You are currently viewing 5 Best Jackson Guitars for 2024 – Forged for Metal
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Last Updated on March 9, 2024 by Teemu Suomala

Author: DL Shepherd

Darren has been playing guitar for over 23 years. He fronted the metal band Suddenly Silence in the early 2000’s, and also achieved recognition as an award-winning bluegrass guitarist.

A native of southwestern Virginia, and has shared the stage with many big-name acts from various genres. When he is not playing one of his many guitars, he can be found riding his Harley through the mountains of Virginia.

displays Edward Bond and Gibson Guitar

Editor: Edward Bond

Edward has been playing the guitar since 2002. So Edward has over 20 years of experience as a guitarist, has authored 15 guitar books, has written for renowned music blogs, and spent a decade teaching music. He began merging his passion for writing and music in 2020 and has written for big guitar websites such as Guitar Head Publishing and KillerGuitarRigs.com.

Originally from Seattle, Edward moved to Norway in 2021 for a master’s in music. He’s studied at the Jazz Institute Berlin and Conservatorium van Amsterdam, and currently resides in Trondheim. His education includes a European Jazz Master’s, a diploma in Film and Game Scoring from Sofia, and a Bachelor’s in Jazz from University of Oregon.

Edward has played in numerous bands and currently, Edward works on his own project Starship Infinity


image showing Jackson MJ Series Soloist SL2 Electric Guitar in Gloss Black

Best Overall – Jackson MJ Series Soloist SL2

Reviewer: DL Shepherd

Sound
Playability
Overall Quality
Value For Money
Versatility

Summary

Pros:
-It is well-balanced and feels great standing up or sitting down.
-The 12”-16” compound radius neck feels excellent in your hand.
-The Seymour Duncan JB/Jazz pickup combo works amazingly well for metal.
-Glow-in-the-dark side markers make it easy to see where you are in dim lighting.

Cons:
-It has a 3-way switch instead of a 5-way switch.

Who is this guitar for?
This guitar is for any metal player who wants a seriously dangerous shredder in their hands.

4.8

How the Jackson MJ Series Soloist SL2 sounds:

Jackson MJ Series Soloist SL2

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The Next Best:

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Best Budget
Jackson Dinky
Arch Top JS22 DKA

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • Its small body design feels great to play.
  • The neck feels great and very much like a professional-grade Jackson.
  • The Jackson humbuckers dish out some tremendous high-gain tones.

Cons:

  • The bridge springs were too stiff for whammy to work perfectly right out of the box.

Who is this guitar for?

The Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA is for the metal player looking for a budget guitar to add to their collection. It would also be great for beginners.

>Read The Full Review<

 

Best for Shredding –
Jackson Pro Series
Rhoads RR3

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • The neck plays fast and smooth.
  • The electronics dish out powerful tones.
  • The wicked shape is fantastic.
  • It has tons of sustain thanks to neck-through-body construction.

Cons:

  • Pointed body styling means you must be extra careful not to scratch it up!

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for any metal player who wants to make a serious statement both sonically and visually.

Best Premium
Jackson USA Select
Soloist SL1

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • USA construction is solid and high-quality.
  • Seymour Duncan pickups are perfect for heavy music.
  • The neck is fast and feels great in your hand.

Cons:

  • More finish options should have been added.

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for the serious metal player who wants nothing but the best.

Best For BeginnersJackson JS Series
Dinky Minion JS1XM

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Our Overall Rating

Summary

Pros:

  • The small size is great for young players.
  • The pickups sound great for a guitar in this price range.
  • The neck is very comfortable, even for full-sized hands.

Cons:

  • The hardware feels cheap, and the tuners feel gritty.

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for beginners who want a guitar that inspires them to get started playing metal.

