Hey guys, its Brian from World Music Supply here again to bring you your usual dose of guitar and gear reviews. In today’s blog I get the chance to look over, and review a few new guitars by our friends over at Jackson Guitars. The Model in question is their new SLAT series, which is a new model being released within their very affordable X series of guitars. SLAT stands for SoLoist Arch Top, as the guitar is overall based on the standard Soloist body, and architecture, however this guitar will not look, or sound like a typical soloist. The first and most obvious difference is the headstock, which rather than the typical triangle design, taken from the early Randy Rhoads designs, to a spear like design, with a 3X3 layout. The next most obvious difference is the smaller fretboard inlays that Jackson refers to as “Piranha” rather than their typical shark inlay.
There are a few different overall variants to the SLAT layout, with the main differences being, the addition of a 4A quilted maple top, the switch from a TonePros tune-o-matic string thru bridge, to a Floyd Rose Special Tremolo system, and the SLAT is also available as a seven string. For my review today, lets begin with the SLATTXMG3-6 which is a straight ahead rock machine, covered in a slick looking, Matte Black finish, and armed with the same equipment its whole family is armed with, and that is a super powered set of EMG 81 and 85 humbuckers.
Clean this guy is a joy to play, as the compound radius neck makes it super comfortable to play big open position chords, and as you move up the neck you slowly shift into the equally comfortable flattened out radius section of the neck, which while it is still comfortable to chord on, it is ideal for soloing or just noodling on. The sound of the EMG pickups was strangely not as dark as I usually find them this time around, whether that was the combonation of body woods, the fact that this guitar is a neck through style or what, but what ever it is let it be known that it sounds down right amazing. The tone was bold and snappy, but big enough that you could easily just strum chords all night and genuinely not sound bad.
The heart of this guitar however is its sound when you crank the amp and let this guitar open up. The tone is pure, and singing with sustain for days thanks to the neck through design, and the graphite reinforced three piece neck, which results in one of the most stable necks I have ever had the pleasure of playing. The fast neck profile is thin and quick to play on, but with enough girth to it that it never got uncomfortable. The tone was tight, and heavy as possible, with lots of note definition, and clarity. Drop tuned chords spoke with a dark and booming grunt, solos sang with a brilliant almost vocal quality, and you could even get away with playing full open position chords without the sound getting overly muddy or dark if you had the gain dropped a little bit.
This model is also available with a 4A quilt maple top in the SLATTXMGQ3-6, and while they look visually quite different, tonally they have a very similar flavor. The only real tonal difference is a slightly brighter attack in the Quilt maple version.
However, there is a much different version of this guitar, with the Floyd Rose equipped version, which is available in gloss black as the SLATXMG3-6, and with a sunburst finished Quilt maple top in the SLATXMGQ3-6. The inclusion of a Floyd totally changes the voice of this guitar, giving it a lot more mid range punch and growl, not to mention allowing you to do monstrous dive bombs and up bends. The clean tone is still there, with all of the clarity and bright biting tone that the string thru version possessed.
Dirty however, and this guitar possesses quite a different voice than its brother, with that extra mid range growl this guitar suddenly becomes a screamer. The power of a Floyd rose always takes the typical guitar, and gives it super powers, suddenly you can bend notes up a fourth, a fifth, well as high as you want if you don’t mind breaking strings. Power chords now bark out, single notes scream off the fretboard, and yet, the smoothness never leaves this instrument, this guitar is powerful.
The quilt top version of this guitar, renamed the SLATTXMGQ3-6 has slightly different voice than its gloss black brother, with the mid range heavy voice, now shifting into a more upper mid range area, and the bottom end of the guitar now possessing a slightly darker character. I still liked this version mind you, as it sounded glassier, and a little more refined. But lets not forget the beast that lays at the end of this review, the SLATTXMG3-7 7 String.
Now I want this to be mentioned before I start, I don’t play a ton of 7 string, anytime I’ve ever needed to go that low, I just use a baritone guitar. So to me, these two ranges have always existed on separate instruments, and have been treated as such. So suddenly not having that minor third after the D was a little wonky, and being able to move from my E down to a low B or even a low A, that was a strange feeling. However the one thing that felt like home to me was the EMG 707 pickups, as they have a very clear and even voice to them. The scale length was also a little different and foreign to me, as it was a strange scale length at 26.5 which is somewhere between a baritone and a standard fender length. This meant that when I tuned the B down to A to get huge, metal power chords, the string didn’t feel floppy or weird.
The compound radius was far more helpful and noticeable on this model than it was on the other variants of the guitar, which I chalk up to the fact that this guitars neck is just that little bit wider. The sustain on this guitar was still amazing, and the dark voice of this guitar really helped to accentuate the darker things that tend to get played on a 7 string.
chording on this guitar felt a little weird to me, but after a bit it started to feel pretty natural, and the chords still rung out with a clear, articulate voice. Moving up the neck to that nice flatter area, it is readily apparent how quick you really can play on a guitar like this. Distorted, this guitars voice is massive, sheer metal obnoxiousness. I was able to play straight ahead rock on most of the neck, and if I wanted to dip into some old Korn riffs, or more modern djent stylings, it was all there for the taking.
There is also a maple top version of the 7 string, called the SLATTXMGQ3 with its very handsome trans black finish, sounds just amazing, as adding that extra high end zing to an instrument with a darker voice really helps to accentuate its entire range. I was able to keep from sounding bass heavy even when I tuned the whole guitar down, even as far as two whole steps down, and never once did the guitar start to sound muddy or bass heavy.
Clean tones were janglier, with a more twangy edge to them, low note chords ringing out with piano like sustain. In a distorted setting, the maple topped 7 string roared out, with a thick, searing tone. The darker voice of the guitar that was present before, now with a tangy upper midrange, and even a little high end sizzle helping to pull this guitar up into a really focused midrange seat.
The Slat series is astounding, all of the models in the line are comfortable, the distinctive headstock shape looks really cool, and the finishes are a cool dash of classic Jackson, and modern metal flair. I could list reasons off for days why these models deserve their score, but I think my writing, and the numerous youtube videos Jackson released for these guitars speak for themselves, even if the guitarist screws up here and again. At the end of the day though, any metal guitarist, rock guitarist, or anyone just looking for a guitar to put in their stable with a distinctive voice, the new Jackson Slat series earns an easy 10 out of 10.