Stemming from a design that John Page introduced when he began his own custom shop in 2006 (Page had previously headed the Fender Custom Shop), the new AJ is an intriguing guitar that advances an age-old platform into an instrument that’s designed to reel in players looking for many of the things a Telecaster delivers in a package that is modernized in all the right ways. It begins with a body that is contoured on the back and front and gets a reshaped lower horn and a streamlined neck heel to facilitate access to the high frets. A P-90 of Page’s own design mates with his version of a Tele pickup, which sits in a reverse-angled mounting plate in order to lend more warmth to the high strings. A Bakelite pickguard brings some old-school charm to the brew, and Page also retained the classic-style bridge with three brass saddles, which are step-compensated to improve intonation.
Wearing a Black Metallic paint job (2-Tone Sunburst, Seafoam Green, and Desert Sand are also available), the AJ plays beautifully thanks to its satin-finished medium C profile neck, finely worked frets, and a setup that lays the strings nice and low to the 12" radius fretboard. Here’s where a modern approach to neck design pays off (including being attached with machine screws into threaded inserts), as the guitar is so accommodating to any style you throw at it, and sounds solidly in-tune wherever you grip—just an all-around easy player that throws down for everything from jazz and blues to country and rock.
Played though a Carr Sportsman, Marshall CODE 50 and CODE 20 combos, and a Mesa/Boogie JP-2C running though a Mesa 4x12 Recto cab, the AJ sounded right at home delivering sparkling cleans, dynamic grind, and full bore soaring sustain, all with a stringiness and note definition that allow complex chords to ring clearly, while providing the essential juiciness and girth that give sweet texture to highly overdriven sounds. The lower-wind P-90 in this guitar grooves well with the Tele pickup for greasy funk playing, and the Tone control’s voicing takes things from slinky rhythm sounds to buttery leads and never gets too muddy or indistinct when turning it down for jazzier vibes. The Tele has always been famous for the range of sounds and styles it can cover, and the AJ simply enhances that quality in a soulful, fun-to-play guitar that looks killer, does pretty much anything you need it to, and comes in at a great price for this level of quality.
PRICE $1,499 street
NUT WIDTH 1.68" antique bone
NECK Maple, bolt-on
FRETBOARD Rosewood, 25.5" scale, 12" radius (maple also available)
FRETS 22 nickel silver (.095" wide x .045" high)
TUNERS Gotoh staggered vintage-style
BRIDGE JP vintage T-style with reverse pickup angle and three brass compensated saddles
PICKUPS Bloodline by John Page JP-3P P90 (neck), Bloodline by John Page JP-3T Tele (bridge)
CONTROLS Volume, Tone, 3-way switch (noise cancelling with both pickups on)
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario EXL110, .010-.046
WEIGHT 7.1 lbs
KUDOS A modern take on a T-style with expressive tones and great playing feel.