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This article was originally published in issue #67
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Superb build quality.
Great playability and tone.
(Insert Maroon 5 joke here)
Swamp Ash Body
Hardtail with Vintage Bent Saddle
Roasted Hard Maple Neck
Featuring an ash body, two Ernie Ball Music Man designed pickups, coil tap, modern hardtail bridge with vintage bent steel saddles, 25.5-inch scale, oil and wax rubbed roasted maple neck with 10-inch radius maple fingerboard, 22 stainless steel frets, oversized 4-over-2 headstock and compensated nut, the James Valentine Signature (Sterling JV60), is pretty much true to every detail of its' Music Man counterpart, but at a fraction of the price. Is it too good to be true? Stuart Shields has the answers.
Roasted maple necks. It seems everyone’s talking about them. But can this high end, boutique feature make it onto more affordable models? With its oil rubbed and waxed sealed roasted neck, the Sterling JV60 from Musicman could be the solution to those of us that want to rock that on-trend roasted neck without cooking our wallets in the process!
Firstly it’s worth noting that this is the more mid-priced Sterling version of the Musicman James Valentine signature. James Valetine? ….. is the very funky gentleman and main guitarist for pop-funk giants Maroon 5. Now, you don’t have to be a fan of the band or, for that matter, a funk player to benefit from all this guitar has to offer.
Beyond the obvious roasted maple there are some genuine ‘added value’ features which set this guitar apart. In terms of functionality: the JV60’s unique built-in boost (engaged via the ‘push push’ volume pot) gives a full 12db push to your signal. Very handy for driving your cleans a little closer to breaking point or helping your leads punch through the mix; all controlled from the guitar itself. This does require a 9v battery but should only draw power when in boost mode. The ‘push push’ control means no awkward tugging at pots to engage/disengage the boost. Keeping with the electrics; what looks, at first glance, to be an HH pick up configuration is actually a single coil in disguise at the bridge position; in a humbucker casing (those angled poles being a bit of a give away!), married with a humbucker in the neck (those angled poles being a slight giveaway) - securing the vote of Tele players everywhere perhaps? The pickups are nice and transparent with a clear bite and mid-range, very much of the medium output variety. The guitar will handle more gainy tones but expect the pick ups to reassuringly fight back a little. There’s versatility through a coil tap and 3 way pick up selector giving the JV60 a broad tonal palate.
For the environmentally savvy players - the trademark Musician ‘wedge’ body is solid, sustainable Mississippi Swamp Ash. This gives a little more in the upper mids and a brighter ‘cut’ through the mix when needed. When combined with the translucent finish (buttermilk for this model) the grain adds to the guitar’s classy looks and vintage appeal. A compensated nut and locking tuners provide some additional tuning stability and should appeal to the more pro player. A generous scale length of 25.5” steps up the string tension and you will feel this a little when bending but in contrast will work well for heavy-handed rhythm playing.
To sum up - a well-balanced guitar suited to a range of players with some really high-end boutique spec. A perfect balance of modern and vintage.