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Jay Turser JT-MG2 Bilinda Butcher Style Mustang Review

 
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letsgocoyote
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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 10:15 pm    Post subject: Jay Turser JT-MG2 Bilinda Butcher Style Mustang Review Reply with quote

Greetings all! I don't frequent gear forums regularly anymore, but I thought I'd pop in for a relevant review of a guitar I recently purchased. The specific guitar in question I will be reviewing is the Jay Turser JT-MG2 in Sonic Blue:



I am not sure where I first saw it, but I was rather excited when I found the Jay Turser JT-MG series just recently, for several reasons. First, I was already looking into some of the newer Squier shortscales. Mustang knockoffs are quite uncommon compared to other styles, so the JT-MG is a welcome option. Secondly, it is a very inexpensive guitar. Last of all, me and my friend used to always crack jokes about buying Jay Turser guitars, since they aren't highly regarded among other things.

Of course, the most interesting feature is the omission of the traditional dynamic vibrato, replaced instead by a Jazzmaster style vibrato system, not unlike that of My Bloody Valentine guitarist Belinda Butcher. At any rate, I don't listen to My Bloody Valentine and I reckon Jay Tursers choice to use a Jazzmaster vibrato tailpiece has more to do with economy than mimicry of the afhormentioned guitarist; import/clone units of the Jazzmaster vibrato are already out there as an available part... I have yet to see an imitation dynamic vibrato unit as seen on Mustangs (although I don't claim to be an expert on this). I reckon the Jazzmaster style tailpiece is the closest they could come this side of a Strat style bridge, at which point they would have just been making a Cyclone, but I digress. Anyhow, I liked the idea of the Jazzmaster trem, so I went for it.

At the time of my purchase I saw these guitars selling in the ballpark of $150-200 USD, however I was able to purchase mine new for $129 shipped using the Best Offer feature on eBay. The seller had listed it for $159.

I'd like to discuss some points about the guitar that are not as apparent from the pictures.

To accommodate the Jazzmaster vibrato, this body is marginally thicker than your typical Mustang which are normally quite thin. I am glad that Jay Turser only made the body fractionally thicker for this purpose; the body still seems thin and light. The body also features a tummy cut and forearm contours. While I am not personally a fan of these design cues (I prefer '65 style slab body Mustangs over their more sculpted late '60s/early '70s variants) it does make for a comfortable body and does look nice. The finish on it is well done, up to par with any other decently made guitar.

The vibrato unit does not seem terrible, but not top notch either. It does not have a lock on it. My main gripe however, is the vibrato arm. Traditional units normally hold the arm in place with some sort of teeth clicking into a groove on the arm. Even the MIM Blacktop Jazzmaster used a screw in style arm not unlike a Stratocaster. The Jay Turser however, offers neither method! The arm stays in place only by friction. Does it work? Yes. But it does have the possibility to fall out of you are having a particularly psychedelic day, and that is somewhat disappointing.

The pickguard is not real imitation tortoiseshell, rather it is just cheap photo tort, so it doesn't offer any of the subtle translucency and depth from the real deal. This is strictly an aesthetic concern, and a subtle one at that. All things considered, it actually looks pretty good.

The Mosrite style roller bridge seems fine. Sure, I'd prefer the rocking setup with a traditional mustang bridge, but I am not going to endeavor to replace the roller bridge just to have it. I wish there was more leeway for intonation on the saddles, but I got close enough.

The wiring, electronics, and pickups are poor quality. Mind you, for my tastes, the bar is set quite low when it comes to this stuff. But, when I received it, the bridge pickup barely made much sound. It sounded like it was wound extremely weak, to only 1k ohms or so. The neck pickup worked just fine. I popped off the pickguard hoping to reflow some cold solder joints thinking it might repair it. While inside, I measured the pickups. They are wound to about 7k, which I think is a pretty respectable value. Sadly, in the process, the bridge pickup gave up the ghost. I'm not a fool with the soldering iron, and frankly it's far from unreasonable that a cheap pickup in a cheap guitar should go kaput. However, this is still disappointing. The electronics wiring and components in general are of cheap quality as well. However, as long as they work, I don't have a major complaint. For what it's worth, I do find the sound of the one working neck pickup to be quite enjoyable.

