Electric guitar review.The Jim Adkins Telecaster from Fender
Now everybody knows that the rawest, rockingest six-string machines ever devised are the Fender Telecaster and the Gibson Les Paul Junior. So the idea of a ‘combination’ model – a Tele with a set neck and a pair of P90s – is pretty appealing, and when you factor in a Thinline Tele-style semi-solid ash body, it becomes irresistible. In fact, it’s such a cool combination of features that it makes me wonder why Fender didn’t get around to it before.
The credit must go to Jim Adkins, lead singer and guitarist of Jimmy Eat World, who took a very hands-on approach to designing and testing his JA-90 signature guitar, even recording most of his band’s Chase This Light album with a prototype. The starting point was Adkins’ now-discontinued TC-90 Telecaster. He elected to discard the double cut in favour of a traditional Tele body, and the neck material was changed from maple to mahogany. The Seymour Duncan pickups were given individual volume and tone controls, and a three-way pickup selector switch was added in the Les Paul position.
The Adkins Tele comes in trans red too, but in trans black guise this is a stunning-looking guitar. I’m partial to black and chrome anyway, but I can’t help thinking that this guitar would have been even cooler with an LP Junior-style wraparound bridge. Then again, I’m just a guitar hack while Jim Adkins is a platinum selling pop star – so I’ll have to admit that makes him cooler than me, and I’ll defer to his better judgment.
The trans black urethane finish covers the back of the neck and extends around the front of the headstock. There’s a hint of blue/purple in the finish and the grain of the body wood is clearly visible, although the neck timber is slightly obscured. It’s a great look and the dark (possibly darkened) rosewood fingerboard really sets it off.
The pickups are proper Seymour Duncans. In the neck position there’s an SP90-1, which is claimed to be a faithful reproduction of a 1946 Gibson single coil. The coil is wound with plain enamel wire on the very same Leesona machine that Gibson used in the 1950s, and presumably the magnet is some formulation of Alnico. In contrast the SP90-3 lurking at the bridge is a high-output device with ceramic magnets designed for heavy blues, rock, punk, metal and even ‘modern country’.
Since the Adkins Tele has a set neck, trussrod adjustment is made at the headstock end. The neck itself conforms to Fender’s ‘modern C’ profile, so it’s sleek, fast and feels fairly skinny even though it isn’t. With a 9.5" fingerboard radius it’s much like the necks on the new American Standard Strats and Teles. The graphite nut continues the black theme, and unique features include oversized strap buttons, ‘amp’ knobs and a silver transfer of Jim Adkins’ autograph on the back of the headstock.
Electric guitar. Made in Korea
Build: Semi-solid ash body with maple neck, 22 fret rosewood fingerboard, tun-o-matic bridge, diecast tuners
Electrics: Two Seymour Duncan P90s, three-way pickup switch, individual volume & tone
Finish: Crimson transparent, ebony transparent
Scale Length: 648mm/25.5"
12th fret treble 2mm
12th fret bass 2.5mm
12th fret 52mm
Depth of neck:
First fret 19mm
12th fret 21mm
Lets get the bad bits over and done with first. Looking through the f-hole shows that the routing is extremely crude, with lots of chipping-out. All the same, just before publication Fender informed us that production of this guitar is being shifted from one Korean factory to another, so hopefully any minor, and frankly inconsequential, flaws on display here will be eradicated once production is back underway. Jim Adkins is quoted as saying its the perfect guitar for what I play its pretty much the only guitar I play now. Well, I can certainly understand why. This is a guitar that looks and sounds the business. It also combines the best tonal qualities of Gibsons legendary student models with the balance and feel of a great Telecaster and the three-dimensional transparency and sonic depth of a semi-acoustic. Grab one while you can!