Are you considering buying a Jackson guitar?
As with any valuable purchase, you’ll want to do your research. But where do you start?
A helpful starting point is learning the country of manufacture. See, this ultimately influences the price and overall quality.
Where are Jackson Guitars made?
In short, they make Jackson Guitars in the United States, Japan, Mexico, Indonesia, and China. Jackson makes the Custom Shop and USA Series in Corona, California. The MJ Series in Japan, Pro Series in Mexico, X Series Indonesia, and the JS Series is made in China.
Now you understand that Jackson guitars come from factories located across the world. But what effect does this have?
In this article, we’ll examine the different Jackson Series. By deep-diving, we can discover the true effect the country of manufacture has on a guitar.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
Jackson Guitars: Some Background Information
Grover Jackson founded Jackson guitars in 1978. Beginning with the Randy Rhoads V model, Jackson guitars have since become a leader in the world of metal.
Throughout the 80s and 90s, popularity soared thanks to the likes of Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and Def Leppard’s Phil Collen.
With growing sales, guitar giants Fender acquired Jackson in the early 2000s. The takeover allowed the Jackson brand to expand its catalog. Nowadays, they have many series covering most budgets.
Where are Jackson Guitars Made: Guitar Models Explained
The early Jackson guitars of the late 70s and 80s were born out of a small Californian repair shop. Known for their distinctive style and rapid playability, they grew into leading guitars in metal genres.
Jackson guitars still have the same charms they did back then. So what’s changed?
Jackson now makes their high-end guitars in Fenders Corona, California factory.
Under Fender’s guidance, Jackson also now has a broader appeal. By using overseas factories with cheaper material and labor costs, they have more affordable guitars in their catalog.
Let’s summarize different series and how the country of manufacture affects performance.
Which Jackson Guitars are Made in the USA?
The pros of buying a guitar manufactured in the US is the build quality. These guitars will be in your collection for a long time and have a large handcrafted input. You’ll experience dreamy playability and studio-ready sound quality.
The cons of US-built guitars are the price. Top materials and higher labor costs mean you’ll have to splash big bucks.
Let’s identify which Jackson guitars are US-built.
Jackson USA Series:
The Jackson USA Series is home to many styles of guitars. From the Randy Rhoads RR1 to the Adrian Smith San Dimas SDM, there’s variety.
The RR1 is angular with sharp edges, perfect for the guitarist wanting to stand out. Then, the SDM is a super-strat with sleek curves.
But what do all USA Series have in common? They all have peak craftsmanship, performance, and sound.
These guitars offer some of the best hard rock and metal tones you’ll find. The pickup selection varies from model to model. But whatever the model, you’ll find top-performing brands like Seymour Duncan and DiMarzio.
Fitted with top-of-the-range hardware, you can understand the $2,000 to $6,000 price range. There’s simply no sign of cost-cutting.
Yes, they’re expensive, but the Jackson USA Series are premium high-output rocking machines built to last.
Read Also: The Best Flying V Style Guitars
Jackson Custom Shop:
The Custom Shop option can be an even more expensive choice. But, it’s a Custom Shop guitar in every sense.
So what’s this mean?
You’ll be getting a one-of-a-kind Jackson guitar catered to your every need.
First, download the Custom Shop Menu. Then it’s time to make your selections… And there are plenty of options.
There’s the body. You can pick from Dinky, Soloist, Randy Rhodes, Kelly, King V, or Warrior shapes. Then choose the pickup configuration, body wood, and body top options.
The neck also has selection choices. Pick the wood, headstock, truss rod, fingerboard, inlays, inlay color, logo type, fret wires, and binding to your requirements.
Let’s not forget further options like hardware color, tuners, bridges, nut material, strap button, truss rod cover, and pickguard. You can even have it set up for an alternative tuning.
Pickups, colors and finishes, and graphics finish the selection process. It truly is a guitar personalized to your identity and playing style.
Then, to top it off, they craft these guitars with a skill that can only come from years of experience. The smooth body edges, polished frets, and expert setup are some finer details to further justify the price.
Of course, you’ll have to pay for the privilege.
But even beyond the skilled American craftsmanship, the opportunity to have a one-of-a-kind guitar is something many guitarists can only dream of.
Where are Jackson MJ Series Guitars Made?
They make the MJ Series guitars in Japan. Replicating the Japanese-made Jacksons of the early 90s, the MJ Series are innovative high-performance guitars.
