Price paid: € 125
Purchased from: Music Store Professional
Features: The Jack & Danny 805Q is a superstrat-style guitar made in a Chinese factory owned by Yeou Chern International Corporation. Jack & Danny is a typical low-budget brand offering Chinese production quality, which I'll get to later in this review. I purchased my 805Q in May 2011, I assume it's been produced in either late 2010 or early 2011. The price at which this guitar is offered is a real bargain, I paid 125 for it while I've seen other stores put up a price tag of 300. Considering the features though, it might very well be worth such price tag.
The 805Q has got a bolt-on maple neck consisting out of 3 quarter-sawn pieces as well as a truss-rod. The fretboard is made of Rosewood and has sharkfin-style inlays and 24 jumbo frets, as well as a white binding. That binding continues round the headstock, of which the top side has the same finish as the body. The body is made of Sapele, a species of tree that is a descendant of Mahogany. While Sapele is well known for it's uses in flooring and carpentering, it has proven it's use in instruments frequently.
The neck joint and lower horn are curved at the back, to allow easy access to the final frets. On the upper side, there are cutaways for both body and lower right arm, making the guitar sit very comfortably on your lap. Finally, the body has a quilted maple top laminate with a transparent red finish. While it's not a real wooden top, a laminate gives you that great looking top while costing a lot less. The body has a cream binding. As for hardware, it's equipped with very basic tuners, a Vintage style 2-point tremolo, two no-name passive humbuckers with zebra pickup covers, a 3-way pickup switch, a volume and a tone knob. The guitar is not supplied with any accessories.
Considering the quilted top, bindings, 24 frets, ergonomic shape and tremolo unit, this guitar is very well featured for the price. That's why I rate this with an 8. They could have supplied a cable, however. A gigbag and cable would have made me consider a 10. [Please note that my ratings are relative to the price of the instrument]. // 8
Sound: Nobody expects a heavenly sound to come from a 125 guitar. There, this guitar meets all expectations: there's not heavenly sound. The no-name pickups suffer from all the flaws well known with other low-budget guitars. Single clean notes and palm muted power chords have an acceptable sound, but unmuted chords tend to sound muddy, specially when the tone knob is turned down.
The sound of the wood itself is an important attribute of a guitar as well. Pickups can easily be swapped for better ones, replacing wood is somewhat trickier. Here, the guitar scores a lot better. The acoustic sound of the guitar is rich in both the high and low end. If only the humbuckers picked up that sound properly.
It is very typical for a guitar in the sub-250 category to have the flaws mentioned with the humbuckers. However, since the acoustic sound is quite good, I do believe an upgrade in pickups could make up for a lot. However, in it's current state the plugged in sound is exactly what was to be expected from unnamed pickups. A 6 would be an alright rating, not entirely bad but far from good. // 6
Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar came out of it's box completely set up, tuned in E standard and ready to play without any adjusting required. There are a few flaws, though: The fretboard features 24 frets, but the neck does not seem to support that entirely. The 24th fret is actually on the edge of the neck, with about half a centimeter (a bit less than a 1/4 inch) of fretboard floating into the air. Another thing to note about the fretboard, is that it's binding is white while the body- and headstock-binding are cream coloured. This makes me suspect that the fretboard and neck are standard off-the-shelve pieces that were not designed for each other. It's sturdy though and the notes at the frets have proper intonation.
The next flaw is the finish near the necks bolts. I believe that the tools used to fasten the bolts scraped off some of the finish. It are minor marks though and the rest of the finish is plainly excellent. Apart from those two issues, Action, Fit & Finish are more than acceptable. I rate an 8. Considering the effort the craftsmen put into setting up this low-budget guitar and the near-flawless finish, it's a rating well deserved. // 8
Reliability & Durability: The guitar is decently build and feels reliable. It's strap buttons make it near impossible for a strap to slide off (or to slide on, for that matter) so I do not see the need for strap-locks. While the hardware is definitely off-the-shelve production material, after a year of use it shows no marks. The only thing that's not quite the way it should be is the tuning stability while using the tremolo.
Using the tremolo to dive causes all strings to go out of tune, like it often does with this kind of tremolo construction. It deals a lot better with pull-ups. Despite this only occurring with dives, I decided to block the tremolo with a piece of wood. Doing so prevents the tremolo from moving into a diving angle. The tuning stability improved tremendously.
I'm confident the guitar will not break down when handled properly. I even think it can handle some abuse, although I'm not going to try that one out. I rate a 7 because the tremolo issues are common with this kind of tremolo and just about everything else in the guitar appears reliable and durable enough for long term normal usage. // 7
Overall Impression: After having played bass guitar for a few years, I was getting into writing music. It is for this reason that I bought a cheap electric guitar: so I could learn how to play it properly and write playable music for it. This guitar is more than sufficient for my needs and actually makes me enjoy playing it almost as much as playing bass (which remains my primary instrument). I own a genuine Fender bass and as far as build quality is concerned, this Chinese low-end guitar does not need to be ashamed. The only flaws this guitar suffers from are there because it had to be cheap.
Chinese instruments have the reputation of being unreliable, build from inferior materials and with profit as their sole purpose. This guitar proves that reputation wrong with it's many features, solid woods and little flaws. If Yeo Chern had been allowed by his customer to produce these guitars less cheap, they could have been devastating competition in the superstrat-style segment. The 805Q, as it is, is a far better guitar and bargain compared to Squires, Epiphones and Ibanez GIO's. An upgrade in pickups could push it into 400-guitar territory with ease.
However, if it were lost or stolen, I doubt I would buy it again. In the time I've had it, I've learned much about playing guitar. I would probably buy a more expensive guitar, but not without comparing it with a J&D equivalent first. // 8