10 Best Jackson Guitars: Review & Buyer’s Guide

Best Jackson Guitars Review

If you’re into hard rock and metal styles, then you’ve probably seen or heard Jackson guitars. Everyone from Randy Rhoads to Megadeth has used them to develop crushing riffs and high-flying solos. 

Perhaps you’ve been looking to buy an electric guitar and are strongly considering Jackson. Well, you’re in the right place. In this comprehensive review and buyer’s guide, we’ll explore the 10 best Jackson guitars on the market right now. We’ll take a look at Jackson guitars for every style and budget, and help you choose the best guitar for you. 

Let’s go!

About Jackson Guitars

Jackson Guitars was founded in 1980 by Grover Jackson. Jackson had been working for a guitar manufacturer and repair shop in California called Charvel’s, and he obtained part ownership of the business in the late 1970s. 

Jackson guitars was born when local guitarist Randy Rhoades approached Jackson about building him a signature guitar. The result was the Concorde, a unique take on the Gibson Flying V design. Since this guitar was so different from the Strat-like guitars Charvel was building, Grover Jackson decided to release it under a different brand name – his own.

From there, Jackson continued to innovate new designs that were prized by hard rock shredders throughout the Eighties. From the pointy headstock to the thin, sleek body design, Jackson guitars are designed to stand out in a crowd. The Jackson brand has since been sold, but it continues to make guitars in California, as well as budget models in China and Indonesia. 

The 10 Best Jackson Guitars Reviewed:


Jackson X Series Soloist SL5X – Best Overall Jackson Guitar

If you’re looking for a solid, all-around guitar that represents a lot of what makes Jackson guitars great, the X Series Soloist SL5X may be for you. 

The SL5X employs a poplar body with a through-body maple neck for a sleek, slim look. The gloss finish is available in Blue Burst or Purple Burst. The neck also comes with graphite reinforcement and a scarf joint headstock for extra support.

The Soloist uses a compound radius laurel fingerboard for even playability up and down the neck. Shark fin inlays are part of the signature Jackson look, while the 24 jumbo frets are perfect for wide bends and fast runs. 

The SL5X is also the first Jackson guitar to feature a HSH pickup configuration. This unique combination gives you a pair of Seymour Duncan HB-103 humbuckers in the neck and bridge, with a Duncan designed HR-101M Hot Rails middle pickup. A 5-way selector switch lets you dial in a wide variety of tones. 

Another cool feature of the Soloist is its Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo bridge system, which provides superior string stability and cool whammy bar effects. Die-cast black tuners come standard on the signature pointy headstock.

The X Series Soloist SL5X is the perfect guitar for someone looking for a versatile Jackson guitar at an affordable price. For under $700, you get a wide variety of tones from the HSH pickup configuration, a Floyd Rose and a solid through-body neck with compound-radius fingerboard for great playability. All of these features together make the Soloist our Editor’s Pick!

Pros:

  • Versatility
  • Affordable
  • Classic Jackson style

Cons:

  • No case
  • Made in Indonesia

Jackon Dinky JS22 DKA – Best Jackson Guitar For Beginners

Just getting into electric guitar and looking for an affordable and comfortable axe? The Jackson Dinky JS22 may be for you.

The Dinky JS22 is made of lightweight arched basswood poplar in the body and maple in the neck. The arched look is definitely unique and conveys its own killer attitude. 

One great thing about the Dinky JS22 is its compound-radius fretboard. This means that the fingerboard is rounder nearer the nut for easier rhythm playing. As you move up to solo on higher frets, the radius flattens out to allow for bigger bends and faster runs. The jumbo frets also allow you to really dig in.

Another great feature of the Dinky JS22 is the high-output humbucker pickups. Jackson’s custom-built ceramic humbuckers are perfect for aggressive, modern hard rock styles. It also comes equipped with a 2-point tremolo system for dive-bombs and whammy bar effects. Die-cast tuners complete the package.

The Dinky JS22 would make a great first guitar for someone new to electric guitar and looking to play hard rock styles. At under $200, it’s highly affordable, and its compound-radius fingerboard allows for easy playability up and down the neck. Its striking look is made for the stage, too!

