Price paid: $ 269
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Features — 8
2016 Jackson JS32T Rhoads
- Graphite-reinforced,bound 24 fret bolt-on maple neck
- Basswood body
- Gloss Black w/ White bevels
- String-thru tune-o-matic bridge
- Passive Jackson humbuckers
- Jackson tuners
- 1 vol, 1 tone, 3-way switch
- Made in China
This guitar is not aimed at pro players, but more at the bedroom practice, weekend warrior crowd. So, as expected, no ultra fancy features to speak of. Just a very cool, pointy shred machine.
Sound — 9
This thing screams THRASH METAL in looks and tone. I'm an EMG guy, and actually planned on upgrading the pickups later down the road, but the more I play on these pups, the less reasons I can find to replace them. The bridge pickup is bright and crunchy, and the neck is hot yet fluid, very good for single note passages and shred. The pickups are Jackson branded, but are actually manufactured by a Chinese company called Belcat. Normally their stuff is kind of throw away, but I'm loving the sound of these. The pickups are rather inconsistent though. Some are hot and bright, others are muddy and lifeless. I got lucky, but your mileage may vary.
This guitar really shines in an ocean of high gain. I've been able to coax some decent clean tones out of it, but nothing spectacular. Anyone even considering buying this axe is really only concerned with one thing: METAL. And that is exactly what you get. Admittedly this is a one trick pony.
Spoiler Alert: I didn't buy a Jackson Rhoads to play smooth jazz.
It serves it's purpose well. I haven't noticed any humming or crackling from the electronics. This thing is dead quiet until you start playing power chords and triplets at 220 bpm.
Action, Fit & Finish — 5
This is where things get a little hairy. The guitar I currently own is actually my second, as the first instrument I brought home was riddled with issues. The frets were not properly crowned and polished, and upon closer inspection, still had file marks on them towards the higher frets. Playing in the upper register was uncomfortable. It felt, for lack of a better word, scratchy. The neck pocket was absolutely jacked. The neck itself did not even make contact with the walls of said pocket, and sat at an absurd angle to the body. I understand this is not a custom shop, or even a $500 guitar. I don't expect a marvel of modern engineering from a chunk of wood that cost less than 300 bucks, but damn. What I got was a "5 o'clock on a Friday" guitar. How it escaped quality control, I may never know. On a side note, when I opened the box, the fretboard was BONE DRY. So dry in fact, that it appeared to be in danger of cracking. To be fair, that was fixed with some gorgomyte and fretboard oil, but I don't feel it's something I should have had to do. As I recall, the rest of the instrument was fine. No hardware issues to speak of, although the pickups were awfully dull and muddy, but the finish was impeccable. The black with white bevels is just eye catching. The factory setup wasn't great, but I do all my own setups anyway, so I expected a little work walking into the purchase, so I won't deduct any points there.
I don't blame Guitar Center for this. The guys at my local store are top notch, and didn't give me any trouble whatsoever upon returning it. I was a little displeased with Jackson though.. A guitar in that shape should have never left the factory. Period.
Now, on to the guitar I exchanged it for. Exact same model, but the quality difference is huge. The heel fits in the neck pocket well, and the angle at which it sits is much more reasonable. Frets like butter. I did notice the fretboard seemed a little dry, but nothing like the previous, and again, nothing a little oil won't fix. The hardware is all on point, and the finish still beautiful. I immediately noticed the pickups on this guy are MUCH hotter and actually sound great to my ears. Worlds of improvement.
All in all, The guitar I decided to keep is awesome. I am really putting some miles on it. But, I should have been able to open the box and fall in love with my new guitar, not notice a handful of problems and have to ask for a replacement. I hate to say it... But I know that if these guitars were being built anywhere else in the world it would have been a totally different experience. I was a bit hesitant to pull the trigger on this guitar because of its Chinese origin. I was really hoping that my fears would be proved unfounded. Unfortunately my experience reinforced my weariness of Chinese made items. For this reason, even though the guitar I now own is great, it scores poorly here.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar is not a toy. I haven't put it through its paces live, but I would not be afraid to. I immediately installed Duncan straplocks. I believe they are a worthwhile investment on any guitar. As stated previously, the hardware on this guy is solid. I do plan on replacing the nut and bridge, but that is for my own personal enjoyment and customization purposes, and is not by any means necessary. The tuners are holding up very well. In my experience, Jackson tuners are solid. I can bend to the heavens and drop tune, and so far they haven't budged. The guitar naturally wants to rest in the classical position, both sitting and standing, and I find it very comfortable to play either way. Other than my rather salty run in with the quality control issues mentioned before, I have no worthwhile complaints.
Overall Impression — 8
I've always hated when people say, "this guitar plays well for the price." It is my opinion that bringing up price when talking about a guitars playability cheapens the enjoyment of that playability. Overall, this is a great playing guitar. It's a great looking guitar. This is a great sounding guitar. I am satisfied with my purchase. I own many Jackson's, and this keeps up with the rest of them just fine. I guess it would be cool if it came with a bone nut, or a gig bag, or a myriad of other trinkets and upgraded features, but at that rate, why not spring for an X-Series or Pro-series? This guitar, or any of the JS models, are an awesome value, and if one did so choose, could be upgraded to the sky. I have no doubt that it will last until I'm old and grey. Be aware of the build quality of the instrument, play before you buy, get a good setup, and shred that motherfucker loud enough to wake the dead.