Review: Jackson Pro Plus Series Soloist SLA3

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Review: Jackson Pro Plus Series Soloist SLA3

Jackson Pro Plus
Words by Jack O'Shea Ayres

Jackson Pro Plus Series Soloist SLA3 | Fender Music Australia | RRP $2499

Unlock your full potential as a player with the innovative Jackson Pro Plus Soloist™ SLA3, the final word in high-tech guitar design. A high-performance evolution of the electric guitar, this ergonomic instrument opens up new horizons of playability, resetting the bar of what’s possible in guitar design.

From its earliest beginnings as an independent electric guitar manufacturer in 1980, before the Fender Musical Instrument Corporation (FMIC) acquired the Jackson brand in 2002, to its designs of the modern day, Jackson Guitars are known for their slender and elegant looks, featuring macho motifs, popular with hard rock and metal musicians, but the dedication to metal musos doesn’t stop there. 

The iconic Jackson look still stands with the newest release of the Jackson Pro Plus Series Soloist SLA3, featuring a lightweight 25.5 inch arched Okoume wood body in bright Gold Bullion, Dark Black or Snow White, as well as those original Jackson design highlights that guitarists have come to love. 

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The Jackson Pro Plus released earlier this year builds on the Jackson Pro Series serving as the middle, workhorse tier of the Jackson range. The SLA3 comes set with jumbo stainless steel frets which allow for sleek playability and easy sliding into the high notes, making it true to its name as a perfect piece of equipment for guitar soloists. 

The guitar stands out even more with a HSS configuration of the incredibly popular Seymour Duncan pickups; a Distortion TB-6 in the bridge, a Custom Flat Strat SSL-6  RWRP (reverse wound reverse polarity) Single-Coil in the middle and a Custom Flat Strat SSL-6 Single-Coil in the neck. The Distortion humbucker maintains the Jackson-made guitars as a favourite for heavy rock and metal artists, moving big, heavy sounds through the amplifier when plugged in, working to also bring sustain and rich harmonics to the instrument’s bellowing sounds. The overwound Single-Coil pickups work to balance that fat humbucker sound with a powerful strike of bouncy, defined tonal character with a clean and glassy impression. 

The high-performance guitar utilises Jackson’s dedication to ergonomic design, blending the lightweight body with aggressive sharp edges of the headstock. When I took the new Jackson Pro Plus SLA 3 out of its packaging, its lightweight and compact design was obvious. The provided soft-shell gig bag and streamlined design make the guitar easily transportable. Its edges are clean and it sits nicely on the leg and body when played sitting down, and those jumbo frets feel sleek and easy to slide against, as well as making hammer ons and offs easier than any guitar I’ve played before. 

It’s made clear the designers of this guitar had a fast and hard playing style in mind when putting this guitar together; improvising some blues and pentatonic scales, as well as harmonics at a fast tempo are made easy even for an amateur guitarist, making the Jackson Pro Plus Series Soloist SLA3 guitar a great piece of equipment for learning and practising on. 

The guitar is sure to stand out in any scenario; the Gold Bullion colour scheme shines throughout the body and Jackson sealed die-cast tuning pegs, as well as on the knobs and bridge, making it a good pick for any fan of over-the-top gold. 

The new Pro Plus is made for a thrashing, too. Designed and manufactured with dedicated hard rock and metal musos in mind, the guitar can cop a fair bit of abuse in distortion with a hard and fast playing style, the instrument’s made for the shredding style fans of metal are so used to, but a low and clean action gives the new Jackson an incredible range; it proves itself a great tool for for a bit of slow and clean soloing, especially when you add reverb, giving it a warm fuzz. 

Jackson Pro Plus 2

Kicking in the neck and middle position pick-ups allows users to achieve a soft and warm tone so synonymous with the soft-rock and indie style of playing, whereas a kick of the bridge and middle Seymours delivers a crunchy grunge bite. The Jackson proves a complete wide-range electric guitar capable of any playing style a rock muso could want and it’s so easy to experiment with. 

Will it Shred?

With a thin neck and some big-ass jumbo frets, this guitar is meant for speed. Not only does the maple-walnut neck look good, even against the bold colouring of this golden guitar, it allows novice hard rock and metal players like myself to push the boundaries of my playing; it is certainly fast. I have no doubts a metal enthusiast would find no problems picking the new Jackson up to shred. 

Overall, the new Jackson Pro Plus Series SLA3 is extremely light; not only does the Okoume wood body show up well, it makes for a perfectly playable and transportable guitar. As a muso who has taken what could be described as a backseat in the metal and hard rock style of playing, I don’t know much about shredding, however the new Jackson is a fun guitar to play and so easy to learn new stuff on; it’s an extremely fun instrument to pick up and simply have a bit of a go on. 

And it’s oh-so-gold body is sure to show up well against those flashing and bright lights at any rock gig.

For more info, visit Jackson.