There are seven models available. These are:
- Signature Misha Mansoor
- Four variations of the Dinky
- Rhodes RRT
They’re all priced at upwards of $2,000, so these guitars are expensive. But let’s look at what you get for the outlay.
Early Japanese builds were famous for their build quality. The MJ Series follows suit.
The wood on these guitars feels pure quality. Furthermore, skilled luthiers produce smooth edges and proficient contouring of the body. You’ll find areas of peak hand-performed craftsmanship.
The MJ guitars come with a top setup. Out-of-the-box, the action is pure comfort for great playability.
Another noticeable feature of the MJ Series is the hardware. There’s no cost-cutting in this department. In fact, you’ll find some top-performing Made in Japan GOTOH tuners on most models.
Renowned for innovation, Japan is a country pushing boundaries in all spheres. The Jackson MJ collection proves the same innovation applies with guitars.
The MJ Series guitars face strict regulations and top quality control. Factor in advanced machinery and a skilled workforce, you have the ingredients for great guitars.
Where are Jackson Pro Series Guitars Made?
The Jackson Pro Series is a product of Mexico. These retail for cheaper than the US and Japanese-built Jacksons.
You can buy a Pro Series Jackson for approx $700-$1,600. So, it’s a more affordable option to get hold of your favorite Jackson model.
But is the price a reflection of quality?
Jackson guitars excel in playability. And the Pro Series plays like a more expensive Jackson. The necks on the Pro Series are speedy. There are smooth frets and the fretboards are perfect for fast gliding fingertips.
The compound radius makes it easier to maneuver solos. This means the fretboard radius becomes flatter at the 12th fret and beyond.
The heels that connect the body to the neck are sleek, allowing for high fret access. This also showcases the quality of craftsmanship on these guitars.
This is a theme throughout the models in the Pro Series. They offer peak playability and craftsmanship that are difficult to separate even from the US-built models.
So what’s the difference?
The Pro Series is home to several models. So, the differences between a Pro and the USA or MJ Series will vary from model to model.
But the lower-spec Pro Series won’t have the same caliber hardware. This is a generalization, though. Kitted with Floyd Rose Bridges and Seymore Duncans, the high-end MJ Series compete with guitars from the US line. So, truth be told, it all depends on the model.
But even then, for under half the price of the US or Japanese build, that’s a big jump in price. Are the MJ Series half as bad as the guitars’ double the price? Not at all.
If you want the hard-rocking qualities of a Jackson with the charms of American build. While the MJ might not have the prestige of a US-built guitar, they aren’t far off the quality.
Where are Jackson X Series Guitars Made?
The Jackson X Series Adrian Smith SDX electric guitar, co-designed by the Iron Maiden guitarist, features a basswood body, maple neck, and dual Jackson pickups for a versatile tone. Perfect for rock and metal.
Jackson makes the X Series in Indonesia. The X-Series is an entry-level collection of guitars available for around $500 and above.
The looks are pretty much identical to high-end Jacksons. If you like an expensive Jackson, there’ll be an affordable version in the X-Series.
But, to keep prices low, the X Series uses cheaper woods, hardware, and pickups. These guitars are mass-produced and have less hand-crafting input than more expensive models.
Regarding quality and performance, the price range does them an injustice. They are far from bad guitars.
Although the pickups are cheaper, they still replicate all the qualities you demand from a Jackson. Voiced for high gain, X-Series guitars belt out rock riffs with hanging sustain.
The action is good, and professionals will even appreciate the feel of these guitars.
The hardware is solid. The bridges used keep their tune well. But, it’s the smaller details that you’ll notice. For example, the fine-tuning dials on the bridge are quite stiff.
Colors and models are abundant. You’ll have options of outlandish patterns like the satin white swirl and the new for 2021 multi-color camo.
So while the woods might be of lower quality. When put through a high octane amp, will the average listener notice the difference? Probably not!
Jackson has a reputation to uphold. So whether you’re getting the highest spec or an entry-level model, it’ll be to a proper standard.
While the X-Series won’t have hardware akin to that fitted on a Custom Shop, the difference in quality is less than the price suggests.
Where are Jackson JS Series Guitars Made?
Made in China, the JS Series guitars are the most affordable Jacksons.
Only 10 years ago, experts considered Chinese-built guitars’ throwaway bargain options.
Now, this isn’t the case. With ever-improving factory regulations, Chinese-built guitars are getting better. The JS Series is an example of the growth in quality.
