World Music Supply | Jackson Guitars

Hey guys, Brian here with World Music Supply again, sorry for the myriad of interruptions with the blog last week, what with me being sick, and my hours being rearranged here at the office in anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, the blog accidently just got pushed to the back burner, and you as the reader suffered. Not to worry, because we now return to our regularly scheduled blogging, and today I got a chance to sit and review some products from our awesome friends over at Jackson guitars. First up is the JS32RT Dinky.

The Jackson JS32RT Dinky Electric Guitar Transparent Black

The Jackson JS32RT Dinky Electric Guitar Transparent Black

The JS32RT Dinky features a transparent Black finished flamed top, and a string through Tune-O-Matic style JT390 tailpiece. This guitar is a different beast than most Jackson Dinky’s as many of them feature a more “Fender” esque bridge, rather than a string through  style, this all results in little different sounding guitar, with a slightly different sound than it’s brethren. Add its unique construction, in with the fact that this guitar is armed with Jackson CVR2 humbuckers, with their blisteringly high output, and this guitar just screams rock! The action on the neck is smooth and well balanced thanks to its compound radius fretboard, without any dead frets or buzzing anywhere along the neck. The neck was smooth, and easy to play, and the Dinky body, with its slightly smaller shape fit like a glove.

Plugged into a clean amp, this guy had a lot of cool clean tones, with big warm chord tones, and bright, strident single notes. The Indian Cedro body, had a very unique and warm tone to it, which fit the over all sound of the guitar well, especially when I cranked up the gain on the amp and let this guitar shine. The high output pickups had a big, bold character to them that was never lost in chords or in quick runs along the neck. They stayed clear at all times, never muddying up, or losing their warm, yet cutting edge. Overall for a guitar that costs as little as this one does, to have tones like this, is down right unheard of, but pair the tones, and the price with the stunning looks, and unique hardware and the JS32RT Dinky easily earns itself a solid 9 out of 10.

The Jackson RRXT Rhoads Electric Guitar in Black

The Jackson RRXT Rhoads Electric Guitar in Black

Next up is the RRXT Rhoads with Duncan designed pickups, long time readers will know by now that I love Jackson Rhoads, mainly because I looked up to Randy Rhoads quite a bit in my early days as a guitarist, the image of that offset V is just so powerful to a young mind. Now this one is armed to the teeth, with a Neck through body that features Jacksons Speed Neck profile, a Tone Pros tailpiece and Duncan Designed HB-102 pickups.

Clean this guitar has a unique and interesting character, with lots of sustain and warmth, and a focused sound that had a neat way of cutting and pushing itself through the mix. The neck was just as its name implied, fast. The slim, yet not too slim taper of the neck, as well as the smooth finish lead this neck to feel almost like it wasn’t really there, it was just my fingers and that fretboard. The ability to play fast lines was almost unparalleled and the added sustain of the neck through design was equally amazing. The pickups had a lot of body to them, with a warm, vocal like character.

Distorted, this guitar was more of the same, the tone was still bold and powerful, never muddy, and defined across all the strings. The bridge pickup was fiery, and had more crunch and cut than I could imagine, and the neck pickup was warm and vocal, with a roundness to it that complemented the bridge pickup quite well. At the end of the day, this guitar is amazing, with a comfortable and memorable body shape, a sound that can do anything you ask of it, and sustain for days. The RRXT Rhoads definitely deserves its 10 out of 10 rating.

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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.

World Music Supply | Jackson Guitars

            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 Jackson JS23 Dinky Natural Finish Electric Guitar

The Jackson JS23 Dinky Natural Finish Electric Guitar

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.

The Jackson JS32T Rhoads Electric Guitar Black

The Jackson JS32T Rhoads Electric Guitar Black

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.

The Jackson DK2S Dinky Electric Guitar

The Jackson DK2S Dinky Electric Guitar

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.

Randy Rhoads with his Concorde

Randy Rhoads with his Concorde

World Music Supply | Hamer Guitars

Hey guys, it’s Brian here with World Music Supply again, to bring you another dose of gear and guitar reviews, and today I am pleased to bring you some tasty treats from our good friends over at Hamer. Hamer guitars was founded by three guys in Illinois during the early half of the 1970s, all united by their shared love of vintage instruments.

Back in the early 70’s, guitars weren’t all nice and shiny like they are now, heck nowadays a cheap 80 dollar Korean guitar can actually be a decent guitar, with decent parts, and it’ll probably even sound good, but back then…things were different. Back in the early 70s, after Fender had been sold to CBS and Gibson was bought by a South American Brewing conglomerate the quality of even the highest level of guitars had dropped like a led balloon. This isn’t even factoring in the first waves of cheap Japanese and Chinese copies of these beloved guitars which had just begun to hit American shores. It is generally accepted that the quality of guitars during this period is lower then almost any other point in electric guitar history.

Enter Hamer guitars, a group of three guys who just wanted things to be “made like they used to”, they made their living buying, repairing, and selling vintage guitars from the fifties and sixties, and if lucky, getting them into the hands of bands like Bad Company, Jethro Tull, and of course Cheap Trick. Eventually, Hamer began producing their instruments, which were designed, and built just like the guitars of the decades prior, when craftsmanship, and more importantly, tone, mattered.

