Jackson’s X Series Soloist guitars are built for speed, technicality and low-tuned djent-riff-ication.
Reading through the company’s spiel on the X Series Soloist, you’d be forgiven for confusing it with a press release on the latest in automobile technology. There is a lot of technical information – dropping buzzwords like high-performance and ergonomics like they were hot potatoes; stressing the pros of fan frets on intonation and playability on low tuned instruments. One look at the target audience for these instruments brings an understanding of why Jackson focuses on this detail and why it’s implemented on its instruments – the world of heavy riffing guitarists, and bands for that matter, are pushing the limits of technique, songwriting and musicianship. Taking this into consideration, it’s necessary to have instruments that can keep up, and with the X Series’ soloist, Jackson are matching pace.
Before we go any further, let’s run over some of the basic ideas behind fan fretted, aka multi-scale, seven and eight string guitars.
The idea is that angled frets provide a fret board with two different scale lengths – longer and larger lengths for lower strings and vice versa for the higher strings. The advantages of multi-scaled guitars are aplenty – longer scale length stretches low tuned strings, sustaining its lower vibrations and strengthening tone; high notes are kept at a shorter scale in comparison, making it easy for soaring lead tone. Overall, low tuned players can also benefit from improved intonation across all strings and a more comfortable playing experience.
It all comes down to your style of playing. Jamming out with lead-heavy and scale-based riffing on either the SLAT7-MS or SLAT8-MS rendered no noticeable issues. Jackson are known for producing guitars that let fingers fly up and down the fretboard with speed, and there was no exception with either guitar. It was only until stretched chord shapes came into play that issues arose. However, a little practice and slight adjustments to playing style will easily overcome any such issues.
The first few strums of an unplugged electric guitar can tell a lot about its resonance – you can usually get a fairly good idea of how it will cope, even before plugging it in to an amp. With both the SLAT7-MS or SLAT8-MS, the first few minutes fresh out of their box left a lot to be desired as far as resonance goes – each being neck-through and basswood bodies, I expected more wood vibration, but was disappointed. Once plugged into an amp, the idea behind the choice of EMG 808s in the SLAT7 and 909s in the SLAT8 became apparent. These balanced pickups, combined with the basswood body handle the borderline brown notes with ease. They’ve plenty of bite and dig deep with chug riffing, even mids for chord work and scream with transparent highs. Ergonomically, yes, these guitars are built for speed, but their well-rounded output opens them up to much more versatility.
The SLAT7 and SLAT8 are made-for-metal guitars. Made with this particular genre in mind, they are a comfortable choice for guitarists of such ilk. Surprisingly these guitars pack a bit more soul than your standard Jackson. Warm tones aren’t sacrificed at the hands of practicality and the positives of fanned frets do not come at the cost of playability. Fast, furious and full of tone – either guitar is a solid choice for metal guitarists wanting their cake and eating it too.
Hits and Misses
Highly playable especially at speed
Does not sacrifice warmth for technicality