The neck I think is just dandy I think. If I close my eyes, I'd say the profile is right nice as any other good guitar. I can't comment on the subtle differences in profile compared to my last Mustang, but in general I'd say it's a great C neck befitting to a Mustang style guitar. One small disappointment about the neck, which may not be the manufacturers fault at all (it could have happened in handling) is that a small bit of rosewood was chipped off of the fretboard, thankfully just behind the nut. I touched the chipped spot with some clear nail polish to try and match the finish of the rest of the (finished portions of) of the fretboard. The damage is no longer very noticeable. The frets are all well done with no sharp overhang, so you don't have to worry about them being dressed poorly. They are of a traditional width and height, no crazy jumbo frets here. I am not sure what material the nut is, but I think it may be Tusq, and it also seems just fine. I don't find the headstock shape offensive, although it is a bit generic. But what can you expect, it's a knockoff, so no glorious big fat CBS style Fender headstock here. My guitar has a matching painted headstock (The JT-MG2 series has matching headstocks, JT-MGs do not). I am not a fan of matching headstocks usually, but it looks pretty good. The back of the neck has an amber colored finish pretty similar to the Made in Japan Mustangs and it looks and feels good. The tuners are Kluson style. I can't tell how cheap of quality they are or not. One screw wasn't fully tightened down when I received the guitar, but I fixed that. I think I may replace the tuners in the future with known better units, just in case. For now they work fine.

So how does it play? Well, it wasn't bad at first, but the stock strings had to take a hike! I put 11 guauge D'Addario strings on and the whole thing became much better. It intonated better, the vibrato became more stable, as did the tuners. I am sure I will continue to tweak it to my liking, but the bottom line is that this is a guitar which must be set up, and very likely set up with 11 gauge strings. I could run 10s on my old MIJ Mustang if I needed to, but this Jay Turser really demands 11s for stability.

So, in summation:

THE GOOD:
The wood. Nice body, nice neck overall, the finish, and design.

THE BAD:
Low quality hardware and electronics.

THE UGLY:
Chip in the fretboard wood behind the nut (likely the fault of the seller, but not worth returning it for, although it could have been lazy inspection on part of the manufacturer as well).

BOTTOM LINE:
Let's face it, it is a cheap guitar. As cheap guitars go, this one is fairly unique. If you need something a little more dependable at this price, then you'll need to settle on some sort of cheap Squier Strat or Tele. But if you don't mind a little work, this one is probably more fun. Clearly, this makes an excellent modding platform. It may also excel at certain musical styles that a cheap Strat or Tele would not. Don't pay $200 for it. I think the normal street price is $179, which is okay, if this is a guitar you really want to go after. However, I'd recommend trying to find it for $160 or less. At the $129 I paid for mine, I will not make any complaints, despite some clear problems with my unit. As I have mentioned, the wood on this guitar is good and that is the most important part.

WHO'S IT FOR:
Modders and people who are able to do their own setups.
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letsgocoyote
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PostPosted: Mon May 19, 2014 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I intend to keep the guitar stock for now, other than I will order some cheap clearance pickups from GFS (likely with ivory covers which will look better than the black) to replace the bad bridge pickup.

In the future I definitely see replacing both the tuners (hopefully with some white button Kluson style) and the vibrato unit (with a legitimate locking Jazzmaster vibrato), but for now, the stock parts will do fine.

Lastly, I am curious to see if a standard Fender short scale neck fits. I'd like to find out for a fact before I pursue that path, but maybe I will have to take the plunge blind. If I do, I may consider getting a Mustang neck from eBay, or an Allparts Jaguar neck. Mainly because I just love that CBS headstock so much.
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deaner33
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great review, thanks!
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mkt3000
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let me know which scale it is - I'd love one of these for the body.
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letsgocoyote
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is short scale - 24"
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superfuzz
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are you sure? I think I read somewhere they were 25.5? Great review regardless!
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letsgocoyote
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2014 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I measured it, it is truly 24"
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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2014 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want either one of these or the Hodson Jazzcat ooorrrrr the Harley Benton one.

Belinda has a green pearl one as well now. Looks awesome:
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G3-wJMt7L4[/youtube]
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