Best Jackson guitars 2024: Our pick of high-performance Jackson guitars for all budgets

Jackson went from humble beginnings as a small Californian repair shop to taking over the world of heavy metal instruments in a relatively short amount of time. Today, the best Jackson guitars can be seen slung around the shoulders of the biggest names in metal, with the brand being the weapon of choice for everyone from Misha Mansoor to Mark Heylmun, Chris Broderick, Rob Caggiano and many more. 

With beloved models such as the Dinky, Rhoads, Soloist and Kelly, the Jackson catalog is packed to the brim with unique instruments that offer players a plethora of sonic characteristics – and better yet, there are featured-packed options at every price point. So whether you're riffing, soloing, or raising hell, there's a Jackson model to help you do it with style. 

So, without further ado, strap in, tune up and allow us to guide you through the wild world of the very best Jackson guitars.

Best Jackson guitars: Quick list

Want to cut to the chase and find out exactly what we think are the best Jackson guitars on the market right now? Below, you’ll find a round-up of our top choices. You can jump to a more detailed review of every pick and our clever price comparison tool will help you find the best deals online today.

The best Jackson guitars available today

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Best Jackson on a budget

Best Jackson guitars: Jackson JS Series King V JS32T

(Image credit: Jackson)

1. Jackson JS Series King V JS32T

The best Jackson on a budget

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Amaranth
Pickups: Jackson High-Output Humbucking
Hardware: Jackson TOM-Style Adjustable String-Through-Body
Finish: Gloss Black, Ferrari Red

Reasons to buy

+
Super affordable
+
Great tone
+
The shape is not for everyone

Reasons to avoid

-
More finish options would be nice

For those seeking a metal monster on a budget, the beloved JS Series is most definitely the place to start – and one of our favorites is the regal JS32T King V. With its poplar body, bolt-on graphite-reinforced maple neck, lightning-fast 12"-16" compound radius fingerboard and high-output humbuckers, this guitar doesn't look, sound or feel like a budget guitar. 

Other features include an adjustable string-through-body compensated bridge, die-cast tuners and those iconic sharkfin inlays. As far as finishes go, this spikey axe is available in the understated Gloss Black or the bold Ferrari Red Gloss.

Okay, so the V shape may be a little awkward to sit down with and we certainly don't recommend it for absolute beginners, but if you're looking for a wallet-friendly doom machine that is choc-full of modern appointments, then this is the best Jackson for you. 

Best Jackson overall

Best Jackson guitars: Jackson X Series Dinky DK3XR HSS

(Image credit: Jackson)

2. Jackson X Series Dinky DK3XR HSS

Best Jackson overall

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: Jackson High-Output Humbucking/ Single Coils
Hardware: Floyd Rose Licensed Jackson Double-Locking Tremolo
Finish: Cobalt Blue, Neon Green, Gloss Black

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent value for money
+
Great range of finish options
+
Fast neck

Reasons to avoid

-
The Floyd Rose isn't for everyone 

The Dinky is one of Jackson's most popular and recognizable electric guitars in their vast lineup. This Superstrat is quintessentially Jackson. From its lightweight poplar body with sculpted heel contour, shredder-friendly 12 " - 16" compound radius fingerboard and thin maple neck, this guitar makes short work of those fast legato licks. 

Loaded with a trio of Jackson pickups, the Dinky DK3XR is tonally versatile, too. The ceramic high-output humbucker is fierce and with the right amp setting could melt a face from 100 yards away. That said, it's more than high-gain shredding this guitar can do. The single-coil middle and neck pickups deliver the mellow Strat sounds we all crave when we want things to get a little lighter. 

Now, it wouldn't be a proper Superstrat without a tremolo unit, and luckily, the Dinky comes loaded with the Jackson-branded Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo bridge system. So you'll be able to perform those guitar acrobatics that plagued the '80s. 

Best Jackson for leadwork

Best Jackson guitars: Jackson American Series Soloist SL3

(Image credit: Jackson)

3. Jackson American Series Soloist SL3

Best for leadwork

Specifications

Body: Alder
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Ebony
Pickups: Seymour Duncan JB TB-4/Seymour Duncan Flat Strat SSL-6 RWRP Single-Coils
Hardware: Floyd Rose 1500 Series Double-Locking Tremolo
Finish: Gloss Black, Slime Green, Platinum Pearl, Select Guitar Color, Riviera Blue

Reasons to buy

+
Loaded with premium features
+
Fantastic finish options
+
Made in the USA

Reasons to avoid

-
The neck may be too thin for some players

We've always been huge fans of the Jackson Soloist here at Guitar World – so you can imagine how excited we were to get our hands on the new American Series Soloist SL3. This contemporary version of the Jackson classic is built to the exacting standards of the original model, but there are a few subtle upgrades that modern players will welcome.

