School Me On Jackson Guitars

Discussion in 'Standard Guitars' started by ascl, May 17, 2019.

  1. ascl

    ascl SS.org Regular

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    I have (and have owned) a bunch of different guitars, mostly ESP's (LTD, Standard, Original and Navigator) but also PRS and Ibanez... and I am starting to GAS for a Jackson, specifically a King V... most likely second hand, to keep the costs down.

    Now, for ESP, PRS and Ibanez, the "tiers" of quality are pretty easy to figure out (mostly), and if I see a second-hand Ibby or PRS or ESP, its easy to understand if it is a budget guitar or a premium one. With Jackson.... I'm completely at a loss. So, I have two questions:
    1. Which of the Japanese made Jackson (or Jackson related brand, ie Jackson Stars etc) V's are worth trying to find? I see some comments saying that some of them (from a certain era?) rival the made in the USA ones, but some of them are just cheap. How do I tell the difference?
    2. Do the MIJ Jackson's feel like MIJ Ibanez Prestige? (this is another comment I have seen, and tbh it puts me off a bit -- not because they are bad, but Ibanez are not for me. Tried and didn't suit.)

    In an ideal world, I'd be able to play a bunch and figure this out for myself, but this is tricky from my location. Also, I think a USA made V is ideal, but again, due to location, this is expensive. I do semi-regularly travel to Japan however, hence a leaning in that direction.

    Or do I just accept I am an ESP-whore and get an ESP made V of some kind (the stupid upside down sharktooth bugs me for some reason, but I know I love the feel of ESP guitars. I played one of these https://sevenstring.org/threads/bir...esp-40th-anniversary-rusty-iron-arrow.318571/ last year, and it was, of course, amazing -- and also just a little (!) on the expensive side!).
     

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  2. Cynicanal

    Cynicanal SS.org Regular

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    The MIJs that rival the MIAs were the mid-90s Professional Pro series (not to be confused with the later MIJ "Pro Series"). They had "Professional" on the headstock, bound ebony fingerboards, sharkfin inlays, and were neck-through; this makes them easy to distinguish from the cheaper MIJs (that said, those cheaper MIJs are still very nice guitars, roughly on par with a Prestige Ibanez in build quality IME).

    As far as feel, it depends on the exact guitar -- Jackson necks in that era weren't standardized at all. Some were Ibanez thin; others felt like a medium-thin modern C.
     
  3. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician SS.org Regular

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    The 90’s Professional series, and there was also the Japanese “stars” series which are also great.

    I own a pre-dinged up Professional soloist and only want to sell it because I never play it. Even with all the dents/scratches it had when I bought it it was CLEARLY exceptionally well made.

    The Jackson Kevin bond V is mid-2000’s is great and I’d recommend that tier of MIJ, but it’s not quite the 90’s Professional.
     
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  4. mogar

    mogar SS.org Regular

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    The early 90's professional series is indeed very good, however the prices they go for in recent years has climbed as high as their reputation. Now, as far as the King-V's go, you'll have a hard time unless you're fine with a bolt-on. To my knowledge, apart from the Jackson Stars stuff (of which I have no experience), there were only 2 neck-thru's in the range. The Dave Mustaine sig KV-1 and the later KV-4 (2001). The Mustaine sig goes for $1500 all day from what I've seen over the years and the KV-4 can be had a bit cheaper, usually $600-$1k depending on condition/seller.

    If you don't mind a bolt-on, there is the King V Standard and the later (96-99) KV-3. Both are pretty good players and solid little workhorses with the KV-3 offering sharkfins and upper wing recessed jack over the Standard's dots and lower wing jack.

    Now, if I were after something nice, I'd honestly just sit tight and wait on a USA KV-2 or KV-2T to pop up somewhere. I see far more of those than the MIJ stuff for sale anyway and it's only a matter of time until you find one in your price range.


    One more thing, Jackson is super cool and has pdfs off all their catalogs from 1983-2010 archived on their site if you feel like checking out all the interesting stuff they made through the years.
     
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  5. ascl

    ascl SS.org Regular

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    Thanks everyone, that gives me something to go on!
     
