Reviewed: Jackson Pro Series Soloist SL3M Rainbow Crackle

Jackson Guitars Australia | jacksonguitars.com.au | RRP: $2,499

Following on from the success of their previous Soloist releases, Jackson are back and looking better than ever with this new beast, with its striking aesthetic no doubt harking back to the golden age of '80s shred metal and glam. For a model that is typically known as a solid touring workhorse, the new Pro Series Soloist SL3M might surprise some in its ability to offer just that little bit extra at every turn.

Five pickup positions provide ample tonal variation, and with a nimble and glassy fretboard that instantly lends itself to rapid sweep picking at fast tempos, the Pro Series Soloist SL3M is a guitar that's suited to a whole spectrum of tones and styles, be it breakneck single note fretwork or heavy, chugging riffage.

 

Construction wise, the basswood body and through-body maple neck proves to be both light and incredibly resonant, giving you a brighter and snappier tone with impressive sustain to boot - and rest assured, sustain is something this guitar has in droves. Even the choice to directly mount the pickups is done so with increased sustain in mind. Like its name would suggest, the ‘Soloist’ comes armed with a clear, true voicing that takes to pedals and overdrive like a duck to water. It’s a guitar with strengths that are abundantly apparent, especially coming to the fore in busier passages, where its natural propensity for long, soaring sustained notes serves as the perfect exclamation mark to round out a solo or lead break.

 

Another particular noteworthy feature on the Pro Series Soloist is the clean, natural maple fingerboard, complete with black piranha tooth inlays. A departure from the darker laurel fingerboard with shark-fin inlays typically found on previous incarnations of the Soloist, the new maple neck is as ergonomic as it is easy to navigate, with a weight and comfort that will no doubt lend itself to long practice sessions and even longer recording dates. With 24 jumbo frets and a compound radius fingerboard, your fingers are at liberty to really dance uninhibitedly along what is a remarkably comfortable and quick neck. 

 

Tailor made for expressive dives and bent arm silliness, the Soloist also holds its tuning remarkably well, bearing all the reliability one has come to expect from the Floyd Rose name. The double-locking tremolo system is fitted in a way that accommodates the hand well, and allows for clear and accurate intonation throughout. The glossed maple fingerboard really does feel great to play on and the deep cutaway makes getting to those high notes a breeze.  

 

Aesthetically speaking, the maple neck on Rainbow Crackle combo only further embodies the more playful, hard rocking aesthetic often associated with 1980’s metal excess. This extends to the guitar's durability and build quality also, with its graphite reinforcement rods preventing warping caused by humidity and heat - perfect for onstage acrobatics and pyrotechnics.

 

Loaded with three Seymour Duncans, the five-way pickup selector switch on the Pro Series Soloist gives you access to a plethora of sounds from hard rock and metal through to fusion and sweet power ballads. A powerful rumbling bottom at the neck pickup and glassy clean tones through the middle and bridge pickups gives you plenty of versatility - without even breaking a sweat, you can get a really nice, multi-faceted tone out of the Soloist. A particularly nice touch is the Flat Strat SSL-6 reverse wound reverse polarity pickup in the middle position; which as with any feature of convenience, can sometimes be a point of contention, but for the versatility of sound selection, it’s hard to complain and even harder to hear any compromise in sound.

 

Typically, the very option of a crackle finish at such an accessible price point is enough to make anyone familiar with the conventions of '80s guitar culture pee a little with excitement. When a crackle finish is tacked onto a guitar as serviceable and versatile as this, it really acts as the proverbial cherry on top, and proves to do more than enough to take the Pro Series Soloist into the realms of the truly exemplary. For the completists, there’s even a matching skateboard available in matching Rainbow Crackle - a collaboration between Jackson and Aluminati Skateboards - because why not? 

Hits and Misses

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Awesome finish

Caters for agility and speed across the fretboard

Versatile pickup arrangement

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No case

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