After receiving a dud in Sonic Blue (and having the Sonic Blue JM's end up backordered everywhere), I finally received the replacement in Candy Apple Red yesterday.
I've now had the time to set it up and play it a bit, and I have to say - it was worth the wait and hassle of returning the first one. As I did with my first VM (my Surf Green Jaguar, review, pics, and demo HERE
), I'm ready to put down my thoughts on it, along with a pile of pics and a demo.
Out of the box, the Jazzmaster was in great shape. No finish flaws, intonation is nearly on, and the setup was decent. As with all other VM's in this line, the stock strings were awful - though not as bad as the ones my Surf Green Jag had on them. They were promptly replaced with D'addario 11's.
In terms of sound, I'd say it's definitely in the classic Jazzmaster realm - though with a bit more heat to it, especially on the bridge. Tonally, the pickups still have a lot of depth though, which is great. I'll be keeping them stock, as they sound good to me.
After my first VM Jazzmaster that got returned, I was terrified when I pulled this one out of the box. The worry of major finish flaws, blems, and other issues was very much on my mind. However, on removing the packaging I was pleasantly surprised to see a flawless, vintage looking CAR finish. No dents, dings, chips, black marks, or other nonsense. Just a nice, smooth finish, over what looks like a three piece body.
Color-wise, it's what I'd call an aged CAR. It has a slightly yellowed tint to it, giving it a rust-like appearance in some lighting. In other lighting it looks like a deep red with a perfect shimmer to it. It looks to be a gold base coat with trans red over it. My guess is that they're using a slightly yellowed poly on these - giving the CAR a rust tint, the sonic blue a green tint, and the olympic white a slightly off-white tint. I've noticed the same slight yellowing on my surf green Jag as well, so it makes sense. It also would tie in with the "Vintage Modified" label.
Onto the neck, like with my Surf Green Jaguar, the frets are perfect, neck bow was spot on, and it plays great. Super comfy neck - not too thick, but still a nice C shape. Mine also has a good amount of flaming in the neck and on the headstock, which was surprising to see.
Tuners feel the same as on my Surf Green Jag - nice and solid, vintage style tuners. They seem to be holding up just fine, keeping in tune decently and all that. As with my Surf Green Jag and CAR Jag, they'll be staying.
Hardware wise, it's very solid. No buzzing from the bridge (even with the stock strings), and the tremolo is nice and smooth. If you're a hard player, the strings will hop the grooves on the stock bridge, so a Mustang bridge may be in order for some. For me, the stock bridge works fine and needs no change. I could only imagine anyone changing the stock tremolo if they absolutely need the mute. It's comfortable, works great, and feels fairly smooth.
The pickguard is cut pretty nicely as well. Clean edges, straight screws, all that. It's a bit stark, in my opinion, but I like it. I'll eventually put an anodized gold guard on it, but I'm in no real rush.
Knobs are on the cheap side, though they work fine. There's no dire need to change them, but some may want to. Potentiometers are Alpha 16mm's. Small, but functional. I'll keep the wiring stock until it needs changed.
All in all, I'm ecstatic with it. Great quality, and a keeper without a doubt. My only complaint, and a mild one at that, is with the knobs. Other than that? Just what I wanted.
Here's a demo of it, cycling through the pickup settings. Demo: Bridge>Both>Neck>Rhythm circuit.
Hopefully this helps anyone considering picking one up. I'd suggest trying before you buy, but my ordering experience wasn't so bad, despite the return of the first JM.