Compare the Key Specs

ModelPrice Range ($-$$$$)Body StyleNeckFretboardBodywoodsNut WidthNut MaterialBridgeScale-LengthPickupsControlsOur Rating
Best Overall – Jackson MJ Series Soloist SL2$$$$$Solidbody MJ Series Soloist SL23-Piece Maple24, Jumbo EbonyAlder1.6875″Floyd Rose R3 LockingGotoh Series Double-locking Tremolo25.5″Seymour Duncan Jazz SH-2N Humbucker

Seymour Duncan JB TB-4 Humbucker
1 x master volume

1 x master tone

3-way toggle pickup switch
4.8
Best Budget – Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA$Solidbody DinkyMaple Bolt-on24, Jumbo AmaranthPoplar1.6875″Black Plastic2-point Fulcrum Tremolo25.5″2 * Jackson High-output Humbucker1 x master volume

1 x master tone

3-way blade pickup switch
4.2
Best for Shredding – Jackson Pro Series Rhoads RR3$$$$Solidbody Rhoads1-piece Maple, Neck-thru22 Jumbo, EbonyMahogany1.6875″Locking NutFloyd Rose FRT-O1000 Double Locking 2-Point Tremolo25.5″2 * Seymour Duncan SH-6 Distortion Humbucker1 x master volume

1 x master tone

3-way blade pickup switch
4.6
Best Premium – Jackson USA Select Soloist SL1$$$$$Solidbody SoloistMaple, Neck-through-body24 Jumbo, Ebony FretboardAlder1.6875″Locking NutFloyd Rose Original double locking 2-point tremolo25.5″Neck: Seymour Duncan Classic Stack Humbucker

Middle: Seymour Duncan Classic Stack Humbucker

Bridge: Seymour Duncan JB TB4 Humbucker
1 x master volume

1 x master tone

5-way pickup selector
4.8
Best For Beginners – Jackson JS Series Dinky Minion JS1XM$Solidbody JS Series Dinky MinionMaple24, Jumbo, Maple FretboardPoplar1.625″Black Plastic6-saddle String-through Body Hardtail22.5″2 * Jackson High-Output Humbucker
1 x master volume

1 x master tone

3-way blade pickup switch
3.9

Compare The Pickups:

image reveals How different electric guitar pickups sound

Pickups

Neck: Seymour Duncan Jazz SH-2N Humbucker

Bridge: Seymour Duncan JB TB-4 Humbucker

Pickups

Neck: Jackson High-output Humbucker

Bridge: Jackson High-output Humbucker

Pickups

Neck: Seymour Duncan SH-6 Distortion Humbucker

Bridge: Seymour Duncan SH-6 Distortion Humbucker

Pickups

Neck: Seymour Duncan Classic Stack Humbucker

Middle: Seymour Duncan Classic Stack Humbucker

Bridge: Seymour Duncan JB TB4 Humbucker

Pickups

Neck: Jackson High-Output Humbucker

Bridge: Jackson High-Output Humbucker

Learn more about electric guitar pickup types here.

About Jackson

If you’re here, you’ve probably already been enticed by the sleek yet aggressive looks of Jackson Guitars. 

You may have heard their incredible tones from bands like: 

  • Periphery. 
  • Anthrax.
  • Arch Enemy. 

You may have even played one and felt their lightning-quick necks. 

Jackson has produced high-quality guitars for heavy metal players and shredders since the late 1970s. Players such as Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne), Scott Ian (Anthrax), and Phil Collen (Def Leppard) proudly played Jackson guitars on stages all around the world. They helped make the Jackson name synonymous with heavy metal music. 

Today, players like Misha Mansoor (Periphery) and Chris Broderick (Act of Defiance/former Megadeth) continue to wave the Jackson flag on the battlefield as they play to audiences across the globe. 

So, you may ask yourself, “what are some of the best Jackson guitars?” 

We’ve narrowed the list to the top 5 Jackson guitars and even threw in some runners-up. 

Let’s take a look at our top picks! 


Our Reviews of The Top 5

Keep These 3 Key Things In Mind When Choosing a Jackson:

Jackson guitars can come with pickups from a range of manufacturers including:

  • Jackson’s Signature line.
  • Seymour Duncan.
  • Dimarzio.
  • EMG.
  • Fishman.

Jackson guitars are built primarily for metal music with aggressive styling and sound. You may want to try them out before using them for other styles of music.

Jackson guitars share many similarities with Charvel guitars. However, the two guitar brands are very different! 

How Did We Choose These Guitars?

I discovered Jackson guitars at an early age. They were heavily used in my local music scene around 1999. I had only been playing for a year, and the incredible tones cranked out by some of my favorite local bands came from Jackson guitars (as well as Schecter and Ibanez). 

