Price paid: $ 700
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 8
This guitar was unquestionably made for metal. The EMGs lend themselves very nicely to that, and the distortion rhythm tone is pretty great. It's great for metal leads as well; using the neck pickup give a nice, rounded tone that's great for heavily distorted leads, and it doesn't lose sonic definition around the higher frets of the lower string. I've had this guitar for over a year now, and played it through many amps and used it at many gigs. When I play at home, I run my guitars through a Line 6 PodXTLive, and I get some pretty nice metal hard rock tones going on it, a la Dream Theater, Metallica, etc. I play it through my roommate's Peavy 6506 Combo sometimes, and man, that's a great distorted tone. Cleans are where this guitar doesn't quite make it. Run through some clean or lightly distorted set up, the sound is doable, but really it's not the best you could do; the cleans lack a lot of definition. I've done my fair share of diverse gigs, and used this guitar for everything, from jazz to rock n roll to metal, and at the jazz gigs, aside from looking horribly out of place, it just doesn't sound right. I made it through the rock n roll gigs with a little bit more of a convincing tone, but it took A LOT of tweaking to my setup. Plain and simple, this guitar was made for metal, and you might be able to get away with some other styles, in terms of sound, with a lot of tweaking to your rig, but there's no questioning what this guitar was made to do. However, what it DOES do, it does well. I had a lot of fun and success with this guitar in metal bands.
Overall Impression — 8
I play A LOT of music; really, everything except country (which I'm starting to get into now). The guitar is a good match for metal, but not much else. If it were lost/stolen, and I had to money, I'd definitely consider getting a new one. I just got a Charvel Wild Card #5, and it's great, but it just doesn't do the metal like this guitar. I really love the way reversed headstocks look, and it fits this guitar very nicely. I got so used to it that when I got my Charvel, I was VERY confused for a few seconds as I tried to tune it for the first time, because I'm used to having to reach my hand around to tune this guitar. The price I paid for this guitar was right where it should be: not overpriced, but it wasn't a steal wither. The only thing I might change on this guitar, if I could, would be the tuners. It'd be great if it had grover locking tuners, but these ones get the job done decently enough. Overall, I'm really happy with this guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The only thing on the guitar that didn't withstand the year I've had it, which has included A LOT of live playing, was the finish issue that I described earlier. Also, like I said, I dropped the guitar on concrete and the only thing that happened what that it chipped around the bottom of the front of the body. The guitar plays just as well as it ever did after that, so it seems pretty durable. The battery life on the pickups isn't bad. Even when I'm gigging a lot, I only have to replace the 9-volt every 2 or 3 three months. I HAVE gigged without a backup before, and its a very reliable guitar. Nothing bad ever happens on stage. The strap bottons are solid, for not being locking, and the reason I dropped the guitar that one time was because of the strap itself. The finish has worn off a bit, but only in the places I described earlier. Otherwise, the rest of the body still has a great look.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The action from the factory was, well, a factory set up. The action was a little high and the strings definitely needed to be changed out. I took it in to have it set up, because at the time I got it I wasn't too experienced with guitar maintenance, but it came back great! The lower half of the guitar plays fantastic rhythm AND leads; no fret buzz or anything like that. It's fast. Above the 17th fret or so, from the G string down, I have a little bit of problems with the strings starting to fret out. It's not bad, and none of the strings actually do fret out, but it's enough to notice a difference in feel and sustain. Coming through distortion, the tone isn't changed very noticeably, it's just the sustain that really changes. Access to the 24th fret is very possible, however I wish it was a little better. I have problems getting my ring finger to do fast stuff up on that fret, and usually have to resort to using my index or middle finger. The finish looked nice when I got it. However, it wore of way too quickly in some spots, namely the part of the body where the bottom of my forearm tends to rest, and towards the bottom of the guitar (from the perspective of holding it in playing position) right beyond the strings and pickups. I chipped the body once as well, but to fair I completely dropped the guitar on the ground, in a garage, meaning it fell on solid concrete. It was only a chip though, and I expected much more, so I was pleasantly relieved. One more complaint: Changing the battery isn't as easy as it should be. I'd prefer a snap-out compartment, like I've seen on other active guitars, but you have to unscrew the main backplate, where all the wiring for the volume/tone knobs and pickup selector is, and carefully undo the 9-volt from there. It kind of looks like Jackson just threw it in there, and the first time I changed it I had to carefully move a bunch of wires to get to it, and hope that I didn't accidentally yank the wiring out. I'm giving this an 8 because, despite the problems, it plays VERY fast and feels VERY comfortably to play live. I played some 2 hour long gigs, and the guitar was never too much of a burden to have on me that whole time.
Features — 8
- Made in Japan, 2010 - 24 jumbo frets, compound radius neck, rosewood fretboard - Maple neck, alder body, reversed headstock - I got mine in the Satin Black finish - The bridge is a JT390, string-thru - EMG 81/85 active pickups - The volume and tone knobs are pretty standard. 3-way pickup selector - Nonlocking tuners - Mine came with a hard case and a truss rod adjustment tool