Purchased from: Long & McQuade (used)
Features — 10
This is one of the guitars Jackson added to their catalogue in 2015-2016, and it's based on their Soloist series of guitars. This X-series guitar is sort of comparable in price range and features to Ibanez's Iron Label line, though there are some really excellent features to distinguish this model.
Here are the basic specs:
- Body: Mahogany wings (other sites claim basswood, but the Jackson website says mahogany)
- Neck: 1-piece maple with graphite reinforcement and scarf joint
- Scale Length: 26.5"
- # of frets: 24
- Fingerboard radius: 12" to 16" compound
- Fretboard: Maple
- Pickups: Seymour Duncan Nazgul (bridge) and Sentient (neck) set
- Bridge: Floyd Rose Special
- Tuners: Jackson standard
Considering the price I paid for this guitar (~$650 CDN, used in like-new condition at Long & McQuade), this is almost a bargain guitar! The Nazgul/Sentient set alone is worth about half that much and the Floyd Rose also accounts for a fair amount of the price. Even at the store's sale price ($799 CDN), it still feels like an incredible amount of guitar for the money. This guitar is one of those rare ones where the full MSRP is what you'd expect to pay for this much guitar (~$1100 CDN).
The guitar did not come with a case, but that's to be expected with a used guitar.
Sound — 10
This is where this guitar performs the most admirably. The Nazgul/Sentient set is perfectly voiced for death metal, djent, prog, or just about any other style of heavier rock you can pump through them. The guitar even handles clean tones fairly well, though you might get a bit of a driven sound from the bridge pickup, since it has a lot of bite to it. The sound is so rich and full and thick that it even manages to make some of my far less high-end amps and multi-effect units like my old Orange Crush 15R and DigiTech RP200A sound decent, though I'm mostly running it through an old early-'90s Peavey Express 112 solid-state combo and some Electro-Harmonix and DigiTech effects.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The fit and finish on this guitar is spectacular for the most part. I'd like to start by addressing some of the issues, though. The gloss finish on the back of the neck did take some getting used to. The bridge was adjusted just fine, but it seems that a couple of the saddles were shimmed higher than the others, and that the lowest strings were left alone, so the action is a bit lower than I'd like on those. That'll be easy to fix when I change strings next, though. Lastly, when I'm truly abusing the Floyd Rose, I hear a high-pitched sort of "knock" from the nut when I return the bar to normal position and then bend my high E string. Only the high E string, though. Doesn't seem to be affected by anything else. The problem seems to only happen when I tighten the locking nut a little bit too much so I suspect that it might be due to me overtightening them. The three-way selector switch actually feels just a little bit loose to me, but that may just be my being used to the standard sort of Fender/Ibanez slider-style switch.
I should also mention that I am no expert with locking, floating tremolo systems, so I have mine blocked from raising the pitch. If you're looking to use this guitar for mixing up the tunings, you're definitely going to want to block the trem.
Other than these minor issues, everything on this guitar is spectacular. The fret work is nearly perfect, everything sits just perfectly in the guitar, and it feels like it'll hold up really well.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Of all the guitars I own, I feel like this one would be the most gig-ready. The graphite-reinforced neck has never gone out, the frets are still perfect even after several months of playing it hard, and almost all of the hardware feels really solid. The only points of contention are the Floyd Rose and the toggle switch. The Floyd has that "knock" I mentioned above, while the toggle switch feels a little looser than I'm used to. Considering I blocked my trem and rarely touch the pickup switch, I'm probably never going to encounter a problem, but this could be an issue if you're someone who does use them on a regular basis. But the finish feels nice and thick, the pickups and the bridge seem to be made of quality materials, and the strap buttons don't show any signs of giving out. I'm still going to replace them with strap locks, but that's just something you should be doing with any guitar you intend to take on stage.
Overall Impression — 9
With an impressive array of features, exquisite-sounding name-brand pickups, and an impressive value, this Jackson is an absolutely excellent guitar. The issues I've had with it are only very minor and probably won't even detract from using this guitar in a live situation, and there's nothing I really dislike about this guitar. The only thing I wish I had asked was if there was the possibility of ordering the hardtail model, just so that I wouldn't have to have the hassle of messing with a Floyd Rose, but even with the Floyd Rose Special, this guitar is great. The only thing I wish this guitar had was coil-splitting capabilities, as I've never owned a guitar with that, and it would have made this guitar much more versatile. But for the styles I play (mostly prog-metal, djent, and tech-death), this is almost a perfect guitar, for a rather unbelievable price!