The first model that I played was a Dinky. I didn’t know enough about guitars then to ask where it was made, but I knew that it rocked! I can pick up a Jackson now in any music store and still have that same feeling I had when I was 12 or 13.

I love all guitars, as you can tell, but I am always impressed with Jackson. I have played many of them, including some new ones that have just dropped on the market. I owe a big “thank you” to Red Dragon Guitars in Winston-Salem, NC for letting me check some out!

Most electric guitars we recommend are run through tests like these:

  • We check electronics (Basic measurements with multimeter, resistance, etc.)
  • We inspect the guitar carefully to get a good idea of the finish and built quality of the guitar.
  • We inspect the fretwork and edges of the fretboard to make sure there are no sharp edges.
  • We run the guitar usually through BOSS Katana 50 MK2 and test clean, crunch, and distorted tones with lead and rhythm playing.
  • We use different playing styles to get a good feel for the playability. We use fingerpicking, sweep picking, riffs from different genres, shredding, tapping, chord playing, etc.
  • We test all the possible pickup combinations and use different Volume and Tone settings from the guitar.
  • We measure and weight the guitar.
  • We test the guitar with drop tunings.

Learn more about GND’s testing and reviewing processes here.


Best OverallJackson MJ Series Soloist SL2

image showing our best overall jackson guitar - Jackson MJ Series Soloist SL2 in gloss black
Jackson MJ Series Soloist SL2 Electric Guitar – Gloss Black

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody MJ Series Soloist SL2
Body WoodAlder
Neck3-Piece Maple
Neck ShapeSpeed Neck
Neck Radius12″-16″ compound
Fretboard24, Jumbo Ebony
NutFloyd Rose R3 Locking
Nut Width1.6875″
PickupsSeymour Duncan Jazz SH-2N Humbucker
Seymour Duncan JB TB-4 Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
3-way toggle pickup switch
Scale-Length25.5″
BridgeGotoh Series Double-locking Tremolo
TunersGotoh Sealed Die-cast

There will always be a battle between the USA and Japan concerning who makes the best guitars. It is clear to me that Japan has won when it comes to Jackson guitars. This thing absolutely kills! 

It begins with a body made from a solid piece of alder. It has a maple neck capped with an ebony fingerboard and features dangerous looking pearloid sharkfin inlays. The headstock features the familiar Jackson sickle style, which my brain automatically links to fantastic heavy metal tones. 

This incredibly well-balanced super-Strat-on-steroids feels excellent when sitting down or standing up. I wear my guitars a little high when standing, and it felt right at home against my mid-section.

The neck is fast but certainly not as thin as an Ibanez neck. It has a 12”-16” neck radius like many Charvels. This means it stays flat up top toward the nut but rounds out more toward the upper frets. This makes it incredibly easy to do string bends on the upper frets while keeping things fast and smooth on the lower frets. It’s a great feeling!

Not only is the neck bound, but it also features glow-in-the-dark side markers to make things easier to see when the lighting situation is less than ideal. 

The electronics feature a Seymour Duncan SH-4 JB model humbucker in the bridge position and a Seymour Duncan SH-2 Jazz model humbucker in the neck position. I love this combination for metal because you can get everything from head-crushing high-gain tones to warm, shimmering cleans with the flip of a switch. 

My only gripe is that the switch is a 3-way switch rather than a 5-way one. A 5-way blade switch would give it more tonal options, thus making it more versatile. 

The Gotoh bridge gives you a smooth Floyd Rose-like feel so you can dive bomb your heart out while it keeps everything in tune. The tuners are Gotoh as well. 

This is on my “want” list as of the writing of this article. It is an insanely good guitar!

How this guitar sounds:

Jackson MJ Series Soloist SL2

Summary

Pros:

  • It is well-balanced and feels great standing up or sitting down. 
  • The 12”-16” compound radius neck feels excellent in your hand. 
  • The Seymour Duncan JB/Jazz pickup combo works amazingly well for metal.
  • Glow-in-the-dark side markers make it easy to see where you are in dim lighting.

Cons:

  • It has a 3-way switch instead of a 5-way switch.

