Jackson has unveiled new signature guitars for Josh Smith and Rob Cavestany, and expanded its Japanese-made MJ Series with a stunning Rhoads in Snow White.
Smith, guitarist and founder of Aussie metalcore stalwarts, Northlane, gets a smart Soloist SLZ ET in Aquamarine, with the 7-string guitar looking very bit a state-of-the-art S-style for metal.
Thrash metal legend Cavestany’s new signature model is a Pro Series production line version of the Custom Shop model that has long been his number one – which is to say it is that super-aggressive offset that makes the Warrior look like something Ed Sheeran might play.
As for the Rhoads, well, it’s another premium take on the classic asymmetrical V, with one of the most redoubtable electric guitar pickup combinations of all time – a Seymour Duncan JB humbucker in the bridge, its good friend the Seymour Duncan Jazz at the neck.
The Josh Smith Soloist SLZ ET has a solid alder body with a caramelised maple through-neck construction. Said neck has also been bolstered by graphite rods to keep it stable in all temperatures and under all manner of high-intensity situations – i.e. the topsy-turvy to-and-fro of a metal show.
Smith’s Soloist has a 27” scale, a 12-16” compound radius ebony fingerboard that eschews fret markers and seats 24 jumbo frets. It comes equipped with a set of Smith’s signature Bare Knuckle Impulse pickups, with the bridge humbucker’s rail design tailored to handle both low-end downtuned metal riffs, and to clean up a little bit for medium-gain drive tones.
In short, the extremist and the aficionado of old-school electric guitar can find a lot to like in the Impulse humbucker voicing.
“The neutral and broad sounding midrange of this set seems to work well in just about anything and act to enhance the natural voice of the guitar without adding any offensive frequencies,” Smith told Bare Knuckle.
“While designed for my uses and excelling in baritone guitars, Les Paul guys, especially ones using big strings will love the clarity without anything too bright sticking out and the low-mids getting too cluttered.
“Progressive players will love the versatility and harmonic richness. Down-tuned metal players will love the fullness and tightness they get without any mud, especially if they’re using an amp with a thick low-midrange.”
The Impulse single-coil at the neck is built in a similar spirit, with a ceramic magnet at its core and the same firm hand on the midrange, with a naturally compressed character. Controls include a three-way blade pickup selector and black skirted Strat style knobs for individual pickup volume. No tone dial here.
The “ET” in the Smith Soloist’s designation is not a warning that your index finger will be red hot after fretting a note – it relates to the EverTune F7 bridge that Smith has gone for here.
Other notable features include the licensed Stratocaster headstock, borrowed from Jackson’s parent brand, Fender, the Dunlop strap locks that should keep that nice finish unrelic’d, and Jackson-branded locking tuners, which with the EverTune is evidence that Smith takes a belt and braces to staying in tune. Always a good thing.
Moving on, the Rob Cavestany signature model is really a non-more-metal metal guitar. Sometimes, with guitars such as this, there’s a second story here, that, yes, you could play jazz or blues on this. No.
Loaded with a pair of active EMG humbuckers – an 81 at the bridge, HA at the neck – it is ready to split the atom with high-gain misadventure. It has an nyatoh, a through-body maple neck, a 12-16” compound radius rosewood fingerboard with 24 jumbo frets, and a 25.5” scale. Like the Smith Soloist – and indeed all Jackson guitars in its class – there are Luminlay glow-in-the-dark side markers to aid fingerboard navigation.
There is a Floyd Rose Special double-locking vibrato, so demonic harmonic squeals are go, with the six-in-line Jackson headstock rounding off what is a super-aggressive silhouette that somehow looks timeless and classically metal with the black nickel Jackson logo, the Satin Black finish with matching black sharkin fingerboard inlays. It too has Dunlop dual-locking strap buttons.
Finally, the MJ Series Rhoads is simply yet another classic take on one of the most iconic designs in the Jackson catalogue – arguably, only the Soloist, which recently launched the new Jackson American Series, is more indicative of the brand.
Like the Soloist, it similarly has a neck through build, with its three-piece maple neck flanked by solid basswood wings. It has a 12-16” compound radius ebony fingerboard and 22 jumbo frets. The aforementioned Seymour Duncan pickup pair really is a tried-and-tested combination that offers the heat and mid-range bump of the JB at the bridge, and the scooped clarity of the Jazz pickup at the neck.
Controlling these, you have a three-way pickup selector, volume and tone. Chrome hardware pairs nicely with the Snow White, and here you’ve got a Jackson TOM-style string-through-body bridge and V stoptail, and a set of Gotoh locking tuners to keep things seaworthy.
These new Jackson are all available to order now, with the Josh Smith Soloist SL7 ET priced £1,599 / $1,699, the Rob Cavestany model priced £1,299 / $1,199, and the MJ Series Rhoads RRT in Snow White priced £2,649 / $2,699.
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