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The pickups are two Seymour Duncans—a JB in the neck position and a Duncan Distortion in the bridge. This combo allows quite a few tonal variations, with enough control to really get a unique sound. Both pickups give a wide range of tones; fiddling with the tone knob allowed for more—and better—tones than I was expecting. It never quite reached “woman tone” territory, but rolling off the tone on the bridge pickup gave a very warm, smooth sound.
I ran it through an Engater Rebel 20 and was blown away. On the clean settings, it sounded good—thicker and darker than a traditional Strat (but if you want a traditional Strat, you’re probably not looking at a Jackson). With some gain, it started to shine: warm with the neck pickup, and cutting with the bridge. With a lot of gain, the guitar really came alive. Make no mistake, this guitar sounds great all the time, but it’s made for a high-gain situation. The Seymour humbuckers help with this, as they range from a smooth creaminess in the neck to an outright scream at the bridge. With the Rebel, the Jackson let me get some serious crunch on power chords near the nut, and some hot lead tones on the upper frets. The bridge pickup never got too harsh, but I found myself drawn to the neck pickup a bit more because of the smoothness of the tone. In addition to the Rebel 20, I also plugged it into the new Goodsell Black Dog 50 [review on page 179]. Again, it performed best on a high-gain setting, where the nuances of the guitar could really shine through. This guitar was made to be played loud, and run through an amp that moves some air. When you really dig in, you’re rewarded with some seriously rockin’ tones.
The Final Mojo
Overall, Jackson has put together a superb product here. The Soloist model we reviewed has enough weight to give it some serious crunch, without losing the playability they’re known for. Considering that there are near-limitless options available, odds are, Jackson can put together your dream guitar—if you’re looking for a rock axe. It is what it is, and while it has a very versatile set of rock/metal tones, it’s going to be best in that style, not elsewhere.
you want complete control over the design of your dream guitar.
your dream guitar is a ’56 Les Paul Goldtop.
MSRP (as reviewed) $4800 - Jackson Guitars - jacksonguitars.com