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Compound-radius fingerboard
  • Lightweight body

Cons:

  • No gig bag or case
  • Cheaper components

Jackson Dinky JS11 – Best Cheap Jackson Guitar

If you’re low on cash but still want a killer, Jackson guitar, the Dinky JS11 is probably your best bet. 

Like the JS22 discussed above, the JS11 is a double humbucker guitar with a slim, Strat-like shape. It comes with a poplar basswood body and a bolt-on maple neck with graphite reinforcement and scarf joint. 

For smooth playability, the JS11 features a 12” radius fretboard. The amaranth fingerboard is flat, which is great for fast licks and big bends. It comes loaded with 22 jumbo frets.

If you’re looking for fat rock and metal tones, the JS11 delivers. It comes complete with high-output ceramic humbuckers that are custom built by Jackson. These aggressive-sounding pickups deliver plenty of bite, for searing highs and crushing lows. A 3-way blade switch lets you toggle between them. 

Another cool feature of the JS11 is its 2-point fulcrum tremolo system, because everybody loves dive bomb whammy effects, right? Sealed die-cast tuners come standard with Jackson’s pointy six-in-line headstock.

The JS11 would make a great first electric guitar for a beginner, or just a great budget option for someone who wants to add a Jackson-style guitar to their arsenal. For $150, it’s cheaper than some effects pedals. 

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Comfortable neck

Cons:

  • Cheaper components
  • No case or gig bag

Jackson X Series Signature Adrian Smith SDX – Best Jackson Guitar Under $500

Best Under $500
Jackson X Series Adrian Smith SDX
$549.99
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If you’re in the market for a hot-rodded Strat-style guitar at an affordable price, check out the X Series Signature Adrian Smith SDX. 

The SDX is a signature guitar for Adrian Smith of legendary metal band Iron Maiden. Smith worked with Jackson to build a solid, workhorse axe that’s great for shredding, light enough to play long gigs, and versatile enough to cover a wide variety of tones.

The Adrian Smith SDX begins with a lightweight, resonant basswood body that’s topped with a Snow White gloss finish. The bolt-on maple neck comes with a San Dimas shape that is great for comfortable, fast playing.

A great feature of the Adrian Smith SDX is its compound-radius maple fingerboard. This means the guitar is more rounded at the nut and flatter higher up the neck. This helps keep the action low while not bottoming out as you bend notes high up the fretboard. 

For pickups, the SDX uses a popular HSS configuration that features a humbucker in the bridge with 2 single coils in the neck and middle positions. The custom Jackson single coil pickups are noiseless tone machines, while the bridge humbucker is a high-output monster. A 5-way blade selector switch gives you access to the gamut of tones.

Another cool feature of the Adrian Smith SDX is its Floyd Rose Special vibrato tailpiece. Floyd Rose is pretty much the standard for tremolo systems that keep your guitar perfectly in tune. Black hardware completes a classic look against the snow white finish.

The Adrian Smith SDX would make a great guitar for intermediate and gigging guitarists that are looking for a great workhorse guitar at an affordable price. It’s basically a “Super Strat” for under $500. If it’s good enough for the guitarist from Iron Maiden, you can bet it’s ready for the stage.

Pros:

  • “Super Strat” at great price
  • Wide variety of tones
  • Floyd Rose

Cons:

  • Might want to upgrade pickups
  • No case

Jackson Rhoads JS32T – Best Jackson Guitar for the Money

Best for the Money
Jackson Rhoads JS32T FSR
$269.99
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If you’re looking for a unique axe that’s great for hard rock styles and won’t break the bank, the Rhoads JS32T might be for you. 

As you can probably tell by the name, the Rhoads JS32T is based on the original signature guitar designed for the legendary Randy Rhoads. It features that classic, angled Flying V body shape that has come to be associated with the late axeman. 

The Rhoads JS32T is made of all mahogany in the body, with a bolt-on maple neck. The amaranth fingerboard is a compound-radius design like other guitars on this list, giving this guitar a great feel. The 24 jumbo frets allow you to play as high as you want. 

For its pickups, the Rhoads JS32T uses dual high-output humbuckers that were custom designed by Jackson. These ceramic pups are perfect for the type of hard rock and metal that Rhoads played with Ozzy Osbourne and others. 