What others are saying:

“I always wanted a USA-built Jackson SL-2 guitar, but since I’m not rich, and didn’t want to be in debt for years, I realized this was the next best guitar. Besides the guitar having a very high-quality build, the ebony neck is just amazing, and the guitar practically plays itself. I’m very happy that I discovered them when they first came out…”

  • Sonny, Sweetwater customer.

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for any metal player who wants a seriously dangerous shredder in their hands.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for those who want to get single-coil tones from their Jackson. The 3-way switch doesn’t give it much versatility.

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Best Budget – Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA

image showing our best budget Jackson guitar - the Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA in Metallic Blue
Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA – Metallic Blue

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody Dinky
Body WoodPoplar
NeckMaple Bolt-on
Neck ShapeSpeed Neck
Neck Radius12″-16″ compound
Fretboard24, Jumbo Amaranth
NutBlack Plastic
Nut Width1.6875″
Pickups2 * Jackson High-output Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
3-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length25.5″
Bridge2-point Fulcrum Tremolo
TunersJackson Sealed Die-cast

The Jackson Dinky was the first guitar that I ever played. Later on, I developed a love for archtops that caused me to drift away for a while. This little guitar brought me back because it is an archtop Jackson and one of the most affordable metal guitars on the market! 

The Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA packs a lot of punch for a small, budget guitar. It is made with a basswood body for excellent sustain, and it features a maple neck topped with a piece of amaranth for the fingerboard. It is inlaid with pearloid sharkfin inlays – just like many of Jackson’s premium models. 

The electronics feature a pair of Jackson custom-wound humbuckers. These humbuckers have ceramic magnets for extra output and a treble bite. It features a basic 3-way blade toggle switch as well. 

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The tuners and bridge are Jackson. The tuners felt smooth and seemed to hold up to some whammy bar action, but I ran into a problem. The tremolo bridge was super stiff right out of the box. It was almost like the springs were tightened all the way up because it was much more rigid than any other tremolo bridge I have ever played. 

This can be fixed with a quick adjustment, but I was not expecting that to be an issue on a brand-new guitar. 

The neck feels like it belongs on a guitar costing 10 times as much. It has the familiar 12”-16” radius that makes Jacksons (and Charvels) so playable. Players of all skill levels will be able to enjoy this little axe. The smaller body profile fits like a glove, too! 

If you want to add a budget-friendly shredder to your arsenal, consider the Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA. It is the best budget Jackson guitar out there!

How this guitar sounds:

We have no idea who that guitarist is……

Summary

Pros:

  • Its small body design feels great to play.
  • The neck feels great and very much like a professional-grade Jackson.
  • The Jackson humbuckers dish out some tremendous high-gain tones.

Cons:

  • The bridge springs were too stiff for whammy work right out of the box.

What others are saying:

“You would think that a guitar this cheap wouldn’t be very good. But this guitar is perfect for people on a budget. The fretboard is extremely easy to navigate and I can smoothly run my fingers down the strings. Keep in mind that most bad reviews on cheaper guitars are from people used to high-end expensive instruments, but for a beginner, it almost seems too good to be true…”

  • Ralph, Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

The Jackson Dinky Arch Top JS22 DKA is for the metal player looking for a budget guitar to add to their collection. It would also be great for beginners.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for those looking for an excellent setup out of the box. You may have to do some tweaking to get it where you want it.

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Best for ShreddingJackson Pro Series Rhoads RR3

image showing our best Jackson guitar for metal - the Jackson Pro Series Rhoads RR3 in Ivory with Black Pinstripes
Jackson Pro Series Rhoads RR3 – Ivory with Black Pinstripes

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody Rhoads
Body WoodMahogany
Neck1-piece Maple, Neck-thru
Neck ShapeSpeed
Neck Radius12″-16″ compound
Fretboard22 Jumbo, Ebony
NutLocking Nut
Nut Width1.6875″
Pickups2 * Seymour Duncan SH-6 Distortion Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
3-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length25.5″
BridgeFloyd Rose FRT-O1000 Double Locking 2-Point Tremolo
TunersJackson Sealed Die-cast

Randy Rhoads was a heavy metal genius, and Jackson still honors his memory by continuing their line of Randy Rhoads signature guitars. The offset “V” design has become an icon in the heavy metal community – for good reason! It looks absolutely brutal!

