NGD Jason Isbell Telecaster

526THz

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Sep 20, 2021
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Italy
It's been at home for a week now, but due to some family issues I couldn't play and enjoy it till yesterday. I wanted to share some initial impressions on it.

Background
I'd been looking after it for a while (see other thread)... Then I found it as B-Stock with a 200€ price reduction: I hit the "buy" button right away! When I received it I immediately noticed 2 things:
1) The switch cap was black and not cream --> I contacted the store support who replied "in our website it is black". I checked and, yes, it's black both for the B-Stock that I purchased and for the regular one. Strange... Anyway, I can live with that!
2) The B string did a strange sound --> when hitting it there was a strong vibration all over the body and the neck, sustain was extremely poor and there was a sort of "sitar-like" sound in the background. I immediately thought "that's the reason why the previous owner returned it". I was a little disappointed. Then I started hitting the string and following the cause for the strange behavior with my ear. Ending on the saddle. The string was "touching" the saddle screw on top, where you adjust height. I detuned, moved it by 0.5 mm aside, tuned it again and... it was perfect! (BTW: if this was the reason for the return, I saved €200 on a perfect and stunning guitar... thank you previous owner!)

My First Impressions
Neck
I really love this guitar. I wanted it because of the nitro finish as I love the one on my Road Worn 50, but also to try a different neck, fretboard and pickups. The difference that I notice the most is on the neck. The back is not raw like my Road Worn, but I enjoy it, there's a very tiny nitro coat. I think it will wear off in time. I can say that the Road Worn one is the one that makes me feel at home (on this specific aspect), but I like the Isbell's too. Another difference is the neck shape: it's a "C" rather than "U", but strangely this doesn't have any impact on my feel and my playing. I can tell the difference of course, but I'm pleased with it.

Fretboard

I prefer open grain woods for fretboards. I have Ebony on a Les Paul, Rosewood on another Les Paul and a Firebird, and the "non-coated" maple on the Road Worn. The fretboard on the Isbell is very good. It's good looking, dark (not the darkest, but quite dark, which I prefer) and when playing it is very comfortable. All in all the Neck-Fretboard combo is great value, in my opinion. I'm not an expert at all, but in my opinion this confirms that MIM guitars are definitely worth.

Body

I will start by saying that the pictures on the Fender website don't do justice to this guitar. Especially on the back: on the website it looks like two pieces of wood randomly picked, matched and glued. The grain in my guitar body is, in my opinion, great. I can't even tell if it's more than one piece. I include some pics below to show what I mean as it looks like a single piece of wood (again, not an expert here, maybe someone will say "sure it's 1 piece, what did you expect", that's why I'm asking! Any comment is welcome on this).
The binding is awesome, the contrast between the white binding and the dark burst gives this guitar a classic and elegant look.
About the Road Worn "relic" job: I honestly prefer the one on my Road Worn, but if I give a "A" to the Road Worn, I'm giving a "B+" to this one. The dings you have both on the front and the back of the body look a little "artificial" in their position. Not a big deal for me, actually. And it's not heavy relicing at all, I guess this would fit to many players' taste. The guitar isn't heavy, I will weight it maybe next days, but I can confirm it's very comfortable.

Pickups
Pickups on this guitar are great. The neck pickup sounds (to my ears) very similar to the Twisted Tele I have on my Road Worn and I've said this a thousand times, I love that pickup. It's full and very very clear. The bridge is also good, I think it has less high-frequencies than the Vintage / Nocaster, but it's still twangy. It's a very well balanced set and I think they did a very good job (in both design and assembly) as it's very low noise. This is the first thing I noticed after I plugged in and I started playing. My Road Worn has more noise especially when overdriven

Last thing: this comes with 10s and I find the action a little high. I have 10s on my Gibsons/Epiphones and 9s on the other Tele. I think I'll move to 9s also on the Isbell. Question for you: will changing to 9s also slightly lower the action (because of the reduced tension)? Maybe I should try and see what happens... It could fix the action "issue" (that is not an issue actually...)


That's it, I'm really excited and happy for my purchase and 100% satisfied. I cannot but recommend this guitar to all of those who are evaluating the purchase! And now some pictures!


20211125_084647.jpg



Sisters:

20211117_163857.jpg


Front:
20211125_084932.jpg


and back:

20211125_085040.jpg
 
Last edited:

rze99

Doctor of Teleocity
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Feb 26, 2014
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South London UK
Love double bound Teles.

I find 9s to 46 the best blend of tension and tone, lowering the pickups on the bass string side a touch more, just by ear whatever is right for those pickups.
 

teletimetx

Doctor of Teleocity
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Beautiful guitar - congrats!

Adjustable saddles may also be used to lower the action, says Captain Obvious.
 

526THz

Tele-Meister
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Beautiful guitar - congrats!

Adjustable saddles may also be used to lower the action, says Captain Obvious.

Thanks! I know.... but I'm strange... I had no problem in twisting and working on a Strat clone: I changed tuners, nut, pickups all on my own. but it was a $100 chinese copy. Being this a "proper" guitar I'm not so keen doing things other than changing strings. I don't feel "entitled" :)
 

JDB2

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Jan 24, 2017
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Arizona
Slightly high action can also come from having too much neck relief. Every new guitar I’ve purchased has benefited from a little tightening of the truss rod. Look for threads on how to measure and adjust relief. Often a quarter turn will do it.
 

arlum

Friend of Leo's
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I find 9s to 46 the best blend of tension and tone, lowering the pickups on the bass string side a touch more, just by ear whatever is right for those pickups.

I agree 100%. I can bend on the lighter strings much easier without sacrificing the bottom end.
 

526THz

Tele-Meister
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Sep 20, 2021
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190
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Italy
Slightly high action can also come from having too much neck relief. Every new guitar I’ve purchased has benefited from a little tightening of the truss rod. Look for threads on how to measure and adjust relief. Often a quarter turn will do it.

Yes, I'm always in doubt if doing it myself... I did it on cheaper guitars, I don't know why I tend to prefer others to do it on my "important" ones... :)
 

EZMFE

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Apr 11, 2021
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Denver, CO
Yes, I'm always in doubt if doing it myself... I did it on cheaper guitars, I don't know why I tend to prefer others to do it on my "important" ones... :)

You shouldn't be afraid. Just give it a minor turn because honestly a little goes a long way. Like a quarter turn or less, to flatten it out (that is if it does have some relief in it). I really like my relief to be pancake flat personally.

I would be surprised if it's a one-piece body but that doesn't really matter-- it's beautiful. Sweet guitar, enjoy!
 

526THz

Tele-Meister
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Posts
190
Location
Italy
You shouldn't be afraid. Just give it a minor turn because honestly a little goes a long way. Like a quarter turn or less, to flatten it out (that is if it does have some relief in it). I really like my relief to be pancake flat personally.

I would be surprised if it's a one-piece body but that doesn't really matter-- it's beautiful. Sweet guitar, enjoy!


Thanks!! I will give a little turn during the weekend! I looked closer to the pictures I uploaded and looking at the back, you can tell it's a 2 piece, but... they fit very well, you just can't tell unless you look closely :)
 




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