NAMM 2023: Jackson has expanded its artist signature series with a Pro Series Rhoads developed with and for Suicide Silence’s Mark Heylmun that comes strapped with everything you would need for writing and performed downtuned metal carnage.
As 7-string guitars go, they don’t get much more on-point for metal. Equipped with a pair of active Fishman Fluence Modern humbuckers, a shreddable 12” to 16” compound radius ebony fingerboard, 24 jumbo frets and a Floyd Rose 1000 Series double-locking vibrato, with an extended 26.5” scale length, it is designed for downtuned chug, and the sort of high-performance craziness the 21st century metal player needs.
It features a through-neck construction, with its graphite-reinforced maple neck sandwiched by nyatoh wings on the body. The Lux Black finish is reprised on the neck.
The fingerboard is bound and the hardware is gold. Just because it is designed for causing chaos in the pit doesn’t mean it can’t be classed up to look good in the photos. Heylmun has dispensed with the need for any fingerboard inlays to add to the “sleek and fast” look.
Heylmun said developing the high-performance electric guitar with Jackson’s Mike Tempesta was an easy process, and they were looking for something that split the difference between the classic Rhoads style and a more modern take.
“We thought about it and I knew I wanted to play a Rhoads,” said Heylmun. “There is a lot of power in the Rhoads. It is a legacy piece, and it’s an amazing… Just look at it. It’s frickin’ awesome. I wanted something that was going to be an homage to the classic but also modern, and looking sleek and new. I knew that the black and gold would give that classic Rhoads look.”
The gold hardware, the pin-stripe on the solid-colour finish certainly references the classic Jackson Concorde model played by the late Randy Rhoads, the model that was an antecedent of the current Rhoads line. The reverse headstock is a little more outrageous – or “sick”, to borrow the parlance of the contemporary deathcore musician – even more so when you consider the extra real estate required to accommodate all seven tuners.
The active Fishman Fluence pickups give Heylmun alternate voicings, so he can go from splitting the atom in a chug breakdown to overwound single-coil vintage sounds at the touch of a volume pot. There’s no tone pot because he doesn’t need one.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of Scott Ian’s X Series KVX King V, a none-more-metal metal guitar with a ‘Baldini Burst’ finish inspired by the Dime Slime colourway developed for the late Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell. You can decide among yourselves as to whether Heylmun or Ian’s is more metal.
In the Anthrax guitarist’s favour, that green finish has a lot of mojo, but then the Rhoads as an exercise in asymmetry and dangerously sharp angles takes some beating, even in that more understated Lux Black with white pinstripe around the edges.
The Pro Series Signature Mark Heylmun RR24-7 is available now and it the asking price for such an exquisitely spec’d weapon is a cool £1,219 / $1,699 street. See Jackson for more details.