Purchased from: local owner used
Features — 8
Japan made (faint adhesive on heel matches a lookalike in eBay marked "Made In Japan"). Serial 96* denotes Japan made. Medium jumbo frets. Flamed maple cap over alder (?) body and shot in trans royal blue gloss. Pickguard is satin black cut square. Neck looks maple and is shot in satin clear urethane. Strat type with HSS pickups marked "Jackson" on covers and Wilkinson 2 point floating tremolo bridge. Vol, tone and 5 way switch. Non-locking and smooth tuners are chromed well and secure. No accessories and push-in plain chrome trem bar missing (*$10 to replace). 2 string hold downs are chromed and a better style than "butterfly" cheapies. Rated "8" since no coil tapping the bridge HB or any special stuff.
Sound — 9
Very versatile for a modern sounding Strat copy. Humbucker is trebly (likely is a HB103 Duncan Designed type). Played into a modified '73 Princeton Reverb, it's a clean and strong sounding guitar. The position 2 and 4 are quite good (country and blues). The middle alone is clear and "pretty," while the bridge HB is lacking some complexity (and has no polepieces). Neck alone is nice and fairly Stratty. For stock pickups, they are good... not REAL good, but look again at the used price for a nearly new condition guitar.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Nice build and finish. Attractive and somewhat plain. But it was a Japan budget guitar. The truss rod is the ancient Fender style (flat slot in a neck heel access... take off the neck!) but it is stable. I flattened it 1/4 turn clockwise and lowered the bridge (screw in the 2 trem posts) to get 1/16" at fret 12 and minimal relief. Played with nails or pick... no rattles. So the frets must have been installed well. Nut is flat-top black plastic, but with nut slots lowered a tad and lubed, it is OK. If I keep it, a Tusq black would be a good choice or white bone. The top is well matched and narrow flame pattern. The fretboard is reddish and black striped rosewood and looks really sharp when oiled lightly. I seldom see this nice grain pattern in rosewood fretboards of new guitars.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This is not a beefy and stout guitar (bolt on neck). It's a sturdy and solid guitar that plays well and easily. It's a slender neck and flat fretboard type that reflects that it's from Jackson (not noted for copying Strats but catering to rock players). The tremolo is very stable and simple (I float it parallel to the top and use 3 springs) and that keeps the guitar in tune well. Have not inserted the trem bar in it (had to order one). It's well finished and the Japan older Jacksons are not shabby guitars. It's not an upscale Jackson, but a helluva value in a stable and versatile Strat style for $150 barely used.
Overall Impression — 9
I play country, write several genres (classical studies, rock 'n' roll, and love ballads), and play old rock and roll (pre-Beatles). This guitar can cover most anything and is nearly a shredder guitar with its flat board and slender neck. It's light and stable and plays and sounds quite good and at $150 used, a very solid value. I wish it were coil tapped and with a beefier and more Stratty bridge HB. But it's a budget guitar that sells for $500 used, typically. Rated "9" because it is so good in most every way and the shortcomings can be corrected (plastic nut, bridge HB just OK).