World Music Supply | Jackson Guitars

Hey guys it’s Brian from World Music Supply here again, sorry for the lack of a post Monday, but it was Labor day here in the good ol’ US of A and I had to spend it getting caught up on school work, so to all of our American readers, I hope you had a better Labor day than I, and to our foreign readers, I hope you had a pleasant Monday. Getting down to business, in today’s blog, I get to take a look at some cool guitars from our friends over at Jackson. As I’ve mentioned before, the formation of Jackson guitars is actually pretty weird, the company was formed by Grover Jackson shortly after he acquired Charvel Guitars. Jackson was initially a brand name applied to models that were so far from the norm, that he was worried releasing them under the Charvel name might damage the image of the brand. The First major guitar designed for the Jackson brand was the Concorde, which was designed in conjunction with one 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) and the redesign of many other 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.

The Jackson RRXMG Rhoads Electric Guitar Snow White with Black Pin Stripes

The Jackson RRXMG Rhoads Electric Guitar Snow White with Black Pin Stripes

In today’s blog I get a chance to review a “proper” Randy Rhoads with the RRXMG in Snow White with Black Pin Stripes, and a more typical Jackson with the SLX Soloist in Kawasabi Green. First up is the RRXMG, which is a fairly liberal take on the classic Randy Rhoads Concorde, with the smaller modern Rhoads shape, and more modern details, like a compound radius fretboard, a Floyd Rose Special, and a set of EMG 81 and 85 pickups. This Rhoads is a sight to behold, its sleek white basswood and maple neck through body create an amazingly resonant and tuneful guitar.

Plugged in this guitar has that standard 81 85 speaking voice, with it’s darker clean sounds, with a warm, mellow attack and long singing sustain. The added body that the EMGs give to your clean tone are very noticeable on a guitar like this, as the neck through design adds plenty of body to the tone as well, resulting in a big, fat tone, even on the thinner sounding bridge pickup. Playing all of the neo-classical clean passages that Randy strategically placed throughout many famous Ozzy songs on a guitar like this really helps define why these modern modifications to a classic design are so useful. The addition of a modern compound radius means that all of those single notes runs and complex chords without worrying about your hand cramping up or fretting out during fast runs, and the fuller sounding active pickups add a clarity and body that normal humbucking pickups just couldn’t replicate.

Plugged into a Randall RT503H and its matching cabinet, this guitar has more than enough power to match those classic RR tones, with all of the punch and power that made the Rhoads guitar so infamous. Running through every Ozzy song I had memorized, this guitar pulled more than its weight, with tones that were as close to the record as I’ve ever heard them, and with more than enough power on hand to go far further thanks to the powerful EMG pickups. Switching out of Ozzy mode, I was able to comp some more modern metal tones from this guitar as well, simply by dropping the tuning a little, and letting the EMG pickups do what they do best, be as loud as absolutely possible. EMGs have the ability to stay tight no matter how high, or how low the tuning, with increased sustain and harmonic response thanks to their increased output.

In short the RRXMG is one powerful machine, with sustain for days, and a look and feel of one of the most famous guitars in metal history.  For all of these facts the RRXMG earns itself a much deserved 10 out of 10.

The Jackson SLX Soloist Electric Guitar Floyd Rose Special Kawasabi Green

The Jackson SLX Soloist Electric Guitar Floyd Rose Special Kawasabi Green

Next up is the SLX Soloist, which while I picked the rather distinctive Kawasabi Green for the review, it’s available in both Black and Snow White as well. The reason  I picked Kawasabi Green out of the other two colors is simply, because one, it is very distinct looking, and two, because Jackson Guitars was made famous by a handful of shredders back in the 80’s, and nothing says 80’s quite the same as a neon green guitar. This guitar comes outfitted with a through body maple neck, a Floyd Rose Special tremolo, a compound radius fretboard, and a set of Duncan Designed HB102 pickups.

