Sometimes you know how a guitar is going to sound just by looking at it. So what kind of noise do you expect from this Joe Doe Gas Jockey, with its classic '50s car styling and gas pump colours? Rumbling low end? Muscular chug in the rhythm position? Screeching highs, like a teen blowing doughnuts in his dad's '59 Chevy El Camino in the grocery store car park? Well, it's all that and more. Nick Jennison reviews.
Joe Doe Guitars might be some of the most fun, charming and characterful guitars I've ever come across. If you're not familiar, permit me to fill you in. A subsidiary of Vintage Guitars, Joe Doe are the brainchild of Ben Court - a man possessed of an extremely vivid imagination and potentially the nicest person in the entire guitar industry. Each Joe Doe instrument is a "signature guitar" for an imaginary person, complete with a rich (and usually hilarious) backstory and little pieces of case candy that enhance the story.
The "Gas Jockey" tells the story of Wally "Songman" Saban - a gas pump attendant with perfect recall who is able to play any song he's ever heard from memory (sounds a lot like Paul Gilbert!). I'll let you go and check out the full story on the Joe Doe website, but it very much matches the '50s muscle car aesthetic of the guitar. Resplendent in sparkle gold, the Gas Jockey is part-Strat-part-Firebird with three mini humbuckers and a tune-o-matic bridge. It's a very unique spec, but that's something Vintage have been doing a lot of lately, and I'm very much here for it.
Tonally, the Gas Jockey has a great muscular snarl that's typical of mini humbucker guitars. If you aren't familiar with the sound of these very underrated pickups, they sound closer to Telecaster pickups than traditional PAFs, but with the hum cancelling properties of larger humbuckers. It baffles me why these pickups aren't more popular! Regardless, the Gas Jockey provides no fewer than seven distinct pickup selections thanks to the three way toggle controlling the outer two pickups and a separate volume control just for the middle pickup, allowing you to blend it in on any setting, or on its own. The result is everything from Firebird bite to Red Special girth, with pseudo-Strat and Tele tones on tap, too.
As far as playability goes, the Gas Jockey plays exactly as I'd expect from a Vintage brand guitar. That is to say, it comes set up with a very comfortable action straight from the box, and the fretwork is perfect, with no buzzes, chokes or sharp ends. To be honest, this is par of the course for Vintage guitars, but it's definitely worth mentioning.
The Joe Doe Gas Jockey is a fun, unique and visually striking guitar, but it's also a very serious "player's guitar" made to an exceptionally high standard at an impressively low price. There's very little not to love here, and if you're after something a little different to the norm, you should definitely check the Gas Jockey out!
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