KE3 Kelly review by Jackson

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.4 (202 votes)
Jackson: KE3 Kelly

Features — 9
I obtained a used KE3 about a year ago from a friend that had hard times. I always wanted a Kelly because of it's beautiful appearance which something along the lines of an Angry Gibson Explorer. It is Japanese which in many cases lowers it's value yet is still very well built. It has a nice heavy Alder body, Bolt-on Maple neck, Shark fin inlays on a rosewood fretboard H-H pickup configuration and a Licensed Floyed Rose. It has 1 volume knob, 1 tone knob and a 3 way switch for controls. It's lay out is very simple and for many people this set up is more than enough.

Sound — 9
The factory Jackson humbuckers have a surprisingly good tone (that wasn't too bright or too deep) to them and a slightly hotter than I would have expected. I would compare them to a lower end DiMarzio or even a middle of the road Seymour Duncan pick up. they are passive which I do like, they won't compress your sound and no battery worries like with EMG's. It has massive amounts of sustain even at lower gain levels and a beautiful resonance to it that you would only expect out of a much pricier guitar. The volume knob made some static noise when I first got it but after some Electronics cleaner spray in to it, it stopped.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
When I first got the guitar the action was Ok, but could have been better (one of the reasons I love Bolt on necks). I pitched the neck about 2 degrees and then adjusted the trust rod to get everything straight and perfect, adjusted the trem in and got it perfect as I could. Now the action plays like butter. It's very low but still has a lot of body with no fret buzz. Everyone who plays that guitar now loves it's feel. No complaints on the finish, it still looks almost new even after taking a few good bumps on stage. The knobs could have been better built, after all it's years of being played, the knobs feel a bit loose, but they still work with out noise. The only major draw back on this guitar is that the strap locks are in a funny spot on the guitar feel neck heavy while holding it. if I take my hands off of the neck it falls almost vertical. otherwise the guitar is very comfortable to play.

Reliability & Durability — 10
I refer to this guitar as my old faithful, it always is ready to be played at the most demanding of shows. I know that no matter what, as long as I change the string every 6 months or so, it will perform perfectly even with all the abuse I put it through. I don't have to worry about being too gentle with it, or the finish chipping or peeling off. the strings always stay in tune and never run into unexpected problems. It is my main work horse these days. I keep a back up guitar on hand (because you never know) but at this point haven't needed it for a show.

Overall Impression — 10
I play hard rock on most occasions and this has a great look and sound for it. The thing I find interesting is even with its aggressive looks, it's not too aggressive and could be used with a nice feel and look for most other genres as well. the sound is well rounded to be used for most anything as well. This is an excelant guitar for the price for any intermediate to veteran players. a little luthering made be needed to get them perfect especially when they are used, but thats really any guitar that is not $2000 or more. It's a great value, but as with any guitar, It may not be for you. always get what plays and sounds good for you, not what someone told you is for you.

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