Plugged into a clean amp, the HB102 humbuckers are smooth and warm sounding, allowing for clean jazzy runs and slick chord tones, made all the more enjoyable thanks to the comfortable neck profile and the compound fretboard radius, which made it easier to chord on the low end of the neck, and play quick runs on the upper end, without ever feeling strange or inappropriate. The bridge pickup was just snappy enough to help me cut through, but not so brash as to make using it on its own painful or annoying to listen to, and the neck was warm and clear, without being too bass heavy or muddy sounding.

Plugged into the same Randall RT503H and matching Randall Cabinet, the SLX proved itself quite versatile, able to pull off everything from modern metal grind, with dropped chords having a big beefy low end to them without losing too much high end, and having just as much power when it came to playing more traditional styles of rock. Tuned up in standard, this guitar had no problem banging out classic 80’s riffs that range from two handed Van Halen style brashness, to Police style chordal runs. The comfortable radius of the neck made this all the better, allowing me to play more natural all along the neck, and the Floyd Rose made any style of dive bomb, swirling vibrato, and high flying trem arm acrobatics a breeze, always coming back to tune no matter what I threw at it.

The Soloist has been a hallmark of the Jackson line for decades, and playing this guitar I understand why. I think it’s easier to understand what a super-strat really is, and why that style of guitar ruled the market place for nearly 20 years when you play a guitar like this, with all of it’s amazing appointments and its sheer array of tones, the SLX Soloist earns itself an easy 10 out of 10.

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World Music Supply | Charvel Guitars

Hey everyone, it’s Brian here from World Music Supply again, to bring you yet another round of guitar reviews. Today we have a special treat, and that is because today we’re reviewing Charvel guitars Desolation, Skatecaster, and So-Cal series of guitars. Charvel Guitars was started by Wayne Charvel after working for three years at Fender in the early 70’s. Wayne Charvel left and started “Charvel’s Guitar Repair” to repair and refinish older Fender instruments. The shop earned a reputation among local musicians for its custom finishes, and handmade upgrade parts. After a number of foreign manufactures began to copy and sell Charvel style parts, Charvel made the decision to start producing complete guitars.

First up on the block today is the Desolation series, which are Charvels more modern shred ready guitars, available in single and double cutaway variants as well as a soloist version. They all feature sleek body shapes, a thin, and very fast neck profile, as well, most of the models in the desolation line come loaded with either active Seymour Duncan, or EMG humbuckers, and are decorated with abalone binding and inlays. For my review I picked a nice representative of the line, in the guise of the DS-1 Standard in transparent “blue smear”.  

The Charvel DS-1

The Charvel DS-1

Aesthetically, this guitar is fantastic, with its majestically sculpted body, and the stunning wood grain on the flamed maple top and headstock cover, this thing really does look great. Sonically this guitar is also a treat, as its Seymour Duncan pickups sound far different and much more natural than many other active pickups I’ve heard thus far, with much more clarity and “spank” then you would expect from a guitar like this.

With the Desolation running through a clean rig, this guitar had all of the body and brightness, as well as the dynamic response that you would expect out of a passive guitar, but with all of the volume and clarity that you would expect out of an active system, meaning my clean tones were huge! The neck is the right kind of thin to where you can still chord on it, without your hand cramping up, but you can also shred on it, without your hand likewise cramping up. The tone was lively and surprisingly jazz friendly, with all of the sparkle and shimmer that you need to play really smooth, all without ever losing its low end definition or bite. Chording on the neck was surprisingly comfortable, and the tone was always lush and complex.

Switching to a dirtier channel, it felt like the guitar “woke up” so to speak, it suddenly had all of those big searing distorted tones that you would typically expect out of an active guitar, but it also has all of the definition of its clean setting counterpart. This means that your dirty tones have all of the bite and punch that you want them too, but also so much clarity that you can still play big chords without it sounding muddy. Lead lines are bold and easy to play with the thin neck profile, and they always had a big warm edge to them thanks to the mahogany body and neck through design. Overall the Charvel Desolation series seems like they’re a real contender when it comes to the modern guitar market, and should not be overlooked. Thanks to their superb construction, jaw dropping good looks, and sweet sounds, the Desolation series earns itself a well earned 10 out of 10.

