Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fender Jim Root Signature Telecaster Electric Guitar Review


One of the cool things about some signature series guitars is that they can be completely off-the wall interpretations of guitars that have been around forever. Today we are looking at a Jim Root Artist Series Fender Telecaster that is quite a stretch from the original that was introduced 60 years ago.

You may not be familiar with Jim Root, the lead guitarist for the bands Slipknot and Stone Sour. Generally their music does not appeal to me, but I love his heavy guitar tone and I greatly admire this killer axe that he helped design.

You will notice that the Jim Root Telecaster has the traditional body and headstock shapes, and that is about it – everything else is different.

The body is made of mahogany, and it is set up as a string-through the body hardtail. This one is sprayed with a coat of matte white nitrocellulose (black is also available). It has single-ply black pickguard that matches the black hardware and gives it kind of a Duff McKagan Jazz Bass Special vibe.

The 25.5-inch scale neck is maple with an ebony fretboard (black ones get a maple fretboard). The nut is 1.650 inches wide, and the fretboard has a fairly flat 12-inch radius. The factory installed 22 Dunlop 6100 jumbo frets, and sprayed the back of the neck with a satin polyurethane finish. Though this guitar has no tremolo, Fender specified deluxe locking tuners, which are a godsend and make string changed a snap.

Root’s electronics package is not very Tele-like, either, as this is a hard-rocking machine. They went with two EMG active humbuckers: a 60 at the neck and an 81 at the bridge. There is a master volume knob, no tone control, and a 3-way pickup selector. Not exactly a versatile set-up, but this is a purpose-built instrument.

The Jim Root Telecaster is built in Mexico, but before you sniff and turn up your nose at it because it was not built in the US, you might want to see what a great job they did on this instrument. The finish is beautiful, the neck pocket is tight, and the frets are cleanly trimmed and are perfectly level. This is a well-built instrument using first-class materials and it lacks for nothing.

This guitar is very comfortable to play with a pleasant C profile to the neck. It came out of the box with a perfect set-up with 0.009s and intonation was spot-on (6-saddle bridge, you know). Strummed without amplification, it has a resonance at a level I have not seen on a Tele before and it sings. I’m going to need to put some 0.010s on it soon, though…

It is a fine playing guitar, but the true magic is in its tone -- this thing is the hammer of the gods. The EMG pickups have tons of headroom and can attain amazingly clean tone or a thick distortion like nobody’s business. This is obviously not going to be a good country guitar anymore, but it will do rock and metal all day long, with most any tone you are looking for by varying the volume and switching the pickup selector. If I was expecting this to play all genres of music I would miss the tone knob, but I understand the purpose of this instrument and it is truly the best tool for the job.

So what is the bottom line? The Fender Jim Root Artist Series Telecaster is one of the most expensive Mexican-built Fender I have run into, with a list price of $1469 and a street price of $1199. Before you shake your head and walk away, remember all the good stuff that goes into this guitar, not to mention the included deluxe black tweed hard case. It is one hell of a value, and if you are looking for an awesome hard rock guitar, you should check one out.


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