This model features a mahogany body, adding warmth and loads of sustain. The shape is that of Randy Rhoads’ original Jackson Concorde model that Grover Jackson made specifically for him in December of 1980. The neck is maple with a beautiful ebony fingerboard on top. The neck features binding and deadly shark fin inlays for added visual punch. 

The neck plays fast and true. It is the same 12”-16” compound radius neck found on most Jackson guitars. This guitar is also a neck-through-body guitar, meaning the neck is part of the body instead of a separate piece. This adds a ton of sustain since there is no joint between the neck and the body. 

The electronics feature two Seymour Duncan SH-6 Distortion humbuckers. These very high-output pickups deliver snarling distorted tones and powerful yet defined cleans. These are controlled through a 3-way toggle switch, a single volume knob, and a single tone knob. 

Now, for the hardware. It is equal parts classy and functional at the same time. The tuners are Jackson, and they are very smooth to operate. The bridge is a genuine Floyd Rose bridge, made for serious whammy work. You can bend the strings into oblivion, and they will stay in tune. The hardware is also gold, which adds a ton of class to this edged weapon. 

I will admit that it is hard to find faults with this guitar since it is such a fantastic axe, but there is one thing that bothers me about Rhoads models. It seems nearly impossible to keep the body points from getting chipped up over time – especially if you gig with it. I know how hard it is to keep guitars like a Les Paul or a PRS from getting dinged on the road, so one of these would be scarred up in no time. 

Other than that, the Jackson Pro Series Rhoads RR3 is the best Jackson for metal and should be on the list of every metal fan out there!

How this guitar sounds:

Jackson Pro Series King V KVQ, King V KVT, RRT3 and RRT5 Rhoads | Demo | Jackson Guitars

Summary

Pros:

  • The neck plays fast and smooth.
  • The electronics dish out powerful tones.
  • The wicked shape is fantastic.
  • It has tons of sustain thanks to neck-through-body construction.

Cons:

  • Pointed body styling means you must be extra careful not to scratch it up!

What others are saying:

“This axe is all I expected and more! So easy to play and sounds so great! The Sustain could go on forever! I absolutely love it! It came set up perfectly out of the box! Keeps its tube very well. It’s a very beautiful guitar!”

  • Goderaj, Sweetwater customer.

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for any metal player who wants to make a serious statement both sonically and visually.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for someone who enjoys traditional body shapes like a Fender Stratocaster or a Les Paul. Jackson Rhoads models are entirely different animals!

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Best Premium – Jackson USA Select Soloist SL1

image showing our best premium Jackson Guitar - the Jackson USA Select Soloist SL1 in black
Jackson USA Select Soloist SL1 – Black

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody Soloist
Body WoodAlder
NeckMaple, Neck-through-body
Neck ShapeSpeed Neck
Neck Radius12″-16″ compound
Fretboard24 Jumbo, Ebony Fretboard
NutLocking Nut
Nut Width1.6875″
PickupsNeck: Seymour Duncan Classic Stack Humbucker
Middle: Seymour Duncan Classic Stack Humbucker
Bridge: Seymour Duncan JB TB4 Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
5-way pickup selector
Scale-Length25.5″
BridgeFloyd Rose Original double locking 2-point tremolo
TunersDie-cast tuners

Many people falsely claim that Jackson is simply a budget line for Charvel. That just isn’t true, and they prove that with guitars like the Jackson USA Select Soloist SL1. This guitar is built in the USA in Corona, CA – the same shop as Charvel’s USA models. 

This Jackson uses the tried and true combination of an alder body, maple neck, and ebony fingerboard. However, you get real mother-of-pearl shark fin inlays on this one instead of Pearloid. This is also a neck-through guitar, so the neck extends through the body for endless sustain. 

The neck radius is Jackson’s popular 12”-16” compound radius, so you know it feels good in your hands. Sweep picking and finger taps are easy to pull off anywhere on the fretboard. 

The electronics are scorching hot, thanks to the Seymour Duncan pickups. You get a Seymour Duncan JB model humbucker in the bridge position and two Seymour Duncan Classic Stack humbuckers – one in the middle position and one in the neck. This gives you many excellent tonal options for heavy music.