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  6. Spicypickles

    Spicypickles Sweeps & Mops

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    Find an Ltd DV8. They’re legit and fairly cheap
     
  7. ascl

    ascl SS.org Regular

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    If I can't find the Jackson I want, I will do exactly that. I know and love ESP guitars, but I'm superficial and want sharkfin inlays that are the right way up :)
     
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  8. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    I've only played two MIJ Jacksons, a KVX10 which was ok but not something to write about, and a DK2M which was good but not MIJ Prestige good.
    I was fortunate enough to find some great deals on USA Jackson's and they are way way better than the DK2M. Neck profiles on all of these are thin and shreddy but not Ibanez thin.
     
  9. TedintheShed

    TedintheShed Retired bassist pretending to play guitar

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    Many 90's US Jackson are completely affordable, often going for $1200-$1500 and sometimes even less.
     
  10. T00DEEPBLUE

    T00DEEPBLUE SS.org Regular

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    The DK2M's did have shitty bridges but once you upgrade those they're stellar.
     
  11. decoy205

    decoy205 SS.org Regular

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    I have one professional series Jackson from 90 it is extremely well made. And two lower tier concept guitars from the same factory from 93-94. All three are excellent build quality. I actually do not mind bolt ons at all.

    I love the tone of all the jacksons I’ve played. I’ve had a couple of mij Ibanezes where the tone was meh. The Jacksons almost always sounded and felt good. I agree to try and find a nice USA V they are killer and sound huge.
     
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  12. Tuned

    Tuned SS.org Regular

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    oohhkay, now we're talkin' XD

    To guys like the OP and myself who live way closer to Japan , Japanese inner market models may be a very desired fruit. I for one have owned guitars and basses that or across-the-pond mates have never heard of. What would you say to ESP Sado custom shop - made LAKLAND Shoreline bass (no not the cheap Skyline Series)? Have you ever heard of Schecter Japan made in Japan? I own one...
    Japanese Jackson pop up every now and then, so there's a lot about them in my country

    Now, I've browsed thru this thread but I need to say it is at its best.... incorrect. I may make a few mistakes below, or even several, but this is how it goes in general

    i. Jackson Professional, Jackson Professional Pro (don't laugh), Jackson Grover Jackson Professional (I said don't laugh), Jackson Pro
    This is a most likely to confuse group. Or, actually, 3 groups. Or more.
    They all were/are very various. The pre '95 Jackson Professional Series which is generally thought to be 'the' Japanese Jackson was actually subdevided into 4 or more sublines (EX, Std, XL, Pro, etc.) of which the Jackson Profesional Pro is the closest you get to the best Jackson guitars out there.

    Jackson Pro is not the same, it is generally inferior to the Jackson Professional (although may be better than a Professional EX etc.).

    JACKSON (regular font) grover jackson (small font, written in two lines) is an inner market line that I personally look out for. These are also various. If you spot a JACKSON grover jackson for a good price , give it a try. I almost bought an insane TBK quilt 'JACKSON grover jackson' The Kelly', actually, almost bought it twice, - and that is a US made KE-1 but for the inner Japanese market. There were reasons to not buy an angled guitar with 1 pickup for $1700, - but none related to build quality or sound.

    There are also the JACKSON grover jackson Professional that are a MIJ artist sig. series, like the Doug Aldrich (i don't remember why I didn't buy one in the end, but there were a few models of that), - also great axes.

    The only way I could advise to know a great MIJ guitar from this section is: MOP logo and fins, bound ebony (not striped one). All the rest is a fine guitar... but not the BEST you can get.


    ii. Jackson Stars , numbers, J-0*, TN-0*, BN-0*, Custom, and Grover Jackson
    Jackson Stars is a great guitar, unless you really hate the logo, and they have really unique models out too. I personally love the beautifugly Kelly Star ( yeah I know). It is a vast field where the general rule is: the higher the series number which refers to the MSRP, the better the guitar (quite unlike Gibson, ah hah hah... hah...hah Okay, I realize I'm on the edge there, but I've owned several Gibsons so that at least gives me the right to). Devide the series number by 100 and you get roughly the MSRP in USD (plus 8% tax).
    So, if you see a Jackson Stars RR-195, it is a great axe this close to an US Jackson. A MIJ K2US$ range Jackson Stars is a killer.

