Light Weight, Coil Tapping, Double Octave Fun
J3 Guitars hasn’t been around all that long––they introduced their first line of instruments at the Summer NAMM show in 2005––but I can assure you that the three men behind the company (all named John––hence the name J3) definitely know a thing or two about designing guitars.
In fact, I’ve spent the last week getting to know the Pro 6, part of J3’s Professional Series of guitars, and I have to say that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the quality, playability and tone of the instrument, not to mention its insane full 24-fret access––the guitar is truly playable through two full octaves.
The guys at J3 asked me for a quick review (they understandably want to get the word out about their products,) so this one isn’t going to be as in-depth as I might like it to be, but I’ll try to cover all the bases…
Tone, Playability, And Style The Pro 6 (you guessed it, there’s a Pro 12 twelve-string too!) sports a truly light-weight Nato body, and when I say light-weight I really do mean light-weight. It could be that I’m just used to the backbreaking heft of my EC400 archtop (solid mahogany will do that,) but the Pro 6 is just incredibly comfortable to play––being slim, light in the hands, and curved in all the right places.
The arched top and headstock both boast a lovely quilted veneer & amber sunburst finish, which, when paired with the gold colored hardware (including Grover tuning machines, a stopbar tailpiece, and tune-o-matic bridge) makes for a very handsome instrument. Cream binding on the body and fingerboard round out the look.
Of course, if you’re in the market for a subtle-looking guitar then the J3 Pro 6 might not be for you (this thing damn near screams at you before you even plug it in,) but for those looking to shred it really fits the bill.
Speaking of shredding, the Pro 6’s dual humbucker set-up is fairly versatile––all the more so with its built-in coil-tapping––but while the instrument could very easily handle just about any style I threw at it (yep, even some warm, smooth Jazz licks,) I felt that it really hit its stride when it came to high-gain, overdriven mayhem.
Grinding rhythm and soaring leads are the hallmarks of the Pro 6 when played through a solid distortion pedal or pre-amp, and the set-in maple neck seems to provide for some deadly sustain, too. On top of that, the included coil-tapping (via a push/pull knob) brings out an entirely different side to this guitar, producing those punchy, bell-like tones you can only get from a single-coil pickup.
As is to be expected, noise can be a bit of a problem in coil-tap mode (particularly with an old-school tube amp like my recently acquired Atomic Space Tone,) but it’s a trade-off that’s well worth it––coil tapping adds a whole extra dimension to the Pro 6’s tonal palate, and I found that it’s really nice to have on-hand when you feel like busting out with something a little more “twangy” than your typical humbucker can pull off.
Final Word Like I said, I’m intentionally keeping this review short, but the final word here is that if you’re looking for a fun instrument that’s light-weight, good looking, and decently priced (this one’s expected to sell for a street price of under $600,) the Pro 6 is one guitar you’ll definitely want to consider.
The Pro 6’s versatility makes it stand out from the many other guitars in its price range, and its unique, truly full-access double-cutaway design makes it a real pleasure to play if you’re into sky-high soloing––heck, the Pro 6 had me exploring parts of the fretboard that I seldom dare to tread.
Manufacturer: J3 Guitars
Model: Pro 6
Web Site: www.j3guitars.com