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Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Justin Thomas

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).


Jackson Guitars is a renowned brand that caters to the ferocious tones of metal and hard rock styles. Since the early 80s, Jackson has produced some of the most desired instruments in rock and metal.

With their pointy headstock and feature-loaded configurations, they have been the pinup guitar for the teen metalhead’s wall for over 3 decades.

But the big question is: Are Jackson Guitars good?

In short, yes, they are, especially if you are into metal and shredding. Jackson Guitars has created a solid reputation through the impressive roster of famous artists who swear by them and through their durable guitars with smooth playability and excellent quality.

Just think of the likes of Randy Rhoads, Dave Mustaine, Adrian Smith, James Hetfield, and many more iconic players who have chosen Jackson as their weapon of choice.

But here’s the thing, like any important decision, the effectiveness of a Jackson guitar depends on several factors. Your playing style, musical preferences, and budget all come into play when determining if a Jackson is the perfect fit for you.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of Jackson guitars, helping you make an informed choice and rock on with confidence.

A Brief History of Jackson Guitars

The tale of Jackson Guitars began in the 1970s, but a fateful encounter between Grover Jackson and the prodigious guitarist, Randy Rhoads in 1980 really kick started everything. Back then, Grover was already making waves with the custom guitars he crafted at Charvel’s Guitar Repair in California. 

However, when Randy approached him for something truly unique, a new chapter unfolded. They huddled together, sketching ideas on a humble napkin, and birthed the legendary Concorde. This sleek and futuristic V-shaped guitar set the course for Jackson’s distinct path.

As the ‘80s dawned, Jackson Guitars soared to prominence, capturing the hearts of hard rock shredders worldwide. They left traditional guitar designs behind with their innovative and iconic creations like the Kelly, King V, and the devilish Warrior.

Famous guitarists align themselves with Jackson guitars because of their high-performance and extreme reliability. High-intensity performers like Chris Broderick, Phil Collen, and Mark Morton opt for Jackson Guitars. You’ll see them wielded from the most intimate venues to globally famous stadiums.

Phil Collen of Def Leppard Playing Jackson Guitars Live
Shredded Phil Collen shredding away with his Jackson Modern Strat.

Fast forward to 2002, when Fender took over the reins, propelling Jackson Guitars to even greater heights. Today, they continue crafting their masterpieces in the USA, Japan, China, and Indonesia. This ensures Jackson Guitars spread the fiery passion of metal and hard rock across the globe and for players with different budgets.


Features and Benefits of Jackson Guitars

Jackson guitars are known for their exceptional build quality, unique design, and impressive sound, making them a top choice for musicians.

Let’s discuss the key features and benefits that set Jackson Guitars apart from other brands:

1. Pointy Headstock

Jackson Guitars' famous pointy headstock
Jackson X Series Rhoads Pointy Headstock

The pointy headstock is an iconic design element of Jackson guitars. Apart from giving them a visually distinctive appearance, it also plays a crucial role in improving tuning stability. The angled design increases string tension to prevent slipping out of tune during aggressive playing or when using the tremolo system a lot.

In modern times Jackson has introduced alternative headstock shapes to accommodate their “extended” guitars (7-string and 8-string options), such as the X Series Soloist™ Arch Top SLATX8Q.

2. Sleek Body Design

Jackson Pro Series demonstrating Jackson Guitars' thin bodies
Jackson Pro Series Signature Jeff Loomis Soloist Slim Body

Jackson guitars typically feature a thin, sleek body design that enhances comfort during long playing sessions. The ergonomic shape allows the guitar to fit snugly against the player’s body, reducing strain and fatigue.

The streamlined body shape is easy to play and provides access to the upper frets, making it ideal for shredding and intricate lead playing.

3. Fast Maple Neck with Compound Radius Fingerboard

Jackson Pro Soloist showing maple neck with compound radius fingerboard
Jackson Pro Series Soloist featuring maple neck with 12″-16″ Compound Radius

Jackson is renowned for its fast-playing maple necks with compound radius fingerboards. The compound radius means they slightly rounded the fingerboard near the nut for comfortable chord playing. The fingerboard flattens out towards the higher frets for effortless soloing and bending.

A compound radius fingerboard caters to a wide range of playing styles and techniques. This makes it a favorite among shredders, metal guitarists, and those who enjoy playing technically demanding music. Most Jackson guitars have a compound radius.