    You thought it would be that easy? Haha! The top line models have a quite different series logic.
    It is not true as stated above that the best MIJ Jacksons are all neck-thru. Rather, there are 01-04 sublines of TN (thru neck) and BN (bolt-on neck) Jackson Stars, with additional B,E,K designation. It goes like this:
    KV-TN-01K is a top-of the line KV, MOP logo and fins, bound ebony, Seymour Duncan (K)ahler bridge
    RR-TN-02EB is a close RR but with striped ebony , unbound, plastic logo and fins, (E)MG set and a string-thru (B)ridge.
    The J series is almost the same from the yrs appr 2002-2006 (e.g. KV-J1E is a top shelf KV with a floyd rose and EMG) but I can't remember how they designated bolt-on.


    I THINK but I wouldn't bet on it, the -01 may be mahogany or ash (lately), whereas -02 is alder. Also, this could be different through the years.

    Jackson Stars Custom is ANYTHING. I've seen very odd things.

    Grover Jackson (regular size font) is a post'95 line that, just as the Jackson Stars Series, varies anywhere from -50 piece of s*it to -200 top shelf models (some -300 oddballs are rare but do exist).
    Recommendations as above: look for MOP logo and fins, bound unstriped ebony.

    iii. Team GJ
    ...is usually an entry grade guitar.


    Enjoy!
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
    ittoa666, Tisca, Emperoff and 2 others like this.
  13. sakeido

    sakeido Contributor

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    Jacksons from right before they stopped making guitars in Japan are also (generally) extremely good. Dunno why they don't have the rep yet, it's been bout 5 years.
     
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  14. wannabguitarist

    wannabguitarist Contributor

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    Yep. My COW7 is still one of the best sounding and playing guitars I've played. I also have an early 90s MIJ Fusion HH and a late 00s MIJ DK2M and DK2M is just as nice as the early 90s Fusion.
     
  15. erdiablo666

    erdiablo666 Do not go Djently

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    ^ Ditto for my COW6. I hate the TOM bridge but can't bring myself to sell the thing because it plays so nice.
     
  16. MASS DEFECT

    MASS DEFECT SS.ORG Infiltrator

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    Yep. Those late Japanese models were gooooood. I still hang on to my DKMG, DXMG, and COWs despite having some CS pieces. They are just workhorse guitars that sound and feel great. And dont forget those DK2Ms, RR24, SL7, SLS3. Even those pro Mortons are sweet.
     
  17. Tuned

    Tuned SS.org Regular

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    /tried to upload lots of pics but screwed up. Sorry/
     
  18. ascl

    ascl SS.org Regular

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    Thanks @Tuned, that's some very good info... and I'm kinda glad it really is as confusing as I was thinking it is. Madness, ESP is so much easier...
     
  19. MatiasTolkki

    MatiasTolkki Burn In Agony

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    Also, if you happen to see any (pretty rare and go for DIRT cheap most times) are Cobran guitars.

    Cobran guitars was the house brand for the guys who were making the MIJ Jacksons. They had a few superstrat models but they were equally on par with anything MIJ jackson of the time. I had one for awhile, sold it to thin the herd but oh man was it an AWESOME guitar. The big problem is that they were only sold in Japan and most have rosewood fingerboards so CITES can become a major issue, but they are just as good as any MIJ Jackson. Neck profile is the same too. They had their own version of the Takeuchi bridges which are a little weird but they hold tuning fine (much better quality than the Ibanez Takeuchis)
     
  20. Emperoff

    Emperoff Hasta la vista, Baby Contributor

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    I have a MIJ Jackson and two USA CS and I can tell you that I pick up my MIJ quite a lot of times. It's been my main gigging axe for 5 years and I'd definetely get another one like it as a backup if I find it in the finish I want.

    Used CS Jacksons pop up from time to time for less than 2000$. That's where your money should go if you like Jacksons :yesway:
     

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