The 5-way selector keeps things interesting by allowing access to all three pickups individually as well as two coil-splitting positions. You’ll love this guitar if you like to change up your clean tones. 

Plug it into any high-gain electric guitar amplifier, and you’ll be melting faces off in no time. It just feels right in every way!

As for the hardware, it comes with smooth-operating Jackson tuners and a genuine Floyd Rose Original tremolo bridge. The locking nut keeps you in tune while you throw down as much whammy action as you want. 

Honestly, the only thing that bugs me about this guitar is that it’s only available in basic black. Don’t get me wrong – I love the black finish, but a guitar of this caliber deserves to have one or two other finishes going for it, right? 

How this guitar sounds:

Exmortus’ Conan Gonzalez Demos the Jackson American Series Soloist | Featured Demo | Jackson Guitars

Summary

Pros:

  • USA construction is solid and high-quality.
  • Seymour Duncan pickups are perfect for heavy music.
  • The neck is fast and feels great in your hand.

Cons:

  • More finish options should have been added.

What others are saying:

“I own a collection of high-end guitars, but I’m addicted to Jackson USA. By far the easiest guitar to play with the compound radius fretboard and the wide nut. I’m in LOVE with Jackson USA !!!!!

  • Jackson, Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for the serious metal player who wants nothing but the best.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

If you don’t like basic black, this guitar is not for you. There are no other color options for this model.

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Best For BeginnersJackson JS Series Dinky Minion JS1XM

image showing our best Jackson Guitar for beginners - The Jackson JS Series Dinky Minion JS1XM in Snow White with Maple Fingerboard
Jackson JS Series Dinky Minion JS1XM – Snow White with Maple Fingerboard

Specs

Body StyleSolidbody JS Series Dinky Minion
Body WoodPoplar
NeckMaple
Neck ShapeSpeed Neck
Neck Radius12″
Fretboard24, Jumbo, Maple Fretboard
NutBlack Plastic
Nut Width1.625″
Pickups2 * Jackson High-Output Humbucker
Controls1 x master volume
1 x master tone
3-way blade pickup switch
Scale-Length22.5″
Bridge6-saddle String-through Body Hardtail
TunersJackson Sealed Die-cast

Finding a quality guitar for young beginners can be challenging, especially if they are interested in heavy metal. Sure, you could pick up a cheap Strat copy and teach them things they aren’t interested in learning, or you could grab a Jackson Dinky Minion JS1XM and inspire them! 

The Jackson JS Series Dinky Minion JS1SM is an excellent guitar for beginners of all sizes. However, you should know that this guitar is a ⅔-size guitar. That means it has a 22.5” scale length instead of the full-sized 25.5” scale length. It is a perfect scale length for younger people who have trouble with full-sized guitars. 

This little guitar is made with a poplar body and a bolt-on maple neck capped with a maple fingerboard. You still get a 12” neck radius (not compound like other Jacksons) and 24 jumbo-sized frets. 

Beginners and seasoned pros will also appreciate the big sound that comes out of these little guys. They feature 2 Jackson custom-wound humbuckers that throw out an impressive tone. Cleans are clear and bright, and distorted tones have plenty of punch and crunch. 

The hardware seems relatively cheap, however. The Jackson tuners on the test model felt a bit gritty, which is never a good sign. They held things in tune, however. The bridge is a string-through-body, allowing you to coax a surprising amount of sustain from the Dinky-sized body. 

I was very impressed with this little axe – especially for the money. The hardware won’t win any awards, but it will be good enough for young beginners until they are ready to upgrade. It is the best Jackson for beginners of all ages!

Grab one of these little guys and get started in metal the right way!

How this guitar sounds:

Sure, it’s for metal….but that looks like too much fun!! It’s quite a versatile little thing!

Summary

Pros:

  • The small size is great for young players.
  • The pickups sound great for a guitar in this price range.
  • The neck is very comfortable, even for full-sized hands.

Cons:

  • The hardware feels cheap, and the tuners feel gritty.

