The Jazzmaster-style chrome tremolo bridge features Schaller roller saddles and is set up in traditional fashion. The tremolo stays in tune well and offers a pleasing, subtle effect consistent with its design—with the help of the roller saddles and a well-cut 1-5/8" bone nut. The chrome strap buttons are traditional style and pair well with the chrome facemounted Switchcraft input jack. The 25.5"- scale neck is attached to the body at the 16th fret with the use of a four-bolt neck joint and nickel neck plate. I found that the neck joint had shifted slightly during shipping, leaving a gap on the bass side of the neck pocket, which caused the high E string to be closer to the edge of the fretboard in the higher registers. The problem was easily remedied, though, and it’s very rare for any guitar not to need even minor setup adjustments after shipping. The chrome Sperzel tuners are well seated and feature staggered posts that improve string tension, which is augmented by a single, round string tree. The white Stratstyle control knobs, crème pickup covers, and three-layer pickguard are nice design touches.
Strummed unplugged, the WJZ is highly resonant, with a round, prominent acoustic voice. The fretwork is excellent, and strung up with a set of .010–.045 Thomastik Infeld Power- Brights, two-step bends were executed easily. The classic combination of tone woods (alder body and rosewood board) delivers a broad acoustic tone with a slight midrange emphasis and a pleasing touch of harmonic overtones. Plugged in, the WJZ and its active electronics offer up a sonic palette that is diverse enough to handle many tone-challenged performance venues. The DiMarzio pickups offer the representative tones that we all love about the renowned soapboar: the bridge has that bark and midrange growl; the neck has the huge, sustain-laden woody tone; and the combination offers the clarity with a subtle quack. When the Demeter boost is engaged, the additional tonal control gives you more than enough sweep to dial in a tone to combat the effects of a tone-sucking venue. It’s also effective in changing the coloring of a pickup on the fly. For example, the bridge pickup can go from very PAF-ish to Tele-esque through a flick of the thumbwheels. I found quite a few usable tones, with some highlights being the unboosted neck pickup’s big, round, organic tone and the bodacious blues tone of the neck pickup with the Demeter electronics engaged. The bridge pickup with the presence boost dimed produced some snarling, Tele-like tones.
The Final Mojo
The WJZ stands out as a versatile player’s tool. As such, it is not surprising that Dwayne Larring of the band Theft has recently adopted the WJZ as his signature axe. Its broad frequency response, smooth playability, and attractive aesthetics make it an instrument worth checking out. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you can get one with virtually any custom finish possible by one of the best in the business.
you’re seeking an attractive, versatile stage guitar that offers up a broad array of tones.
you’re looking for more traditional appointments
MSRP $3600 (as tested) - Wilkins Guitars - wilkinsguitars.com