A NEW STANDARD
FGN describes the J-Standard series as ‘Modified versions of some historical guitar brands’, but that’s really selling their own designs short, because they’re quite distinctive and identifiably FGN even if you can look at them and say “Yep, I can see where they started with this one.” Even the basic S-style outline is heavily modified to be more aggressive yet more ergonomic. The body is Basswood with a beautifully book matched Flame Maple laminated top and a three ply pearloid pick guard that stops a little short of the treble-side cutaway so you can see more of the finish. The top is surrounded by elegant cream binding, and the ‘Jeans Burst’ finish looks great in photos but even better in real life. The neck is hard Maple and the fretboard is made of Rosewood with 21 medium high frets inlaid with FGN’s proprietary Circle Fretting System (CFS). This is a subtle modification to the regular way of doing things: the frets are very slightly curved like a smile, which allows for the same distance between each fret. It’s hard to explain but it makes sense when you see the graphic on the helpful hang tag. The result is that it improves intonation and seems very slightly easier to play too. It is very subtle though and most players might not notice it, but might put its results down to ‘some kind of awesome guitar mojo.’ The neck joint is contoured for easy access to the upper frets.
The scale length is 25.5”, and the strings are anchored to an FJTR-S2Pbridge, a two-point fulcrum style with a push-in bar. It performs quite well, and a lot of care seems to have been taken in optimising the break angle of the strings over the nut on their way to the tuners, allowing for great return to pitch. The pickups are a trio of FGN models: two single coils and a humbucker. Switching is standard S-style with the exception of a mini toggle for coil-splitting the humbucker, and there are master controls for volume and tone, rather than having two tone controls.
There are all sorts of tones lurking in this guitar, but what’s perhaps most surprising is how very high-quality the single coils are. When you review enough guitars you start to expect own-brand singles to be kinda phoned in, but FGN would never try to get away with such a thing. They both sound great on their own and really vibrant when used together. The humbucker is relatively dry-sounding, perhaps somewhere between a Seymour Duncan ’59 and Custom in terms of sonics. It has a pleasing upper midrange with just enough chirp in the highs, and a tight focused low end. In single coil mode it’s sharp and punchy, with a little bit less output than the middle and neck pickups. This means you can set up some cool ‘virtual channel-switching’ sounds if your amp’s gain level is set just right.
LIKE A COMFORTABLE PAIR OF OLD JEANS
This is a world-class guitar from a world-class factory, with great appointments, great tone and great playability. FGN might not be the first brand you’ll think of when considering this type of axe, but it’s worthy of a test drive, whether you play hard rock, shred, country, blues-rock, top-40 or fusion. It’s as versatile as it is good-lookin’.