What others are saying:

“This guitar is a great first electric for younger kids. Got it for my son (8) as he’s outgrown the cheap acoustic Grandma got him a few years ago. My son had his heart set on a Dakota Red mini strat but we decided to play this, an Ibanez Gio and the Strat. The Jackson won hands down. I feel this is a guitar that he will be able to grow with much better than the others…”

  • Brian, Sweetwater customer

Who is this guitar for?

This guitar is for beginners who want a guitar that inspires them to get started playing metal.

Who is this guitar NOT for?

This guitar is not for folks with really large hands. I don’t think the size would be appreciated by them. 

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Runner-Ups That Just Missed The Top 5


A Brief History of Jackson Guitars

Jackson guitars began in December of 1980 when Randy Rhoads approached Charvel owner Grover Jackson with an idea he had drawn on a napkin. The offset “V” shape Rhoads dreamed up was new and had never been made previously. They also designed the now iconic Jackson headstock (a modified version of a Gibson Explorer headstock) that night. 

Grover Jackson thought the design was too extreme for Charvel’s clientele, so he put his name on the label. That was the night that Jackson Guitars was born. Even after Rhoads died in 1982, the guitar company kept producing the Rhoads model that helped them get their start – something that they still do to this day. 

Jackson remained an independent company for many years until Fender bought them in 2002. Charvel was also purchased at the same time. The financial backing of Fender meant that they could produce instruments on a larger scale. They now manufacture guitars in Corona, California, Mexico, Japan, China, and Indonesia. 


Buyer’s Guide

The Jackson Range Explained

Jackson organizes their lineup based on where the guitars are made. You’ll find the same body shapes in different series. For example, an X series Soloist and a Pro series Soloist. 

Budget-minded players and beginners will want to stick with the JS or X Series. These are made in China and Indonesia and feature famous Jackson designs at an affordable price. 

The Pro Series is made in Mexico. They are made for players who want a touring-worthy guitar while still being affordable. 

The MJ series are made in Japan and are professional-grade instruments for working musicians. 

The USA Series guitars are made in Corona, California, and use the highest grades of tonewoods and the best hardware and electronics. These are for the metal musician who insists on nothing but the best. These are also the most expensive models in Jackson’s lineup. 

Remember that Artist Signature guitars, such as the Chris Broderick Soloist and Randy Rhoads V, are available in different series. For example, you can buy a JS Series Rhoads or USA Series Rhoads model.

How to Choose The Right Jackson Electric Guitar For You?

Body Shapes

Jackson guitars come in several shapes.

RangeBody Style
DinkySmaller-sized Strat-style body.
SoloistSuper-Strat-style body.
King VModified version of a Flying V.
Randy RhoadsOffset version of the Flying V.
Chris BroderickStrat-style body with an elongated lower shoulder. 
KellyModified Explorer-style body.
Misha MansoorSimilar to an Ibanez RG body style.
WarriorExtreme X-style shape.
MonarkhLes Paul-style body shape.

Woods & Finish

Jackson uses the following tonewoods in their guitars:

TonewoodUsage
PoplarBodies
AlderBodies
MahoganyBodies
BasswoodBodies
MapleNecks & fingerboards
EbonyFingerboards only
Indian LaurelFingerboards only
AmaranthFingerboards only

Pickups & Electronics

Jackson pickups are found in affordable models like the X and JS Series. You will see the following pickup brands installed in different Jackson models:

  • EMG
  • Fishman Fluence
  • Dimarzio
  • Seymour Duncan

Neck Profile

The neck profile is a modified “C” shape. Their Speed Profile is thinner and faster, similar to Charvel’s modified “U” shape. 

image of the Jackson American Series Virtuoso Electric Guitar Showing the Jackson Speed Neck
Jackson American Series Virtuoso Electric Guitar Showing the Jackson Speed Neck

Most Jacksons come with a 12”-16” compound radius neck. This makes it flatter toward the top of the neck while retaining a rounder shape toward the bottom.

Hardware

Jackson uses genuine Floyd Rose bridges for higher-end models such as the Pro Series and USA series. They use Gotoh bridges and tuners for the MJ models.

Budget

The JS series is the most budget-friendly, followed by the X series. The Pro series is the next in line, followed by the MJ and USA series.

