar has taken bodies, amps, other guitars and a knee and it's still working well. The hardware on the input has some slight issues with certain cables, but that's all down to me and my playign style. The strap buttons handle well, strap locks make them even more reliable. If I was forced to, gun to my head, I'd use this without a backup.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
When I acquired the guitar, it had rusted strings from years of not being used. I quickly replaced the strings and had them set to my preference at the time (.11 gauge strings tuned to drop C). The knobs are very smooth even after 2 years if abusive playing (I tend to swing and destroy most of my guitars). The bridge was slightly raised, but a few minutes with my allen keys and it was sorted. The finish was flawless, only having two chips from a gig where I basically bashed it against an amp. The action wasn't great, but again, all it took was a few minutes setup by myself.
Features — 9
This is one of the earlier model JH-200's, thus it lacks the tremolo arm of the later models. It does however possess a Kahler X-Trem locking system which, with a proper setup handles drop tunings very well. The guitar itself is a 24 fret affair, maple neck and rosewood fretboard with a 25.5" scale length. The Extra thin neck contour ensures ease of playing, especially in the higher registers (for all you shredders out there). The neck is bolt-on and the body is a solid top Supertrat made of basswood (with a finished black top). The pickups are standard ESP made EMG pickups (ESP LH-301 p.u.). It has three-way switch as well as master volume and tone knobs.