Cheap Tricks Rick Nielsen with one of his five neck Hamers

Cheap Tricks Rick Nielsen with one of his five neck Hamers

So that’s what led up to today, when Hamers are available, with all of the same craftsmanship, and stunning tone that made them famous, but at a price point that is affordable, even to the working guitarist. Now, I am going to go about reviewing three of their stunning guitars, the SPJ, the Monaco and the Vector. First up to bat, is the SPJ, more specifically the SPJ-NT. The SPJ is based on a classic double cut away Les Paul Junior shape, with a stunningly figured Nato body, a dog eared Hamer P-90 Pickup, and not much else…but really what else do you need?

The Hamer SPJ-NT

The Hamer SPJ-NT

I’ve always loved guitars that are just rough, utilitarian work horses, that’s why I love telecasters, that’s why I love dreadnaught acoustics and that’s why I love this guitar. It has all of the things you need, no fluff, no filler, and no tricks up its metaphorical sleeves. Guitars like this are designed to be instruments first and foremost, not pieces of art, not family heirlooms, just a chunk of wood, a pickup, basic controls, and a neck that is so perfectly crafted that it feels like it alone would cost as much as this whole guitar. Nato has a tone that is roughly similar to Mahogany, although it has slightly more mid response, and a slightly brighter attack, this coupled with the lone P-90 on this guitar, results in a tone that is full bodied and full of punch, and power.

Plugged in, the first thing that strikes me is, this guitar isn’t really that bright sounding, my test to see if I like a bridge pickup or not has always been to play some big, chunky first position chords, and hope that it isn’t so bright that it hurts my teeth. This guitar passed with flying colors, it had a nice warm sound, with just a hint of that P-90 snarl, not too bright, not too dark, just a big warm tone. Sure you can roll the tone back a bit to dial in just the right mix of warmth and bite, but over all the tone of this P-90 was far above what I was expecting, this is probably to do with the fact that this guitar has virtually no cavities in it, almost no routing to absorb the resonance, so the only thing resonating are the solid Nato in the body, and the mahogany in the neck, nothing else. This all translated to sparkling clean tones that had all of the shimmer you want, but with a bit of extra bite and swagger, resting somewhere between a Stratocaster, and a bull dog.

Overdriven the SPJ came to life, with a tone that was reminiscent of early Van Halen, or AC/DC. All of that pleasant acoustic resonance and barking P-90 definition translated into chords that, no matter the amount of distortion, never lost their clarity or string to string definition. Playing classic rock riffs on a guitar like this just seems right, all of the greats played a guitar that was this simplistic and straightforward at some point, be it an esquire, a Junior, or just some off brand, they all cut their teeth on a guitar like this with one lone pickup, a volume and a tone, and nothing else but their own talent to guide them. For its ability to feel like a real vintage guitar, but cost about as much as a good iPod, the SPJ gets a cool 8 out of 10. The reason it gets an 8 is because clearly this isn’t a guitar for everyone, it has no paint, no neck pickup, and not much else. What it does have, is spirit, and an amazing tone.  

The Hamer Monaco

The Hamer Monaco

Next up is the Hamer Monaco, a guitar that while based on a tried and true formula, still manages to bring something new to the table. This something new, is not just the strangely familiar yet completely original body shape, or the horizontal control layout, but it’s also the sound, which has as vibe and a jangle to it all its own. The Monaco I tested out is the MONF-CS, which has a lovely Cherry burst that pictures of just don’t do it justice, the flaming on the top was just three dimensionally deep,  and the sculpting on the top is just phenomenal.

Plugged in, the Monaco had a rather pristine sound, its two Duncan designed humbuckers providing all of the girth that you would expect from a guitar like this, but with enough bite, and chime to please anyone. Country riffs loved this guitar, and so did big strummed chords, the latter of which had an almost acoustic flair to them. Distorted this guitar had a big round tone similar to those classic Slash style les paul riffs, the Monaco really does sound, and play like a well played, vintage guitar. It’s for that reason alone that the Monaco gets a well deserved 10 out of 10, because this guitar does it all.

The Hamer Vector

The Hamer Vector

Last up on the block today is the Vector, which is a nice take on the classic Flying V shape. All of the hardware and flair for this guitar is almost the same as the Monaco, but lets face it, the Vector just looks so much more Rock & Roll. A guitar like this feels like its from both the past and the future, which is what made designs like the flying V and the Explorer so well loved, they have such a futuristic shape, but made out of such classic guitar materials. The Vector is a slight exception to this as it mixes up the classic formula of mahogany neck and body, and flamed maple top, by replacing  the mahogany body with alder, the mahogany neck with maple, but it keeps the look of that flamed maple top.

These different tone woods give the Vector a much livelier tone then either of the guitars reviewed thus far today, with a  much more vocal quality to its sound. Played through a clean channel, the Vector had a twangy, almost surf like tone. This was interesting and unexpected from a guitar like this, but it was appreciated and useful all the same. Chords rung out with a clear definition between strings and single note lines had a warm singing quality to them. Distorted however was a different story, because this guitar is a rock machine! It had all of the booming, biting tone that made the flying V so famous, but this time, it had a little bit extra note definition to help pull it up out of the mix. Clearly this isn’t everyones flying V, as many aficionados will never budge from their tried and true mahogany/ maple formula, but even with its unusual mix of tone woods, the Vector still looks and sounds amazing, and easily deserves a 9 out of 10.