Periphery’s Misha Mansoor is one of those true guitar trendsetters, like Eddie Van Halen and Slash: even if you’re not into their playing, you’ve seen their influence on the gear industry, both in their own signature gear and in the competing products of other manufacturers in their wake. EVH spawned a legion of superstrats. Slash revived the Les Paul at a time when everyone played, well, superstrats. And Mansoor’s influence on guitars, pickups, amps, processors and effects has reached players in genres far outside of Periphery’s progressive metal.
Mansoor’s USA-made Jackson signature model is a very high-end guitar with a price tag to match. It’s a heck of an aspirational purchase, but not everyone can pony up that kind of cash. So it makes sense that Jackson should offer an Indonesian-made, less blinged-out version that retains the key features that make Mansoor’s models great to begin with. The Juggernaut HT6 has a carved basswood body with a satin finish, and it’s unique among Jackson’s designs. The exaggerated treble-side cutaway gives you incredible upper-fret access, as does the bevelled scoop that lets you angle your fretting hand perfectly to not just reach the 24th fret but to really grab it by the giblets. The neck is a one-piece maple bolt-on with graphite reinforcement and a 16” radius ebony fretboard with jumbo frets. The inlay dots are offset, nudged way to the bass side until the 12th fret, after which they switch to the treble side, and the side dots are Luminlay, which glows in the dark. The truss rod adjustment is via a wheel at the heel end of the neck, leaving the headstock looking bare apart from the Jackson logo.
As for hardware, we’ve got a Jackson HT6 string-thru hardtail bridge and Jackson die-cast locking tuners. There’s a master volume and a master tone control with push-pull select to remove it from the circuit if you want and a five-way blade switch which gives you full bridge pickup, both inside coils, both full humbuckers, the outer neck single coil or the full neck humbucker. The pickups themselves are Jackson MM1 pickups, developed with Mansoor. It’s interesting that this guitar doesn’t feature his Bare Knuckle Juggernaut pickups - a boutique-level pickup that costs a pretty penny and would make the guitar much less affordable - but the guitar is purposely designed with the same routing required for Bare Knuckles for those who wish to upgrade down the track. Jackson and Mansoor purposely voiced the MM1 pickups differently to the Juggernauts.
The pickups sound very balanced and yet are dynamic too, with great note separation and punch. Mansoor uses some pretty dang sophisticated chord voicings and it would be a shame to lose that, so they’ve really nailed that kind of sophistication here, even though the tonality itself is different to the Juggernauts. And it handles low tunings like you wouldn’t believe. The neck pickup sounds a little ‘chewy,’ equally great for legato and speed-picking but super well-suited to clean tones. And the pickup options are all incredibly useful. It’s kind of a shame that there’s no bridge single coil option to expand the tonal range even further.
This isn’t just a great choice for Periphery fans: it’s a very adaptable, extremely playable guitar for any player who works in heavier styles. The pickups certainly aren’t voiced for classic rock but they’ll do anything heavier with ease. And the styling, while unique to Mansoor’s line, doesn’t go out of its way to tell everyone you’re playing a signature guitar. Hell, the guy’s name isn’t even on it.
Hits and Misses
Incredible playability, from the fretboard itself to the upper fret access
Handy tone bypass
Five very usable pickup selections
No bridge single coil mode