Jackson are a company we’ve reviewed and praised here at Mixdown before. They’re built to be played, to last and to work on the road. The Soloist Series of guitars are synonymous with Jackson. A slight variation from the Dinky design, the Soloist range is generally neck-through, range from 6 to 8 strings and are no frills, workhorse guitars. New in 2019 are the Desert Sand Soloist SL2P, a new Soloist SL7 and a rock-ready Soloist SLX finished in a green crackle.
The SL7 and SL2P have Seymour Duncan pickups as standard, and the SLX have remarkably-close-to-Duncan sounding Duncan Designed pickups. Any three of these guitars are ready for you; it’s up to you to be ready for them. The SLX has a finished neck and Laurel fingerboard, and is a continuation of the green crackle (or orange variant if that’s your thing) on the back of the neck, while the SL2P and SL7 both have oiled finishes behind ebony fingerboards. All three of these new models have 24 frets and 25.5” scale lengths. The SLX is a six string, basswood beast. It’s light, but resonates against you as it handles both big chords and fiddly solos with ease. The Duncan Designed HB-103 humbucker set responds well to dynamic playing, while the Floyd Rose Special tremolo system holds it all down. This guitar, straight out of the box, had phenomenally stable tuning. Large strummed power chords didn’t waver and the sustain is almost immeasurable.
The next step up in this new range is the SL2P MT MAH finished in a Desert Sand poplar burl top. The 24 frets make their home in an ebony fingerboard with an oil-finished, graphite reinforced neck that assists sustain and reduces fatigue and movement on the neck in different temperatures. The SL2P feature a string-through-body hardtail bridge and your playing nuances are picked up and sent to your amplifier via a Seymour Duncan TB-6 Distortion in the bridge and Seymour Duncan SH-6 Distortion in the neck as standard. The mahogany body resonates, and sounds complete if nothing else. The sound is full, but articulate, while retaining character and dynamic. Finally, the seven-stringed monster, the SL7, is a mahogany-bodied, ebony finger-boarded colossus of a guitar. At one end, a Floyd Rose 1000 Series Double-Locking Tremolo system, and at the other, a seven-in-line headstock. Between these two features are a set of Seymour Duncan SH6-7 Distortion pickups direct mounted into the body. This guitar plays with as much ease as both the SLX and SL2P, despite almost 20% more strings.
All three of these guitars, as Jacksons do, play beautifully. They’re easy to pick up at any time and noodle away at new song ideas or for quickly laying down layers of guitar on songs as I did this week. Whether a rhythm or lead track, or ambient, spacey textures beneath other instruments, these three guitars respond physically and create aurally appealing feel when played dynamically. The SLX, as it’s paint job suggests, has the power and attack synonymous with loud '80s rock bands. Chords are big, licks are somehow bigger, but it responds to it all with a controlled dynamic. The Duncan Designed pickups can cater to any sound you’re after, and they’ll do it well. The SL2P, on the other hand, while retaining the power and resonance of the SLX, feels noticeably more dynamic and aggressive. Notes really jump off of the fretboard, partially due to the ebony fingerboard and, yes, another round of applause for the Seymour Duncan Distortions.
The SL2P is inspiring and I found myself straying away from writing this review while playing it. Great looks aside, the SL2P feels phenomenal to play. It’s tastefully built, the neck-through body allowing a nicely rounded neck heel which allows better access all the way up to the 24th fret. The guitar resonates for bigger sounds, but smooth legato style leads and licks are a breeze as well. This guitar is a live and studio dream; dynamic, full, controlled and interesting all at once.
Finally, the SL7 is as easy to wrangle as the SLX and SL2P. While being a seven string, it’s not a huge move from the standard feel of a six string. You’ll feel at home playing even just six of the strings, and have a low B (or A, or G, or F#) for adding to chord voicings and for extra low harmony options. This would be a great first seven string for a player wanting to move from six strings, or at least dip a toe in the water. The DI of the guitar and Duncan Distortions themselves is even and clear, and very articulate. Even at higher gain settings, the guitar retains its character, chunk, and dynamic. The SL7, again thanks to the neck-through, inspires playing beyond the 12th fret, and solos come easy, whether it's super-fast shredding or drawn out phrasing filled with emotion.
Overall, and no one is surprised less than me, these few new Jacksons are phenomenal instruments. While some companies let their mid-tier instruments slide, Jackson does not. For mid-range instruments at very reasonable prices, these guitars really hold their own, even against instruments twice their price. The SLX in green crackle is a one-stop-rock-shop, and the SL2P is a more contemporary take on the requirements 2019’s guitar players have. The SL7 is a performer and creative beast, offering you resonant low notes without compromise on shimmering dynamic at higher frets. While each of the guitars is aimed at a specific kind of player, they can each also continue to seamlessly transition between styles and genres with ease, thanks to the Seymour Duncan and Duncan Designed pickups. Matching 25.5” scale lengths tie these guitars together, and make for a comfortable, resonant, sustained playing experience. Playing guitar is a breeze with a Jackson, so why make it difficult for yourself?
Hits and Misses
Plays great at affordable prices
Seymour Duncan pickups as standard in SL2P and SL7