In our glowing 5-star review, we praised the guitar's superb build quality and outstanding playability, saying, "when playing the American Series Soloist, 40 years of guitar-making experience and refinement is evident compared to the original model. Here, the fretboard edges are smoothly rounded off to provide silky comfort and the slim, flat C-shape neck profile facilitates lightning-fast runs. A deep-routed cavity allows players to raise the pitch significantly with the Floyd Rose. Playability, comfort, and performance are all simply top-notch".

If you're in the market for a premium shredder that is loaded with all the modern features today's guitarists need, then look no further than the stunning Jackson American Series Soloist SL3. 

Read our full Jackson American Series Soloist SL3 review

Best for Periphery fans

Best Jackson guitars: Jackson MJ Series Signature Misha Mansoor So-Cal 2PT

(Image credit: Jackson)

4. Jackson MJ Series Signature Misha Mansoor So-Cal 2PT

The best for Periphery fans

Specifications

Body: Basswood
Neck: Caramelized Maple
Fingerboard: Caramelized Maple
Pickups: Bare Knuckle Ragnarok/ Bare Knuckle Trilogy Suite Single Coil Strat
Hardware: Gotoh Custom 510 Tremolo
Finish: Daphne Blue

Reasons to buy

+
Vintage styling, modern tones
+
The caramelized maple neck looks and feels great
+
Comes stock with Bare Knuckle pickups

Reasons to avoid

-
The retro look isn't for everyone 

On the surface, this signature collaboration with Periphery's Misha Mansoor may look like a retro-inspired Stratocaster, but have a quick glance at its impressive spec sheet and you'll notice it's anything but a traditional Fender. 

From its lightweight basswood body and caramelized maple neck with rock-solid graphite reinforcement to its 22 jumbo stainless steel frets, glow-in-the-dark Luminlay side dots and a trio of Bare Knuckle pickups, this S-Type has been specifically designed with high performance in mind – and trust us when we say, this is one of the most inspiring signature models we've ever played. 

From off-the-wall progressive metal to classic vintage single-coil sounds, the So-Cal 2PT can do it all – and it looks effortlessly cool while doing it. 

Best for '80s metal

Best Jackson guitars: Jackson Pro Series Rhoads RRT-5

(Image credit: Jackson)

5. Jackson Pro Series Rhoads RRT-5

Best for '80s metal

Specifications

Body: Mahogany
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Ebony
Pickups: Seymour Duncan Distortion SH-6/SH-6N
Hardware: Jackson TOM-Style Adjustable String-Through-Body
Finish: Gloss Black

Reasons to buy

+
Face melting pickups
+
A must-have for Rhoads fans

Reasons to avoid

-
The shape isn't exactly easy to sit down with 

If there was one artist who is synonymous with Jackson, it's the virtuoso extraordinaire, Randy Rhoads. In 1980, Ozzy Osbourne's talented new guitar player had a hand in creating the first-ever guitar that proudly displayed the "Jackson" moniker on the headstock. Now, while his Concorde V would evolve into what we now think of as the Jackson Rhoads, the guitarist would meet his untimely death before he could see just how popular his creation would become. 

The Jackson Pro Series Rhoads takes what the original V started and brings it bang up to date – with a focus on a more aggressive contemporary tone. The mahogany body with its graphite-reinforced through-body maple neck looks every bit as good as it did in the '80s, but a duo of Seymour Duncan Distortion pickups makes sure it can satisfy the needs of a modern shredder. 