The Charvel Skatecaster SK-1

The Charvel Skatecaster SK-1

Next up, is the Skatecaster, a slick re-imagining of Charvels famous Surfcaster guitar, which was one of their more famous models of the 90’s and early 2000’s. The Skatecaster is Charvels attempt to breath new life into an old guitar, by taking all of the things that made the Surfcaster smooth, and vintage looking, and seemingly replacing them with a modern, hard edged, metal attitude. The first and most strikingly obvious differences are the lack of a pickgaurd, and a hollow body, making it actually more closely related to the Jackson Outcaster, but I digress. The lack of the pickgaurd makes it look less like the Italian guitars it once resembled, like Eko or Galanti, and more like a Jazzmaster that has been left in the sun too long, which if I’m honest, is still a pretty cool shape.

The lack of its hollowbody seems to be purely based on functionality, because now that this guitar has been redesigned for hard rock and metal, a hollow body would just feed back at the volumes this guitar has been designed for. For my sound test, I’ve decided on the SK-1 FR in Flat Black, which seemed like exactly the point of this new line, shear, shred metal power. With its hot EMG pickups, the SK-1 had a clean tone that was expectedly smooth and dark, with all the tones I have come to expect from these wonderful pickups. Everything I played was exaggerated, all of my highs were higher, and all of my lows were lower, all of my chicken pickin’ was snappier, and all of my jazzy chording was wider and more complex.

Turning up the gain on the amp however, and yet again I was assaulted by that familiar EMG 81/85 shout, with all of the snarl and aggression they were designed for. The best part about this guitar however, was by far the neck, which was lightning fast, and with the handsome abalone inlays, was just as good looking as it was sounding. The Floyd felt like a nice addition to this guitar, as it gave the guitar a slightly different personality than the guitar it is succeeding, the Surfcaster, which had a two point non locking trem. The lead tones to this guitar are searing and poignant, with the right amount of high end to cut through the mix, but never sound sharp or “buzzsaw” like. In the end, I like the Skatecaster, it takes the fun loving, guitar for guitarists vibe of the Surfcaster, and paints it black, loads it with active humbuckers, a floyd rose, and tons of abalone, all of which I whole heartedly approve of, for that fact alone this guitar easily grabs a 10 out of 10.

The Charvel So-Cal

The Charvel So-Cal

Last up is an old friend, the So-Cal. Based off of Charvel guitars that were in production during the hair metal heydays of the 80’s, this guitar would have reigned like a king, with its candy colored finishes, its overpowered pickups, and of course its Floyd Rose. Through a clean setting, its Dimarzio pickups have a specific kind of chime and character that is surely different from any other on the market. The So-Cal feels familiar to almost anyone who has ever picked up a Fender guitar at any point in their guitar playing life, except with a compound radius neck of 12 to 16 inches, and a slightly different color combination than a normal Fender style guitar.  

Playing it on a clean setting, the So-Cal has a rather dark character with a particular emphasis on the mids, which suits jazz, and the few clean toned 80’s riffs I know just fine. However, we both know what this guitar was designed for, and with that though in mind, I plugged this guitar into a Randall RT503, and let it rip. The So-Cal did its job, letting loose tons of EVH style riffs, all with a tone that could more than comp the feel of almost anything that came out while Reagan was in office.

The So-Cal is a throw back to an American classic, and just like the Corvette, or a Charger, it just gets better with age. Sure you can’t climb up to the 24th fret, and your only controls are a pick up switch and a volume knob, but that’s all you really need for most things. The So-Cal is what was great about guitar in the 80’s it was fun, and straightforward. For the fact that the So-Cal is designed as a catch all of guitars, and built from the ground up to be a machine of rock and roll fury, the So-Cal earns a deserved 10 out of 10