Friday, December 30, 2011

Jackson Kelly 3 (Trans Black)

Jackson Kelly 3 (Trans Black) Review

Quick Facts:
Neck Material: Maple
Neck Type/Profile: Bolt-on Maple Neck with Scarf Joint Headstock
Fingerboard: Rosewood (24 Frets)
Body: Alder
Neck Pickup: Seymour Duncan Jazz (SH-2)
Bridge Pickup: Seymour Duncan JB (SH-4)
Comes with Floyd Rose licensed Jackson double locking 2-point tremelo

Make: Made in Japan


The Jackson KE-3 guitar was one of the first guitars I had purchased when looking for a premier heavy metal guitar to use. Equipped with Seymour Duncan pickups, a floyd rose trem and 24 fret fingerboard, the Jackson KE-3 was made suitable to play all sub-genres of metal, ranging from Randy Rhoads type licks to blistering solos from Marty Friedman. What I discovered in the later years was that the Jackson KE-3 was highly capable of handling old school rock and pop/rock type music largely attributed to the versatility the Jazz and JB pick-ups provided. Don't let the killer looks of the guitar fool you into thinking it's a one-trick pony, the Jackson KE-3 is able to hack out some bluesy solos with the right effects pedals when called upon.

The make of the guitar is exquisite, and the Jackson Japanese factory produced a beautiful piece of art, with the bindings and finishing close to perfection. At the point I purchased this guitar in 2005, the Japanese made Jacksons were selling at a remarkably affordable price, making the Japanese made Ibanez and Yamaha guitars look like over-priced fire wood. It was not until sometime in 2007 when Jackson realised the potential to capitalize on the global perception of premium guitars being produced from Japan, and upped the price of their guitars to match that of its Ibanez counterparts. At this point, it is close to impossible to find a Japanese made guitar at the price range of RM2k (while there are some Korean made guitars around this price range, however, the selection is scarce. More about Korean PRS SEs in my later posts).

Comfort and playability of this guitar also receives 5 stars, and provides the player with a remarkable amount of endurance to keep shredding and shredding. The neck profile allows for the player to seamlessly integrate with the guitar, and once you've warmed up to the idea of shredding and hitting your trem bar at the same time, that would be all you will be doing for the next few days.

This guitar graduated to becoming my most frequently utilized guitar whenever I perform live on stage. The neck pick-up provides a very rounded tone, of which is suitable for most music when coupled alongside the right effects pedal. The bridge pick-up on the other hands provides you with a heavier crunch, and was suitably used for most of my lead work on stage. The beauty of having these pick-ups was how perfectly balanced the guitar was in volume and tone. The difference between the SH-2and SH-4 is somewhat minimal, but prominent at the same time. Only a discerning listener will be able to distinguish the slight difference heard between those pick-ups when the selector is flipped.

In essence, the Jackson KE-3 guitar provided a highly affordable alternative (back then) to a class of Japanese guitars, which were then heavily dominated by the quality provided by Ibanez Prestige guitars, coupled alongside Di Marzio pick-ups. This "cheaper" alternative was met with the highest of qualities in terms of workmanship, finishing, and electronics - and while I do not condone the price hike it has received over the past couple of years - however, it is deserving of the positioning it has received as a premier Japanese made guitar.

Overall Rating: 8.5

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ibanez Prestige RG 1450 (WHP)

Ibanez Prestige RG 1450 (WHP) Review

Quick Facts;

Neck Material: 5 piece Maple/Walnut
Neck Type: Wizard Prestige
Fingerboard: Rosewood (24 Frets)
Body: Basswood
Neck Pickup: V6F Neck
Middle Pickup: RTS
Bridge Pickup: V6F Bridge Finish: White

Make: Made in Japan


The Ibanez RG 1450 is an "entry level" Prestige guitar, which offers all the quickness the Pretige necks have to offer, with responsive pickups and a killer feel. All one has to do is to pick up one of these guitars off the shelf and chances are they are ready to perform. Set-up by a team of experts in the Ibanez Japan factory, the Prestige line of guitars come "ready-to-play" right out of the box, with minimal set-up required for those metal heads who love a low action and fast neck. I was honestly blown away at how responsive this guitar was on all pick-up settings, and the intonation was brilliant right out of the box.

For many of you who love heavy metal and play heavy metal music, you would not be a stranger to RG guitars. Once upon a time, I was content with the Indonesian made RGs available. Ibanez always did a great job in producing some fine workmanship on those Indonesian made ones, with the INFs being able to provide a satisfactory crunch, which will leave you happy enough in the jamming studio. Should you start getting serious about your music, and especially for those of you who prefer a quicker attack and savage tone, the Prestige line of guitars are ready to do just that. While the RG 1450 does not come equipped with Di Marzio pickups, I am somewhat happier without them, as it provides me with more room to customize the guitar the way I want, rather than settling in with a set of Di Marzios which could sound a tad too sharp for my liking at times.

The RG 1450 was bred to play a certain genre of music, but it would be unfair to not discuss the crystal clean tones it can produce. More surprisingly to me, was the glassy single coil tone produced by the middle pick up, of which to me is normally useless on any Indonesian made RG I have used. Push the selector up to the neck pick-up to produce a fatter clean tone, suitable for those chunky rhythm lines, or flip it down to the bridge for a thinner lead line with more treble attached. Positions "2" and "4", however, leaves little to be desired, with very little noticeable difference between neck and bridge positions.

In short, the RG 1450 is a guitar which performs extremely well in both the studio and when performing live. It's playability is sure to make any guitarist play faster and quicker than they are used to, as the neck design aids the guitarist to reach those frets with ease and comfort. It's an all out metal guitar, and works extremely well when plugged in to some killer distortion like the MXR Fullbore Metal, but performs equally well when plugged directly into the amp for some clean playing with added reverb. A highly versatile guitar, which any metal guitarist should have in their arsenal.

Overall Rating: 9