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Cheap Jacksons... are they worth looking at?

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  • Cheap Jacksons... are they worth looking at?

    I have owned 4... A ‘90 RR pro, a ‘92 RR LTD, a ‘93 RR PCS and a ‘02 KV2. I still own the LTD and PCS (my #1). The first 3 were among the finest guitars I have played. The KV2 had sharp frets and a dull trem response with a weird sympathetic vibration - not a fan.

    I hear a lot of talk about import manufacture being among the best there is and the 90 Pro I had was phenomenal. I am wondering if the cheaper imports stand up to the US models like the early-90s MIJ or is it a YGWYPF deal. IDC about pups or hardware... just finish, build quality and fretwork.



    '02 Jackson KV2
    '92 Jackson Rhoads PCS
    '92 Jackson Rhoads Tribute

  • #2
    I think there are two talking points:
    1. imports have gotten cheaper. so today's 'cheap import' is not the same as yesterday's 'cheap import'
    2. what imports would be the equivalent to what you owned in the past so that you are comparing apples to apples

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    • #3
      but to answer the question:
      the belief is that the original imports were so good that they made the domestic ones look bad, so the imports were 'cheapened'. since then, they made even 'cheaper' imports from other countries, and eventually the japanese factory stopped making them.

      so, no, I don't think a 2020 Pro will be here in 2050 the way the 1990 imports are here in 2020.

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      • #4
        I've got an Indonesian SL3X - it was £399 last year, my cheapest guitar by far, and it's fantastic. I've upgraded the bridge pickup and the trem arm, but they were purely out of personal preference, not because there was anything wrong with it.

        Build quality is spot on, and it's really light and resonant. All in all, it's probably my favourite guitar at the moment.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by V-man View Post
          I have owned 4... A ‘90 RR pro, a ‘92 RR LTD, a ‘93 RR PCS and a ‘02 KV2. I still own the LTD and PCS (my #1). The first 3 were among the finest guitars I have played. The KV2 had sharp frets and a dull trem response with a weird sympathetic vibration - not a fan.

          I hear a lot of talk about import manufacture being among the best there is and the 90 Pro I had was phenomenal. I am wondering if the cheaper imports stand up to the US models like the early-90s MIJ or is it a YGWYPF deal. IDC about pups or hardware... just finish, build quality and fretwork.


          I love my green crackle SLX made in China , I would definitely buy another

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          • #6
            The X-Series ($600-$700, made in Indonesia for the most part) that people are referring to here are solid guitars. And the they are sort of the sweet-spot between price and features. Unlike the Japanese X-series, the current ones are neck-through. But as of late Jackson has been putting in generic pickups in many models as opposed to brand-name pickups which they used until recently. Doesn't mean they are bad though. Now if we go with the really cheap stuff ($300s, made in China), those too are surprisingly good guitars according to folks who actually buy them. Comparing them to US Jacksons may be a bit too much though.

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            • #7
              Its not just generic pickups, there were a few X-series Kelly advertised with a Licensed Floyd as well, not even a Special.

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              • #8
                Which X Series Kellys had that the Jackson-licensed trem? I may have missed it/them, but the current offerings (https://www.jacksonguitars.com/gear/...t=new&series=x) are all equipped with Floyd Rose Specials.

                Might not be a big deal being equipped with a Jackson-licensed trem since the rumor around here is that they are Floyd Rose Specials with Jackson branding on them anyway.

                But you bring up a good point because I have also noticed the X Series receiving "downgrades" over time. https://www.jcfonline.com/forum/equi...a-recent-thing

                As seen in the above link, for a while the X Series were made in Indonesia but are now being made in China. China was previously exclusively the domain for the JS Series.

                While the current X Series has a mix of different factory-equipped pickups (Jackson-branded pickups, Duncan Designed pickups, and USA EMG pickups), I would not be surprised to eventually see the entire range equipped with the lowest cost pickups (and hardware, including the Jackson-licensed trem). There will probably inevitably be increasing overlap between the X Series and JS Series.

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                • #9
                  2017 catalog, the X series Kelly are all Jackson-branded Floyd Rose rather than FRS like the rest. As for the Chinese X-series, its just for the crackle finish I think, like Worlds for the Swamp Ash Dinky. The other X series I picked up at the store were still Indonesian Cort with a serial starting with 20.

                  But yea, the X-series has always been kinda weird with hardware choices. You already have the XMG subline that ships with proper US EMG and those are only 50-100 more RRP, why not equip the whole line with proper Duncans and EMG.
                  Last edited by Crumbling; 07-19-2020, 06:04 PM.

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                  • #10
                    And it's not just the X-Series Crackle. Even the $1100 Pro Crackle is made in China.

                    I wonder if Jackson is working to distinguish the X-Series more strongly from the Pro-Series by downgrading the X-Series and upgrading the Pros starting with the Korean ones by adding some interesting features/finishes and of course increasing the price considerably.

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                    • #11
                      I think its more they have a price tag and profit margin target to hit and hardware selection is adjusted accordingly. The Kelly needs a bigger slab of wood, so it gets worse pickups (and previously trem) to compensate. In the other range the Kelly is slightly more expensive as well. The crackle finish thing is probably because Samick/Cort isn't equipped to make them and the Chinese factory is (like how cort used to make the JS Kelly). Its not the same Chinese factory that's making the JS either, the crackle I've seen are CYJ rather than CWJ like the JSes.

                      The Korean wildcard price increase probably comes down to the OFR, Evertune and what not. The Korean swamp ash Dinky is only about $150 more expensive than the regular DK2

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JefLeppard View Post

                        I love my green crackle SLX made in China , I would definitely buy another
                        If your going to get another one like I did, Go for the SLX DX Swirls! Even a better neck (thinner/smoother) with the satin finish. Yup, upgraded the pups (Dimarzio Joe Satraini set ( Paf Joe/neck & Mo Joe/bridge) saddles/block and trem arm....Well worth the price.
                        "When a naked man is chasing a woman through an ally with a butcher's knife and a hard-on, I figure he isn't out collecting for the Red Cross"............ Dirty Harry

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                        • #13
                          I like my Mexican DK2 hardtail. Not expensive, but has good features and plays well.
                          Remember, Wherever you go,.. there you are

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                          • #14
                            Guitars don't know they are cheap. Important is if they have a sound that inspires at a price you're willing to pay.

                            At least during the Japan Korea era, what was considered "cheap" then isn't cheap today to reiterate what pianoguyy mentioned.

                            For Japan guitars those builders were interested in building as best they could.

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