|J. B. Player Electric Guitar - JBG165, Guitar Review
We've been getting A LOT of requests to review everything from guitars to amps to effects to drum hardware. Lately, there seems to be a lot of interest in J.B.Player guitars and basses. So, we decided to take one around the track a few times. The subject of our scrutiny this time is the J.B.Player JBG165 electric guitar. We selected this model because it is a likely choice for guitarists just starting out (and, because the JoeGuitar guys said it is a really nice guitar).
At first glance, we always find ourselves looking for certain telltale signs of cheapness. My personal checklist goes something like this.
Now I feel qualified to discuss the JBG165. In fact, I now consider myself a J.B.Player JBG165 authority. Maybe the difinitive authority. Here goes...
It's wood. And, when it comes to guitar building, wood is good. By looking under the pickguard, you can tell if a guitar is solid or ply. The JBG165 is solid ash which is great. It's also light weight which is also great. I like light guitars for two reasons: (1) they resonate better than heavy guitars and (2) they're simply more comfortable to play. While I had it apart, I could see that there aren't any screw holes filled in where they may have misdrilled. That's something I see a lot. I don't suppose it hurts anything but, c'mon, drill 'em where you want 'em... once. All in all, the body get's two thumbs up from me.
The Neck & Fingerboard
Okay, this is where the rubber meets the road as far as most guitarists are concerned. Out of the box, it feels good. What I wanted to know is, can you adjust it. Here's the deal. Cheap guitars are usually made in Asia and The J.B. Player is no exception. Well, I've been to Asia and I can say with a degree of authority that it's wet there. Wood, like most absorbent mediums, will suck up whatever moisture happens to be floating around the atmosphere up to the point where it meets equalibrium. What happens to wood when it absorbs moisture? It swells, expands, gets bigger. Conversely, it shrinks when it dries out. So, when you get your guitar, one of two things is likely to happen. If you live in a dry climate (like me) the wood will shring and the fret ends will stick out and feel sharp. This makes the guitar feel a little like playing a saw blade. Here in the high desert of northern Nevada, this happens to virtually every guitar I see regardless of price. The good news is it's easy to fix by a guy who knows how to profile frets. We don't really have a lot of places in the US that are any wetter than Asia, but say you live in Seattle, S. Texas or Florida near the coast. Your guitar could have a tendency for the neck to bow making it hard to play. This is where the truss rod comes in.
The truss rod is a sort of expandable rod running the length of the neck which allows adjustment for straightness. Tighten it and the neck backbows, loosen it and it bows (technically called a warp in guitar jargon. Sometimes this is confused with a twist.) We want the neck to be straight nomatter where you live. So, I grabbed my trusty 5mm allen wrench and tightened, then loosened. Good news, the rod was adjusted around the middle of it's range of movement. That means it will adjust to pretty much anywhere you live. Now I decided to crank hard on it and see just how much range it has. Don't ever do this. You can ruin your guitar neck. I did it because the guitar wasn't mine (ha ha). (The J.B. Player people are going to read this and be ticked off when they find out what I did to thier guitar!) Anyway, the adjusts to a pretty wide range. No problem there. The verdict, so far so good.
Also, the nut was pretty well cut and the neck has a slimish profile which is comfortable. And, it's maple which is very stable. The rosewood fingerboard is real so you won't wear light spots into it where you play the most. All in all, it's a pretty good neck.
Pickup & Electronics
The JBG-165 is a 3-single coil pickup guitar. This is a classic configuration. Funk, fusion, pop, jazz and country guys will love it but, metalheads might appreciate a little more output from the bridge pickup so, a guitar with a humbucking pickup in this position might be a better choice if you want a lot of grind. But, don't misunderstand, single ciol pickup have plenty of rock and roll in them, too. The stock pickups are fine. This is where I have to give a builder some slack. Premium pickups like Seymour Duncan or Dimarzio, Fralin, EMG or whoever are typically around $80-$100 apiece. There is simply no way, they're going to be able to put these into a guitar that's less than $200.
The controls are the traditional Master Volume and one Tone knob each for the neck and middle pickups. Fender's been doing it this way since the 50's and it works fine. I really don't know why they don't go to one Volume and one master Tone control that covers al the pickups. A lot of manufacturers do (like MusiMan) and it really makes more sense. But, hey, if you don't like it, you can always get it rewired. I leave them all on 10 most of the time anyway, so it doesn't really matter.
The J B Player JBG165 is yet another copy of a Fender Stratocaster. It really sticks in my throat to say that though because, there are a lot of guitars that are similar in design that are way different when it comes down to nuts and bolts on the guitar. More importantly, the JB Player is well made and affordable. I like it way better than Fender's own Squire line of guitars at around the same price for all the reasons above. Inside and out the JB Player is a good guitar to play, a great guitar to learn on and a guitar that musicians can afford. I like it.