Skill Level

Beginners will appreciate the affordable options in the JS and X series. Intermediate players will like the features of the Pro series, while seasoned pros will enjoy the MJ and USA series.

How to Test

There are many choices on this list alone, so it is understandable to need help figuring out which Jackson to go with. You can narrow down your search by figuring out your basics:

What is my playing style?
  • Soloing or rhythm? 
  • Shredder or chugger? 
  • High-gain or low-gain?
What tone do I want?
  • Bright, articulate, and chime-like? 
  • Low, rich, and mid-focused?
How will I be playing most of the time?
  • At home? 
  • In the studio? 
  • On the road? 

Figuring out your style will help you narrow down what neck profile you’ll most likely enjoy and what pickups should be in the guitar when you buy it. Thinner necks are usually preferred by those who like to shred, and thicker necks are generally preferred by those who play a lot of chords. 

Once you have narrowed that down, you can determine your desired body style. Keep in mind that larger guitars typically weigh more than other guitars because they use more wood during their construction. If you’re doing a lot of sitting while playing, you’ll want a body shape that is comfortable to hold (a V-shaped guitar is NOT comfortable to play while sitting down, for example). 

Once it is narrowed down between two or three models, you need to play them! This will help you determine once and for all which guitar you want the most.


FAQs

Are Jackson Guitars Any Good?

Yes, Jackson guitars are of excellent quality. You may run into quality control issues with some of their more affordable models, but they are generally very good. 

Is Jackson Owned by Fender?

Yes, Fender owns Jackson Guitars.

Are Jackson Guitars Only Good for Metal?

They are mainly designed for metal guitarists, but they could also be used for other genres of music, such as blues and rock. 

Where are Jackson Guitars Made?

The JS series is made in China, and the X series is made in Indonesia. The Pro Series is manufactured in Mexico, while the MJ Series is made in Japan. The USA series is made in Corona, California, USA.

Which Famous Guitarists Use Gretsch Guitars?

  • Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Osbourne)
  • Scott Ian (Anthrax)
  • Phil Collen (Def Leppard)
  • Chris Broderick (Act of Defiance)
  • Marty Friedman (Megadeth)
  • Andreas Kisser (Sepultura)
  • Misha Mansoor (Periphery)
  • Jeff Loomis (Arch Enemy)
  • Phil Demmel (Machinehead)

Are Jackson Guitars Good for Beginners?

Yes, Jackson makes excellent guitars for beginners – especially the JS series.

Do Jackson Guitars Come With a Case?

Most Jackson guitars do not come with cases, but some do. They sell cases separately if you need to purchase one. 

Which Jackson Guitars Are Made in The USA?

The USA series Jacksons and Custom Shop Jacksons are made in the USA.

What Strings Come On Jackson Guitars?

Jackson has their own line of strings! These are what will come on a new Jackson guitar.

Do Jackson Guitars Have A Warranty?

They come with a 2-year limited warranty from Fender that is good at any authorized Jackson repair center. 


Conclusion

I will always hold Jackson guitars near my heart simply because they were around at a very impressionable time. I was just getting my feet wet in heavy music, and Jackson guitars were there to help lay a foundation for me. 

I know it has done the same for many others. This is apparent due to the hoards of guitarists who play them on stages everywhere. Where there is extreme music, you will find a Jackson guitar nearby. 

Jackson is now changing with the times. They have released 8-string guitars as well as several multiscale models. This is something that you don’t find with their counterparts, Charvel. It seems they have become bigger than Charvel in almost every way possible. The younger generations have spoken and want Jackson to stick around for a long time. 

Thanks for reading our picks for the best Jackson guitars. 

Happy shredding from all of us here at guitaristnextdoor.com!

DL Shepherd

Darren has been playing guitar for over 25 years and teaching guitar since High-School. He fronted the metal band Suddenly Silence in the early 2000’s, and also achieved recognition as an award-winning bluegrass guitarist. A native of southwestern Virginia, and has shared the stage with many big-name acts from various genres. When he is not playing one of his many guitars, he can be found riding his Harley through the mountains of Virginia. Expertise: teaching guitars, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, guitar amplifiers, guide pedals, flatpicking, bluegrass, metal, rock, and blues.
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