Jackson Randy Rhoads made in the USA (Ontario, California)
The RR2 was a standard series produced in 1996 and 1997, like the SL2 and the DR2 (that I also reviewed).
These three series were the cheaper USA versions of the RR1, SL2H and DK1.
Only a few colors were available (mostly gloss black, red metallic, gun metal grey and black metallic).
- Bolt-on quartersawn maple neck with scarf joint. Gunstock oil finish.
- A thick ebony fingerboard with no inlays (but there are side markers of course!).
- Scale 25'' 1/2 with 22 jumbo frets.
- 2-piece poplar body, in gun metal grey finish, standard headstock, "Jackson made in USA" decal.
- All chrome hardware with Jackson JT500LP locking tremolo.
- One master volume knob and a 3 way toggle switch.
- Stock pickups were Kent Armstrong JJB two double-0 in bridge and neck in JP-11 (specially made for Jackson)
- Cool details, all the backplates are made of brushed alloy, no cheapo plastics like the MIJ.
No frills at all here, to keep the price rather low: no MOP inlays, no bindings, no MOP logo.
But the essence of any good USA Jackson is present: excellent woods, good finish, no flaws and a great player!
Only regret, since it was among the cheapest US models, the tremolo is a good JT580LP, not an excellent Original Floyd Rose. I actually replaced the JT580LP with a good OFR without problem, just removed the japanese trem, slapped the OFR in, restrung and tuned the harmonics, nothing more. So easy! And much crispier with an OFR!
Still, the perceived quality is far from the Japanese models, it's a real US guitar.
The neck is fairly wide and flat, the same as the DK-1's. Not an awful Ibanez ruler. The feel of the oiled neck is just great!
It is immediately comfortable. The absence of fingerboard inlays is definitely not a problem, you get used to it very quickly. And it gives the guitar a killer look!
The action is definitely no fret buzz though, the Floyd is recessed in a very deep route, and stays in tune.
Access to the upper frets is good too, thanks to the heel contour, the neck plate is slanted to help reaching the upper frets. Better than what Jackson do with their Japanese models.
The weight is ok, much heavier than any basswood stuff, still it can be compared to the weight of an alder guitar. It won't break your back!
Unplugged, the sound is wide and rich. Great news!
The V-shape really surprised me. This is my first scratched RR, I've always had superstrats and Les Pauls.
I've tried a few RR in shops, but I could not make a real opinion. Now it's done!
It is a rather well balanced guitar played standing up, though it seems the guitar has a tendency to flip... weird, you gotta get used to it. Sitting is just as easy, by placing the V on your thigh.
Well, the big downside is the top pointy wing which can bang against a wall,
furniture or your band mates while rehearsing ... I'm definitely not used to a guitar
with these long wings!!!
On top of that, it's so big the flight case is just über huge... (be careful if
you ship it, it will cost more since it is 'oversized').
At first sight, when you see a RR, you immediately guess it was not built to play cheesy easy listening or bluesgrass. Do not expect extreme versatility. Or you need to
go to the shrink!!!
my current rig is simple right now:
axe - lotsa pedals - Engl Powerball + V30 loaded cab
axe - lotsa pedals - Engl Powerball + Palmer PGA04 - Mix - computer - headphones
axe - Pod XT Live - Mix -computer - headphones
I was amazed by the Kent Armstrong pickups I knew absolutely not how they'd sound. I read a review on Harmony-Central. The guy said they sounded like the DiMarzio PAF Pro ... we should not have the same ears, at least with the bridge pickup(JB-0).
This pickup has a copious output level (at least 400 mV). Not as pleasant in clean where I always have to redo my settings, otherwise it crunches immediately. Yet it is the setting I use with axes in EMG 81, DiMarzio Super Distortion and Duncan Distortion ... Awww. It is not as extreme a DM X2N and / or Bill Lawrence 5800XL, but it sends a damn high output.
In clean, the JB-0 is too powerful for me, but it does not have too much horrible trebles. You really have to play with the volume knob and have a very respectful picking in clean :o)
The neck pickup is less extreme. It has something of an EMG 60/DM DP160 'Norton': fairly clean (not an avalanche of almost uncontrollable lows), not too warm (not like a Gibson Burstbucker or a EMG 85. No, not all EMG are ' cold '!).
In crunch, it begins to be tasty, especially the JP-11 neck, provided, again, you don't want to sound too fat / too round. Really impressive, this compromise nice
little warmth/ accuracy of a passive pickup.
The JB-0 is very honest, a bit of a rage, it's not narrow sounding. Like a Gibson 500T that would have learned to be precise and to temper its enthusiasm in the lows, a DM Super Distortion which would have more character.
In high gain , as guessed, miss RR2 is at ease! Sharp palm mutes, singing leads whatever the pickup selected. She has quite a good potential for a 'cheapo US
Again, after reading the review from HC, I thought I would immediately pull the
pickups out for my basic EMG setup...(yes, I bought it without trying it, since RR2s are definitely not easy to find in the area).
The Kent Armstrong do the job!
I bought her one month ago, so this review will certainly change later on.
So far, I play her a lot.
The overall quality, the quality of woods (at least for the quarter sawn maple neck and the fantastic ebony fingerboard), poplar body (which does not screw the sound at all and seems to age well , as my RR2 was built 9 years ago!),
everything is at the same level of qualityas the standard USA Jacksons.
It's definitely not a MIJ RR3.
Hardware remains a little cheap for my taste, which will be replaced by black Schaller parts and an Original Floyd Rose very soon.
I don't like the chrome hardware on this guitar, plain black will give this RR2 a way better look.
I am far from being unhappy with my purchase, in the end.
It is still an excellent base, really worth the buck, that you can modify later on with better hardware if you're an eternal greedy and unsatisfied chap. Like me :o).
It is not a refined RR1 or KV2 (let alone a fantastic XTRR or Y2KV) , no neckthrough no mother of pearl inlays, no bindings, basic hardware like the Japanese models, but the price is far from being the same.
I forgot: due to its shape, you'll have to have a special guitar stand like the cool Ultimate Genesis, not too expensive and very useful.
Added 23/12/2005: I eventually sold her, but not before she got full black hardware and an OFR.