Hi guys, it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, bringing you another dose of guitar and gear reviews, and today I have something for the metal head in all of us, today I get the chance to review some awesome guitars from none other than Jackson guitars. The formation of Jackson guitars is actually a pretty weird story of happenstance and hard work, the company was formed by Grover Jackson shortly after he acquired Charvel Guitars from Mr. Wayne Charvel. Jackson was initially a brand name applied to models that were so far from the standard California guitar formula of Stratocasters, and telecasters, that Grover Jackson decided to brand them with his own name. The First major guitar designed for the Jackson brand was the Concorde, which was designed in conjunction with Ozzy guitarist Randy Rhoads. This sleek revamp of the Flying V design was a radical departure for guitar design at the time (the very beginning of the 80s) the sleek revamp of older designs became a hallmark of Jackson guitars, and by association the majority of the guitar scene of the 1980s, with sleeker, more slender, and pointier versions of classic designs.
Today I will be reviewing some of these pointy guitars, the budget conscious JS23 Dinky, the JS32T Rhoads model, and the DK2S Pro model. So without further ado, first up is the JS23 which is a budget conscious version of the famous Jackson Dinky design. The Dinky is a smaller “dinkier” version of the equally famous soloist, by smaller I don’t mean scale lengh, I mean the size of the body, which has been slimmed down to help it feel more comfortable, and to help reduce weight. Even though it is only 7/8ths the size of a soloist, they really do feel like two different guitars. This one in particular, because this guitar is outfitted with an HSS setup, to help it have a much broader range of tones than your average two humbucker equipped metal guitars.
The body is a slab of beautifully figured Indian cedro wood, which has a nice smooth tone, but still has plenty of body to supply the right amount of bite and bark that heavier styles of guitar requires. The 2-point fulcrum trem unit is nice, and it works well although you do have to learn to work with it like you have to with most non-locking trem systems. Clean this guitar has a very strat style tone, which is to be expected, but it has a little bit of extra girth and body to it, giving it a fuller sound than your average strat arrangement. However, guitars like this wont spend much time on a clean channel, we all know that, even though its clean sound is sparkling and beautiful, but the point of a guitar with a big pointy headstock is to play fast, and loud.
So plugging into a Randall Rt503H, and cranking the OD1 channel this guitars speaking voice finally revealed itself, big, warm, and powerful. The bridge sound was great for big rythem tones, and dropping the tuning was no problem with this guitar, and it supplied all of the metal friendly tones that you would expect from a Jackson. The single coil tones were sparkly, and smooth, which is a great contrast to the big, barking humbucker at the bridge. This guitar would be a perfect first guitar, as it feels comfortable, and sounds great. The ability to play low down and dirty metal, all the way up to bright, jangly clean strat tones, is a fantastic ability that few guitars share nowadays, and its because of this that the Jackson JS23 gets a nice 8 out of 10, as it’s a great beginner guitar, or a nice guitar if you’re looking into getting into metal guitar.
Next up is the Jackson JS32T Rhoads, which is designed after the second Guitar that Randy Rhoads had built by Jackson guitars, he decided that his Concorde guitar wasn’t different enough from a normal flying V, so he had the top point elongated to make it look more like a shark fin, and he had his normal tremolo tailpiece replaced with a string through design instead, for improved tuning stability. This evolved version of the Rhoads shape features a full 24 fret neck, and a nice set of high output Jackson CVR2 pickups.
Playing this guitar clean is oddly a treat, this guitar really has a very pleasant clean tone, which has a very acoustic character, with a lot of cut and bite, but still plenty of body and boldness. This is the type of thing you don’t expect on a guitar that is this sharp and pointy looking, I would actually be able to play this guitar and comp a good country tone from this guitar, although I’m not so sure a country audience would appreciate the look of this guitar.
Playing this guitar through the OD1 channel of the Randall RT503H is exactly what you would expect it to be, amazing. Playing all of the Ozzy riffs I know on this guitar just felt right, sure it might be a little cliché to play them on this guitar, but I don’t care, this is (more or less) what they were written on, and this is how they should sound. Full of biting rhythm sounds, and screaming lead tones this guitar is exactly what I had always wanted it to be. Sure Jackson makes some more expensive versions, but that’s not the point, the point of this guitar is the aesthetic, the power and the brawn that comes from a shape like this. It’s the shape, and the power of the tone alone that makes you feel like you could shred the fretboard in half, and play so fast your hands should rip off. This guitar just has that power, and that’s why this guitar is cemented in history, and that’s why this guitar gets a 10 out of 10. Because no one ever feels like they cant play guitar when they’re holding a flying V, because you always feel like a rock star, just look at yourself in a mirror with it on, and try and not feel awesome.
Last up on the list, is the DK2S which is a lot like the JS model mentioned earlier, except that this one is armed to the teeth with technology. You get a massive Floyd Rose trem that is fantastic for doing, well what a floyd is perfect for, which is diving and sliding all over the place and staying perfectly in tune the whole time. Couple that to the fact that this guitar is equipped with a Sustainiac pickup, and this guitar suddenly takes on a totally different meaning. This guitar is loaded with both sweet singing sustain, and loud roaring distortion.
Clean it was a great experiment to ring out the harmonic sustain, running it through a delay pedal this guitar was suddenly great at creating big sound-scapes, full of body and shimmering glory. Chords ring out great thanks to the compound radius which was great for playing chords at one end of the neck, and soloing at the other, this was a great feeling and in all honestly I don’t get why more guitars don’t feature a neck like this.
Distorted this guitar has a voice all its own, sure it has all of the big Seymour Duncan tones which are great for everything from chugging rhythm work, or soaring sustain, but this guitar has a sustainiac pickup, and as such this guitar takes you to places that a normal guitar just cant. Suddenly I was doing volume swells that actually sounded like a violin, harmonic sustain can evoke almost organ like tones which are just fantastic when used correctly. Playing power chords with the harmonic sustainer on is a fun experiment and its clear that using this guitar as your main guitar would definitely rewrite the way you play guitar.
For its ability to do everything a working metal guitarist needs, and for being everything an experimental guitarist needs the DK2S easily snags the 10 out of 10 spot. Be for warned though, a Sustainiac is a beat all its own, it’s not your average pickup, and its sustain isn’t even across all of the strings, so it takes some getting used to. Learning when a note will and wont sustain is a puzzle at first, but after using one for a week or so, you learn where your attack should move to as to not effect the singing tone of the guitar.