KE3 Kelly review by Jackson

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.6 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (202 votes)
Jackson: KE3 Kelly

Price paid: £ 449

Purchased from: Reverb

Sound — 10
The Jazz/JB set is amazingly versatile, and suit's my style (Blues-rock, Progressive, Progressive Metal, Thrash and Neo-classical metal) almost perfectly. However, I replaced the neck pickup (jazz) with a Seymour Duncan P-Rails, and had coil split/reverse phase added the the JB. This can get some crazy yet beautiful tones, and has only made her more versatile. The JB/Jazz set, however, can cope with just about any style of music. The two are fairly mid-output, so plenty of tone is made up by the body woods, unlike the P-Rails, which has a very high output. I'm currently using the guitar with a Vox Valvetronix and a Boss GT10, but I'm saving for a Bugera 333, or something similar. However, even with this setup, the versatility of the guitar comes through brilliantly, and in humbucking mode, the JB has virtually no hum, even at very high-gain settings.

Overall Impression — 9
I've been playing for near 4 years now, and beside my effects, this is by far the highest quality piece of equipment I own. Before settling on this, I tried out 3 Schecters, and 3 Jacksons, and I found the Jacksons, especially this one, to feel much nicer. The Schecters felt a little sterile to me, but this I'm sure was just my taste. Again, the only one thing the guitar is lacking is a tone control, but with my switching system now, I don't have much need for a tone control any more. The only negative thing I can say is that the electrical components - toggle Switch & volume pot - could have been higher quality. Although the guitar is clearly aimed at heavy metal and shred players, it is very capable of playing any genre. I love the tremolo, but I plan on upgrading everything in the future. I would die if it were stolen, or broken - I can't play properly on anything else! I don't plan on replacing her any time soon, and I know that she'll treat me well for as long as I treat her well.

Reliability & Durability — 8
The guitar has withstood my playing for 7 months now, without any disagreement, and other than the component issues, the guitar is very reliable. The hardware, I believe, will last a lot longer before I upgrade to Schaller. I replaced the strap buttons with Dunlop Straplocks, but that's because I've had bad experience with straps coming loose in the past.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
From the factory, the guitar was set up fairly well, but I'm a tweaker, and I set it up roughly how I like everything as soon as I got home. I can't really complain about the set-up, though, because I have fairly specific and picky tastes. I can say, however, that from factory, the guitar was perfectly intonated. I'm yet to find anything that was wrong from the factory. However, upon opening the control cavity, I found that the wiring is very messy. The connections are all made very well, yet the wiring is all over the place, and could have been tied together neatly. I tell a lie, ever after a couple of weeks after getting her home, I've had a slight problem with the pickup selector Switch. Sometimes, when I flick to the bridge position, the signal almost cuts completely, leaving me with a very faint and weak sound, and the problem often persists for a few minutes at a time. It seems to be a bad Switch, in the middle position, both pickups come through very strong, and the problem doesn't always occur. I've gigged a few times with her now, and I've always been lucky that the toggle Switch has corrected itself quickly in Live situations. Other than this, the only other issue is that the volume pot has begun to malfunction recently, it has a scratching sound, very faint, but the guitar doesn't seem the clean up as well with my fuzz anymore, either.

Features — 8
I've had my KE3 for 6 or 7 months now, and I'm still in love. She was made in Japan, and has an Alder body, flamed maple top & neck, rosewood fretboard with 24 frets. The guitar came stock with a Seymour Duncan JB/Jazz set, I don't know why people always claim the KE3 comes with Duncan Designed humbuckers. The bridge is a Jackson Liscenced Floyd Rose, which is actually better quality than I would have expected. The tuners themselves, made by Jackson, seem to hold tuning very well, but they feel a little awkward when turned. This isn't a problem, though, since the locking nut holds tuning perfectly. I went out originally looking at ESP and Schecter guitars, and after playing a few Schecters (nowhere sells ESP in my city), I was advised to look at Jackson. I tried the Dinky and the King V, before I came to choose between the Rhoads and Kelly models. The Kelly has better upper-fret access, a slightly thinner neck, and a body which seems more bash-proof. There was only one thing that was putting me off getting a Kelly, and that was the lack of a tone control on the Pro Series model, but the pros outweighed the con(s).

7 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I got one of these off craigslist, amazing condition, EMG's a custom installed tone knob, and a reverse headstock, $200!!!!!
    I just ordered a jackson kelly through ebay. It's a ke3 model in a transparent blue finish. Can't wait to get it! I fell in love with jackson guitars ever since the first day I played one...
    By the way, it only cost $325! Which is amazingly low for this guitar. It should arrive tomorrow. Can't wait!!!!
    id totally get this guitar.. the only thing holding me back is the bridge. it looks like a fender style bridge.. and the last time i used a fender i couldnt palm mute for shit. but i really need a guitar with a floyd rose.
    hey guys I'm in trouble, at first I was looking to buy the jackson KE3 but now im undecided betwen the KE3 or the DK2S, my music prefrences are metal and clean
    Got mine for something like 1200$CAN a year ago. A KE3 skl ( with the skull on it )Definitly worth the price... It looks awesome but the humbhucker are a little weak for getting a good Death Metal tone in C standard. Tried it with higher tuning and it sounds very good. Very comfortable, lightning fast neck and the finish is flawless. I would recommand this guitar to anyone who want a good axe that look awesome.