Premier Guitar

TV Jones Model 10 Electric Guitar Review

April 14, 2011

Download Example 1
Bridge Pickup
Download Example 2
Neck Pickup
Clips recorded with Fender Champ, Planet Waves Custom Pro Cables, Shure SM57, and Apogee Duet into GarageBand.
In the early 1990s, luthier Thomas “TV” Jones developed an interest in electronics and began scrutinizing the innards of vintage pickups. While repairing several old instruments owned by Stray Cats guitarist Brian Setzer, Jones learned a lot about Filter’Tron pickups. Before long, he’d figured out how to faithfully recreate a Fil-ter’Tron, and his pickups soon became stock items in Setzer’s Gretsch signature models.

Based on the success of his original Filter’Tron repro, Jones expanded his line to include other models, such as the Magna’Tron, Power’Tron, Super’Tron, and Thun-der’Tron. A number of high-profile players, including ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, use TV Jones pickups in their guitars.

In 2008, Jones began offering guitars outfitted with his specially designed pickups—the Sonic Supreme semi-hollowbody, followed by the solidbody Model 10 in 2009. We checked out a twin-pickup, Bigsby-equipped version of the latter and found it to be a very cool guitar.

Design and Build
The Model 10 has a familiar single-cutaway silhouette and set-neck construction. Its 1.75"-thick body and neck are made from the hardwood obeche (a decent substitute for mahogany), while its fretboard is crafted from a more traditional tonewood, ebony. The guitar sports some choice hardware: Sperzel non-locking tuners, a Gibson ABR-1–style bridge with brass saddles and a retainer wire, and a custom TV Jones tailpiece. As an option, you can order the Model 10 with a Bigsby B5 vibrato unit.

The Model 10’s electronics are similarly premium. Its bridge and neck pickups are both TV Jones Custom Wound models. The wiring harness includes a Switchcraft pickup selector connected to a CTS 500k Master Volume and CTS 500k Master Tone with a .022 µF Cap.

Four attractive finishes—toffee burst, metallic ice blue, matte black, and crimson red, each done in satin polyurethane—are standard to the Model 10. Our review unit arrived with a toffee burst finish and Bigsby vibrato.

It has a round, sweet tone, due perhaps to its obeche neck and body, and a bit more sustain and resonance than one would expect from a solidbody of its type.

While subtle in its range of colors, the guitar’s burst pattern adds a warm glow to the top, back, and neck. The old-school finish matches nicely with the tortoise pick-guard, and 1/4" fretboard dots also contribute to the instrument’s handsome, yet traditional look. Though I found the brushed aluminum parts—including the control knobs and tuners—at odds with the vintage vibe, the Model 10 is a pretty smart-looking guitar.

Our Model 10 was made in Japan at the same factory responsible for select high-end Gretsch guitars, so it comes as no surprise that it is meticulously built. The 22 medium frets—.045" tall and .095" wide—are perfectly crowned and polished. The neck-to-body junction is so smooth the guitar feels like it was made from one big slab of wood. The burst pattern is as even as can be, and the satin finish feels consistent and inviting.




Feel and Sound
On the TV Jones website, the Model 10 is advertised as weighing between six and eight pounds. When I removed the guitar from its hardshell case and placed it on a digital scale, I was pleased to find that even with the Bigsby, it came in at just under seven pounds—the perfect weight for a solidbody, in my opinion.

With its 14.25"-wide body, the well-balanced Model 10 feels equally comfortable to play standing or seated. The neck has a medium-sized C contour, a 1.687" bone nut, and a 24.625"-scale fretboard, making it hospitable to barre chords and single-note runs all along its length. Our guitar was set up at the factory with perfect low action requiring no adjustment for easy playability.

The guitar sounds excellent when played without an amplifier. It has a round, sweet tone, due perhaps to its obeche neck and body, and a bit more sustain and resonance than one would expect from a solidbody of its type.

To test the Model 10’s amplified sound, I plugged directly into a silverface Fender Champ—a great choice for recording. First testing the Custom Wound bridge pickup, I was immediately impressed by the guitar’s Gretsch-like voice, perfect for everything from Brian Setzer-approved riffs to Duane Eddy-style leads. The pickup is very articulate and open—well suited for playing twangy leads and rootsy rhythm work—and it dirties up agreeably.

At a moderate volume, the darker-sounding Classic neck pickup has a roundness that jump-blues players will find appealing. This pickup also works well for Chet At-kins-style harp harmonics. At higher volume levels, the Classic has the creamy sustain and prominent overtones associated with a great humbucker, which makes it excellent for blues-rock soloing.


As you’d expect, the Bigsby tailpiece has a smooth action, but not a wide pitch range. When fully depressed, the arm lowers the 1st and 6th strings by a minor second and minor third, respectively. Though it’s not a dramatic vibrato unit, the Bigsby is perfect for adding a little shimmer to chord work and for creating the ’verb-laden dips you often hear in surf guitar.

The Verdict
The TV Jones Model 10 is a retro-looking, stripped-down guitar that boasts superb craftsmanship and playability. With its TV Jones pickups and top-shelf electronic components, it sounds great in a host of contexts—everything from traditional electric blues to more aggressive lead work. And at under two grand, the Model 10 is within reach of working pros and hobbyists alike.
Buy if...
you want an all-purpose solidbody that feels and sounds terrific.
Skip if...
only that old Gretsch or Gibson will do.
Rating...


Preliminary Direct Price $1785 (with hardshell case) - TV Jones Guitars - tvjones.com