After seeing several copies of the JS
series guitars on ****, I decided to get one for use as a project guitar, with the simple goal of just making it playable. Out of the box I was really impressed with the finish, a simplified Donnie style paint job. The clear coat makes it look almost like ceramic. I scrapped my plans for a repaint and focused on setup and electronics instead. Factory setup was bad. Real bad. More like assembly than setup I guess. Likewise, the electronics were pretty bad as well, pickups were weak, humming in all positions, volume and tone pots made scratchng sounds when rotated, etc. All in all, pretty much unplayable.
Over the course of a few days, I played with the setup while I waited for all the new parts to arrive from various **** vendors. I managed to get rid of 90% of the fret buzzing while still maintaining a pretty low action. Some minor truss rod adjustment will probably be needed to fine tune it. Intonation was kind of hard to set on most strings because the tremolo seems to be mounted too far away from the neck, by about 1/8". Most of the saddles are bottomed out as far forward as possible and yet still need to go a little further. To my ears it still sounds okay as long as I dont try any bar chords above about the 15th fret. After that they become noticably out of tune.
I replaced the pickups with GFS Crusaders, high output units designed to be similar to SD Invaders. These were wired for coil tapping via push/pull pot. Shielding in the control cavity was done with aluminum tape used in AC&R work, from Home Depot. The cheesy plastic pickup rings were ditched in favor of die cast chrome parts.
I was impressed enough with the results of the project that I ordered another one to modify as well. Guitar #2 was even worse out of the box than the first, in all aspects. The donnie paint job was not all that great, with lots of overspray that had been clearcoated over. I sanded it down to #400 grit and resprayed with Black Pearl Testors model paint, followed with 4 coats of clear laquer. Pickups were replaced with GFS Big Mouth units, again wired for coil tapping, along with a high pass filter as per JS
-1000 wiring specs. Eventually all the chrome hardware on this one will be replaced with black parts. I'm hoping that a different brand of tremolo might help with the intonation problem by having slightly different saddle location relative to the mounting studs..... I can't say enough good things about the GFS Big Mouth pickups, they sound amazing and have a very broad range of sounds available with coil tapping. I'm still working on the playability aspect of both guitars, which will take a little more time. As far as tone though, they are pretty much perfect. Overall cost for each guitar after mods was still below $300. This will increase as more parts are replaced, but still pretty cheap for two axes that sound really great.