Sunday, June 27, 2010

Phil Traina's Review of the JazzBlaster


I received this guitar in the mail on Friday direct from Don Bell of I am writing this after playing it solid
for three days. The rig I am using to demo this is JazzBlaster
plugged direct into a Morgan Amplification Dual40.

My first impression of the JazzBlaster after unpacking it is WOW! This
looks cool. It looks better in person than even the website pics. I
first contacted Don based on the look or flash factor of the guitars
he builds. I was in the search of something different. I found it!

Just looking at the guitar you can tell care and precision were
involved in the building process. The JazzBlaster is based on a
Jazzmaster body style but oh it is so different when it comes to
construction. Let’s start with the body of this guitar. Down the
center of the body is a beautiful piece of swamp ash finished in a
translucent white reminiscent of the Mary Kaye white we’ve all grown
to know and love. Married to the wood are two wings of perfectly
sculpted contoured high grade plexi/acrylic. Embedded in the side
where the plexi/acrylic meets the wood are 2 sets of 3 LED lights, white, green
and blue. To control the lights there are two mini toggle switches.
The two way switch turns the white light on or off and the three way
switch controls the green lights to the right, blue light to the left
and off in the center. You can also have the white and either the
green or blue on at the same time for a very cool effect. The ultimate
stage guitar! The JazzBlaster is fitted with a string through body,
two nickel Amafitano vintage PAF pickups
(, three nickel barrel knobs, two volume
and one tone and a three way pickup selector. The white perloid
pickguard adds an extra touch of class and flash to already visually
stunning instrument.

On to the neck, Don went over and above for me on this set neck. I
like a little more chunk in the neck department. This perfectly
shaped maple masterpiece is contoured similar to the late 50’s Gibson
style necks. It is 25.5” scale and has maybe the most consistent
rosewood fret board I have yet to see. The dot inlay is immaculate,
and where the neck meets the body is super solid and the neck tenon is
nice and long, Don says around 4” or so. The fret work was perfect.
The nut is flawless and the action and setup was perfect. The guitar
showed up in tune and ready to play. I only spotted one extremely
minute finish flaw. Right next to the nut toward the head stock was a
minor rough spot. Other than that the finish was as close to perfect
as you could ask for.

This guitar is a TONE MACHINE!! I must admit I was leery of how well
this instrument would sound. I had never seen anything like it, I had
no point of reference. All of my doubts were shattered after the
first acoustic strum. You could tell even before it was plugged in
there was something special here. So I plugged it in….Oh my goodness!
It brought new meaning to “Bell Custom” This guitar was so clear, so
open, so harmonically rich, so “Bell” like. I couldn’t believe it.
The neck pickup is so usable unlike so may other dual humbucker equiped
guitars. I must have spent two hours playing in the neck position
alone. The Bridge position was equally great a bit more high
frequency response, as we would expect but not so in your face that it
was offensive. It was like a veil had been lifted off my amp. The
bass was tighter and the upper mids and highs were so clear. This was
what a guitar should sound like. Now in trying to explain tone we can
use the benchmark guitars ie; Strats and Les Pauls. To me the
JazzBlaster took the best parts of the vintage world and brought them
into the 21st century. This guitar is so responsive you can get
almost any type of tone out of it. It can get the bright almost
strat-ish tones to the tele spank to the darker woodsy tone of the
best dual humbucker guitars. The tone in and of itself is nice and
round. It fills out space perfectly. You would have to try really
hard to get a bad sound from this guitar.

The Verdict:
I am super picky when it comes to tone and sound from my instruments.
But, I’ll tell you what, the Bell Custom JazzBlaster is now in my
permanent arsenal. You could order any of Bell Custom guitars sight
unseen and be extremely pleased. Don was a pleasure to work with and
I wouldn’t hesitate to refer anybody who is looking for the holy grail
of tone to contact him. Do yourself a favor and play one. Once these
guitars catch on they will be in the hands of the best players in the
world. I truly believe that! Thanks Don for building an amazing
instrument with all the flair a guitar player could ask for.

Phil Traina
“The Finding”

End quote

2 classy fretboards...

As your eyes tell you, Don has graced these fretboards with rectangle inlays and binding. It really classes up the shop. But as soon as they are on the JazzBlasters they are intended for, the shop will go back to appearing classless.