Sound — 8
The sound of this guitar is between good and very good. It works for playing Metal, Melodic Death Metal (what I play), and rock. It has an okay clean tone, but it's kinda dull. But that's not what it's made for. The guitar is silent, even with my Line 6 Spider III on Insane (more gain than most amps can handle). It gives just the old crunchy run-of-the-mill metal sound. However, I really like the lead tone on the lead pickup. This thing definitely delivers for shredding and soloing where most other guitars can't. I might just replace the rhythm pickup with an EMG ALX Alexi Laiho Signature pickup to give it that extra punch.
Overall Impression — 10
I play Metal and Melodic Death Metal, and this guitar fits like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. It's perfect. I have been playing for 4 years now, and this guitar has helped me bring out my potential. I run it into a Line 6 Spider III. I have absolutely no regrets from buying this. If this thing was to be stolen or lost, I would buy it a million times over! I would either get this or save up for a high end RR24. I love the entire guitar. It plays like a dream, and I love how easy it is to just shred for hours on end. I don't hate anything, but the rhythm pickup could be a little less muddy. I was stuck between this and the ESP Gus G signature, but that just didn't feel right. Also, I didn't want a Floyd Rose. This guitar is perfect. Buy it.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar feels invincible. Of course, it is now more like a child than a guitar, so I would never do any damage to it. But if something were to happen, I feel like it would survive. The hardware seems like it's pretty well bolted on. One of the strap buttons was loose, but again that was from the previous owner simply yanking the strap off. I would use this guitar without a backup any day. I get the feeling that it will last for a VERY long time.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
This guitar actually has very good action. It helps me when I'm soloing or playing on the high frets. It buzzes when I'm at the first and second frets on the E and A string, but in all fairness to the guitar, I actually have it tuned down to D standard and Drop C, while the guitar was actually set up by the store to handle standard. I ran out of cash before I could get it adjusted. The rest of the guitar plays like a dream. It feels like I'm playing a high end Rhoads. The guitar of course did have some nicks and bumps, but that was just from the previous owner not taking the best care of it. Like I mentioned earlier, one tuning peg is kind of loose, but I think that was also from mistreatment. Other than that, everything is very solid and well-built on this guitar.
Features — 10
Let me just start off by saying that despite the fact that this was the entry level Rhoads model (the JS36 Rhoads is the successor, essentially the same thing except with Jackson's Shark fin inlays), this is probably one of the best guitars I have ever played. I'm not sure what year it was made, but I want to say it was maybe 2008 (don't take my word on that), but I know it was made in India. It is an alder body with a maple neck, so it is fairly lightweight and well balanced. I like how smooth and fast the maple neck is. The fretboard is a standard rosewood with 24 jumbo frets. The accessibility and speed of the frets and neck is phenomenal. It lets me shred as much as I like. I got it with the blue finish. It's a very nice shade of blue, and I plan on adding some black pinstripes kind of like how the higher-end models have. The blue hardly shows any dust or scratches. This model has a tune-o-matic bride and a string-thru body. I've never owned a string-thru before, but I like it. It has a lot more resonance and sustain than the stop-tailed Epiphones I've owned, and it seems like it would lower the price of the guitar. These are passive Jackson CVR2 humbuckers. I love the flat black covers on them, so people think I have a high end Jackson with active pickups. The controls include Volume, Tone, and a 3 way selector switch. The tuners are decent. They stay in tune pretty well, although one of them rattles and resonates the noise just a little bit. It is inaudible when plugged into the amp and doesn't make a difference. I could probably fix it just by tightening it. Wise Music threw in a gig bag, but it wasn't the right kind. It was actually the gig bag to the old Epiphone Explorer GT I traded in to get this guitar. I knew this because I left some of my old picks in there. However, it is not loose at all and surprisingly works. The input jack is in kind of a weird place (the cable will dig into your knee if you sit down with it), but I bought a right angle adapter for about 5 bucks that solved that problem completely.