J and D JungleMaster JM40

Sunday, October 4, 2009| by Will Chen

Jack And Danny Brothers (J & D) is the house brand for Yeou Chern Co., LTD, a Taiwanese company that runs several manufacturing plants in China building OEM guitars for many big name brands sold in America such as Squier and Fernandes. The JM40 is an offset Jazzmaster- styled guitar currently sold exclusively by FretCity of Canada .

To some degree, a guitar can be judged almost entirely on its neck as everything else can be swapped or upgraded. In this area, the J&D JM40 wins big.

While the guitar’s body is slightly smaller than an actual Fender Jazzmaster (closer to the size of a strat), I must say J&D has done a very good job capturing the vibe and cosmetics of the original. The American alder body has an extremely nice burst finish and the four-piece body is matched fairly well in that its multi-piece construction isn’t apparent looking at the face of the instrument. Another departure from the original’s cosmetics is shape of the pickguard. On the original Jazzmaster, the bridge actually sits on top of the pick guard. The JM40’s pickguard stops short of the bridge. Also, the guard isn’t beveled above the bridge like it is around the rest of its perimeter, yielding an inconsistent look. Finally, while the main control plate matches the volume, tone, and toggle controls of the original, J&D have opted not to include the voicing switches located on the upper bout of the Fender Jazzmaster.

To some degree, a guitar can be judged almost entirely on its neck as everything else can be swapped or upgraded. In this area, the J&D JM40 wins big. The JM40 features a medium C-contour Canadian maple neck with medium frets and modern flatter radius, rosewood fretboard with simply outstanding fretwork. Really, a vast majority of imports from China have pretty good fretwork nowadays but will require, at a bare minimum, some work on a few rough ends and occasionally flattening of a high fret or two. It really feels as if J&D went the extra mile to ensure their necks feel great…an absolute pleasure to play. Kudos! Tuner action is pretty stiff, making it a bit tricky to fine tune the instrument. Out of the box, the action was set far to low causing some significant buzzing. After a quick adjustment, she was on the money.

Originally, the Fender Jazzmaster tremolo offered a visionary locking functionality to allow the stability of a stop tail when needed. Also, the Jazzmaster’s bridge was unique as the bridge posts sit loose within holes in the body rather than screwed in, making it kind of a hybrid floating/pivoting bridge. While the bridge/trem assembly of the JM40 is a pretty accurate recreation of the classic Jazzmaster design, including the hybrid floating bridge posts and spiral saddles, it is missing the aforementioned locking mechanism which is a bit of a bummer. Out of the box, the trem tension was a bit off, making it nearly impossible to return to pitch after depressing the bar. And yes, the tremolo arm here is just like the original which is a “tension” fit meaning it simply slides into the bridge assembly rather than screwing in like the classic Strat design. As such, to get a more precise fit, I recommend wrapping the arm with masking tape. After a bit of experimentation, I was able to get an acceptable setup on the tremolo but I just couldn’t get it quite as stable as I would have liked. Honestly, without the locking mechanism I think I’d prefer the versatility of a Strat-style trem which is offered on the JM30, JM20, and JM10.

While it may be a bit much to expect great pickups on such an affordable instrument, there are quite a few affordable builders that include pickups which are pretty good stock. I was a bit let down by the P90’s on the JM40. Across the board they just seemed a bit dull for my tastes, supplanting much of the bite I associate with a good set of P90’s with a darker tonality more akin to humbuckers. While the guitar didn’t really deliver the classic jangly surf tones the aesthetics allude to, I was able to coax some decent medium-gain crunch tones from the axe. With the affordable price point of the JM40, an upgrade isn’t going to break the bank for those seeking more traditional tones.

The J & D JM40 is an extremely affordable way to get the classic Jazzmaster vibe. Stock, the guitar is quite a bargain. With a few upgrades, it has the potential to be absolutely killer.

Price: ~$210 USD
Pros: Excellent vibe, outstanding fretwork
Cons: Lackluster pickups

Tags:
Filed Under: J&D, Reviews