Cost: $499.00 new, find one on Reverb.com
Huge thanks to Michael from Eastwood Guitars for lending this retro reissue for review!
Overview and Final Score: 7.0
Eastwood’s Airline series seeks to recreate instruments forgotten in pawn shops and attics across the US. Re-popularized by revivalist garage rockers like Jack White (White Strips, Solo) and Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), these instruments are suddenly back in demand and make an individualistic option for musicians seeking something outside the box. The Airline Jetsons JR bass is no different, offering an affordable P bass alternative with familiar pickup and tone knob setup. Available in red or black finishes, this bass is sure to delight based on looks alone, while offering all the basic tones you need.
This bass guitar in no way sounds bad, it just doesn’t sound extraordinary or special compared to many comparably priced basses from Epiphone, Fender, or Gretsch. The P-bass style pickups sound more fit for a Squier model, retaining the punchiness and output but lacking in clarity. The pickups are also fairly noisy, despite the split-coil design. The guitar is certainly designed to fit in the hands of an anti-establishment punk or garage rock bassist, but tonally, may be limited to exactly those settings. Fret buzz and a bass-heavy, muddy sound especially impacted the lower strings, and notes felt blended together in one big, bass heavy haze.
Aside from the fret buzz, which I already addressed as more a tonal issue, the maple neck and Blackwood fretboard actually play very nice and shouldn’t encourage you to put the bass down. The frets felt level, smooth, and the finish made it easy to move up and down the neck. The quality playability and tuning stability make this bass an excellent candidate for upgraded electronics and pickups. The bass has a 30.5″ scale length, which makes it a comfortable to play short scale option for players with smaller hands or a preference for smaller necks.
Finish & Construction: 9
The guitar is made from a solid basswood body, which helps keep it super affordable despite its unique body shape and design. While the basswood is not a high quality tone wood option, it is lightweight and sturdy making the bass feel reliable. Easy to play sitting down or standing up, the Jetson JR is a fantastic option for both larger and smaller sized bass players. The real highlight here is the finish and design of the guitar. The stunning white headstock really sticks out compared to the red, black, or seafoam green body finishes, and the red one I was generously sent had no visible scratches, dents, or quality control issues what so ever.
While the guitar is not expensive and has great playability, the value rating is really held back by the quality of the pickups. In my opinion, I feel the Jetson JR is slightly up charged because the unique design and Airline brand name have started to become trendy, especially with indie rock musicians. While the pickups and electronics could easily be swapped out, giving you one hell of a hot rodded bass, I think many cheaper Squier’s could compete with the Jetson JR tonally. Overall, I think it’s a great option for bassists who want to stick out from the pack but are heavily budget restricted. I wouldn’t recommend against buying it, but I would caution that you should buy it for aesthetic purposes or small scale preferences instead of buying it for the tone.