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25 October 2010

Gear Review: Xaviere Jazzmaster XV-JT 40.

The Fender Jazzmaster is an electric guitar that was first introduced at the 1958 NAMM Show and was designed as a more upmarket instrument than the Fender Stratocaster, which was originally to replace the Telecaster model. As its name indicates, it was initially marketed at jazz guitarists but was more commonly played by surf rock guitarists in the early 1960s and, more recently, by indie rock artists. It is frequently confused with the similar looking albeit tonally different Jaguar(See video post below!-Danny).

There are a wide array of budget-priced overseas Jazzmaster imitations, particularly from the 1960s and '70s. Dillion, Yamaha, Framus, Teisco, Aria, Jansen, Harmony, National, and Demel are just some of the companies who indulged, mainly to capitalize on the surf rock sound of the 1960s. Many of the modern copies replace the Jazzmaster's bridge and tremolo setup with a Stratocaster-derived assembly, altering the character of the guitar considerably but making it more palatable to players used to the Strat.

The vintage copies are rising in price, with guitars costing under $100 as little as 5 years ago now selling for as much as $600. Fender eventually got the offset-waist body shape patented, putting an end to the 'copy era'.

That is where the Xaviere XV-JT40 from Guitar Fetish comes in. The Xaviere XV-JT40 is aesthetically no different than a regular Fender Jazzmaster; the exception is in the tone knob configuration. The excess switching has been removed. This way you don't have the extra roller knobs and switching at the top of the pickguard. That was a plus in my book, as I am always bumping them during performances! The guitar is slightly smaller than a "real" Jazzmaster and some of the screw alignments will not match (i.e. pickguard,pickups etc ). For the price of $209 + shipping ($49 USD to be exact! Too much in my opinion) you get a real Alder wood guitar (sort of real anyway) that looks like a Jazzmaster! I thought I would give it a go! I have been wanting another Jazz for some time now. With the economy being the way it is and no signs of it letting up, this seemed like a well made, cheap "fix". Boy, was I ever wrong!

For starters, I had to wait for what seemed like forever to get one. They were back ordered 6 months! I was so excited to finally place the order, I could hardly contain myself. As the saying goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.".... and it was. The only positive thing I can say is the shipping was fast thanks to UPS.

The XV-JT guitar is produced in The People's Republic of China (which I have a problem with, but I ignored my beliefs to get one for the price. Typical consumerist behavior. I should have known better!). This Jazzmaster style guitar, in my opinion, isn't even good enough for a beginner! As I am a veteran guitar player of 22 years, I was more than disappointed (I was pissed off actually!). The guitar looks great (sea foam green paint is flawless.), don't get me wrong and the pickups sound Ok (Guitar Fetish Vintage wound P90s).The pickups sound like cheap single coils.They buzz and are fairly thin.They sound better clean, as distortion makes them hum like a sewing machine! Better than some, worse than most. Aesthetically, I couldn't be happier. The problem is in the quality control department.

Opinions on the XV-JT 40 are all over the place online, but there were enough positive reviews for me to feel confident about my purchase. The company, Guitar Fetish, states on their web site, "Each Xaviere guitar undergoes our rigorous quality control process at our Boston shop." All I can say to that is: YEAH, RIGHT! The guitar I received was almost unplayable: fret buzz, horrible roller bridge buzz, uneven frets, dead spots, severely high action,barely shielded (that's about as close to Kevin Shields as you'll get with this guitar!), unadjusted neck and to top it all the routing for the "floaty tremolo", as they call it, wasn't finished! If you touch the tremolo it sticks on the wood of the guitar! WT@?! I have never known of,or had a guitar (in any price range) with this problem. Not even the no-brand Superman guitar our singer won for his son at Six Flags has this problem!

The tremolo is the main reason I wanted this guitar. As all shoegaze guitarists know, using the tremolo is part of the playing style of Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine) and I, like many others, wanted the tremolo to get that sound. BIG LET DOWN!

All I can say is: buy this thing at your own risk. You might, like a shoegaze musician friend of mine, get lucky and receive a good one. I did not. Guitar Fetish will not refund your money either! You only get to trade it in on a different guitar ,which is a whole different headache, not to mention a crapshoot. As I cannot afford to get a proper Jazzmaster right now (thanks Wall Street!) I decided to keep the guitar and try to alleviate its myriad of problems. With any luck I just might be able to (pardon the term) polish a turd!

Overall a huge waste of time and money! The old adage "you get what you pay for" couldn't be more appropriate for this experience. The reasons I'm giving it 2 stars instead of 1 are: the P90 pickups are ok ( just!) and the look of the instrument is passable. 2 out of 5 stars.

: I have read that after this batch of XV-JT 40S are gone Xaviere will end production of this model. Probably too many complaints and returns, huh? Good riddance.

Review by Danny.