Jan Merivirta’s J. Leachim Guitars is still a young company, yet it already has managed to gain a reputation among guitarists.
Kitarablogi.com has had the pleasure to test drive two J.L.G.-models – a heavily relic’d S&T-Style, along with a brand-new addition to the lineup, the semiacoustic Royal.
J. Leachim has also started to import Mojotone pickups from the USA, recently – in addition to the Mojotone-equipped review guitars, I received three further instruments carrying Mojotone pickups to try out.
J. Leachim Guitars have really made a mark with their heavily relic’d guitars and basses. It’s true, you can also order a ”mint” condition instrument from J.L.G., but many players have decided to go for the added mojo of a pre-worn guitar.
The J. Leachim S&T-Style (price approximately 1.600 €; includes a hard case and a custom-made leather strap) is such a mojo machine – a players solidbody electric, that combines a Stratocaster-type body with a Tele-style neck.
The S&T’s neck sports a relic’d satin finish, as well as a classy set of Kluson-style machine heads.
The guitar’s Wilkinson Vintage vibrato looks extremely worn, too.
This bridge is based on a vintage Fender bridge, but it features two practical improvements:
The vibrato arm is push fit with adjustable action, while the vibrato block has the string channels drilled so that they follow the octave compensation, which keeps the string pressure on the saddle uniform across all strings.
S&T-Style uses four vibrato springs for a very positive, muscular vibrato action that managed to stay on the right side of stiff.
The review guitar’s alder body looks like the guitar has been regularly used (and abused) on sweaty club stage for the last 50 years.
The Electrosocket jack receptacle keeps the Telecaster look, while offering much easier access for servicing and repairs that Fender’s original part.
The J. Leachim Royal (1.600 €; includes hard case and certificate of authenticity) is a step in a new direction for J.L.G. – it’s a thinline semiacoustic guitar.
The body shape owes a lot to the venerable Telecaster, but this isn’t a straight copy, though, as it is built in an involved, multilayered fashion.
The Royal’s one-piece bird’s eye maple neck is a true thing of beauty.
The tuners are Wilkinson’s updates of vintage Kluson machines.
Bird’s eye maple and abalone dots – sure looks like Custom Shop-luxury to me!
The chunky bridge on the Royal is a quality piece of hardware, but probably not the best choice on this model. The thick base means that the bridge saddles have to adjusted quite low to achieve a comfortable action. This in turn results in the sharpish height-adjustment grub screws protruding quite some way above the top of the saddles. Shorter grub screws would make this guitar more comfortable for the plectrum hand.
The J. Leachim Royal’s body is made in the UK (in Nottingham) by a small company called Bodge Fabrications (pun intended!).
The beautifully sculpted Bodge body is a layered affair made from walnut, maple, and mahogany. If you love nice woods, like I do, this body will sen shivers of delight down your spine.
The back of the body features a rib cage bevel for added carrying comfort.
The added maple block inside the neck pocket adds stiffness to the Royal’s neck joint.
J. Leachim’s S&T-Style is a very ergonomically sound instrument:
This guitar is lightweight, and sports a rounded 60s-style Tele neck that feels great. The fret-job is very smooth. This guitar is a fantastic player, and its vibrato works as smoothly as can be expected in a quality instrument in this price range.
This S&T-Style came equipped with a Mojotone Rene Martinez Texas Strat pickup set. Rene Martinez was Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar technician, so it’s no wonder these pickups are specifically tailored to give you SRV-style tones.
The neck and (reverse-wound) middle pickup use Alnico III magnets for a bright sound with a sharp attack and a fantastically dynamic response. The bridge pickup is wound a little hotter and comes loaded with more powerful Alnico V magnets for a more muscular tone.
Here are two audio clips of the S&T-Style:
As a demo track I chose to record my own cover version of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s guitar solo on David Bowie’s hit China Girl (all guitar tracks have been recorded with the J.L.G S&T-Style):
J.L.G.’s Royal is a classy newcomer in the company’s range of models.
The Royal is all about the feel and sound of wood. This is a guitar that’s very hard to put down once you’ve picked it up. The semiacoustic body adds a charming vocal quality to this model’s acoustic tone.
This Royal comes with a Mojotone set of humbucker-sized P-90 pickups, which offer you a range of different sounds, from Jazz all the way to gritty Rock.
The neck pickups is built around an Alnico IV magnet, while the slightly hotter bridge pickup comes with an Alnico V magnet:
Carlos Santana used a P-90-equipped Gibson SG Special at the beginning of his career (for example at Woodstock), which prompted me to record a Santana-tinged demo track with the J. Leachim Royal:
Additionally, I got the chance to check out these three Mojotone pickup sets:
A J.L.G. TeleGacy loaded with Mojotone’s ’59 PAF Clone Reverse Zebra humbuckers:
A Fender Adam Clayton Signature Jazz Bass with a Mojotone 70s Clone JB Set.
A J.L.G. TeleGacy with a pair of covered Mojotone ’59 PAF Clone humbuckers. This guitar sported push/pull-switches to split the humbuckers for single coil type tones:
Finland really is blessed with a very diverse list of homegrown guitars, and J. Leachim is definitely one company to keep on your radar.
J. Leachim’s S&T-Style will make you boogie till the cows come home, and the company’s new Royal model is a beautiful new take on the Thinline Telecaster theme.
J. Leachim Guitars S&T-Style + Royal
S&T-Style – 1.600 €
Royal – 1.600 €
Contact: J. Leachim Guitars
+ designed and hand finished in Finland
+ quality of finish
– protruding bridge saddle screws (Royal only)