When it enters full scale production, the guitar will be available with any number of pickup configurations but Jaden himself constantly experiments to find what he feels is the correct combination and for the moment, he's settled on the brace of DiMarzio humbuckers we have here, a Mo'Joe at the bridge and a PAF Pro at the neck. Played clean the PAF Pro at the neck is clear and fruity with a lot of presence, it's the perfect platform for clean tapping along the lines of Satriani's 'Day at the beach' with each note ringing out with bell like clarity, helped no doubt by the Wenge neck and ebony fretboard. With a little bit more gain, it handles pop and soft rock chording nicely, retaining its own well known character rather than sounding authentically vintage. Winding up the distortion, it comes into its own, a super smooth sound with loads of presence, perfect for solos in higher positions. The Mo' Joe in the bridge has more aggression and bite than the PAF Pro but has plenty of body to it and there's no increase in volume when moving from neck to bridge position. The Mo' Joe has quite a dark sound, reminiscent John Petrucci's recent tone, it lives for high gain rock and metal although for the most extreme styles you might want to specify a pickup with more output.
There's a beautiful crisp presence to the sound, it never gets 'squashy' and each note, whether alternate picked or played legato, has excellent definition. With lower gain tones it cleans up well for a decent, but not perfect, Jimmy Page impression but any 24 fret superstrat with a Floyd is going to have its work cut out to get in the ball park so this guitar does very well indeed. Played clean the sound has quite a 'honk' to it and could be described as a little nasal, but that's something endemic to most modern bridge humbuckers.
|Action, Fit, & Finish ||
This particular guitar has a 2 piece mahogany body with a carved, unbound, bookmatched wenge top. For those that don't know wenge is an African hardwood, somewhat similar in appearance to rosewood, but with a much more open grain. That open grain has been brilliantly exploited here, as when coupled with the waxed finish and carved top, the effect is something not a million miles away from a very detailed 'natural' swirl finish.
The guitar is very similar in outline to an Ibanez RG, however the body is several millimetres thinner, a fact that is accentuated by the guitar's carved top, reminiscent of an ESP horizon, or in some ways a PRS Custom. The thinner body and profiling of the top give the guitar a very sleek design.
The guitar's neck is a three piece laminate of wenge, with a purpleheart centre block and a scarf jointed wenge headstock and capped with a thick chocolaty slab of ebony equipped with 24 extra jumbo frets. Navigation is aided by offset pearl dots on the face of the fingerboard and a set of side dots for extra security. The neck joint is scarily similar to an Ibanez 'All Access Neck Joint' but the neck itself is a fair bit thicker than a standard Wizard profile, but by no means a baseball bat. It's more like an older JEM or Jackson.
Overall Jaden's choice of lots of wenge and the sumptuous, near black ebony board give the guitar quite a sinister vibe and leave it looking somewhere between a guitar and stealth bomber.
This example is equipped with basic controls, single volume and single tone controls and a three way switch selecting neck, bridge or both of the guitar's two humbuckers at once. The guitar is also available without the tone control and the position of volume and tone pots reversed. Sitting next to the simple gold script logo, tuning duties are handled by a set of black-chrome Gotohs tuners and locking nut and an Original Floyd Rose bridge resides at the other end to keep things in tune.
Out of the box (so to speak as the guitar was hand delivered by Jaden) the action is low and slinky with no hint of buzz, I actually requested the guitar with a slightly higher action than it would normally come supplied with which gives some idea of just what's on offer! There's a shim under the nut (to cope with the prototype extra thick ebony board) but even though Jaden explains this won't be present on the final version it's something I'm more than happy to live with as the neck defines playability. The oiled wenge is smooth, organic and inviting and feels hard and immediate to the touch. The 24 extra jumbo frets are mirror finished and the intonation is spot on. The Original Floyd rose holds tuning exceptionally well and he arming action is beautifully smooth really encouraging all sorts of whammy antics. Plus there's a lot of flutter available which begs for you to (over)use that technique. After years of playing Strat configuration guitars, the switch placement takes some getting used to and its direction of action is rotated 90 degrees from where one might expect it, but this setup starts to feel intuitive after a short while (although Jaden will install the appropriate switch with its action in the direction the customer prefers). The cavity cover on this example isn't 100% flush, but as this is a pre-production prototype and it's something Jaden is aware of, I'm not worried about it at all.
|Reliability & Durability ||
Having only had the guitar for a month it's perhaps unfair of me to try and comment on the reliability of the instrument. However, that said, the guitar is rock solid and being such a simple design there's very little to go wrong as long as care is taken when dealing with the floating trem. It's also worth noting that so far Jaden's customer support seems unparalleled in the fact that the guitar was set up to my specifications with a DiMarzio cliplock strap already installed (although conventional strap buttons are available if a customer prefers) and then hand delivered to my office in a form fitting Hiscox case that comes standard with this guitar. I've used these cases for years, and unless a baggage handler is particularly determined, they should protect your instrument from all but the worst handling issues.
|Customer Support ||
It helps that I'm an hour's drive away from Jaden's workshop which is one of the benefits of buying from a local luthier. I spent a while looking round Jaden's workshop (which resembles a micro-scale factory complete with automated dust extraction systems and CNC router) where he talked me though the production process and I've spent quite a long time discussing the rationale behind this particular guitar with Jaden; each aspect is something that's really been thought about in minute detail rather than following either convention or current guitar trends.
|Liked about it ||
What do I like about it? This guitar is a top flight, superstrat with amazing attention to detail, built by a luthier who has put real thought into the choice of woods, construction, finish and hardware. It offers a pure rock tone with a flawless neck and striking looks.
|Didn't like ||
What don't I like about it? well my main issue is that, as brilliant as this guitar is, I still prefer a "drop top" type of construction. The carve top isn't as comfortable as a more traditional superstrat. The switch position, whilst perfectly usable, isn't as intuitive to a strat player as it might be. The only other issue I have is that Jaden offers so many options, it's difficult to settle on what you'd consider the perfect design!
Was this review helpful to you?
Report this review