JS30KE Kelly review by Jackson

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.2 (141 votes)
Jackson: JS30KE Kelly

Price paid: $ 366

Purchased from: Peter Norris Music

Sound — 10
I play mainly old metal, early maiden, that sort of thing. I have not found a nicer sounding guitar for my purposes. The Kelly series is used by Slayer and System Of A Down so have a listen to some of there tones and you will get the general idea. Without the distortion pedal it sounds beautifully soft, with a nice full sound, but with a pedal on it sounds unbelievably huge.

Overall Impression — 9
Despite soem minor problems I love this guitar. I have recently bought a JT-XG2 and Switch between this and my Jackson. I know some people Who baught Jacksons higher up the price scale, and unless you need a floating trem, there's no need to spend the extra cash. This instrument will be one that you keep until you upgrade into the legendary guitars (the razorback etc).

Reliability & Durability — 8
I have had the guitar for 2 years now and it has just developed a buzz on one of the tuning head, but this will not be hard to replace. Let me say this first, it is VERY durable. I have dropped it a number of times and it still plays like new. Although you will not want to damage the look of such a beautiful guitar. The problems I have had are: the neck heavy guitar leans awkwardly whenever you let go (and it wieghs a ton! No jumping round on stage with this unless you have a neck of steel). The straps slipping off the poorly shaped holders. An internal wire being wrapped around the volume knob inside the guitar, which in turn caused the wire to be ripped out. Some quick soldering solved this though.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar arrived in perfect condition. I immediatly adjusted the bridge (which is just a case of turning 2 screws, really easy) to remove the buzz from the low strings and lower the side of the high strings to make tapping easier. It is so adjustable to suit whatever you want.

Features — 8
Made in India, the Kelly I purchased is a work of ART. It's 24 easy to reach frets are always something to boast about, and despite being the starter of the kelly range it's Ultra smooth, narrow and thin maple neck means fast playing is not a problem. It features on the front, a volume, tone and 3 way pickup selector. It has 2 Jackson special CVR humbucking pickups, a slot on bridge and it's all in chrome! (the pickups have a plastic 'black box' cover). The body is Indian Cedro, covered with a red plastic, which is then coated with whichever colour paint you choose (mine is black) and a gloss finish. It has the traditional strap holders but they are not locking ones, which can sometimes mean slipping! Especially on this neck heavy instrument. It has a panel on the rear which is easily removable to access the electrics. The jack socket is poorly placed, at exactly the point where the guitar rests if not in a stand.

30 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Hey im am looking in to buying this guitar and i was wondering if the pickups were active or passive if anyone can help me id greatly appreciate it.
    That's weird DaMarsbarPerson, my Kelly sounds pretty good, though I did change the pickups. I just noticed though. I think my Kelly might be an older model. It's not a solid black color like what I've seen in pictures, it's like a grey colour.
    just like to say that i have had mine for 2 years and i love it.. straight up you can do anything with it. Metal, classic, blues even with the right equipment, great guitar... ne one lookin for it then defs buy it for 320 at tom lee music
    wtf mine was 899.99 .....at guitar center
    dude i think u either got screwed... or there was false advertising involved...
    I have an ibanez sa120 does anyone know how it would compare to this guitar?
    Metalcore Jero
    Theyre passive jackson CVR humbucking pickups and that 'second knob' youre talking about is tone
    Guitar is quite heavy especially at the neck but the body and finish is nice. What kind of pickups are they active passive and what does the second knob do any ways?
    Metalcore Jero
    had mine for a good two years or so now and i still love it! gets played more than my KE2 or my LTD MH1000FM
    Long while since my last post on this guitar's review page. I've had this guitar in my possession for 3 years, countless mods and the thing still impresses most guitar players. Taking the fact that there's only the neck, body and knobs left from the guitar, everything has been replaced at one point. DiMarzio Super Distortion/Super 2 pickups, Dimarzio 1 Meg Pot, Dummy tone pot, Replaced Pickup Switch, Grover tuners, Replaced Bridge. Once properly set up the playability and sound compares and exceeds the 1XXX$ range Jackson guitars, Working full time in a guitar shop, I've played tons of metal guitars, and still very few get near it. Few.
    "a guitar that hasn't been chipped, hasn't been loved" nice way to put it, I agree!
    68_SG wrote: man awsome guitar i bought one recently and its crazy never seen a thinner neck and the action is unbelievable, my marshall valvestate and that baby sounds just like megadeth's rust in peace when the amp is set properly dude just buy the damn thing ( also getting dimarzio's)
    hey guys, I need to ask something.See i want to buy a guitar which is great for heavy metal.I am torn between two guitars..the ke30kelly ..and the esp letd mh-53..what do you guys think?
    ralleymonkey wrote: Hey im am looking in to buying this guitar and i was wondering if the pickups were active or passive if anyone can help me id greatly appreciate it.
    Would U please read a few comments above?! God, there are still people that cant read!!! 0.o rock on...
    I Got Mine A Bit Back... In January '08... It Looks Amazin But It Sounded Horrific When I Got It... I Have No Idea When It Was Made But It Was Poor Quality... I Had To Replace Just About Everything On It... If I'd Have Known How Much It Would Cost Me I Would Have Bought A KE3 Or Waited A Bit To Buy A KE2!
    marcus6593 wrote: got this guitar nearly a week ago. love it. does anyone know what pickups Marty Friedman had on his kelly? ide like to get them and put them on my kelly.
    I'm pretty sure he had a Seymour Duncan JB 59' on his main Kelly. His other ones had just a bridge pickup, no neck pickup. I don't find this a "beginners guitar as others do. It can also be an intermediate player's guitar, and maybe an advanced if you change the pickups.
    got this guitar nearly a week ago. love it. does anyone know what pickups Marty Friedman had on his kelly? ide like to get them and put them on my kelly.
    im about to go buy it!!! i played it in the shop yesterady and i loved it, im getting a Line 6 amp with it soon too (but ill have to save for that)
    This is a beginner guitar and it looks sick. But how cheap can i get it? I can only spend between $150-$220 as i blew my money on an Epiphone (not that its bad i just need a second guitar) And does anyone know if i can get it off the internet cheap? thanks!
    im desperate on this. please answer my question asasp.. Does the jackson kelly have a thick neck comapred to other guitars like epiphone explorers?? I went to the guitar store and tried out a randy rhoad and the neck was pretty thick compared to my squire strat.
    I got one of these in august '06 i was well chuffed with it, its a really good guitar for ametuers but after a year you start to break out of it, and you think "wow this guitar is lame i could of bought a much better 1 for 50 more" it's quite heavy and most of the weight is at the head (for some reason) and its awkward to get a decent cheap case but other wise its great! the sound, build and design are fabulous. but if you're gonna buy 1 save up for a bit more and search for a better giutar.
    GuitarManNick wrote: Panterica wrote: wtf mine was 899.99 .....at guitar center dude are u sure urs is a Kelly JS30KE and not a Kelly KE2 or a Jackson Custom shop model ?!? coz the only Kelly guitars which cost more than 500 are KE2 and Custom Shop models...
    Its probably a KE3 (pro series)
    Hey |\puto_rodas/| calm ur ass down im just a kid and asked a simple question, and wanted a simple and polite answer, i may be young but not ignorant!!! Cheers
    Well a lot of you guys seem to like it and I tried it the other day in a local guitar shop and I liked so I'll probably be getting myself one!