Along with its cool V shape, the Rhoads JS32T comes with a classy Natural Oil finish, which is countered with a black pickguard and gold hardware. 

The Rhoads JS32T would make a great guitar for someone who wants a unique-looking instrument at an affordable price. Young metal players will love it. For under $300, it’s a solid axe that pays tribute to a legend.

Pros:

  • Unique look
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • Some set-up issues
  • No case

Jackson Pro Soloist SL2Q MAH – Best Jackson Guitar Under $1,000

If you’ve got a little more cash to spend and want a pro-level instrument that’s still reasonably priced, check out the Pro Soloist SL2Q MAH. 

Starting with a warm, mahogany body and a quilt maple top, the Pro Soloist SL2Q MAH has a great tone base. And the transparent purple gloss finish with gold hardware will definitely help you stand out from the crowd!

The Pro Soloist SL2Q MAH also comes with a one-piece-through-body maple neck that is perfect for sustain and stability. The ebony fingerboard features a 12- to 16-inch compound radius for easy playability anywhere on the neck. 

If you’re looking for hot-rodded rock tone, you’ll find it with a pair of Seymour Duncan Distortion humbuckers. These high-output ‘buckers are perfect for plenty of crunch, clarity and sustain. A 3-way switch and master tone/volume knobs give you Les Paul-style tone and control in a Strat-style body.

The Pro Soloist SL2Q MAH also comes equipped with a Floyd Rose 1000 series Double Locking Tremolo system. You can dive-bomb and squeal to your heart’s content and not have to worry about going out of tune. 

The Pro Soloist SL2Q MAH would make a great gigging axe for guitarists that need a reliable, highly playable guitar at a decent price. Its purple and gold look is sure to turn some heads, while the Duncan Distortion pickups will perk some ears. For around $1,000, you can’t go wrong if you’re looking for a Jackson-style electric guitar.

Pros:

  • Through-neck design
  • Duncan Distortion pickups
  • Unique look

Cons

  • Still made in Indonesia
  • No case at this price

Read Also: The 15 Best Electric Guitars Under $1,000

Jackson USA Select Randy Rhoads RR1 – Best Premium Jackson Guitar

Premium Pick
Jackson USA Select Randy Rhoads RR1
$4,299.99
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If you’re a Randy Rhoads freak and money is no object, you’ve gotta check out the USA Select Randy Rhoads RR1 from Jackson.

The Randy Rhoads RR1 is based on the original first design for Jackson guitars. It was built for the late, great Randy Rhoads, who played on the first two iconic Ozzy Osbourne albums. Other great players came to love the guitar as well, though, including Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and Megadeth’s Marty Friedman. 

The first thing you’ll notice about the Randy Rhoads RR1 is its ultra-unique look. A more extreme take on the Flying V design, it’s not probably not the choice for jazz and blues purists. An all-black finish with black hardware confirms that this is a metal machine, while Jackson’s signature shark fin inlays and pointy headstock complete the now-classic look.

Other than its look, the main reason that the Randy Rhoads RR1 stands out is its top-shelf components. An alder body joined with a neck-through quartersawn maple neck creates a highly solid base. An ebony compound-radius fingerboard makes for a comfortable and fast playing experience. 

The Randy Rhoads RR1 also uses premium Seymour Duncan pickups, with a JB TB4 humbucker in the bridge and a Jazz SH2N in the neck. CTS pots and switchcraft switches are also used to ensure top quality with the electronics. 

This would make a great guitar purchase if you’re really serious about your craft and don’t mind paying a premium price for a premium instrument. Obviously, Randy Rhoads fans will love this guitar, along with any other fans of classic metal. While I wouldn’t expect to find it at a blues jam, there are no rules, and if you can afford this guitar then you can afford to do whatever you want! 

Pros:

  • Premium take on first Jackson
  • High quality components

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Aggressive shape not for everyone

Jackson X Series DKA-EX Dinky – Best Jackson Guitar for Metal

If you’re looking for a metal machine that’s more affordable but still ready to gig, the DKA-EX Dinky may be for you.

Like the other Dinky models mentioned on this list, the DKA-EX Dinky gives you a Strat-style body shape with dual humbuckers. This one features a poplar body with an extreme arch top and body contours, including a handshake heel for maximum comfort. 

