Leading on from the success of its basic Jupiter model, Eastwood pulls out all the stops for a fine signature version. Marcus Leadley discovers a unique-sounding instrument
Description: Thinline hollow body electric guitar. Made in Korea
Contact:Eastwood Guitars – (+44) 07791551708 – www.eastwoodguitars.co.uk
Back in our February 2013 edition (G&B 24/05) we got our hands on a very nice Eastwood Airline Jupiter. Riffing on an early ’60s theme provided by the Silvertone Jupiter and the Harmony H-49 Stratotone, it wasn’t a slavish copy, but it retained enough of the original features to deliver classic pop tones and wiry blues solos.
Now we have an uprated version to consider: the Jupiter Pro Dallas Green signature. Dallas Green is a Canadian singer/guitarist, ex-Alexisonfire and now with City And Colour, and his special model is not that dissimilar to the Airline Pro, so if you like what you see you can save yourself a quick £120; that’s the price for the luscious black option, which itself looks pretty smart.
Still, this honeyburst version with its tortoiseshell pickguard is a real looker, and to our eyes it nails the vintage look more than any other version of the Jupiter. In the flesh the colours are more muted than the marketing images suggest, with an overall effect not unlike a Hofner finish, with the deep rich brown stain that covers the back and the back of the neck grading to a sweet sunburst on the top.
As with the basic Jupiter, the top is maple while the back and sides are mahogany; however, while the base model has a bolt-on neck and a wooden adjustable bridge, much like the original ‘60s Jupiter, this Dallas Green Pro version has more of a focus on contemporary performance with a set neck and a chrome tunomatic bridge with a sculptural jazz-style trapeze tailpiece.
The maple neck with its bound rosewood fingerboard has a slightly shorter scale length (25.5″ as opposed to 26″) and it’s decidedly more chunky than that of the basic model – more ’50s, in a way, with less of a taper. The neck has a nice, wide C profile and feels remarkably like an acoustic guitar neck. It’s a feel that will please some players immensely. Overall, the changes to the instrument’s construction and hardware lift the weight from 7lbs to 8lbs. It doesn’t sound like much, but the difference is noticeable on the strap.
The Dallas Green model features the same Airline Argyle single-coil pickups as the Jupiter and Jupiter Pro models so we can still anticipate a nostalgic sound with a bright top end. Surprisingly, given the Dallas Green’s contemporary makeover, the original ’60s-style pickup blend control has been reinstated. This is in addition to the independent tone and volume controls, and it allows you to mix up a lot more tone variations from the basic twin pickup configuration. There’s a three-position plastic-topped flipper-style pickup selector switch, which gives a bit more vintage fun.
Unplugged, the Dallas Green model is really bright and zingy. It naturally sustains well – better than the version we saw previously – and the tonal response is very even and open. It’s fairly loud, and while you don’t get the same sense of acoustic character you get from a semi-acoustic with open f-holes, there’s some honky resonance that reflects the void in the body.
In this version of the Jupiter the Argyle pickups retain their clarity and brightness but the tone is richer and more percussive, which suggest they are very good at picking up an instrument’s natural character. Based on alnico magnets, these pickups have an overall character with a decidedly retro flavour, but there’s a lot more flexibility than that on offer. The twangy rock’n’roll/country credentials of the basic Jupiter are great, but we found the sound became choked with too much distortion; here, though, you have a practical guitar that feels as if it’s a more capable performer over a much wider territory. Basic chords ring out beautifully, making it an ideal singer-songwriter guitar, and all three pickup settings can be used to good effect.
The Dallas Green’s clean tones are great for melody and improvising – although the Jupiter’s inherent twanginess continues to defeat the easy production of a mellow jazz comping sound. The best option for this is a bit of tone roll-off using the blend control. In the early day of electric guitar design many makers tried various passive switch combinations to help players get flexibility from basic low-wattage single channel valve amps. Most guitar techs now refer to these as ‘mud switches’ as they usually subtract something from the basic output, and yes, the tonal sweep here is pretty drastic… so much so that you can create a wah-type effect quite easily.
This is actually a very usable and expressive tool, and the knob is well-placed so you can operate it with your little pinkie. However, anything more than a tiny twist of the knob takes you off down a long dark corridor of brown soupy sounds – there’s an almost infinite variety, mind you, so if you want to experiment with layering lower-mid tones you’ll be in heaven. I’m not saying this couldn’t be creative, but I’m kind of guessing most players will find dust gathering around this particular control knob.
Moving on to higher gain sounds the Dallas Green proves to be an exciting performer. Listening to Green’s Colour And City albums, you get a sense of his passion for combining open acoustic-style clean chords with incredible nuanced distorted guitar layers – and this is exactly what the Jupiter Pro can provide. You can manipulate the basis hi-fi output very easily and the instrument doesn’t really sound like any other specific guitar, so it’s quite easy to create your own signature palate of tones. We wouldn’t suggest this as a go-to instrument for wailing lead solos, but it really excels at grungy rhythm work, massive riffs, solid electric blues/rock sounds and crazy sound sculpting.
This is a hugely likeable guitar that could be ideal for someone who likes vintage style and sounds but doesn’t want to be too constrained by the limitations that a true vintage instrument can impose. There are reasons why certain classic Fender and Gibson designs became triumphs of player popularity while other brands and models became trapped in their eras, and today’s amps and computer-based recording solutions let you explore these vintage quirks and find new possibilities.
What you get with the Jupiter Pro Dallas Green is a pleasing combination of lovely rich, acoustic sounding clean tones, great mid-drive sustain/distortion characteristics, and a slightly limited high-gain lead palette. Depending on your style and tastes, however, the Jupiter Pro – or this signature model – could totally hit the nail on the head for you. This guitar is almost exactly double the price of the most basic Jupiter model, though, so if the vibe takes your fancy and you’re a bit more rock’n’roll oriented, do play both when considering a purchase.