SL3 Soloist review by Jackson

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (109 votes)
Jackson: SL3 Soloist

Price paid: £ 700

Purchased from: reidys

Sound — 9
High gain: Very clear and piercing tone, particularly good for shrieking guitar solos, and the compound radius along with the high output pickups make this a dream to shred on. Endless sustain, and amazing vertsatility from the pickups, the neck pickup is deliciously warm, but the bridge pickup is very responsive. Clean tones: It takes a little fiddling around to get the feel of this just right, but once you get there, it sounds great! The tonal versatility you can get from it is astonishing. Still very responsive. A really nice clear tone with the bridge pickup and a nice smooth tone with the middle and neck pickups. I play this guitar through many different amplifiers with a vast array of tones, and it has never let me down. My main musical style is Heavy metal, but I also play a great deal of other styles as well, ranging from hard rock, to Acoustic, blues and jazz. I read many reviews prior to buying this guitar myself, and I must say as far as the sound is concerned many of them are very misleading. True, this guitar is primarily a heavy metal guitar, and it exceeds all expectations in that genre to an extraordinary degree, but it is also an incredibly versatile guitar. It took me a lot of fiddling around with various tones etc. to try to find the right sounds with this thing, (perhaps a little more than on most other guitars, because when playing clean the tone control is unusually responsive, most likely to compensate for the lack of response when playing with high gain) but once you get used to the guitar it's no problem at all to find the tone you want for any style. I'll give this thing a 9 because it took so much experimentation to make it sound just right, but in the field that it's designed for (being heavy metal and hard rock) it definitely deserves a 10.

Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is absolutely perfect for everything I do, and with a little experimentation it should provide an experienced player with an excellent versatile instrument. I own many other guitars and I have played hundreds more, and so far this one is a good few steps in front anything else I've ever played in terms of features, sound, and general feel. It is the first Jackson that I have owned, and with results like this I hope to own many more in the future. If this thing were stolen I would buy a new one AND hire a private detective to find it, so that I could have 2. This thing is a work of ART and worth every penny. The thin neck made chords etc. a little tricky at first, but I soon grew accustomed to it, and now it's as easy as ever. Otherwise it's a very comfortable guitar to play and seems to match my playing style perfectly. The thing I love most about this guitar is the fretboard. The 12"-16" inch compound radius makes the fretboard incredibly flat, and the 648mm scale length keeps the tensions up to just the right degree to let your fingers sail over the strings at lightning speed and in total comfort. Believe me, if you are a metal player, this thing will send you to heaven. If heavy metal isn't your main focus I would still do some serious research into other instruments first as I am speaking as a man Who has developed almost all of his technique based on heavy metal principals, but it's still a very versatile instrument and definitely worth a look. As far as performance is concerned, there is no such thing as a guitar which doesn't need a backup, as all instruments are prone to the usual problems such as string breakages etc. but this is definitely a well made instrument, and should fulfil all of your gigging needs. I'm giving this angel the full blown 10 it deserves.

Reliability & Durability — 8
I've had this guitar for exactly one year now, and so far it hasn't even shown so much as a scratch. Admittedly I do take extreme care with my instruments, so much so in fact that no one else is allowed to touch them, but this guitar is still very roadworthy and it is definitely designed for the stage. The reason that the score for this has dropped down to an 8 is that the Floyd Rose vibrato system does cause problems with the strings. Extreme use (which I am quite prone to) shortens the string life dramatically, and I often find myself changing strings every 5 or 6 weeks. That said I have found these amazing new strings called d'addarrio prosteels (.009-.042) which last for about twice as long, and keep their tone right the way through to breaking point (and the tone is insane! you should hear the harmonics on them!) so that problem is solved for the most part. That said, the rest of the guitar is still in perfect condition and has shown me no problems so far, and so the rating Still Remains high with a good solid 8.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
This is where the guitar failed slightly. When I bought this, the action was set up absolutely perfectly - an absolute dream to play on, and it has kept this quality ever since I bought it, through every dive bomb and scoop, and through every string change, however! Some of the other hardware was very poorly set up, namely the bridge pickup and volume control. The bridge pickup was set ridiculously deeply and was probably about 5mm too low set into the body, and the volume knob was set so loose that I could pull it off in my hand. Fortunately these problems were easily fixable in about two minutes with the help of nothing but a screwdriver, but seeing as this is a top quality guitar it would be nice it were delivered in top condition. I doubt that any guitar technician would be as ingnorant as to leave features such as this on a guitar unattended, and so I believe that it is probable that these problems arose due to neglect and poor handling while in storage. I will still give this a 7, not because I am biased in any way, but because I believe that giving this a low score solely due to the poor instrument handling of the retailer which I bought it from would be unfair and unnecessary criticism against an instrument which is probably the nicest guitar which I have ever had the pleasure to play, and features such as these will probably not be consistent in other guitars purchased by other people.

Features — 10
Made in Japan. 24 frets, 25.5"/648mm scale length, extra jumbo frets, rosewood fretboard, 12"-16" compund radius fretboard, c-shaped maple through neck with scarf joint at third fret, alder wings, original Floyd Rose FRT02000 2 point locking vibrato system, Floyd Rose locking nut, Jackson non-locking tuners, Seymour Duncan JBTB4 bridge humbucker, Seymour Duncan SHR101 Hot Rails in middle and neck position, 1 volume control, 1 tone control, 5 way blade pickup selector, side mounted jack input. Transparent natural gloss finish, with a flamed maple top. I like to call it a "honey" finish because it has a strong gold hint to it. Black hardware. Real mother of pearl sharkfin inlays. That about covers it. Pretty much everything I could want in a guitar, very low action, nice and smooth, very well balnced, comfortable to play, and to hold, and a great variety of tonal possibilty to experiment with.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    ^ josh, they are humbuckers. if you look closer at it, you can see the two separate magnetic coils.
    I got mine right around 2000 and play it everyday.. i just bought a sg and love it but i almost never play it... i play metal blues punk and you cant find a guitar that is better for anything you play.. and you can find them used for $700.. the dinky pro is a great guitar but the sl3 i worth the extra $$