4. High-Output Pickups

Close up of a Jackson Guitar demonstrating DiMarzio pickups
DiMarzio® Super 3™ DP152, HS-2™ DP116, & PC1™ Sustainer Driver on the Jackson USA Signature Phil Collen

Equipped with high-output pickups, Jackson guitars produce versatile and powerful tones. High-output pickups are ideal for producing tones in metal and hard rock genres.

These pickups produce a hot signal with strong midrange and high-frequency response. This allows players to achieve aggressive and cutting tones ideal for heavy music styles.

5. Floyd Rose Tremolo System

Jackson Guitar 7 string Floyd Rose 1000 double locking tremolo
Floyd Rose® 1000 Series 7-String Double-Locking Tremolo (Recessed)

The Floyd Rose tremolo system is a standout feature on many Jackson models. It enables expressive dive bombs, soaring pitch bends, and unique “whammy bar” effects such as the “Lizard down the throat”.

This allows guitarists to add unique textures to their playing. The Floyd Rose system contributes to the guitar’s overall tuning stability, even during aggressive tremolo use.

Get our top tips on How to Restring Floyd Rose in our guide


Quality of Jackson Guitars

Jackson Guitars King V in black

With its iconic body shape, the Jackson King V has been an all-time favorite amongst guitarists around the world.

Jackson Guitars are renowned for their exceptional build quality and craftsmanship. Jackson Guitars use top-notch materials and strict quality control to make sure each guitar meets their high standards. These instruments are both visually and sonically impressive because of their incredible attention to detail in the production.

Jackson Guitars JS Series warrior finished in natural mahogany
JS Series Warrior Natural Mahogany Finish

Superior Tonewoods: They use good quality tonewoods like mahogany, alder, and maple that impact the instrument’s tone and resonance. The selection of top-notch materials ensures the guitars have a rich, balanced sound and excellent sustain.

Advanced Electronics: Jackson Guitars is known for using top-of-the-line hardware and electronics. Their guitars come equipped with the highest quality bridges, tuners, and pickups. This ensures the highest levels of performance, reliability, and durability.

Close up of Seymour Duncans in an HSS configuration
Seymour Duncan HSS

World Famous Pickups: Many models come equipped with pickups from renowned brands like Seymour Duncan and EMG. These pickups famously produce a wide range of tonal options suitable for a variety of playing styles.

Excellent Construction: Jackson meticulously crafts their instruments with precision and attention to detail. Experienced luthiers and artisans handle the manufacturing process. This ensures that every aspect of the guitar meets strict quality standards. Jackson’s experts closely monitor each step, from the neck shaping to the fretwork and final assembly, to deliver a consistent and reliable product.

Jackson guitars flying V in various models
Range of Jackson King V Guitars

Iconic designs: The design of Jackson guitars is also worth mentioning. This brand is famous for its sleek, aggressive body shapes, such as the Soloist, Dinky, and Kelly models. These appeal to guitarists seeking an edgier and more modern aesthetic. The ergonomic contours of these guitars contribute to comfortable playing. This allows easy access to higher frets and long hours of practice or performance without fatigue.

Wide range of models: Jackson also offers a variety of models to cater to different skill levels and budget ranges. Their guitars range from professional to affordable, all with their legendary attention to quality. Jackson Guitars are popular among both experienced and new musicians because of their accessibility.


Hardware of Jackson Guitars

Jackson guitars have high-quality hardware components, including robust bridges, reliable tuners, and durable nuts. This hardware withstands the demands of intense playing. High end components contribute to tuning stability and ensure the guitar’s overall longevity.

Here are some examples of the hardware components commonly found on Jackson guitars:

1. Bridges

  • Floyd Rose Tremolo: Jackson guitars commonly feature Floyd Rose floating tremolos. These include the Floyd Rose Original, Floyd Rose 1000 Series, or Floyd Rose Special. Floyd Rose tremolo systems let you bend pitch and dive-bomb with accuracy and stability.
  • TOM (Tune-O-Matic) Bridge: Some Jackson models may use Tune-O-Matic bridges, which are fixed bridges known for their solid sustain and accurate intonation.
  • Fixed Bridge: Some Jackson guitars feature fixed bridge, which might not be the most versatile in terms of playability (no dive-bombs with this bridge), but is really easy to maintain and looks stunning.
  • Synchronized Tremolo Bridge: Especially the cheaper Jackson models, JS11 and JS22 for example, feature standard synchronized tremolo bridges. These bridges are easy to maintain, but still enable you to add some spice to your playing with the tremolo arm.
displays a Floyd rose bridge
Floyd Rose-style tremolos can be found from many Jackson guitars.

