1957 JMP Decar by Jen-Co

Here’s a vintage 1957 JMP Decar electric guitar. Perhaps better known for producing consumer-grade celestettes (table top celestes/celestas), marimbas, and glockenspiels, this rare Decar guitar was manufactured by Jen-co Musical Products of Decatur, Illinois. With the same simple straight-forward design approach applied to the production of their other musical instruments, many liken the JMP Decar to Harmony’s Stratotone. With a single-cutaway small-body design, a single DeArmond pickup in the neck position, and a classic ’50s cosmetic combination of a wood grain pattern Formica-laminated maple body in conjunction with a pink-speckled Formica pickguard, the similarities between the Decar and a Stratotone are obvious, but the subtle differences are significant. Furthermore, many of the design details seem to be clearly influenced by the Fender Telecaster, which would better coincide with the Decar’s release in 1954, and upon further comparison, the Decar and the Tele both share a similar top-loader bridge construction, a bolt-on maple neck, and a 25.5″ scale length. Though the Decar may appear to be constructed as a hollow form comprised of Danelectro-style masonite, it actually features a (3-piece) maple solid body construction with a bolt-on maple neck. The installation and orientation of the electronics is very much like that of a Harmony Stratotone, and short of a tone circuit bypass slider switch, the Decar is otherwise identical. Interestingly, the bolt-on maple neck sports a maple cap fingerboard with large black dot fret-marker inlays and factory small frets, making this an entirely maple guitar. The bridge hardware is completely unique to Decar, and features a single adjustable saddle with a wrap-around chrome cover. The original silver-painted control knobs are small and skirted. With factory installed shims, the action is low, and the neck feels surprisingly great. Completely straight, with a flat radius, the neck enables the best possible playability.