Fano Standard JM6 Electric Guitar
By Chris Loeffler |
Fano Standard JM6 Electric Guitar-
A Comfortably Different, Uniquely Familiar Electric Guitar
by Chris Loeffler
US-based Fano Guitars has been building custom electric guitars for 15+ years, with a philosophy of offering completely customizable “familiar guitars with modern features.” Neither a slight variation based on one of the handful of “classic” electric guitar styles nor a dramatic reimagining of the instrument, the Fano line features shapes, curves, and stylings evocative of several iconic styles while still attaining a unique aesthetic unto themselves (unique, but familiar). While their Alt de Facto line has been the standard premium offering for some time now, the highly-customizable nature of the line meant every guitar that left the shop had to be treated as a one-off from a construction standpoint. As an answer to people looking for the Fano experience in a standardized package with a smaller price tag, the Standard series was introduced earlier this year with the Fano Standard JM6 and Standard SP6 models.
What You Need to Know
Those familiar with the Fano Alt de Facto model of the JM6 will find the Standard JM6 guitar is nearly identical to the base Alt de Facto offering: nitrocellulose coasted Alder body (Olympic White, Bull Black, Ice Blue Metallic), maple bolt-on “60’s C” neck with rosewood fretboard, and either a dual Humbucker or P90 pickup configuration with Volume, Tone, and 3-way selector switch. The only difference on paper is that the tuners and bridge are Fano-branded, and the pickups are wound by Fano rather than Fralin/Lollar branded.
Part of achieving the vintage look of a Fano guitar is factory-distressed wear on the body. Whereas the Alt de Facto offers levels of distress from “extra light” to “medium," the Standard series limits distressing to “light.” Buckle scratches, dings from sloppy instrument cable whacks, pick scrapes on the body, a nick or two from dropping it…the Standard JM6 I received for review looked like it’d survived the garage band years and maybe even hit the road for a few tours. Nothing was egregious, fabricated-looking, nor distracting from how it played (which I can’t always say about my own accidental “distresses” on my guitars), and there was an undeniable look and feel of history to the instrument. The hardware also is dulled and brushed to keep it from betraying the fact that the guitar I reviewed was less than a month old.
While the distressed look is exclusively for eye-candy in many “relics,” I was surprised how broken-in the guitar felt when I first strapped it on. There’s a roundness and texture to the neck that actually felt like a guitar that had been played for years. The compound radius styling gives a lot of control and comfort at the lower end of the fret board for chording, and expands and flattens as it reaches the body to provide more space and fret clearance for lead work; the point where the neck/body join is completely unobtrusive. The body is light and comfortable, and balance was clearly thought out in the design.
The Standard JM6 I reviewed came equipped with Fano-wound P-90 pickups, which in my opinion is a great sonic match to the surf-inspired body stylings - they produce classic P-90 snarl and bite with a surprisingly robust high-end that sparkles over the mids. The JM6 loved running directly into my 5F1-style amp, and displayed versatility beyond what one would expect from shared Volume and Tone controls (in addition to creating significantly less noise than the vintage P-90s I demoed them against). While I can’t offer a comparison between the stock, Fano-wound pickups versus the Fralin P-90s included standard in the Alt de Facto series, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything from the pickups.
All Fano Standard guitars come lightly distressed, which may be a turn-off to certain players.
The Fano Standard JM6 really is a workhorse of a guitar…well-appointed without being flashy, comfortable, and unique-looking without ever getting too far from what most players expect. Thanks to efficiencies in “mass” boutique production, the nearly $1,000 price difference from the Alt de Facto series is a generous and brave business decision that brings a truly hand-made guitar into the price range of a factory-built American-made guitar. Rather than looking to compete with the classic brands and styles, Fano really is targeted at players looking to diversify their tones or craft their signature sound (just look at their artist roster). Fans of classic tones and instruments will find a lot to love in the Fano Standard JM6.
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.