2. Tuners

  • Jackson Die-Cast Tuners: Many Jackson guitars come equipped with their own branded die-cast tuners. These tuners are reliable and provide smooth and precise tuning adjustments.
  • Locking Tuners: Jackson’s pricier models may come with locking tuners that keep the strings in place for more stable tuning.

3. Pickups

  • Seymour Duncan: Jackson guitars often use Seymour Duncan pickups, which are renowned for their quality and versatility.
  • EMG: EMG pickups are another famous brand commonly found in Jackson guitars. Primarily in models designed for heavy genres, as they provide powerful and aggressive tones.
  • Jackson High-Output Pickups: Jackson has made certain models with their own brand, high-output, pickups that produce a hot and dynamic sound.

4. Control Knobs and Switches

  • Jackson uses high-quality knobs and switches for volume and tone control, making them durable and easy to use.
  • Even on the cheapest Jackson guitars, electronics work great and offer solid quality
photo displays Jackson JS22 Dinky's electronics
Electronics of a Cheap Jackson JS22 Dinky.

5. Nuts

  • Graph Tech TUSQ Nut: Many Jackson guitars feature Graph Tech TUSQ nuts, which offer improved tuning stability and string resonance.
  • Plastic Nut: Jackson also uses plastic nuts on their fixed bridge models.
Jackson JS22 Dinky playability displayed for readers
Plastic nut and smooth fretboard of Jackson JS22 Dinky.

6. Strap Buttons

  • Jackson guitars come with sturdy strap buttons to secure guitar straps in place during performances.

Benefits Of Jackson Guitars

  1. Unique Sound: The combination of high-output pickups and the Floyd Rose tremolo system provide musicians with a distinct and powerful sound. This is perfect for heavy genres like metal and hard rock.
  2. Versatility: Jackson guitars’ compound radius fingerboard and sleek body style make them versatile instruments. They can handle various styles and techniques, from intricate leads to aggressive rhythm playing.
  3. Comfort and Playability: The ergonomic design of Jackson guitars, including the thin body and fast maple neck, ensures a comfortable playing experience. This reduces strain and fatigue during extended performances.
  4. Tuning Stability: The pointy headstock and high-quality hardware contribute to excellent tuning stability. This allows musicians to focus on their performance without constant tuning adjustments.
  5. Quality Craftsmanship: Jackson’s commitment to top-notch craftsmanship ensures musicians can depend on their instruments in demanding playing situations.

Different Series and Models of Jackson Guitars: Jackson Guitar Models Explained

Here’s an overview of the different Jackson Guitars series and some examples of popular models from each series:

1. Custom Shop and USA Series

Displays Jackson Custom Shop guitar
Stunning Jackson Custom Shop Guitar. Source: https://www.jacksonguitars.com/en-US/custom-shop.html

Premium quality, craftsmanship, and customization options are the hallmarks of the Custom Shop and USA series. Built in the USA, these guitars offer the highest standards available from Jackson Guitars.

They often feature exotic woods, top-notch hardware, and meticulous attention to detail. Handcrafting allows tailoring of the instruments to the exact specifications and preferences of the individual player.

Example Model:

  • USA Select Randy Rhoads RR1: Based on the original guitar designed for legendary guitarist Randy Rhoads, this V-shaped guitar offers top-tier materials, including a maple neck-through-body, high-quality electronics, and iconic Jackson aesthetics.

2. MJ Series

Jackson Guitars craft the MJ Series guitars in Japan and pay homage to their highly regarded 90s guitars. These instruments are renowned for their playability, tone, and classic Jackson designs. The MJ Series typically offers a mix of traditional features and modern upgrades.

Example Model:

Jackson MJ Series Soloist SL5X
  • MJ Series Soloist SL5X: MJ Series Soloist SL5X – A shredder’s dream, this guitar features a fast neck, compound radius fingerboard, high-output pickups, and a sleek Soloist body shape for maximum performance.

3. Pro Series

Jackson Guitars manufactures the Pro Series guitars in Indonesia and China. They provide professional-grade features and performance at a more affordable price point.

Players who seek high-quality instruments without breaking the bank often look to the Pro Series to build their collections.

Jackson has recently also added “Pro Plus Series”- to their line-up. This range features a sleek and modern body shape that ensures maximum comfort during long hours of playing.

Jackson has meticulously crafted the contours of the guitar to fit snugly against the player’s body. This ensures effortless access to every fret to enable a seamless connection between the musician and their instrument.

Although the Pro series is not made in the USA, Jackson assures these instruments are reliable and have impressive sound and playability.

