A Bargain at This Price
I'm a guitar player, but I've dabbled in bass off and on over the years. I decided a short scale bass would be a better choice for my dainty hands than a more traditional long scale. If you're trying to make up your mind about buying a Junior Jet, here is my list of pros and cons after owning one for three months.
Pro: 1. The price, of course, is great. There appears to be room to move up to the pricier Gretsch Thunder Bass if you decide you want the same but better.
2. Headstock is small with 2+2 mini-tuner arrangement. This helps keep the bass more nearly balanced, although it IS neck-heavy. This is no problem if you keep your strap short. If you like to wear the bass down around your knees, you'll be looking to add a counterweight to keep it level.
3. Pickup placement gives a nice tone palette. I like that the forward pickup is halfway between the bridge and the end of the fingerboard. Many shorties have this pickup rammed right up against the fingerboard, which can be prone to producing a boomy flabby sound. This one is thumpy and crisp.
4. Basswood body has a lively resonance to it. This is good or bad according to your preference. It definitely doesn't act like a P Bass; more like a semi-hollow since the low notes make the whole body vibrate.
Cons: 1. As another reviewer noted, the stock strings are light gauge roundwounds. I don't like them either. I agree LaBella Deep Talkin' flatwound strings are a big improvement. D'Addario flats are also a possibility -- a little brighter than LaBella's product. I chose to use medium gauge flats -- 45 to 105. The flat strings and increased tension give this bass a more focused and growling, less klanky, sound.
2. After changing strings, I noticed a lot of relief in the neck, possibly increased by the heavier strings. After I adjusted the truss rod, I found it difficult to eliminate a buzzing of the G string. The bridge needed to be raised more than is comfortable for me. I haven't done it yet, but will probably need to have the nut shimmed up or a new one cut higher. Also, the truss rod adjustment seems to need to be retouched often, maybe just the time of year, or maybe because the neck is so thin. Time will tell.
3. The output jack doesn't have a tight fit. It clips in with a little bit of the plug's shaft sticking out. This will probably need replacing before too long. I won't be surprised if other hardware (tuners, pots, etc.) needs replacing over the next couple of years. This isn't unexpected at this price point.
4. No case or gig bag is sold with the bass, even as an option. I just happen to have an old case that seems to fit all right. But, if you don't have one laying around, figure a cost adder of $50 to $100. That might affect your buying decision.
Overall, I'm satisfied that I chose this bass over other short-scale basses on the market. I considered several other brands and some models that cost up to 3X what this one does. The Junior Jet feels nice, and the setup is evolving into something that sounds and feels as I want it to. This is an instrument that lets me express myself.