Adam Black's JA-15 is the middle model in a trio of archtops (inbetween the JA-10 and JA-20) and features a cutaway and a fingerboard-mounted humbucker with tone and volume controls for greater versatility, as well as a height and intonation adjustable tune-o-matic-style bridge.
With the addition of electrics and a cutaway, the JA-15 is more sonically able than its sibling the J-10, though in terms of dimensions and feel, the guitars are very similar - both when seated and on the strap when standing.
The cutaway offers clear access to the 20th fret, and while we'd have preferred to see 21 or even 22 frets, we suppose the idea is to ensure that the fingerboard-mounted humbucker is situated just shy of the node point of the imaginary 24th fret.
This sacrifice in the number of notes available is more than made up for in the resultant tone - just be aware that your highest note is a C, not a C# or D.
There's no real difference in construction in terms of quality across the range, though the JA-15 deserves the highest praise for overall finish.
The vintage sunburst is exquisite and really shows off the curly maple laminate in its best light. We had to keep reminding ourselves that this is a sub-£500 guitar - it looks and feels much better.
It's obvious that Adam Black guitars receive a good set-up at the factory, which is vitally important when dealing with heavier strings like these.
Having a comfortable nut height, a low action and accurate intonation all play their part in making the playing experience something to inspire.
The acoustic tone of the JA-15 is not quite as loud as the simper JA-10 due to its cutaway, but it is every bit as rich in tone, sustain and balance. With the neck humbucker in play the first thing that strikes you is just how pure a reproduction of the acoustic tone it produces.
The sound is broad and open with a good measure of bass, a fine helping of refined midrange and the kind of treble content that is more waxed moustache than gnashing teeth.
We really liked the way the pickup supported the acoustic tone and with a little reverb added to our clean amp tone we achieved a classy and classic jazz tone.