Will Fano’s affordable take on the Jazzmaster meet the lofty standard set by their Mustang-style from earlier this year?
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Overview & Final Score: 8.0
Much like the Omnis MG6 I reviewed earlier this year, the JM6 is another model from Fano’s new overseas line. This Jazzmaster-style guitar offers a very accessible product for Fano fans who can’t shell out for the $2000+ masterpieces that the company is known for. Sporting an Alder body, the JM6 has a Maple neck with Pau Ferro fretboard. 22 medium jumbo Jescar frets sit atop a 25.5″ scale length that feels far more premium than you’d expect. As you can see above, the Olympic White finish provides a classy black on white aesthetic, with two silver proprietary P90 pickups shining through. These full-sounding pickups are controlled by a 3-way selector switch, master volume, and master tone knobs. A tune-o-matic style bridge replaces the typical JM-style tremolo we all know and (maybe) love, and pairs nicely with some Fano vintage-style tuners.
These Fano-designed P90s can really scream, with loud, full output that blew another P90-loaded Jazzmaster out of the water. I was particularly struck by how much these pickups seemed to cut through the mix, with really punchy mids that were more unique than your average Gibson P90-loaded guitar. When I plugged in to my Vox AC15 for some clean tones, I actually found the guitar broke up my amp faster than expected, which I loved. Even with some dirt and warmth on top, there was really good note to note clarity, which made arpeggios and Andy Summers-style chords really fun to play. I would say for anything in the alt-rock or funk spectrum, this guitar packs a ton of articulation and would make a great choice for rhythm guitar players or a single guitar band.
Once I kicked in some dirt from pedals, I had a blast and felt like this JM6 could fit right into my rig going forward. Just like with the MG6, fuzz and distortion sounds great through both the neck and bridge pickup. As someone who often avoids the neck pickup, this one retained a great sound, with a bit of top end bite, instead of just useless mud. Lead lines are thick and feel very resonant, with sustain from the surprisingly heavy Alder body and high output pickups. Overall, I’m just very happy with how it sounds when plugged into a cranked tube amp. It really doesn’t feel or sound too derivative at all, maybe disappointing some JM-style fans, with a voice all its own thanks to these nice P90s.
The choice of a hard tail bridge may seem confusing to some Jazzmaster players, but I think it goes a long way to keep the tuning stability as good as it is. I found it slipping out after a good 30 minutes of abuse, which isn’t too bad in my book. Plus, I generally didn’t have to adjust it when I pick it up for the first time each day. The neck is smooth, but does feel a bit on the thicker side if you prefer a thinner neck feel. For me, the big neck and solid tuning stability turned this into a stellar rhythm guitar for my preferred garage rock or punk inclinations. Fano did nail the action out of the box as well, clearly displaying a high level of quality control on these overseas imports. But for almost $900, this does feel far closer to a domestic-grade instrument than not.
Finish & Construction: 7
Generally speaking the construction was top notch on this Omnis JM6. There were no major flaws, dings, or signs of lazy quality control. It loses some points because the neck pickup came installed pretty uneven, and I had to adjust it myself. Likely, this happened during shipping with a screw falling a bit loose, no big deal, but it is something to mention. On the other hand, I think they could have gotten a bit more creative with some of the hardware for the price. Everything is well installed and high functioning, but Fano is known for some unique builds and I would have liked to see more of that distilled down into the construction. The finish did arrive spotless however, and I’m a huge fan of the Olympic White finish and how nicely it contrasts the pickguard and pickups. Overall, it’s well above average, even with a pretty basic design.
I’ve brought this theme up a few times in each category, but this should not be looked down upon for its Chinese origin. This is a lot of the best parts of a premium Fano guitar distilled down into an affordable package. The pickups are the absolute highlight here for me, providing a ton of touch sensitive, punchy sounds that would fit right in on a guitar twice the cost. Plus, the guitar feels versatile enough to fit a wide variety of modern players. True, it’s on the higher end of the “affordable” spectrum and doesn’t have the most exciting spec sheet, but there is a lot to like here. With Fano stylings and sounds, it gets high value grades because you simply cannot get a Fano guitar at this price point without buying from the Omnis line of guitars.
Good for: Alternative Rock, Funk, Modern Jazz, Rhythm Guitar Players, Cash-Strapped Fano Fans,