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Jackson Adrian Smith SDXM and Pro Series Soloist SL2P MAH review

Two nicely priced electrics that cover all the bases

Jackson Adrian Smith SDXM and Pro Series Soloist SL2P MAH
(Image: © Guitar Center)

Our Verdict

The Jackson Adrian Smith SDXM and Pro Series Soloist SL2P MAH are both incredible additions to Jackson’s current line that deliver outstanding value and live up to the company’s storied reputation for playability and tone.

For

  • SDXM has 22 jumbo frets and a slim, C-shaped profile to provide the ideal combination of tone and playability.
  • Soloist’s Seymour Duncan humbuckers (TB-6 bridge, SH-6N neck) provide rich, complex tones.

Against

  • Not everyone wants a Floyd Rose.
  • Soloist's looks won't be for everyone.

40 years ago, the very first guitar with the Jackson name on its headstock made its debut - a custom model designed in collaboration with Randy Rhoads called the Concorde. While the company started out as a custom shop with a clientele of artists who could afford to pay more for quality, eventually Jackson started offering production-line models in the '90s, including an affordable line of import instruments. 

Today Jackson is bigger than ever, producing 155 different models, which is probably more than the total amount of guitars the company built during an entire year during the early '80s.

Jackson currently offers a comprehensive selection of guitar models that range in price from $150 to $5,300. What is truly remarkable is that the majority of today’s Jackson models (104 of them, to be exact) sell for street prices of $1,000 or less. 

We took a closer look at two new Jacksons that fall into that range - the Adrian Smith SDXM and Pro Series Soloist SL2P MAH - to see how their quality stacks up to the competition as well as its higher-end models from the past and present.

Features

Jackson Adrian Smith SDXM

Jackson Adrian Smith SDXM (Image credit: Jackson Guitars)

While the Jackson Adrian Smith SDXM and Pro Series Soloist SL2P MAH are both quite attractively priced, selling for street prices of $499.99 and $949.99, respectively, they stand out from many other competitors’ models in the same price range with their distinctive styling. 

To the naked eye, the Adrian Smith SDXM looks identical to its pricier USA-made San Dimas flagship version, with the differences lying in details like a slightly wider nut width (42.86mm on the SDXM com-pared to 42mm on the USA version), different materials and different hardware. 

The SDXM has a full-size Strat-style San Dimas body made of basswood and a maple bolt-on neck with a satin finish, 25.5-inch scale length, compound 12-to-16-inch radius, 22 jumbo frets and a licensed Fender Stratocaster headstock with oversized “arena” Jackson logo. 

The Jackson Pro Series Soloist SL2P MAH is one of the latest iterations of the company’s best-selling super strat design offered since the mid '80s

Hardware includes a top-mounted Floyd Rose Special double-locking tremolo, Jackson sealed die-cast tuners, dome-style master volume and master tone knobs and side-mounted output jack. Pickups consist of a Jackson high-output humbucker in the bridge and Jackson single-coils at the middle and neck positions, controlled with a five-position blade pickup-selector switch.

The Jackson Pro Series Soloist SL2P MAH is one of the latest iterations of the company’s best-selling super strat design offered since the mid '80s. It features the standard sleek Soloist 7/8-size body made of mahogany with a poplar burl top and smooth satin Carmel Burl finish and a maple neck-through-body with 25.5-inch scale length, compound 12-to-16-inch radius, 24 jumbo frets, ebony fingerboard with subtle Alumiloid Piranha Tooth inlays and iconic Jackson pointed six-in-line headstock. 

The pickups are mounted directly to the body and consist of a Seymour Duncan Distortion TB-6 at the bridge and Seymour Duncan Distortion SH-6N at the neck. Other features include a three-position pickup toggle switch, master volume and master tone knobs, recessed Floyd Rose 1000 Series double- locking tremolo, and single-layer white binding surrounding the top, fretboard and headstock.

Performance

(Image credit: Jackson Guitars)

While the Adrian Smith SDXM leans a little more toward traditional design with its larger, heavier body and 22-fret neck with a slightly thicker, rounder profile than the Soloist model, it still falls within the definition of a hot-rodded SuperStrat that lives up to its namesake’s reputation as a string slinger for Iron Maiden. 

The bridge humbucker’s tone is very aggressive with a prominent midrange growl, while the single coil pickups deliver fat Strat-style tones with crisp percussive attack enhanced by the maple fretboard. Attention to detail is immaculate, and its playability is simply outstanding.

I have to admit that the Pro Series Soloist SL2P MAH is actually a better guitar than an early Jackson Soloist I was privileged to play in the mid '80s. The neck is extremely comfortable, with a slim, fast action that facilitates precise playing. I found it hard to put the guitar down even after an hour of playing. 

The Duncan pickups deliver harmonically rich tone with a voice-like midrange that hits the sweet spot while also producing deep, barking bass and bell-like treble. This is a first-class ax through and through, and it’s difficult to believe that it sells for less than a grand.

Specs

Jackson Adrian Smith SDXM

Jackson Adrian Smith SDXM

(Image credit: Guitar Center)
  • STREET PRICE: $499.99
  • BODY FINISH: Gloss
  • BODY SHAPE: San Dimas
  • BODY MATERIAL: Basswood
  • NECK MATERIAL: Maple
  • NECK CONSTRUCTION: Bolt-On with Graphite Reinforcement
  • NECK FINISH: Satin
  • SCALE LENGTH: 25.5"
  • FINGERBOARD RADIUS: 12"-16" Compound Radius
  • FINGERBOARD MATERIAL: Maple
  • NUMBER OF FRETS: 22
  • FRET SIZE: Jumbo
  • NUT MATERIAL: Floyd Rose Locking
  • NUT WIDTH: 1.6875" (42.86 mm)
  • INLAYS: Black Dot
  • TRUSS ROD WRENCH: Yes
  • HARDWARE FINISH: Black
  • BRIDGE PICKUP: Jackson High-Output Humbucking
  • MIDDLE PICKUP: Jackson Single Coil
  • NECK PICKUP: Jackson Single Coil
  • CONTROLS: Volume, Tone

Jackson Pro Series Soloist SL2P MAH

Jackson Pro Series Soloist SL2P MAH

(Image credit: Guitar Center)
  • STREET PRICE: $949.99
  • BODY FINISH: Satin
  • BODY SHAPE: Soloist
  • BODY MATERIAL: Mahogany
  • BODY TOP: Poplar Burl
  • NECK MATERIAL: Maple
  • NECK CONSTRUCTION: Neck-Through-Body with Graphite Reinforcement and Scarf Joint
  • NECK FINISH: Oiled
  • NECK BINDING: White
  • SCALE LENGTH: 25.5"
  • FINGERBOARD RADIUS: 12"-16" Compound Radius
  • FINGERBOARD MATERIAL: Ebony
  • NUMBER OF FRETS: 24
  • FRET SIZE: Jumbo
  • NUT MATERIAL: Floyd Rose 1000 Series Locking
  • NUT WIDTH: 1.6875" (42.86 mm)
  • INLAYS: Alumiloid Piranha Tooth
  • TRUSS ROD WRENCH: Yes
  • HARDWARE FINISH: Black
  • BRIDGE PICKUP: Seymour Duncan Distortion TB-6
  • NECK PICKUP: Seymour Duncan Distortion SH-6N
  • CONTROLS: Volume, Tone