Tanglewood Jetstream JV

Tanglewood Jetstream JV & Baretta – Great Looks For No Bucks

Another that I’ve personally owned, and well, if you take 25 years as the timescale for vintage, it’s close to that. I bought mine back in 1998, they’d been around for a good while before that as I remember admiring them in the window of Cranes in Cardiff long before I got mine.

My old Tanglewood Jetstream JV
My old Tanglewood Jetstream JV

It was the first new guitar I’d ever bought, having previously only had second-handers, and it cost the princely sum of £69.99. For comparison, back in 1995, a basic Squier Strat was over the £100 price mark, so this was a considerable bargain. I believe Cranes in Cardiff had some connection with the Tanglewood brand, so they got their guitars a lot cheaper than anyone else. That’s what the guy who sold the guitar told me anyway, I’ve never looked into it or can expand on it any more.

The Jetstream JV was the cheaper model, for an extra tenner you could get the similarly shaped Jetstream Baretta. The JV was single coils and a traditional painted body. The are sparkly variants as well, but they’re less common. The Baretta had a HSS set-up, a different shaped headstock and a sparkly metallic paint finish. The JV died out, but the Baretta is still in production today, albeit for a lot more bucks than back then. As the Baretta is still going, I’m not focusing on that here, instead I wanted to give a bit of background on my old favourite JV.

Looking like a pinched out Stratocaster, with elongated horns, it’s design was very striking. It was also a bugger to sit it straight on a stand (or the floor for that matter) given its exaggerated shape. The body had the obvious look of a strat with the 3 single coil pick-ups, but the horns were way bigger. Squint and its has the Jaguar style slanted look, squint again and the headstock catches the eye.

Headstock of my old Tanglewood Jetstream JV
Headstock of my old Tanglewood Jetstream JV

This striking design was what first caught my eye and made me want to get one. The off white colour of mine looked good and contrasty with the dark rosewood fretboard. The headstock was nice and compact, with a nice style asymmetrical look and finished the in the same paint as the body. Come on, you have to admit, it’s quite a looker. But looks is one thing, how was it as a player?

Well, it wasn’t without issues unfortunately, as you’d expect at that price point. The neck felt very weak, the truss-rod looked thinner than other guitars. If you didn’t want to use the tremelo you could give the next a pull and it would give very slightly lengthening the strings. The sound was adequate with the usual 5 way selector, a bit thin maybe without some distortion on it. But, as it was the only thing within my means at the time, it did the job.

In fact, I recorded around 20 songs with it over a couple of years when I was trying to both learn guitar beyond my basic knowledge, and establish a band. It had quite a pinched distinctive tone, to go with its looks, and I spent many a happy hour playing it badly.

That’s when I wasn’t trying to stand it up straight. I didn’t have a stand for a long time, and would lean it on things. The asymmetrical body loved to fall over. As you can see from the following video, it was a very common event. Notice before it falls it was leaning the other way to which it fell, so that body tipped back the other way. It was even a bugger to get straight when it was on a stand, and almost fell off when I had it on a stand. If you look at the above headstock photo, you’ll see mine had a chip on the left. See if you can guess how that happened!

All in all though, given its faults, I loved this guitar. Considering how cheap it was, I never saw many of them around. Given it stylish look, I’d have thought it would have been a lot more popular. The Baretta with its sparkly look and pointed headstock didn’t do it for me, it was the JV that won the looks department, despite its lesser price. They don’t come up very often on eBay either, below is what’s on. I’ve included the Baretta in the search as they tend to come up more often.

Given it’s now a vintage guitar, you really shouldn’t pay much more than I did for my one…

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