John Page Classic Aqua Burst AJ

Classy & Sassy
John Page Classic Aqua Burst AJ
Price: $2,595

The John Page Classic Aqua Burst AJ is another hip offering from the former Fender Custom Shop honcho and co-founder, revamping the Tele concept into something fresh. To achieve that goal, JPC developed a variation on the body shape that speaks to the 1950s original, but with its own personality. Same with the six-on-a-side headstock – it’s modern, yet somehow ageless.

Built in the U.S., the Aqua Burst has an ash body with a 25.5″-scale maple neck and rosewood fretboard (12″ radius and 1.68″ nut width), attached via four-bolt plate and gently carved heel. Offset pearloid dots add a contemporary look. Breaking with the traditional T-style control layout, Page retains the ashtray bridge but ditches the metal control plate for freestanding Volume and Tone knobs and a three-way switch. In the “extra-cool materials” department is a black Bakelite pickguard; again, JPC threads the needle between old-school and modern.

The nickel and chrome hardware includes Kluson vintage-style tuners, 22 nickel frets, and the aforementioned bridge, a Custom JP vintage T-style with three brass-compensated saddles. The bridge pickup’s reverse angle suggests new tones. That’s Page’s Bloodline JP-3T, along with a Bloodline JP-3P P-90 in the neck slot.

The seven-pound solidbody minimizes shoulder strain with a strap, and its modern-C neck carve is comfortable and intriguing (in contrast to the many boring C shapes out there). Tone-wise, the Aqua Burst AJ is surprisingly bold and resonant; through a DI recording rig and live amps, it delivered a high-fidelity experience through the bridge pickup – full of twangy sparkle with real note clarity, both clean and dirty. The reverse-angle positioning brings a less-shrill variation on that familiar tone. Similarly, the neck P-90 is way ballsier than a standard Tele pickup, serving up a big, glassy bottom with commendable note articulation. Another refreshing feature is that lack of push/pull coil taps, like so many guitars out there. Instead, it’s a straight-up rockin’ plank, ready for your best blues, rock, country, and other funky licks.

As for the price-to-value ratio, the Aqua Burst AJ is right on the money. It’s beautifully made, with a killer setup and tone, plus a spiffy finish that lets the ash’s grain show through. This is a guitar that will last a lifetime, delivering updated T-style looks and tone. Now go and twang one.

This article originally appeared in VG’s May 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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