Say "twin P90s, double cutaway, satin finish" and most people will think of some variation of the Gibson LP Jr. And rightly so, they can be absolutely great guitars. I had one (a LP DC Jr Faded IIRC) for a while, but sold it on and it ended up gigging regularly to earn its keep.
I sold it because I never picked it up in preference to the JJ Jewel Jr.
That should give some idea of how good I think this little beauty is, and the sort of sonic territory that it has made its own around here.
Where it came from
Direct from JJ Guitars, via eBay, sometime mid-2007/8. I can remember which room in which hotel I was staying in at the time I bought it, but not the month or the year.
Why I bought it
I'll admit that I have a "thing" for UK built guitars, and had naturally been aware of JJ as a pretty well established UK business for a while before I bought the Jewel Jr. I'm guessing that this was being sold (along with a few others) at the time of one of the changes in ownership of the company, because of where it was being sold (eBay), and the price that it was going for - let's just say it was advertised at a good price, but eventually sold for an even better price!
Construction & Components
This is a simple mahogany body with a gently carved top, a set mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard. IIRC, JJ claimed that their fingerboards were made from a stock of 50yo rosewood that they'd managed to acquire from a long defunct business. But it's the body wood that really makes this guitar special. It's not thick, so you might not expect huge weight, but this is beautifully light whilst still retaining a wonderfully clear acoustic tone. The neck (one piece as far as I can see) is similarly small and light, so the guitar balances well on the knee and strap.
Pickups are a pair of JJ's own brand P90s. These certainly don't lack power or bite, and I can remember seriously considering trying to buy a few extra pairs of the pickups to replace P90s I had in other guitars from another well known premium UK brand.
I can't see any branding on the tuners, but they're rock solid. I took the guitar out of its case for the first time in a year when I decided to write this review, and the guitar was - according to my ears - still in tune.
The finish is a very simple and thin satin stain, leaving the wood grain visible and unfilled which makes it wonderfully tactile. You feel that you playing something made from a piece of natural wood, rather than an instrument that's been suffocated under layers of grain filler, coats of paints and polishes.
Pros & Cons
+ At the time I bought it, I was suffering with a bad back, and weight was an issue for me. Not this though - c6-7lbs.
+ Just a thin satin finish coat which keeps it tactile and resonant
+ At the price (<£400), and including a Hiscox case, it was a definite bargain.
+ Don't see many of these around so it's got a bit of "that's different" wow factor to it too
+ British built by people who want to make guitars, rather than people paid to operate a production line
- Aesthetically, there's a bit of a fault-line in the body wood. Nothing harmful, just a bit unsightly.
- Not to easy to come by, I guess a combination of low sales volumes and people keeping hold of them!
None. Nothing at all.
As mentioned above, the pickups work perfectly well for me and I've (unusually) never had the urge to swap them for anything else. It's a great little package as-is and I can't really think of any way that I could improve it.
Would I sell it?
Two main reasons.
Firstly, I don't think I'd find anything that does a similar job, as well (nevermind "better"), for less than a multiple of the price of this one. So selling and "upgrading" just wouldn't make any financial sense.
Secondly, shortly after I bought the guitar, a new pup arrived in the house. He's called "JJ" and it wouldn't feel right moving the guitar out of the house while he was still here!