Price paid: $ 400
Purchased from: Arrowhead Music
Sound — 8
I play mostly metal of all kinds, I'm not picky and it does just fine for me. Originally when I bought it, it came with EMG Select pickups. I don't know what they Were about (they're cheap) but they didn't sound so hot...at all. They really just had no body to them, sustain was poor on the lower strings and had a choked up sound if that makes any sense. Versatility was limited at best and even clean oriented sounds were lacking big time. My guess is whoever owned this before me salvaged the original pickups before re-selling. I swapped the junk EMG Selects out for a Duncan Invader (bridge) and two Duncan Hot Rails (middle/neck) and couldn't be happier. Now, the guitar has clarity, balance and for me, a much better sound suited to the music I play. Surprisingly, the Hot Rails do a fair job on clean and the Invader in my opinion handles high gain quite well. I didn't do a great deal of research regarding what pickups to put in, so I think I lucked out. The current pickups just seem to agree with the neck/body wood. I'm playing through a Peavey 3120 with a Vader 212 cab. Even if I run my overdrives (MI Audio Boost'n Buff/ TS9) it doesn't get noisy and still retains the character of the guitar. I'm not going to say it's incredibly versatile. While it's a HUGE improvement over the sound, it is still best suited for heavier styles of music. Because I swapped pickups out of necessity I'm rating sound a solid 8. Normally in a situation like this I'd rate a bit lower but it seriously does a great job now. It has a big bottom end, well rounded mids and enough highs to remain clear and defined.
Overall Impression — 9
Like I mentioned earlier, metal is pretty much my thing, I dig it so I play it. For me it's a great match, even more so after the pickup swap. I've been playing for about eight years and I own a variety of guitars (LTD MH1000NT, Fender Jag H/H, Conklin Maple 7, Steinberger Synapse Trans-scale and a Little Martin). All of them are unique and this Jackson Stealth is no exception. If there's one thing I wish I would have asked it would have been "WTF is an EMG Select?"...and "What did EMG do wrong?". If lost or stolen I'd probably cry...I've had it for about a year and a half and there doesn't seem to be many of these on the open market. I'd highly recommend one if it can be found, not expensive and totally worth it. I love pretty much everything about it, it works great for me, no big complaints. I hated the original pickups so I took care of the problem....now I'm better off. Favorite feature is an inexpensive floating trem that doesn't make me want to shoot staples into my eyeballs...seriously can't complain. Honestly before I saw this I wasn't looking for a new (or used) guitar but I saw the "professional" script on the headstock and knew it was a)old and b)unique as I had never seen one before. I played it, instantly hated the pickups but felt that was an easy fix not worth passing on because it really felt that good to play. As far as comparing it to other guitars I really can't say. I pretty much bought it on an impulse and after playing it a bit I felt getting back to a floating trem after selling my Ibanez RG320 (great guitar too) wasn't such a terrible idea. I can't say there's anything I wish it had, I took care of it's only major issue and I'm pretty easy to please so it's great as is. Overall impression I have to rate a 9. While the 9 is clearly higher than other ratings, it's uniqueness is a big plus and it's just absolutely rock solid from action to feel and now sound. While it may not be a "go to" guitar for everything under the sun, what I go to it for is what this guitar is best at.
Reliability & Durability — 8
It's a Jackson and I think anyone, whether they like Jackson or not will agree their guitars will withstand anything you throw at them...within reason of course. Hardware as stated previously is in great condition despite age and with the way I take care of things I see no reason to replace anything now except for the pickup selector switch at some point and strap buttons. I haven't used the strap buttons but they look fine to me. I would not hesitate to depend on the guitar, it was designed to be a workhorse guitar and I have no reason to doubt Jackson and their build quality. Regarding the finish, it's pretty much Vintage of sorts so I really don't care too much. I'll care for it like anything else but the guitar has character to it so I'm cool with it showing its age...I like it. Overall it feels like a rock solid guitar that I can depend on. I'll give it an 8 because while everything is great about it, strap-locks are pretty much a must and the idea of gigging without a backup seems like an avoidable risk (always have a backup).
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
I have no clue about factory setup...it's from 1992 but the condition I got it in was great, clearly previous whoever owned it prior to me took great care of it. Action was incredibly low, no fret buzz, all frets were level and free of corrosion/rust and the tremolo was well balanced. It plays incredibly easy and faster songs are significantly easier for me on this guitar. To my surprise the trem sits nicely in the cavity, holds tuning extremely well even with heavy use and has a nice action itself. I've re-stringed it a few times with no issues, just have to pay attention like with any floating trem. After swapping pickups I adjusted their height to my likings and it's great for me. Even the middle single is out of the way of my picking. As far as flaws go there are a few nicks, very small chips and the finish does look a bit worn. Two of the saddle screws on the trem have some rust but it affects nothing. Overall, much better than most used guitars half its age and it has a lot of character unlike many guitars I've played. For this section I'll give it an 8 just for general cosmetic damage while minor, rough switch and the simple fact it is used and not fresh off the boat (it was an import).
Features — 7
It's a 1992 MIJ Jackson Stealth EX Professional (white script on headstock). It has a very thin and flat bolt on maple neck, rosewood fingerboard with 22 frets (unknown type) and a basswood body. Mine has a gloss black body finish and the neck has a clear lacquer finish. No binding and has a cable input jack on the front of the body (has an oval like access routing). Like many guitars it's the Strat type body. The bridge is a Licensed Floyd Rose (Jackson JT580), Jackson tuners and a locking nut. It also has regular strap "buttons" or whatever their called. All passive electronics, H/S/S, EMG Select Pickups (I changed from these, more later), one volume, one tone and a five way blade selector (normal five way switching). It came with a Jackson/Charvel hard case (older than the guitar) that was clearly well used but still protects the guitar fine. Features are pretty standard for the type of guitar, nothing fancy but all functional. No major hardware issues even though I bought used and despite age I have no doubt the hardware will last. Nothing else included. I'll rate this section a 7 because I did swap out the pickups and the five way selector feels pretty rough.