The bound maple neck comes with graphite reinforcement, while the compound radius laurel fingerboard offers peak playability anywhere on the neck. Classic shark fin inlays are also a nice touch.

For its electronics, the DKA-EX Dinky features something a bit different. Fishman Fluence Modern humbucking pickups give you aggressive, biting tones while retaining clarity. A cool feature is a recessed push/pull tone control that allows you to switch between modern ceramic and alnico magnet voicings. 

The DKA-EX Dinky also comes equipped with a Jackson-branded Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo system. Those are perfect for metal-style whammy effects.

For someone looking for a solid, affordable guitar for metal, the DKA-EX Dinky would be a great choice. For under $700, it’s a good combination of quality and affordability. The Fishman pickups make it more unique, and the classic Dinky shape is easy to hold and play.

Pros:

  • Fishman Fluence pickups
  • More affordable

Cons:

  • No case
  • Set up issues

Read Also: The 10 Best Electric Guitars for Metal

Jackson Pro Series Soloist SL7P – Best 7-String Jackson Guitar

For a 7-string guitar that will light up the stage, check out the Pro Series Soloist SL7P. 

The SL7P features a mahogany body with a poplar burl top and a stunning “Northern Lights” finish. This combination of blue and purple is definitely a unique look. The thin “U” neck is made of maple and features a through-body design perfect for sustain.

Comfortable playability is a must for any 7-string since the added string makes the neck a bit wider. To adjust for that, the SL7P uses a compound-radius for its ebony fingerboard. This makes chords comfortable down low and gives you more room for faster runs higher up the fretboard. 

For pickups, the SL7P uses dual Duncan Designed Distortion pickups. These humbuckers can cover everything from glassy cleans to crunchy chords and riffs. 

Another cool feature of the SL7P is its HT7 string-through hardtail bridge. This type of bridge ensures great sustain and tuning stability. Other cool appointments are piranha tooth inlays and a reverse pointy headstock. 

The SL7P would make a great guitar for someone looking for a well-made 7-string under $1,000. It’s definitely road-worthy and its unique finish will look super cool on stage. It’s got the classic Jackson vibe in its own 7-string package. 

Pros:

  • Northern lights finish
  • Compound radius fretboard
  • Affordable 7-string

Cons:

  • Plastic nut

Read Also: The Best 7-String Electric Guitars

Jackson Spectra Bass JS2 – Best Jackson Bass Guitar

Best Bass Guitar
Jackson Spectra JS2 Bass Guitar
$199.99
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If you’re interested in an affordable bass with the Jackson style, check out the Spectra Bass JS2. 

The Spectra Bass JS2 comes with a poplar body and a gloss finish available in black, white, blue and tobacco burst. It also comes with a one-piece maple neck in a thin “U” shape for easy fretting. 

A laurel fingerboard loaded with jumbo frets makes for smooth, easy playability. If this is going to be your first bass, you’ll definitely love that. 

Another cool thing about the Spectra Bass JS2 is its pickups. Most basses in this price range come with just one pickup, but the JS2 lives up to its name by giving you two, active options. There’s a P-style pickup in the neck and a J-style pickup in the bridge, giving you the best of both worlds for classic bass tones. There’s also controls to blend the two for a wide variety of sounds. 

The Spectra Bass JS2 would make a great bass for someone just learning the instrument, or for anyone just looking to add a cheaper bass to their arsenal. For under $200, you get a well-made bass with 2 classic pickups. That’s pretty rare for this price point, but Jackson pulls it off. 

Pros: 

  • 2 pickup options
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Cheaper components
  • No gig bag or case

How to Choose The Best Jackson Guitar (Buyer’s Guide)

Now that we’ve looked at each of these guitars in-depth, let’s focus on some other key issues to consider before buying a Jackson guitar.

Build Quality

Build quality usually has to do with an instrument’s cost and where it’s made. A premium, USA-made guitar like the Randy Rhoads RR1 will generally be built with higher quality components and better luthiers than a more affordable option built overseas. 

That’s not to say that guitars built in Indonesia, like the Pro Soloist SL2Q MAH, aren’t still well-made instruments. In recent years, production has steadily improved in those countries, where labor costs remain low. 