Example Model:

Jackson Pro Soloist SL2Q MAH
  • Pro Soloist SL2Q MAH: This stunning guitar boasts a quilted maple top, smooth ebony fingerboard, Seymour Duncan pickups, and a Floyd Rose tremolo system, making it suitable for various playing styles.

4. X Series

Produced in Indonesia and China, the X Series offers excellent value for money and includes modern features and designs. They built these guitars for players who want reliable and playable instruments without the premium price tag.

Example Model:

Jackson X Series Signature Adrian Smith SDX
  • X Series Signature Adrian Smith SDX: A signature model for Iron Maiden’s guitarist Adrian Smith, this guitar has a basswood body, maple neck, HSS pickup configuration and offers versatility for different musical genres.

5. JS Series

Jackson makes the JS Series guitars in China for beginners or budget-conscious players who are looking for entry-level models. They provide basic features and quality construction at an affordable price.

Example Model:

Jackson JS32T Rhoads
  • JS32T Rhoads: A budget-friendly version of the iconic Rhoads shape, this guitar features a basswood body, maple neck, dual humbuckers, and offers the signature aggressive Jackson tone.

Bonus Example:

Jackson JS Series Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA
  • Jackson JS22 Dinky: An excellent choice for beginner metalheads, this guitar offers a comfortable Dinky body shape, a bolt-on maple neck, and high-output Jackson pickups for aggressive tones.

For an in-depth look into Jackson Dinky guitars, check out our guide on whether Jackson Dinky guitars are good or not!


Pros and Cons of Jackson Guitars

PROSCONS
Unique sound and look, ideal for metal and hard rock styles.Jackson guitars may not be suitable for warmer or cleaner tones.
Innovative features that enhance playing comfort, speed, and versatility.Some models with complex hardware may require frequent adjustments (Floyd Rose bridge for example).
The wide range of models caters to different budgets and preferences.Modern designs of Jackson guitars may not appeal to some players.
Loyal fan base and endorsements from guitar legends offer reassurance.Some Jackson models may be heavy or uncomfortable for certain players.
The excellent playability is thanks to comfortable neck profiles and fretwork.Custom Shop guitars can be expensive and have longer wait times.
Reliable guitars with quality craftsmanship.Finding certain Jackson models in local stores may be challenging.
Floyd Rose Tremolo (featured on many models) allows expressive dive bombs and bends.

Who Should Choose Jackson Guitars?

Jackson Guitars are great for players who care about specific instrument characteristics. Here’s who should choose Jackson Guitars:

  • Metal and Hard Rock Players: Jackson Guitars are renowned for their aggressive and distinctive tone. This makes them an excellent choice for metal and hard rock genres. Jackson Guitars are a natural fit if you play high-gain music and seek an instrument that can deliver powerful, genre stamping tones.
  • Shredders and Lead Guitarists: Perfect for the lead guitarist who loves to shred and perform fast, technical solos. Jackson Guitars’ slim neck profiles and smooth fretwork make them highly conducive to fast playing and lead techniques.
  • Players Seeking Modern Features: Jackson Guitars often have innovative features that enhance playability. These include compound radius fingerboards, Floyd Rose tremolos, and high-output pickups. If you’re looking for modern features that support your playing style, Jackson Guitars are worth considering.
  • Fans of Eye-catching Designs: With their unique body shapes and striking finishes, Jackson Guitars appeal to those who appreciate visually striking instruments. If you want a guitar that stands out on stage and makes a statement, Jackson’s bold designs will not disappoint.
  • Players with Varied Budgets: Jackson offers various models across various series, catering to different budget levels. Jackson Guitars have options for everyone, whether you’re a beginner or a professional. Jackson’s models range from affordable to super high-end.
  • Huge Fans of Metal Icons and Guitar Legends: Many iconic guitarists, especially those in the metal and hard rock genres, have chosen Jackson Guitars for their signature sound and performance. You might find them particularly appealing if you’re inspired by guitar legends who play Jackson Guitars.
  • Players Interested in Versatility: While Jackson Guitars are synonymous with metal and hard rock, certain models offer enough tonal flexibility to handle a variety of musical genres. If you play multiple styles and still want the benefits of a shredder-oriented instrument, Jackson Guitars can offer the best of both worlds.
Displays Chris Broderick playing Jackson guitar
If you are a fan of Chris Broderick for example, Jackson guitars are worth testing.

Who Should Not Choose Jackson Guitars?

