JS-800 Del Mar Standard review by Johnson

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  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.4 (74 votes)
Johnson: JS-800 Del Mar Standard

Price paid: $ 100

Purchased from: friend

Features — 8
I don't know any of the details aside from what is obvious: Johnson EMG is on the cover of each single coil. Bridge and tuners both have a brushed silvery finish and tuner button are tulip shaped with somewhat sharp edges. Tuners are smooth and positive, though not like Grovers or similar. Sunburst body may be alder. V,T,T controls and no jumper wire to have tone control over the bridge pickup. Nice frets are unmarked and guitar is virtually mint. Gloss neck and rosewood board with headstock a satin finish. Neck appears to be 1-piece maple. No tremolo bar and trem is 'decked' to the top.

Sound — 8
Rated '8' since it isa $100 used guitar likely from AXL Johnson. But the pickups are strong and a bit bluesy. No stagger in the magnets and I have not looked into the switch (to jumper in a wire to give tone control over the bridge pup with neck tone knob (think about why). Guitar unplugged is fairly resonant and well finished and good neck pocket. An inexpensive, but sharp looking guitar with a yellowed pearloid pickguard looks good. If the bridge pup is standard, it will take a Fralin 'baseplate' to fatten up the bridge tone and a tone control for the bridge pup will help a lot.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Pretty well made and somewhat like the build of a Jay Turser (pretty good, not great but plenty enough for a knockabout guitar). Finish on the body and neck is gloss and well shot. Headstock is satin poly finished. The switch is barely 'crackly' and the bridge alone hums, but likely the grounding needs to be looked into. Block saddles in a fairly nice bridge. It is not cheap chrome, but a satin silver and well fitted and solid. Rated a '9' for a $100 used guitar in pristine shape. That is hard to beat.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I see nothing to make me think it is poorly made or likely to fail or break. It's a fairly well made Strat copy of good components (not the caliber of a Classic Vibe Squier, but about like an Affinity or better).

The guitar acoustically sounds pretty good. It is solid and the neck plate is well chromed... not that cheap wavy chrome we see on lesser Epiphones. Pretty solid tuners can be lubed lightly and the nut slots touched up if needed, but a pro setup guy already did it for this guitar. So, this one likely will be a good Strat to go into pedals and keep the bridge 'decked' (springs hold the bridge bottom to the guitar top) and forget about any tremolo use. No arm available anyhow...

Overall Impression — 9
Rated '9' since it is such a good value at $100 used in new shape. Good pickups are not 'Stratty' but are strong and clear and can be replaced easily if desired. I got it from a pal who has plenty of very nice guitars ans buys and trades cheaper ones if they are good. And this one is good... aboit like a decent Turser (JT300 or less).

We need a guitar that is 'good enough' to resell or play on stage Johnson with the 'Johnson EMG' pickups sounds plenty good enough. It just needs to be sprayed in the pots and switch with electronics cleaner. I believe the neck pocket needs maybe a 2 business cards thick shim to allow the strings at fret 12 to gap 1/16" . I want the block saddle Allen screws flush or barely below the block surface (to prevent hand chafing) and keep the saddles aligned and solid.

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