Peavey JR Special USA Josh Rand Signature Guitar
Peavey Electronics, peavy.com
Originally printed in Guitar World, November 2008
Signature guitars simultaneously fulfill the sonic goals of the namesake artists and fans who want to emulate their tones. But Stone Sour guitarist and songwriter Josh Rand used his carte blanche opportunity with Peavey to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-government-related fund that helps severely injured veterans reintegrate into civilian life.
Rand was already working with Peavey on a modified version of the company’s award-winning HP Special when a television program on wounded veterans’ difficulties inspired him to cover his signature guitar with the U.S. Army’s desert digiflage pattern and donate a portion of the instrument’s proceeds to the Wounded Warriors Project. Everything else about the guitar is aimed at turning the existing HP Special’s platform into a hardcore weapon of sonic destruction that befits Rand’s thunderous tone. In his eagerness to create havoc, his design choices also created a killer old-school rock guitar.
The official U.S. Army digiflage camo pattern is applied to the JR Special’s flattop basswood body with Peavey’s patented ArtGuitar printing process. (Peavey can now affix practically any image or photo onto a guitar top through its custom graphic portal at peaveycustomshop.com.) Basswood’s natural ability to control resonance and balance high-gain tones makes this soft wood an excellent choice for the JR Special’s intended marriage to heavy distortion. Remember that players like Steve Vai and Eddie Van Halen have favored basswood bodies for most of the past 20 years. As for the flattop, this was Rand’s preference, as he likes how it feels under his picking hand.
Peavey’s longtime experience with oil-finished maple necks helped it create Rand’s relatively thin Eighties-style C-shape neck with reverse headstock. Although the guitar does not have the HP Special’s deep asymmetrical profile and multi-radiused board, it was comfortable to play. One feature that Peavey did incorporate from the HP Special’s neck is the dual-stabilizing bars that run parallel to the truss rod. This is a full 25 1/2–inch scale neck, but its deep adjoining neck pocket makes it feel more like a shorter 24 3/4–inch scale guitar. Five recessed bolts set in a unique pattern secure the neck and maximize the volume of high-register notes.
Resonance, sustain and low-end clarity are enhanced by Peavey’s patented Dual Compression tailpiece, which draws more vibration from the body via long string ferrule tubes attached through the bottom of the bridge. Its continuous metallic connection works the same theory as directmounted pickups, but with better results. These powerful lows, mids and highs are captured and amplified by DiMarzio’s most potent bridge pickup, the muscular X2N and the highly complex PAF Joe neck bucker. Single volume and tone controls and a three-way toggle complete the electronics.
Through a high-gain amp like my Elmwood or FJA-modified Mesa Rectifier, the JR Special’s X2N humbucker pummeled the speakers, producing a crisp thud every time I slammed a muted chord. The guitar cuts a wide and deep path through the mix, just above a bassist’s midrange territory, which is where so many bands lack power. This low-mid focus made it possible for me to engage more of the power amp’s presence and derive an earthier crunch from the power tubes, rather than rely on the preamp’s gain. Lead lines absolutely roared, and sweeps flowed gracefully through the X2N’s extreme output, but I ultimately preferred to use this bridge bucker for rhythm and then switch to the PAF Joe for my lead sounds.
The PAF Joe’s unique ability to highlight overtones increases the pickup’s intensity, especially through similarly endowed amplifiers—I don’t remember when I’ve heard so much angst and teeth-grinding tension from a neck pickup. On the other hand, the X2N’s beefy coils made it my go-to pickup for warm and velvety clean passages, proving that loud doesn’t always equate to harsh.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The signature JR Special’s heavy DiMarzio armament, oiled maple neck and Dual Compression tailpiece combine to deliver the powerful lower midrange tones that drive Josh Rand’s sound. At the same time, this guitar is no one trick pony. The JR special is a very warm and organic rock guitar with one of the better out-of-the-box brown sounds. And you can feel good about buying it, knowing that you’re doing your part to help veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project.
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