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Ernie Ball Sterling JP series overview

By Fletch Whipp

RockStarzUSA.com CEO

If anyone drops in to visit us at RockStarzUSA.com in colorado Springs they will see a myriad of sterling by musicMan guitars. Not only do the majority of our guitar & bass teachers use them, we actually are an authorized dealer for the brand.

It should be noted that the decision to carry the brand came about years after our instructors seemed to gravitate to using them as their choice of instrument. My personal awareness came about with Sterling because at home, away from the Studios I tune to Eb as standard, I’ve been wanting to find a traditional E tuned guitar for use with lessons. As I own several high-end instruments to begin with, I was primarily considering a budget friendly instrument that did not feel like a compromise every time I held it and plugged it in. That search ended upon finding the JP100.

Our range of Sterling Guitars at rockStarzUSA.com

Our range of Sterling Guitars at rockStarzUSA.com

I should mention that while I appreciate John Petrucci as a player very highly, I never gravitated towards the JP6 because of John, or his work with Dream Theater. It was simply the best Humbucker equipped electric guitar I’ve played, and I’ve owned well over 100 guitars (that is not an exaggeration in the slightest). My search truly ended with the JP6. Because of my experiences with the JP6, I decided to experiment in looking at the JP100. I’m so glad I did.

I absolutely love and cherish my regular JP6 so I genuinely wanted the JP100 to not seem like a distant relative of the much revered, and significantly more expensive JP6.

It isn’t.

Appearance & Playability

The finish is truly striking, rich & glossy. The quilt top is dimensional, and was better than I expected. The neck, probably the most important aspect of the guitar for myself personally is beautiful. It is not the same as the JP6 which has a slightly more rounded C carve than the JP100 with its more broad & flat design (apparently after the Ball Family Reserve JP6) There were no fret tangs present, which was surprising on an import guitar, and the fretwork is exceptional. The bridge is very smooth to operate & the overall unit has a very solid feel.

If there was to be any weakness on this masterpiece it would be the pickups. They lack the depth, thickness and bite of the typical JP6 arrangement, but for the price point, it is hard to deduct any points. Thankfully, this is an easy aftermarket part to replace, which I have done so already with the Dimarzio CrunchLab & Liquifire (our Liquifire review separately will be published this week). I have retrofitted Schaller locking tuners to all my guitars-even my Suhr Custom Shop, and I was pleasantly surprised to see no corners had been cut with the JP100. The same Schallers are in place and offer the same tuning stability and standard I’ve come to expect from them with my other guitars.

More of our Sterling Guitars at RockStarzUSA.com

More of our Sterling Guitars at RockStarzUSA.com

The Verdict

At less than 30% of the price of a regular JP6, the JP100 offers astounding value for money in my opinion. I have been playing 23 years full time professionally and I would offer that this guitar is as enjoyable to use as my JP6. Once the pickups are changed over, my JP6 has an equal-a slightly different flavor yes, but certainly not a sub-standard version of itself.

Overall:

Through operating our studios, I play hundreds of students guitars a month by way of tuning them, playing & inspecting them for our students. Guitar workmanship has greatly improved over the last 5-10 years from countries originating outside the USA. I believe from playing the Indonesian made JP100 guitar, that maturation of qality control has finally matured to a level worthy of belonging on any stage…or arena.

Unless American Made, a specific color & the Ernie ball logo is truly that important in your decision, and means for justification in spending more than 3 times the cost, save the money and buy the JP100. It’s incredible.

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