For developing guitarists with an interest in jazz, inexpensive yet playable hollowbodies and semihollows were once as elusive as the intricacies of "Rhythm" changes. Not so today, as a number of manufacturers have managed to produce good-sounding, good-looking, well-built instruments for the 15-year-old high school ax-man on a budget. Peavey's JF-1 EXP is a prime example of this welcome trend in instrument design, but the guitar's charms aren't exclusive to the underage crowd: players of all ages (and disciplines) can get down with the JF-1 EXP and its guilt-free price tag.
Peavey JF-1 EXP Guitar
Taking its obvious inspiration from Gibson's ES-335, the archetype for slim-line hollowbody guitars, the JF-1 EXP and its two humbuckers boast both the power of a solid-body instrument and the warmth of a hollowbody.
In the neck position with the tone rolled down, the JF-1 is a straightahead box. Bebop lines sound punchy and precise; chordal workouts emit a solid, balanced hue. Moan the blues in the middle position, where the JF-1's timeless blues body-shape contributes to some tasty B.B. King-inspired tones. The JF-1 proves it is capable of performing all sorts of Americana, as a flick to the bridge position allows you to get in some convincing Telecaster twang and itchy N'awlins funk riffage.
Where the JF-1 performs surprisingly well, however, is in the distortion department. Inexpensive hollowbodies tend to feed back an ungodly amount once the Fuzz Face gets stomped, but the JF-1 and its maple centerpiece rock out with a minimal amount of unwanted noise, and its slim-tapered neck invites gratuitous hard-rock soloing. A set neck design gives the guitar almost Spinal Tap-worthy sustain, and a full 22-fret, two octave range is easily accessible courtesy of a double-cutaway design.
The instrument's laminated sunburst finish and pearl inlays are attractively misleading and will fool all except the most scrutinizing guitar-shop clerks into thinking the JF-1 is a much pricier piece. Gold die-cast tuning heads no doubt add to this effect but also grant the guitar a gift for staying in-tune. From car trunk to living room to rehearsal space during my schizophrenic fall season, the JF-1 required a minimal amount of retuning and intonation adjustment, typically a tedious stipulation of guitars in the JF-1's price class.
For an affordable look into jazz-worthy instruments that can wail too, check out Peavey's JF-1 EXP. Your hands, ears, eyes and checking account will thank you.