Will Ray’s Bottom Feeder: Jay Turser JT-SM Hollowbody Jazz Guitar

Scored for $200 after a $45 partial refund, on eBay, this guitar was consigned to Will Ray's closet for five years before
he gave it a simple-but-crucial makeover.

How a dud bargain buy became a dependable 6-string.

In the last 10 years, I have slowly become a big fan of Jay Turser guitars. They're well-built, look cool, and are always in Bottom Feeder price territory.

This month's guitar is a JT-SM model. It has a beautiful amber color, three gold P-90 pickups, and an intriguing switching system for the pickups that gives you seven different combinations. It measures 3 1/2" inches deep, features a flame-maple top, and has all-gold hardware. I ended up winning the auction for $245.

It turns out that the previous owner had taken the pickups out and put them back in backwards, creating opposite slanting
of the pickups.

When I received the guitar, I was kinda disappointed with the sound. The dog-ear pickups were too far away from the strings to have any punch, and they were slanted towards the bridge and neck at weird angles. The action was also very high and the instrument had heavy-gauge strings.

I managed to change the strings to a lighter gauge, and I lowered the action but was then confronted with bad neck buzzing that no amount of truss rod adjusting could correct. I received a partial refund of $45 from the seller because of the fret buzzing problem. I kinda wrote the guitar off as a dud, and so I stuck it in a corner and forgot all about it.

These P-90s were removed by the guitar's previous owner and reinstalled improperly, leading them to slant at awkward angles until they were refitted and shimmed.

Fast forward five years. I looked at it one day and wanted to see if I could get it fixed up. The first thing I did was address the weird angle of the pickups. It turns out that the previous owner had taken the pickups out and put them back in backwards, creating opposite slanting of the pickups. I put them in the correct way and solved that problem. The next problem was the wide distance from the three pickups to the strings. I decided to shim the pickups.

I already had some black-plastic dog-ear P-90 spacers, so I used a thin one under the neck pickup. The bridge pickup, however, needed a shim that was in between the shim sizes I had, so I opted for some thin black foam rubber that could be cut easily and inserted underneath the pickup housing. Now I could somewhat adjust the height of the pickup with the two pickup mounting screws.

The amber finish as well as the trio of dog-ear P-90s caught our columnist's eye online. Note the two upper-bout toggles that are part of this JT-SM's 7-way pickup switching.

Bottom Feeder question for pickup manufacturers: Why can't someone make a fully adjustable dog-ear P-90 pickup?

The next problem—the buzzing strings—turned out to be the easiest to solve. The bad buzzing seemed to have mysteriously disappeared over the years sitting in storage. Sometimes that happens—I don't know why. I still have a slight neck buzz from a high fret, but it isn't bad.

So how do I like my JT-SM now? I really dig it! I took a guitar that was a total disaster and brought it back to life again. Listen to my MP3 online and you'll hear all the different pickup combinations.

Bottom Feeder Tip # 681: A guitar wants to be loved and used. Like shelter dogs, they will always be grateful when you rescue them.

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