First Impression: JLS Model SSH Grandview MO

Now, working as JLS Guitars, Jim L. Schmidt makes electrics that are devoutly ofthe S-style, but with a twist in the form of his chambered ash bodywith figured maple top. Plugged straight into a Top Hat Club Royale Mk II, the SSH revealed a warm, round neck pickup for good bluesy excursions or sweeter rock ballads, and an open and balanced tonality overall, with admirable definition. Read on to know more about it.

Schmitt Music
(816) 554-2058
2341 Sw Waterfall Dr
Lees Summit, MO

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Explorers Percussion & Dru
(816) 361-1195
8050 Wornall Rd
Kansas City, MO
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Drums & Percussion

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Schmitt Music
(913) 219-5655
6224 Ne Quince St
Lees Summit, MO
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Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano

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Meyer Music
(913) 491-6636
10122 W 119Th St
Overland Park, KS
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Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano, Band & Orchestral, Print Music

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Dewitt Music
(913) 894-6440
11554 W 95Th St
Overland Park, KS
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Drums & Percussion, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Legacy Music
(816) 554-7350
196 Nw Oldham Pkwy
Lees Summit, MO
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Guitars & Fretted Instruments, Print Music

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Dan Lawrence String Ins
(816) 524-8420
8420 Lees Summit Rd
Kansas City, MO
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Guitars & Fretted Instruments

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Schmitt Music Co
(913) 663-4756
7316 W 119Th St
Overland Park, KS
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Acoustic Piano, Digital Piano

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Hoffman Harp Gallery
(913) 492-6828
12612 W 82Nd Ter
Lenexa, KS
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Digital Piano, Electronic Keyboard, Sound Reinforcement, Recording Equipment, Print Music
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Instrument Rental: Yes
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Lessons: Yes
Clinics: Yes
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Call or e-mail for appointment.

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Fire Hawks Vintage Guitars Inc
(913) 677-9666
7600 W 61St St
Shawnee Mission, KS
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First Impression: JLS Model SSH

JLS Model SSHJim L. Schmidt openly admits that his raison d’etre circa 2009 is to outgun his fellow California guitar maker – and former employer – at offering an affordable, bolt-neck, U.S.-made electric with three pickups and a vibrato tailpiece. Schmidt worked first in the lumber selection room before moving into final assembly during his tenure with Fender in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Now, working as JLS Guitars, he makes electrics that are devoutly of the S-style, but with a twist in the form of his chambered ash body with figur ed maple top. Denoted by the workmanlike names SSS Model and SSH Model (differentiated by single-coil or hum bucker in the bridge; each $1,024 including shipping), the line is assembled from start to finish by Schmidt himself in his workshop in Folsom, California, using some original components, some bought in from other suppliers. As a custom builder, Schmidt points out that he can also provide many options regarding the pickup configurations on his guitars.

Schmidt makes his own bodies, routing ten narrow chambers (plus control cavity and pickup routes) in a solid ash back, then capping it with a two-piece, book matched maple top, and marrying it to necks purchased from another manufacturer. The one-piece maple neck on our review sample carried 22 jumbo frets, courtesy of a small fingerboard extension that provided room for the extra fret beyond the 21-fretvintage norm. All frets were smoothly filed and polished, and the neck played extremely well from nut to neck-body joint. The hardware complement on all JLS guitars includes a gold-plated Warmouth vintage-style Stratocaster vibrato and enclosed 16:1 ratio gold-plated Gotoh tuners. Pickups are Fender American Standard Stratocaster single-coils, with the option of a Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates hum bucker in the bridge, as on this example.
Schmidt’s chambering keeps the guitar’s weight down to a little over 7lbs, and also allows the inclusion of an elegant f-hole in the maple top, a surprising “Thinline-inspired” feature on an S-style electric. The routing work revealed by this particular f-hole shows just the tiniest bit of wood furring in evidence in the ash beneath, but workmanship is very good overall. The SSH is finished in a thin, water-based satin lacquer. The overall look, to some players, might break into that ’70s trend for stripping guitars to natural, and others might feel a figured top such as this deserves a polished gloss finish. I like the overall vibe in the hand, though, and it’s hard to argue with the environmentally friendly aspect of the water-based finish, or the likely fact that it won’t constrain the guitar’s resonance unduly.

Plugged straight into a Top Hat Club Royale Mk II, the SSH revealed a warm, round neck pickup for good bluesy excursions or sweeter rock ballads, and an open and balanced tonality overall, with admirable definition. The in-between settings still capture much of the Knopfler-esque quack that many S-style players are hooked on, while switching to the Duncan in the br...

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