Purchased from: LA Music
Features — 9
This is a 26.5" neck through body guitar. It's made in Indonesia and the body wood is Mahogany with a maple neck and rosewood fretboard.
The pickups are EMG 707's in both the neck and bridge. The guitar has a Floyd Rose Special bridge.
All in all for what I paid ($1000 CDN) I think the features are great bang for the buck. The guitar checked all my boxes (EMG's, Floyd Rose, Neck Through, 26.5") at a price that undercut similar ESP, Ibanez and Schecter products.
The only feature I maybe would have like to see on this would have been a maple neck with the solid silver body this has. That would be quite striking visually. But beyond that a nice mahogany body with a neck through body and some brand name pickups had me really excited about buying this guitar.
Sound — 8
This thing sounds fantastic! This is my first guitar with EMG's and I personally love the sound. They are great for metal and clean up surprisingly nicely. I was a little worried that I'd be sacrificing a little bit of clean tone with these pickups but with the pickup selector giving me a blend of both pickups and some slight delay it sounds glassy clear.
Of course you buy this for the metal tones and this delivers. Crushing heaviness across the board. At it's lowest I've had it down to (ADGCFAD) and it will still clean and articulate on the low end.
My one complaint (and this may be a by product of my technique and my amp) would be when I do big 6 or 7 string chords they can lose a little bit of clarity when distorted. I'm not sure if having the option to swap the pickups for a set of new passive Duncans would remedy the situation... but it's not enough of a concern for me to want to go making a mod from active to passive. Just putting it out there as a potential concern for readers. But again it could be my own playing or amp settings that is causing that to happen.
All in all though this thing is beastly sounding and for riffs and leads it gives me all the tone I could ask for.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
This neck is like butter! This is my first experience with Jackson but I've got an LTD guitar, have played some Schecters and have played a number of different Ibanez across the spectrum of quality ranges they have. This thing is beyond words. Any time I switch from one of my 6 string back to this I'm amazed and how effortlessly I can move around on this neck.
There were no sharp edges on the frets or anything that needed addressing. Bringing it home from the store I left the stock strings on and the set-up was nice. After a while of being used to the 7-string proportions I decided I wanted to guy with a heavier gauge string (59-10) while still in standard BEADGBE tuning. Unfortunately, the springs to counter balance the Floyd were pretty weak so I had to buy new ones and then the problem was solved.
Seems a little surprising that a guitar aimed at the 7-string metal market wouldn't have some beefy springs in the back from the get go.
Spring issue aside though the playability of this guitar is unparalleled compared to anything else I've had my hands on. It makes me want to play longer and harder and sounds great doing it.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I think you could gig this no problem. I'd use it without a backup and not think twice about it. The Floyd Rose Special hardly ever requires tuning beyond the odd fine tuning adjustment at the bridge.
I've had this for a couple of years now and aside from changing strings and the battery for the EMG's I've never had to worry about anything else. The Floyd takes all the abuse you can through at it and the electronics have never mis-behaved (I have another guitar where the pickup selector sometimes drops the volume as you switch from pickup to pickup - none of that kind of stuff here).
The finish has been holding up very well. Sometimes when I'm in a long writing session i'll notice my picking forearm has gotten sweat on the guitar. The spot where my forearm rests on the body of the guitar looks just as good as the finish on the rest of the guitar.
Overall Impression — 8
As a guy who plays mostly metal music I couldn't be happier with this guitar. I've been playing for the better part of 12 years now and this is far and away the best guitar I've owned and had the pleasure to play. If it was stolen I wouldn't hesitate about buying another. I'd maybe consider "its brother" instead that packs the same features but with a set of Seymour Duncan Nazguls and a maple neck - just to see what that configuration sounds like.
After comparing it to numerous ESP/LTD, Ibanez, and Schecter products I still think years later that I made the right choice. The only reason I've given it mostly 8's across the board is that it's the only 7-string I've owned so I'm sure there are greener pastures out there as you climb the price range and get into custom shop/prestige territory.
That said though, for the money, I can't think of any other 7-string guitar I'd take over this.