Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Features — 8
The Jackson SLATTXMG3-6 is an arch top Soloist body style with a fixed Tune-O-Matic string through body bridge and a 3+3 head stock. It is a three piece maple through neck design with a compound radius (12"-16") rosewood fretboard with 24 jumbo frets. The neck is quite thin and built for speed but may take an adjustment period if your used to a Les Paul style neck as I was. The body is basswood with a gloss polyurethane finish in cobalt blue which looks much nicer in person than photos. It's almost a color shifting paint depending on lighting, varying from a royal blue to almost purple. The guitar hardware features a real TonePros tune-o-matic locking bridge, EMG 81 and 85 pick ups with 1 volume, 1 tone, and a 3 way switch and Jackson standard tuners. One little added bonus is the factory installation of Dunlop strap locks. All this good stuff was constructed in Indonesia.
Sound — 5
I'm playing the guitar through a Peavey XXL 212 when ever I get a chance to crank it up but I'm typically using my DigiTech RP500 modeler. The guitar excels in hard rock and metal genres but if you have a versatile amp classic rock can be done. The neck pick up sound could even work for a jazz/fusion type sound. I even use this guitar at church for contemporary Christian music. I've been experimenting with really using the volume knob on this guitar as well to clean it up and take some of the aggression out of it. But if full on aggression is your thing it delivers! The guitar is obviously slanted towards hard rock and metal genres with the EMG pick ups and it does that style quite well. The EMG 81 in the bridge has a lot of note definition in the attack and can handle copious amounts of gain without turning to mush or getting noisy. Power chords are big and full and leads slice through a mix but high notes with the tone at 100% can become somewhat shrill. The EMG 85 in the neck actually sounds hotter than the EMG 81. It has a lot more bass response than the 81 making it sound beautiful with clean rhythms. The neck pick up really excels with high gain lead playing though, where it's slightly louder than the 81 but much smoother. As good as the pick ups are there are some issues with sound that are the fault of either the construction or tone woods used. The E and F notes on the G string (frets 9 &10) on my guitar are pretty dead. The problem is related to neck resonance not high frets/low action. Placing a capo on the headstock helps the problem substantially by moving the dead spot to "D" and reducing it significantly. This issue is annoying but can be dealt with. Honestly if I had been able to play this guitar in a store this issue may have been a deal killer.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
I ordered the guitar from musician's friend so I'm sure the guitar went from Indonesia to my door without seeing the light of day. Straight out of the box the action was way too low (less than a millimeter at the 24th fret) and buzzed everywhere. Luckily adjusting the tune-o-matic bridge is a piece of cake and I replaced the 9's with 10's and had it set up in minutes. The truss rod was adjusted properly out of the box. All of the electronics have a very professional feel as I assume it's all EMG stuff under the hood. The knobs and three way switch have a solid feel and the input jack is a nice tight fit. Surprisingly the stock tuners feel really good, they're very tight and have no slop when turning them and the guitar stays in tune very well even with big bends. There are flew blemishes though. There is a small scratch under the clear coat near the volume pot. There are a couple slight visible flaws in the rosewood fingerboard but nothing that effects playability. The frets themselves have been finished well and I've noticed no high frets anywhere, the fret ends are all tucked into the black plastic binding neatly.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've owned the guitar for a month so I can't speak to the long term but at the very least the electronics feel as though they'd last a lifetime. The poly finish is very unlikely to show wear like my nitro finished Les Paul does either. The guitar comes with Dunlop strap locks which work very well and are handy for playing live as you don't have to worry about the guitar falling off. The neck is stable and I have not touched the truss rod since getting the guitar. The guitar also stays in tune very well (better than my Gibson) which is quite important for playing live. As far as I can tell as long as you get a hard shell case for it the guitar should be very road worthy. Obviously playing a gig without a back up is dangerous business but if you had to this guitar seems trustworthy.
Overall Impression — 6
Overall this is a good guitar for the price if you want something for heavy music. Every piece of wood is different so the I don't know if the dead note issue is just mine or a common problem; I'd recommend trying the guitar out before buying if at all possible. I compared this guitar mainly to the Ibanez S series, LTD M series, and Schecter Hellraiser series and chose the Jackson because of the price point and through neck design (which I'm now doubtful through neck makes much difference compared to set neck). If I lost this guitar I'm not sure I'd replace it. There are a lot of options for this style guitar and I'd probably scrounge to find an extra $200-$300 for something higher quality if I had it to do over again.