This guitar has plenty of output for driving your amp into bold new territories while also providing the clarity needed to hear every single note of your gravity-defying legato runs. So, all aboard the Crazy Train for a guitar that proves You Can't Kill Rock and Roll

Best Jackson 7-string guitar

Best Jackson guitars: Jackson Pro Plus Dinky DK Modern HT7 MS

(Image credit: Jackson)

6. Jackson Pro Plus Dinky DK Modern HT7 MS

Best Jackson 7-string

Specifications

Body: Basswood
Neck: 3-Piece Maple/Wenge/Maple
Fingerboard: Ebony
Pickups: Fishman Fluence Modern PRF-MH8
Hardware: Hipshot 7 - *21 degrees, Fixed .175
Finish: Satin Orange

Reasons to buy

+
Multi-scale design 
+
Lightweight basswood body
+
Fishman Fluence Modern PRF-MH8 pickups as standard

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a lot of finish options

Looking for an earth-shaking guitar that has enough low-end to level a city? Well, look no further than the Jackson Pro Plus Dinky DK Modern HT7 MS. This tangerine doom machine is easily one of the best 7-string guitars available right now and is our pick for the best Jackson guitar for those seeking a multi-scale instrument.  

If you've ever down-tuned your guitar in the hope of playing some seriously heavy riffs, you'll know the pitfalls associated with low-tuned, heavily distorted guitars. Tuning stability and intonation are often affected, and string tension can be a real problem. That's where a multi-scale design comes in. The neck of the Jackson Pro Plus Dinky DK Modern HT7 MS accommodates two scale lengths on one fingerboard – 27" on the lower strings and the more traditional 25.5" on the higher strings. This ensures the guitar has the optimal tension across all strings and that the tuning and intonation are as solid as can be. 

Couple the multi-scale design with the Fishman Fluence Modern PRF-MH8 ceramic bridge and alnico neck humbucking pickups and you get a guitar that sounds as good as it looks and feels. 

Read our full Jackson Pro Plus Dinky DK Modern HT7 review

Best for standing out

Best Jackson guitars: Jackson X Series Kelly KEX

(Image credit: Jackson)

7. Jackson X Series Kelly KEX

Best Jackson for those who want to stand out

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: 3-Piece Maple
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: Jackson High-Output Humbuckers
Hardware: Floyd Rose Special Double-Locking Tremolo (Recessed)
Finish: Gloss Black

Reasons to buy

+
One-piece maple neck-through-body with graphite reinforcement
+
High output pickups
+
Well balanced design

Reasons to avoid

-
The look isn't for everyone

For us, the Jackson X Series houses some of the brand's best-value guitars. Coming loaded with premium features while maintaining a wallet-friendly price tag, this is the place to go for a workhorse guitar that will never give up. 

Now, while the X Series is home to a slew of models from the Dinky to the Soloist, King V and many more, the guitar that gets our pick is the Kelly KEX. For us, this guitar is the perfect balance of form and function – and it sounds pretty great, too! 

Even though the shape may resemble a Gibson Explorer, the guitar's design shares more in common with the Firebird. The Kelly is constructed with a through-neck that then has the "body-wings" attached; in this case, they are made of lightweight poplar. This design makes the guitar incredibly resonant. 

Like any of the other guitars in the X Series, the Kelly comes equipped with a pair of Jackson high-output humbucking pickups, single volume and tone controls, a three-way toggle switch and a Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo system. 

Best premium model

Best Jackson guitars: Jackson Concept Series Soloist SL Walnut HS

(Image credit: Jackson)

8. Jackson Concept Series Soloist SL Walnut HS

Best for premium features

Specifications

Body: Mahogany/Walnut
Neck: Maple/Wenge/Maple
Fingerboard: Ebony
Pickups: Seymour Duncan Full Shred SH-10B
Hardware: Floyd Rose Original Double-Locking Tremolo
Finish: Satin Natural

Reasons to buy

+
High-end features
+
Seymour Duncan Full Shred and Custom Flat Strat is a great combo

Reasons to avoid

-
Not everyone likes gold hardware

Stunning walnut top, jet-black ebony fingerboard, glow-in-the-dark Luminlay side dots, Seymour Duncan Full Shred SH-10B bridge pickup and Seymour Duncan Custom Flat Strat SSL-6 neck pickup, these are features you'd expect on a Custom Shop instrument, but they are actually available as part of Jackson's Concept Series. 

In this series, Jackson takes their beloved instruments and revamps them with commonly asked-for spec changes and wild new finishes – and we think the results are simply breathtaking. 

This mahogany and walnut Soloist is easily one of the most beautiful examples we've ever seen – and luckily it has the playability and sound to boot. 

The gorgeous three-piece maple/wenge/maple neck is absolutely effortless to play, while the Luminlay side dots mean you'll never get lost on those dark stages. Pair that with the outrageous Seymour Duncan pickups – which are mounted directly to the body for improved vibration transfer – and you get a guitar that sounds every bit as good as it looks and feels. 