That being said, costs must be cut somewhere to keep an instrument affordable, and that’s usually done with cheaper hardware and/or electronics. Fortunately those are things that can be easily upgraded. Poor craftsmanship is harder to overcome, but guitar techs can often work wonders with a proper set-up. 

Features

Many of these guitars are rich with features. The X Series Soloist SL5X is the first Jackson guitar to use a HSH pickup configuration, with dual humbuckers and a single coil in the middle. 

The DKA-EX Dinky uses Fishman Fluence pickups and allows you to switch between alnico and ceramic magnets. The Spectra bass has both P- and J-style pickups, giving you the best of both worlds. 

Most of these guitars also feature compound-radius fingerboards, which flatten out as the neck gets higher. This allows for easy playability up and down the neck, and it’s not a common feature on traditional Strat and Les Paul-style guitars.

Another cool feature to most of Jackson’s guitars is some type of Floyd Rose-style tremolo system. While whammy bars aren’t for everyone, it’s definitely a cool option to have. 

Pickups

A good deal of these guitars feature at least two humbuckers. The Dinky style models use dueling Duncan humbuckers, while the Randy Rhoads RR1 uses two more premium Seymour Duncan pickups. 

As mentioned above, the X Series Soloist SL5X uses a HSH configuration for 2 humbuckers and a single coil, while the Adrian Smith SDX goes for the “Super Strat” HSS configuration.

The Fishman Fluence pickups on the DKA-EX Dinky are definitely unique, while the Spectra bass allows you to choose between P- and J-style pickups.

With the possible exception of the Randy Rhoads RR1, most of these guitars use high-output pickups. The higher output is perfect for hard rock and metal, but maybe wouldn’t be optimal for jazz or blues-based material. However, most of them retain great clarity for clean tones, so a wide variety of sounds is still possible.

Read Also: Active Vs Passive Pickups: What’s the Difference?

Playability

Jackson guitars are built to play fast, shredder-style licks. This is evidenced by the compound-radius fretboards and thin “U” shape for many of the necks on these guitars. 

Sharp, Strat-style cutaways on most of these designs also aid playability on higher frets. The “V” style body shapes are also pretty wide open.

If you’re looking to play blazing arpeggios and legato-style licks, you’ll love Jackson guitars.

Price

Price is always a big factor, and it depends on each individual player’s budget. If you’re just starting out on electric guitar and don’t have much to spend, something like the Dinky JS22 or JS11 would be great. 

If you’re at more of an intermediate level or you’re gigging more often, you should consider something like the X Series Soloist SL5X or the Adrian Smith signature. 

For more premium options, Pro Soloist SL2Q MAH, the Randy Rhoads RR1 and the 7-string SL7P are all fine instruments. 

Ultimately, go with what you can afford and what fits your style the best. You can always upgrade components or trade-in for a more expensive guitar down the line. 

Read Also: How Much Do Electric Guitars Cost?

Recap of the Best Jackson Guitars

Best Jackson GuitarsAward
Jackson X Series Soloist SL5XEditor’s Choice
Jackon Dinky JS22 DKABest for Beginners
Jackson Dinky JS11Budget Pick
Jackson X Series Signature Adrian Smith SDXBest Under $500
Jackson Rhoads JS32TBest for the Money
Jackson Pro Soloist SL2Q MAHBest Under $1,000
Jackson USA Select Randy Rhoads RR1Premium Pick
Jackson X Series DKA-EX DinkyBest for Metal
Jackson Spectra Bass JS2Best Bass Guitar
Jackson Pro Series Soloist SL7PBest 7-String

FAQs


Are Jackson guitars any good?

While Jackson’s line of guitars range in quality depending on where they are built and how affordable they are, all of them are good, quality instruments. They’ve been a trusted name in guitars for over four decades now.

Is Jackson Guitars owned by Fender?

Yes. Fender acquired Jackson in 2002. Grover Jackson now owns a brand called GJ2 Guitars based out of Orange County, CA.

Where are Jackson guitars made?

The Jackson brand guitars are made in Corona, CA, and Ensenada, Mexico. Budget models are produced by sub-contractors in Indonesia and China.

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