When Jackson released the Gus G signature model in 2017, it was kind of a big deal. The Firewind guitarist was previously playing ESP star and Eclipse models (which I’d love to buy), so switching to a Jackson was a shock.
Full disclosure, I originally chose this one more on looks than anything else. And really, when the decision came down to two criteria, it was kind of an easy choice. Those criteria? I want a pointy guitar, and I don’t have a Jackson.
One of those is a pretty terrible reason to special order something isn’t it? In hindsight though, it all worked out perfectly.
Over two months, I tried to do a bunch of research to find out what the most appropriate version of the guitar to order. For us normal folks, that choice comes down to either the JS32 (made in China) or X Series (made in Indonesia). After lots of research, I went with the X series, for some very specific reasons.
If you’ve played any of the JS32 models like a soloist or Rhoads, you probably know what this one will feel like. Personally I find the neck to be a little off, but if you like the thin “U” profiled neck and compound radius fretboard, you’re getting a pretty great value. The hardware is very similar to the other models in this series, so if you’re not lucky enough to find a Gus G model in a store to test, you can always try one of these to get an idea of how it will play.
As for the X Series that I picked up, this is one nice looking guitar. Size wise, it’s similar to an ESP/LTD explorer, and slightly larger than a Chapman ghost fret. Weight wise, it’s heavy, but not uncomfortable. Some of this weight comes from the neck through design, vs the bolt on in the JS32 styles. And one of those specific reasons I mentioned? I prefer set necks and neck through over bolt on.
I elected for the satin show white, which has the classic pinstripe that you normally see on some of the other classic Jackson’s. This isn’t a shiny finish, it’s a very matte look, which ends up looking very sharp. All of this is paired up with black hardware. Basically this was reason one. I wanted a pointy guitar, and I wanted it in white. See, kind of a dumb but specific reason. And the JS32 could have met this need too.
On the headstock, you get the classic Jackson point, with a thin black stripe. The truss rod also gets an engraving of Gus G’s signature. The tuners are Jackson branded, though they are locking.
If you’re familiar with Indonesian guitars, you won’t be overly surprised with some of the finishing and craftsmanship. I did notice some minor paint levelling issues – most notably on the top of the neck – where the satin paint meets with the rosewood. There was also a slight buzzing, be a simple setup of the guitar solved that pretty quickly.
And if you’re like me, and have been frantically googling this guitar in hopes that you’ll find info on the neck, this is the most important part of the post. To sum it up quickly, it’s thick.
Profile wise, the X series is a “D” profile. Jackson has it labelled as a “soloist” profile, though they don’t seem to have any other models that use this type of neck. When you hold it, the curvature is very flat In the centre of the neck, with sharp shoulders Though, if you’re a player who’s used to playing a thick necked Les Paul, it’s not that big of a deal. I found that the transition from my Gibson SG or classic vibe tele to this wasn’t a major adjustment.
Neck radius wise, this is a 12″ radius, so very similar to a Gibson neck, but with the fret width/string spacing that you normally see on Jackson’s. All of this is wrapped up with a 24 fret, 25.5″ scale.
In the images below, you can kind of see the side of the neck: first compared to a classic vibe tele, and second to an Ibanez wizard (specifically an RG350 maple). The biggest thing that you notice is that even though the tele is a thicker neck, the Jackson feels larger. From my point of view, it just feels more “Gibson”.
Seeing as this is a signature model, the easiest way to find out what the guitar sounds like is to point to one of Gus G‘s singles. Early Firewind is mostly out – as he was still using ESP, but check out the song Fearless on his most recent album.
The one thing that stands out for me, is how good this guitar sounds with low gain. I’m playing through various amps – a Marshall MG30, Blackstar HT5, Joyo Meteor, among others, and this thing just growls. The active Seymour Duncan blackouts have a distinctive sound that you can quickly say is Gus G.
I leave mine in D standard tuning, and it’s served me well in various styles, whether that’s jamming to Firewind, Ghost, or even some of the more recent blues rock Europe songs.
So the real question: would I recommend it?
If someone was looking for that pure metal guitar, and isn’t one that likes Dean guitars, absolutely. But there’s a caveat. If you don’t like chunky necks, or don’t like the feel of something like a Gibson Les Paul, be prepared. That neck can be eyebrow raising. It’s amazingly playable, but moving from a super thin Jackson or Ibanez neck will be surprising.
Instrument: Jackson Gus G X Series Signature
Score: 5/6 strings
Product Page: Jacksonguitars.com
Purchased: August 2018 (manufactured winter 2018)
Made in: Indonesia