While Jackson Guitars are well-suited for specific types of players, they may not be the ideal choice for everyone. Here are some groups of players who might consider other options instead of Jackson Guitars:

  • Players Seeking Warm and Clean Tones: If you primarily play music that requires warm, clean tones, such as jazz, blues, or mellow rock, Jackson Guitars’ aggressive and high-gain-oriented nature may not be the best fit. Other electric guitar brands known for their versatility and smooth, clean tones might be more suitable.
  • Traditionalists and Vintage Enthusiasts: Players who prefer classic designs and features commonly found in vintage guitars might not find themselves drawn to Jackson’s modern aesthetics and innovative designs. They might lean towards guitar brands that prioritize vintage-style instruments.
  • Players Preferring Traditional Body Shapes: Some players may prefer classic body shapes, like Fender Stratocaster or Original Les Paul-style guitars. Jackson Guitars’ aggressive and unconventional body shapes might not resonate with these players’ personal tastes.
  • Beginners Seeking Simplicity: For beginners who are just starting their guitar Fretboard journey and prefer simplicity, more advanced-level Jackson Guitars may offer more features and specifications than they require. A more straightforward and budget-friendly entry-level guitar could be a better choice for beginners.
  • Acoustic Guitarists: Jackson Guitars are known for their electric guitar offerings, and if you primarily play acoustic guitar, you may need to look elsewhere for acoustic-electric or acoustic models.

Conclusion

As we’ve seen, the answer depends on what you’re searching for from an instrument. This includes the level of quality you expect at a specific price point and the type of music you love to play.

  • Jackson Guitars are exceptional for those who thrive on metal and hard rock’s raw power and energy.
  • Jackson designs guitars for shredders, lead guitarists, and those who want to make a bold statement on stage. Their guitars offer aggressive tones, innovative features, and great craftsmanship.
  • When you are after lightning-fast solos or bone-crushing riffs, Jackson guitars deliver playability and tone to fuel your heavy metal journey.

Now, it’s your turn. Are you ready to seize the stage with a Jackson guitar and forge your path of sonic dominance? Are you prepared to unleash your musical fury with a Jackson guitar? The choice is yours.


FAQs

Where Are Jackson Guitars Made? 

Jackson guitars are made in various factories in Indonesia, China, Japan, Korea, and the USA.

Who Owns Jackson Guitars?

Jackson guitars is owned by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation (FMIC).

Are Jackson Guitars Better Than Squier?

Yes, Jackson guitars are generally considered to be of higher quality and cater to different genres, while Squier guitars are more entry-level instruments associated with the Fender brand.

Do Jackson Guitars Offer Good Value For The Money?

Yes, Jackson guitars are often praised for offering good value for the money due to their build quality, features, and performance capabilities.

Why Are Some Jackson Guitars Called Dinky?

The term “Dinky” refers to a specific body shape used in certain Jackson guitar models, which is slightly smaller and sleeker than their standard shapes, making them more comfortable and easier to handle.

Are Jackson Guitars Good for Beginners (who love metal)? 

Yes, Jackson guitars are suitable for beginners who are interested in playing metal or other heavy genres, as they excel in these styles.

Are Jackson Guitars Good For Metal? 

Yes, Jackson guitars are valued for their suitability in playing metal music because of their fast necks, aggressive tone, and overall design catering to the genre’s demands.

Are Jackson Guitars Good for Blues? 

Even though Jackson guitars are linked with heavy genres, some musicians may choose to use them for blues depending on their tonal preference., depending on tonal preference.

What Jackson Guitars Are Good For? 

Jackson guitars are well-suited for playing heavy genres such as metal, hard rock, and shred. This is because of their design, pickups, and fast-playing features.

Which Artists Play Jackson Guitars?

Here are 20 artists that play Jackson guitars
  • Jeff Loomis
  • James Hetfield
  • Misha Mansoor
  • Brandon Ellis
  • Rob Cavestany
  • Scott Ian
  • Chris Broderick
  • Marty Friedman
  • Phil Demmel
  • Dave Davidson
  • Christian Andreu
  • Phil Collen
  • Chris Beattie
  • Rob Caggiano
  • Corey Beaulieu
  • Randy Rhoads
  • David Ellefson
  • Adrian Smith
  • Josh Smith
  • Wes Borland
  • Andreas Kisser

Are Jackson Bass Guitars Good?

While not as renowned as their guitar offerings, Jackson bass guitars follow the same high standards in construction as their guitar counterparts.

Famous Jackson Guitars Bass players include Guy Pratt (Pink Floyd) and David Ellefson (Megadeth)


Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…). Expertise: guitar learning techniques, electric guitars, and guitar amplifiers. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or just email me.
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