Revered metal and hard rock guitar-smiths, Jackson, promise great value for money with their new X-Series Soloist, a sleek beast of a power tool. Built for speed and oozing sustain, this machine is ideal for extreme performance and a true workhorse.
“Overall I felt I was able to push my playing to the limit without the instrument getting in the way…”
Anatomy of the Jackson SLXQ Soloist
Jackson have taken their super-strat styled Soloist model and pumped it full of steroids.The revue model features a gorgeous natural finish on a basswood body with a maple through-neck and a rosewood fretboard with 24 jumbo frets. As with all Jackson guitars, the fretboard is dynamically curved, being rounder at the nut for easier chording and riffing, and flattens out further up the neck for faster shredding. It also sports a Floyd Rose Special double-locking two-point tremolo bridge, two passive EMG-HZ pickups (an H4-B in the bridge and an H4-AN in the neck), a three-way selector and single master tone and volume knobs.
Arriving well set up with a great action, it fitted in my hands like a glove and I immediately fell in love with the incredibly comfortable slim neck. The body is perfectly weighted and balanced – not too heavy but solid. I couldn’t help but play fast, aggressive runs, as everything is geared to facilitate that kind of playing–the jumbo frets and fretboard curvature working some sort of ergonomic magic.
As expected, the Floyd Rose bridge kept everything in tune after vigorous pinched harmonic dive bombs and wild bends. This floating bridge adds a bouncy airiness that, again, contributes to the overall playability. A side benefit of having the locked tuning bridge is having the small tuning screws on the bridge side, making tuning much quicker and freeing up the fretting hand.
The downside, of course, as anyone with a Floyd Rose bridge will know, is that changing strings, as well as down- tuning, becomes an arduous process, requiring some dismantling and reassembly. But the performance benefits, particularly for such extreme playing styles, far outweigh this irritation.
Overall I felt I was able to push my playing to the limit without the instrument getting in the way while, at the same time, I got the grit and untamed spirit fighting back the way I needed it to (something that similar, smoother guitars can’t deliver).
Playing unplugged, I could feel every note resonating nicely through the body with the through-neck design adding punch and tons of sustain.
Plugging into the Blackstar HT 5R (reviewed on Pg 16), I was rewarded with a tight bottom end, snappy mid-range and singing highs from the combination of maple and basswood tonewoods and the EMG bridge pickup. While geared for extreme distortion, the clean tone was clear, slightly spanky with harmonics easily coaxed out even on squeaky cleaner settings. It’s certainly pleasant enough for metal and hard rock, but maybe a bit sterile for blues snobs.
Switching to overdrive the tonal balance was preserved with much of the distortion occurring in the high frequencies and bursting with rich upper harmonics. A nice quick, aggressive, yet touch-sensitive attack was in evidence as I ploughed through some minor arpeggios.
While the EMGs aren’t as vibrant and lack the higher output of their active counterparts, they perform here far better than on other, lesser guitars, possibly due to their relationship with the wood.
What’s really striking is how the HZs’ tonal balance is maintained across the strings and that they dish the dirt with increased gain, yet somehow note definition is maintained even with dense, dissonant chords.
This remains true even at the insane end of the gain spectrum. It’s controlled chaos – absolutely thrilling and satisfying!
What I like about the Jackson X Series Soloist is its luxuriously comfortable playability, and that, unlike many high performance guitars, it delivers the perfect balance between smooth precision and grit that I’d like from a metal murder weapon, giving you absolute control over a broad spectrum of calm or chaos.
Supplied by: Musical Distributors
Suggested retail price:
R 8,295.00 incl. VAT (Review Model)
Other models in the series include:
Soloist(tm) SLXT – R 7,495.00 |
Soloist(tm) SLX – R 8,295.00 |
Super Light Soloist(tm) SLXMG – R 8,995-00