For as little as $200, you can get your hand on a Dinky. There’s a more expensive version for approx $300 that looks like a guitar well above this price. Similarly, priced at $400, the JS Series Rhodes looks pretty impressive considering the price and it’s a Chinese-made guitar.
The JS Series guitars are affordable, and this alone makes them appealing to beginners. Hard rock and metal guitars were tough to find in this price range not too long ago, so it’s great to have this option.
The charms of a JS Series Jackson will appease the intermediate. For learning shred techniques, these guitars give you an affordable platform to learn on.
However, they won’t meet the demands of a professional musician. A Jackson guitarist relies on heavy playing and whammy bends. Tuning stability is vital, especially when going on stage, so higher-spec options are more suited.
While the JS Series guitars keep their tune OK, without locking hardware mechanisms, the tuning stability isn’t stage-ready.
That said, as a modding platform, JS Series guitars are a fun foundation. The addition of a locking nut, bridge, and tuning machines will hot-rod a JS Series.
The JS Series are affordable but don’t feel as cheap as you’d expect. For guitarists on a budget, the Chinese-built JS Series offers a cost-effective opportunity to try a true shred machine.
Does it Matter Where Jackson Guitars are Made?
So now you know the country of manufacture for each Jackson series. But the big question remains…
Does it matter where Jackson guitars are made?
In short, yes. While a crude way of measuring, because there are exceptions, where a Jackson guitar is made is often a sign of build quality. It’s also an indication of finish and pickup quality.
You can expect a US-built Jackson to excel in all areas. The USA Series and Custom Shop models are top of the line.
But Japanese and even Mexican models will compete with the best. Where Mexican models fall short is generally in hardware quality. Bear in mind, that this is fixable with help from a pro guitar technician.
Lower-end Jackson guitars have a more production line feel because of the mass production. The sheer amount of guitars produced makes quality control difficult.
They’re also made of cheaper wood and hardware to keep costs low. The lower labor and factory costs assure these guitars can sell for cheaper.
The Jackson X-Series guitars that are built in Indonesia outperform the Chinese-built JS Series. They’ll have better hardware, build quality, and overall sound.
So, all in all, it matters where your Jackson comes from. But the disparity in quality is a lot less than it used to be. An American-built Jackson from Corona, California, will always take some beating in terms of overall quality and performance.
Why Are Jackson Guitars So Expensive?
There’s a Jackson guitar for everyone, whatever your budget. Nevertheless, a premium Jackson guitar is expensive.
So what gives?
First, consider that guitarists in bands like Trivium, Megadeth, Machine Head, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, and Limp Bizkit all use Jackson guitars. So as a guitar manufacturer, Jackson stakes a claim for being the best in the hard rock and metal category.
To own a guitar with such a reputation and with proven quality will cost.
Beyond notoriety, Jackson makes downright great guitars. High-quality woods, hardware, pickups, build quality, and craftsmanship to boot.
So in that sense, it’s a case of you get what you pay for.
However, as we showcased earlier in this post, Jackson has various different models of guitars that are suitable for practically any budget.
These production-line Jackson guitars are made in either Mexico, Indonesia, or China where the production costs are significantly lower, resulting in a more affordable guitar. These import guitars are actually not too expensive and in line with the rest of the competition.
Are Jackson Guitars Good?
While the premium USA Series and Custom Shop guitars are expensive, in many ways, you get value for money. You’re paying for an experienced and several skilled luthiers to handcraft a guitar.
If you’re seeking a high output shred machine, then you’re in the right place with Jackson.
It’s also worth mentioning again that Jackson is part of the Fender family. With the illustrious name comes guarantees in quality.
There’s no denying the US-built Jackson will be better overall quality than a Chinese-built Jackson. But across the board, regardless of price, they’re great guitars for hard rock and metal genres.
So, where are Jackson guitars made?
They make Jackson guitars in the USA, Japan, Mexico, Indonesia, and China.
Premium Jackson guitars are American-made and a product of their Corona, California factory. Japanese and Mexican-built Jacksons aren’t too far behind in terms of build quality.
The more entry level-models come from Indonesia and China. There’s a disparity in quality between these and the premium nature of an American-made guitar.
But, regardless of budget, there’s a Jackson guitar for you. If your budget can only stretch to a JS or X Series. Don’t dishearten.
Because regardless of price and country of manufacture, all Jackson guitars have something in common… They’re hot-output, heavy rocking shred machines.
So whichever model you choose… Enjoy!