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Thread: JS-I/II LTG Member Review

  1. #1

    JS-I/II LTG Member Review

    How long have you owned the B-301 Bass: less than one month
    Year & specific model: late 1970 Guild JS-II, cherry finish with Hagstrom Bisonic and humbucker
    Purchased new or used: Used
    Price paid: 1,045USD
    Owners rate 1 (least appreciated) to 10 (most appreciated) in following categories with comments as desired:

    Build quality - 8, though this is what I knock two points for: first, the Bisonic has separated from its housing, which given the overall condition of the bass, is hardly the manufacturer's fault, though I don't think I would use glue and tape to attach a pickup to its housing were I the designer, use screws! ;-).. Also there seems to be some lift between the rear of the headstock and the tuner base plates tat are screwed into the headstock, another thing I might do differently were I the designer. Excellent balance, though, and this is the first time I've played a bass that was made to actually be played in the upper register - the cutaways are perfect for getting the upper frets. The proportions of the neck are excellent for chords - narrow and fat. Built to be played.

    Looks - 10, I love the detals of the Hagstrom parts, the wooden saddles, the harp bridge, the headstock design. A nice niche between folk and rock styling.
    Projection - Acoustic projection is excellent, perhaps due to the bridge design and set neck design.

    Bass - Guttural and aggressive with the Bisonic, dry and with woody bite from the humbucker.

    Mids - Rich mids, very musical.

    Highs - Best part of the bass, especially in the upper register playing in the bridge position, fingerstyle. Almost sounds like a banjo when using fingernails to play, excellent harmonics that keep ringing. Very clear and extremely rich highs with both pickups, which very faithfully reproduce the acoustic tones.

    Sustain - Much better than expected, given the short scale and top loading strings, especially with mids and highs, lows sustain as well as the average bass, though the fundamental fades sooner while the overtones keep ringing.

    Playability/comfort - 10, great neck, plus the scale length combined with the number of frets mean that I can actually make a stretch from the 7th to 14th fret which for me is a great accomplishment given the size of my hands. Balances very well, though I will have to knock out the plastic end pin to get a straplock in there after reading about some failures of the plastic pin.

    Dependability - N/A, I haven't had it long enough and I am making some repairs/modifications including replacing the pots, saddles, and pickup mounts. This bass was definitely out on the town during its time, and given that it's now 41 years old, I think it's fair to say that the wooden saddles and plastic pickup mounts might have eventually required the repairs I am choosing to do that the previous owner did not. The basic structure of the bass is very solid, though, no headstock issues, bridge issues, or set-neck issues. The bass holds its tuning very well. I wouldn't be worried about this bass failing during a show and would probably not take a backup.

    Fingerstyle - Very loose play, even with a slightly high action, over the neck pup great for bite and growl, tight and dry over the bridge pickup. I can see this bass being suitable for a wide variety of musical styles, and even playing aggressively I have had no issues with strings becoming unseated from the saddles, which is a complaint I had read somewhere online regarding the use of the JS-II for heavier styles, which for me includes garage rock.

    Flatpick - N/A

    Strum - Beautiful harmonic overtones, combined with the sustain of the mids and highs, make it very guitar-like in that respect, much easier to play in this style than my Mustang.

    Condition (Mint/Excellent/Good/Fair/Poor): Good overall, lots of little dings and nicks. I would call it 6 or 7/10 based on the need to replace the pickup mount and saddles, but the body and headstock are in good shape, as is the fretboard and hardware.

    Favorite Strings (one selection only): DR Sunbeams

    Would you buy another if lost/sold: Absolutely, though they seem quite difficult to find. I know some will say I overpaid, but having played this bass and comparing it to the build quality and playability of other basses I have had, both used and new, I think that the value is actually on the mark. If I couldn't get another one of these, I would be trying to get a Lakland Hollowbody, partially because they seem to be trying to imitate what Guilds from this era had going on so well. I really wish they would reissue these guys.

    Overall Assessment: Outstanding. I've never loved a bass so much so quickly after taking possession of it.

    Most Appreciated Characteristic: Overall tone and playability. I cannot wait to get it cleaned up a bit, as the broken pickup mounting leads to some buzzing, the old pots have some crackle and don't rolloff very smoothly.

    Least Appreciated: The tone-sucking nature of the dual-pup circuit, which perhaps might be mitigated when I replace parts of the circuit, the plastic endpin, difficulty of sourcing replacement parts.

    Favorite Story/Moment: None yet..

    Other observations/comments: To me, this bass is an excellent example of the 'lofi' vintage sound so many are going after these days and the total antithesis of the hifi, transparent, perfect clean and balanced sound I so dislike about active preamps, boutique basses, and the movement from having a characteristic sound to having a neutral "will fit in anywhere" kind of sound. This bass has got its own unique voice and I love it.

    Thanks for previous posters for the format of this review. I hope others find this helpful.
    Monophone - Electric Minimalism
    1970 JS-II
    1972 JS-II
    Quote Originally Posted by mgod
    Practice practice practice. And play with impedance.

  2. #2

    Re: 1970 Guild JS-II Review

    Can we see a photo? :)

  3. #3
    Super Moderator fronobulax's Avatar
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    Re: Guild JS-II Member Review

    How long have you owned the JS II Bass: 30+ years
    Year & specific model: 1971, JS II, walnut
    Purchased new or used: New
    Price paid: $233 plus $41.95 for the case.

    Owners rate 1 (least appreciated) to 10 (most appreciated) in following categories with comments as desired:

    Build quality 9
    Looks 9
    Projection - NA
    Bass - See below
    Mids - See below
    Highs - See below
    Sustain - 5.
    Playability/comfort 9
    Dependability - 9
    Fingerstyle - 10
    Flatpick - NA
    Strum - NA

    Condition (Mint/Excellent/Good/Fair/Poor): Good +/Excellent- It is in wonderful condition for its age.

    Favorite Strings (one selection only): RotoSounds of otherwise undetermined variety, formerly on my Starfire I for 30+ years.

    Would you buy another if lost/sold: Maybe. It stays in the stable because I am the original owner. I keep looking at Happy Face's JS II with Dark Stars and thinking "how cool is that!".

    Overall Assessment: Good.

    Most Appreciated Characteristic: Guild short scale neck that works for my hand.
    Least Appreciated: The Guild Humbuckers are pretty much a one trick pony, tone wise and if that's not the desired tone then there really is not much I can do to get a different tone.

    Favorite JS Story/Moment: It is the only bass I have been paid to play, which says more about my career as a bassist than it does about the bass.

    Other observations/comments: "Form" stolen from the acoustic guitar template. Probably should rework the form for electrics.
    Quote Originally Posted by mgod View Post
    What he said.

    '67 Starfire I Bass (Cherry)
    '71 JS II Bass (Walnut)
    '82 B-50 Acoustic Bass (Natural)
    '87 Pilot (Black)
    '13 Newark Street Starfire Bass (Cherry)
    '16 Betts Bass "Walnut Bottom"

    LMG I, II, III

    This space available.

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