Xaviere JT-100 and XV-950

June 14, 2011

imgONLINE COMPANY GUITARFETISH offers a wide range of products for the do-it-yourselfer, including bodies and necks, pickups, electronics, hardware, and myriad other items that you can check out at guitarfetish.com. The company also carries the Xaviere line of guitars, which are stylish instruments that hit price points affordable to even the most budget-challenged players. GuitarFetish founder Jay Abend has a heavy degree of involvement in the Xaviere line, and he even personally selects the woods from places as far afield as Asia, Africa, and the Pacific Northwest. Xaviere guitars also come equipped with Koreanmade GFS pickups, which are designed at GuitarFetish headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts.

Representing the latest from Xaviere are the JT-100 solidbody and XV-950 hollowbody guitars, which are designed to appeal to retro-minded players wanting a soulful looking, vintage-style ax that offers the quality and performance needed for live gigs and recording. We tested these guitars with a pair of 1x12 combos: a Dr. Z EZG-50 and a 65 Amps London Pro.


With its classic Jazzmaster styling, the JT-100 is an affordable alternative to the famed model that Fender introduced 1958. The JT-100 has all the earmarks of this classic bolt-neck solidbody, including the large single-coil pickups and “improved” vibrato bridge, in which the pivot posts reside in hardened steel cups. The JT-100 dispenses with the ’Master’s famously confounding controls, however, and also gets a pair of JM90 Alnico pickups— the same units that GuitarFetish makes available to owners of vintage Jazzmaster guitars.

imgOverall construction of the JT-100 is impressive for a guitar that doesn’t even crack the $230 barrier. The solid alder body and maple neck wear a perfectly applied gloss finish, the neck-to-body joint is super tight, and the jumbo frets are properly crowed and trimmed and have a nice polish. Give the guitar a good shake and nothing rattles, although the vibrato bar needs to have some Tefl on tape wrapped around the pushin end to keep it from flying out of the bridge (a carryover from the original Fender design that could stand to be corrected). Even the Volume and Tone pots have a smooth, positive feel and the 3-way toggle is tight and precise.

Plugged into the combos, the JT-100 delivered a very cool range of clean and overdriven tones that have a slightly twangy accent. As with the original model, the JT-100 is “jazz” in name only, although that’s no fault of its rich clean sound, which works great for pretty much any style of rhythm playing. Pushing some distortion through the London Pro, the JT-100 sounded meaty and rocked-up, with strong bottom, punchy mids, and a bright, singing top. The JM90 pickups are a little more hum prone than a Duncan Phat Cat (which is essentially a humbucker sized P90), but noise wasn’t a problem during our tests. Overall, the JT-100 would be a fine choice for rock, blues, or, in particular, surf—where its detune-only vibrato provides the appropriate warbles and stays in tune quite well.

The JT-100 is an ideal ax for mavericks that want to step outside the Tele/Strat/Les Paul realm. It sounds excellent, the neck feels great, the setup is happening, and the intonation is tuneful. The slight inconvenience of the trem arm notwithstanding, the JT-100 is a fantastic all-around solidbody for a minimal investment.


This true hollowbody features a laminated maple body that is constructed traditional-style in a mold instead of being put together from pressedto- shape pieces of plywood. Additionally, the top features a ½" wide trestle support under the bridge, which mimics the design of a Gretsch 6120. The striking flame of the maple is accented by cream binding, which extends around the entire perimeter. The clear top-coat is a bit gloppy around the bass side of the neck joint, and the cloud-style fretboard inlays don’t appear to be made from shell (unlike the abalone headstock logo), but otherwise, the cosmetics and finish are well attended. Details that are consistent across the Xavier line include 24mm Alpha brand pots and quality jacks and switches.

The XV-950’s neck has a comfortable C shape, and the polished medium-jumbo frets are consistent in height and trimmed smoothly on the ends. The polished nut is rounded on the corners to prevent nicking your fingers, and the floating rosewood bridge is set at an angle to allow for reasonable intonation. The setup needed some help, however, as the strings were low enough to cause sitarlike buzzes. This was an easy adjustment to make using the supplied hex wrench, but Jay Abend says that Xavier guitars normally are adjusted to spec prior to shipping.

Unplugged, the XV-950 delivered the warm acoustic sound you’d expect from a smaller-bodied archtop. Played though our Dr. Z and 65 Amps combos, however, the GFS RetroTron Nashville humbuckers noticeably altered the response, accenting the highs, hollowing the midrange, and creating a slimmer-than-expected tone in which certain frequencies seemed to jump out more than others. Suffice to say the XV-950 has its own thing going sonically, and it’s not really in the wheelhouse of Gibson or Gretsch.

Despite the rosewood bridge and wound G set, the XV-950 exudes less of a jazz voice from its neck pickup, and its bridge and dualpickup setting definitely went down best when pushing some amp grind. All considered, the XV-950 would be better served with a set of lighter strings and a metal bridge—at least for rock playing. GuitarFetish offers Tune-omatic and roller-style units that could easily be swapped, and that change alone would likely solidify what is otherwise a sharp looking and very affordable archtop guitar.


CONTACT Xaviere Guitars, dist. By GuitarFetish.com, (508) 329-1561; guitarfetish.com


PRICE $229 direct
NECK Solid maple
FRETBOARD Rosewood, 25½” scale
FRETS 22 jumbo
TUNERS Sealed die-cast
BODY Solid alder
BRIDGE Vintage Jazzmaster/Jaguar style
PICKUPS GFS JM90 Alnico Vintage Wound
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 3-way selector
FACTORY STRINGS Xaviere Nickel Wound, .009-.046
WEIGHT 7.8 lbs
BUILT China (pickups made in Korea)
KUDOS Excellent sound. Plays great. Awesome price.
CONCERNS Vibrato bar needs to be wrapped with tape to prevent falling out.


PRICE $299 direct
NECK Solid maple
FRETBOARD Rosewood, 24e” scale
FRETS 22 medium jumbo
TUNERS Sealed die-cast
BODY Laminated maple
BRIDGE Floating rosewood
PICKUPS GFS Nashville Retrotron
CONTROLS Dual Volume and Tone, 3-way selector
FACTORY STRINGS Xaviere, .010-.046 set with wound G
WEIGHT 6.36 lbs
BUILT China (pickups made in Korea)
KUDOS Awesome price. Great look.
CONCERNS Needs a metal bridge for rock playing. Some setup issues.

Keep up-to-date on the latest news
Get our Free Newsletter Here!


comments powered by Disqus

Reader Poll

Best amp from the 1960s?

See results without voting »