Jackson American Series Soloist SL3 review: A scorching hot guitar for everyone

So you’re thinking about buying a guitar.

Here’s a tip: Buy one that is actually made in a way that will last, with quality construction and assembled so that you can play for many years or even decades. Crappy guitars don’t last in — more ways than one. They will eventually not go into tune and won’t sound great, but they also won’t last because you might not enjoy playing it and you’ll set it aside.

I doubt that will happen with the Jackson American Series Soloist SL3. I tested this guitar over many weeks, shredding like there was no tomorrow and even learning some new scales and chords meant for heavy metal. The guitar kept impressing me over and over.

I reviewed a Fender American Vintage II Tele recently and that guitar does match my playing style a bit better, but what I liked about the Jackson American Series Soloist SL3 the most is how it challenged me to play differently — to hit the high notes, to let the sustain shake the room a little more, and to let the grunge rock flow out of me in a way that, frankly, has not happened in 30 years of playing.

I find that a guitar like this reminds me of a high-end car or bike. You just enjoy the product more, and there are features meant to keep you hooked. I own a Specialized road bike, and ever since I started riding it almost every day, it kept me hooked. The Jackson American Series Soloist SL3 is similar in that you want to keep playing and learning new techniques.

Part of the reason I liked learning some new scales is that the action is low. I don’t mean, low as a mistake that causes buzzing or other problems, which can happen on lesser instruments. I mean purposefully low so you can really shred through scales faster. I used a small practice amp that let me use virtual sounds and it was amazing how easy it was to play droning buzzsaw sounds and then switch over to a total wall of distortion with a click. The guitar easily kept pace.

Like the Fender Tele I reviewed, the Jackson American Series Soloist SL3 is a heavy, solid piece of machinery. When you first pick it up, it feels like a solid guitar from one end to the other. Again with the car analogy here — a BMW is heavy and solid in the same way. It adheres to the road, and this guitar adheres to your fingers in a good way.

I’d never played a guitar meant for pure shredding for so many weeks, and it took me a while to realize there are 24 frets so you can really pierce the darkness at the high range. I watched several videos that explained all of the detail work that goes into the Soloist, which is made in a custom shop by people who seem to love every minute of the construction process.

And that sustain — it was truly amazing. I found out it is because of the neck-thru construction where the wood is one long piece as opposed to several pieces glued together. I can’t explain why the construction and workmanship meant the sustain lasted so long, but as an avid player I can say that it made every practice session noteworthy (in a literal sense).

I don’t ever say this, but the $2,600 price tag is worth it even for those new to guitar playing. It’s a majorly impressive instrument, one I would love to keep playing if I didn’t have to box it up and return it after my review. Great job Jackson getting me hooked on metal!