Price paid: £ 615
Purchased from: Peter Cook's, London
Sound — 8
I play rock music, mostly punk with both metal and pop elements and this guitar stacks up well. I run it through an Orange Tiny Terror set to a classic ACDC crunch sound, and add more distortion with a Boss DS1 if necessary. The pickups are very versatile, running the neck through an EHX Small Clone Chorus you get a lovely shimmer, the between pickup settings give you a perfect rhythm sound clean or dirty. The bridge is where I spend most of my time, it has all the single coil bite you could ask for. The real ace in this guitars hand is the tone control though. On many guitars, the tone control is effectively void (coughSGcough), but the Jazzmaster is one of the most treble ridden guitars out there. This means you can get brash, cutting bite when you need it, but by rolling back the tone you can get distorted sounds similar to those of a humbucker. Seriously, if you spend some time with this guitar and actually use that second control knob, you'll be impressed. On the minus side, this guitar won't sound like a powerful humbucker. It can do a good metal impression but ISN'T the real thing. Loses a point for this, but then if you're after a Jazzmaster, you probably don't want this sound anyway. Also, noise. You can do things to reduce it, or harness it like Sonic Youth (good fun actually), but it's there and lots of people don't like it.
Overall Impression — 10
I've been playing over 8 years now, and I own seven electrics covering most archetypes. The Jazzmaster is second in versatility only to my coil splitting humbucker Tele, but has way more character than any settings on that guitar. I love pretty much everything about this guitar. I'm becoming a bit of a single coil enthusiast, but if I wasn't playing this guitar I would have probably ended up with a HSS Strat. I was expecting to get one of the HH coil splitting jaguars (I have small hands), but I don't need the short scale, and the longer one on the Jazzmaster just feels right. If it were stolen, I would grieve before getting another of the same, because this guitar is my excalibur. I pride myself on playing everything, from Les Pauls to Strats via Danelectros, but this is the guitar I would play if I had to choose one for the rest of my life. I fell in love with it almost two years ago, and it's still the guitar I get excited to play the most, and this renders any flaws redundant to me. A big, fat, frankly unjustifiable ten.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Right, I'll preface this section by pointing out that I BATTER my guitars live. I swing them around, fall on my back and slide tackle the bassist. This is my main gigging guitar, and I'm playing on average about once a week. The hardware is solid. Doesn't lose tune even with whammy abuse, doesn't lose intonation (I check regularly, only minor adjustments every couple of months necessary). I had a problem with a sharp tailpiece part which was breaking my high e, but this sort of wearing in problem is not uncommon on new guitars, and a year or so after having it seen to I haven't lost a string. The bad - I have Schaller strap locks installed, and I think the changed angle of pressure on the strap pins results in them wearing loose. As in, after a gig, I will need to tighten the pins. I plan on glueing them in at some point, but I shouldn't need to. -1 point. I would and have gigged without a backup. My bandmates Epi Les Paul has died on stage, and he has ended up using our backup guitar. The CP Jazzmaster is a pro instrument, and holds up like one. Finish is solid. I've got chips and buckle rash, but the thing still cleans up beautifully. If you want to develop natural patina, you can, but this guitar shouldn't be hard to keep mint.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar had a perfect setup which is easy to maintain courtesy of the TOM bridge. The fit was flawless. No chips, loose parts, bad paint, nothing. Action was perfect for me, but I know most people like it lower. We'll lose a point since I reckon the majority of you would have needed to adjust, but only a point since its so damn easy.
Features — 10
Mexican Fender Jazzmaster. 21 Fret, 25.5 scale length. Standard alder Jazzmaster body, maple neck with rosewood board. I got the black finish with tort guard. Has the standard Jazzmaster switching system, which is really much simpler than it gets credit for (I turn the Rhythm circuit off and use the switch as a kill switch most of the time). Non classic appointments include the TOM bridge in place of the notoriously dodgy Jazzmaster one, tailpiece closer to the bridge for string stability and new pickups. Technically unique, these pickups are P90 magnets wound wide and flat like standard Jazzmaster pickups. The result is a classic Jazzmaster pickup with added bite.