Best 8-string Jackson guitar

Best Jackson guitars: Jackson X Series Soloist Arch Top SLAT8 MS

(Image credit: Jackson)

9. Jackson X Series Soloist Arch Top SLAT8 MS

Best Jackson with 8-strings

Specifications

Body: Poplar
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Laurel
Pickups: EMG 909
Hardware: Staggered Individual Saddles
Finish: Gloss Black

Reasons to buy

+
EMG pickups are standard
+
Multi-scale design 

Reasons to avoid

-
Only available in black 

In our guide to the best 8-string guitars, the instrument that tops our list is the Jackson X Series Soloist Arch Top SLAT8 MS. We love the Soloist in its standard form, and we think it translates very well to the extended range format. 

Now, as you can imagine, there's a lot of extra tension on an 8-string neck, but luckily the SLAT8's scarf joint and two graphite rods mean there's no movement in this neck at all – it's as solid as a rock! One thing to keep in mind, though, is the nut width is rather wide at 53.85mm, so if you're a fan of thin necks, maybe this isn't the guitar for you. 

The tonal heart of this metal monster is a set of EMG 909 humbuckers. You don't need us to tell you that this fierce set of active pickups is sure to bring the power – but what's more important is their clarity and low-end definition. These pickups sound absolutely brilliant, regardless of how low you tune!

Best Jackson guitars: Buying advice

Jackson guitars headstock on pink background

(Image credit: Future)

Which Jackson guitar is right for me?

When choosing the best Jackson guitar for your needs, you must first decide what you want from your new guitar. Bear in mind that buying a guitar is a personal and subjective thing – so what is right for someone else may not necessarily be right for you. 

Hone in on the core specifications that you need to make the guitar work for you. Are there certain tonewoods you like? Perhaps there are a specific type of pickups that you know will give you the sound you are looking for.

Next, you'll want to think about your budget. The budget will determine which series you go for. Looking for a beginner-friendly guitar that won't cost you the earth? Well, why not start with the JS Series? Perhaps you are an intermediate player looking for a giggable axe that won't let you done, well, in that case, the X Series is your best bet. 

Of course, as we move up to the likes of the American, MJ, Concept, Pro and Pro Plus Series, the guitars get more expensive and come loaded with even more premium features. 

Thankfully, Jackson offers most of their iconic body styles in almost all of their series, so you'll be sure to find the best Jackson guitar for you at any price point. 

Are Jackson guitars only for metal?

While Jackson guitars are used by some of the biggest names in metal, that's not the only genre in which they excel. From classic rock to punk, grunge to hardcore, Jackson guitars are used in a wide range of musical scenarios.

Jackson guitars are available in an assortment of body styles, with various tonewood combinations and pickup configurations, so you should be able to find a guitar that suits the style of music you play. It's easy to pigeonhole the brand as purely for extreme forms of music, but in our experience, Jackson produces guitars that are versatile, well-made, and a lot of fun to play. 

Which artists play Jackson guitars?

Jackson's artist roster reads like a who's who of some of the greatest players in the world – and it spans generations! From Kirk Hammett of Metallica to Phil Demmel of Machine Head, Phil Collen of Def Leppard, Trivium's Corey Beaulieu, Iron Maiden's Adrian Smith and IV of Sleep Token, all of these artists rely on Jackson guitars to achieve their signature sounds. 

How we choose products

A trio of Jackson guitars

(Image credit: Future)

At Guitar World, our writing team consists of seasoned musicians deeply immersed in the world of guitar gear. With years of playing and rigorous product testing under our belts, we bring a practical understanding derived from real-world experience with musical equipment. Our dedication covers every aspect of the musical journey, from live gigs to studio sessions, forming the foundation for our carefully curated recommendations across various categories.

When it comes to finding the best Jackson guitars on the market, our approach is meticulous. We blend practical experience, insights from user reviews, and extensive discussions within our editorial team. This down-to-earth method ensures a thorough evaluation, offering a reliable guide for your next guitar purchase.

As passionate guitarists ourselves, our main aim is to help fellow players discover gear that perfectly fits their needs. We consider factors like budget constraints, features, and the pedal's usability, creating a list that straightforwardly represents the best Jackson guitars in today's musical landscape.

Read more about how we test products and services and how we make our recommendations.

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