Jackson JS22 Dinky Review That Will Blow You Away

By Danny Trent | Electric Guitars

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Jackson Guitars is one of the newer guitar manufacturers on the market today, with origins that reach back only to the late 1970s rather than the late 1800s, like some modern-day guitar manufacturers.

The company was started by Grover Jackson, who obtained a California-based company called Charvel’s Guitar Repair in 1978.

In 1980, Randy Rhoads collaborated with Grover Jackson and his team, and together they came up with the Concorde—a new rendition of the classic Flying V. It was then that Grover Jackson decided to rebrand the company with his own surname, because the new guitar designs differed so drastically from the original Stratocaster style designs of the Charvel guitars.

This rebranding proved to be a very good business decision in the long run.

Jackson quickly became established as a high-quality musical instruments manufacturer, especially for metal guitarists in the 1980s. Similar to Ibanez, Jackson guitars leans heavily into signature guitar series in its business model. Throughout the ‘80s, Jackson released several guitars, such as the King V, Kelly, and Dinky, which remain iconic of the Jackson brand to this day.

After Jackson’s reputation bloomed in the 1980s, the brand’s name continues to be reputable to this day and is synonymous with high-precision rock and metal musical instruments.

In the 1990s, Jackson began dipping into the budget guitar industry, outsourcing production of lower-end axes to various Asian countries to make them more affordable for new guitar players. In 2002, Fender purchased Jackson and operations were relocated to a factory in California, although the budget-end guitars are still being produced in other countries.

While Fender owns Jackson, the Jackson brand continues in the same fashion style as before with a focus on precision metal and rock-oriented instruments which features include are sharp design elements and fast necks that exclusively use bold humbucking pickups.

While Jackson produces many medium-high-end professional shredder guitars, this review will focus on one of the most popular—and most reputable—guitars in Jackson’s super affordable JS line, the JS22 Dinky build quality and main features. 

Jackson JS22 Dinky Specs

  • Body: The JS22’s body is carved out of a single piece of basswood, which is a common and relatively cheap tonewood for electric guitar bodies. Basswood is light and soft and is quite susceptible to dents and dings, but does produce pretty nice tone, with a bold midrange and a responsive dynamic range. The body is Strat-like in its basic design, but is quite different and most closely resembles the Mitchell MM100, but a full-size version of it. The body comes in blue, black, and white finishes.
  • Neck: The neck on the JS22 is carved of a solid piece of maple and is graphite reinforced with a rosewood fretboard. The inlays are pretty cool, as they’re classic Jackson pearloid sharkfin inlays rather than the standard dots that most manufacturers use.A true metal guitar, the JS22 has 24 frets and a huge lower cutaway allowing unrestricted access to the higher notes. Maple and rosewood necks provide some nice warmth and immediacy to the tone, and the fact that it’s a bolt-on adds some subtle twang to the tone and dynamic response. The headstock is aggressively pointed downward with six-in-a-row tuners, which is characteristic of Jackson guitars and looks thematically consistent with the pointedness of the sharkfin inlays.
  • Pickups: The JS22 uses two Jackson brand high-output humbuckers in bridge and neck positions that use ceramic magnets—although word on the street is these are generic pickups that a few different companies use and print their own brand names on.In any case, the humbuckers are surprisingly good for being on a budget instrument, and they sound better than most guitars do within the same price range. Usually, the pickups are the most disappointing part of a budget instrument, but Jackson delivers well in this instance. The pickups do, however, seem to be optimized for metal and are not as versatile as other pickups may be.If you’re interested in playing metal—that’s great. If not, well… maybe you should start playing metal because this guitar’s pretty sweet.
  • Hardware: Other features include are the hardware on the JS22, which is minimal but reliable. It comes with the bare minimum controls: a volume knob, a tone knob, and a 3-way pickup selector switch. The knobs and switch feel reliable, and I doubt if they’ll need to be replaced anytime soon. The bridge is a through-body two-point fulcrum tremolo with individually adjustable bridge saddles. The tremolo does feel a tad bit on the flimsy side, but it should hold up fine as long as you don’t do huge divebomb trim bends all the time. The die-cast tuners are Jackson brand as well, and they hold intonation pretty well—obviously when the tremolo is used reasonably; intense tremolo usage will inevitably cause detuning.
  • Scale: The JS22 is a full-size guitar with a scale length of 25.5”, the same as most Fender guitars (with a few exceptions). A 25.5” scale length creates a rounded, bell-like tone with a lot of clarity and bold low-frequency response. This combines wonderfully with the (surprisingly good) double humbuckers to deliver a powerful tone that will have you shredding in no time.

So, how does it sound?

The Jackson JS22 sounds remarkably good for the super affordable price of just $200. (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).

The humbuckers are, as we discussed above, remarkably good for it being such an affordable axe. The basswood body has a strong midrange and the bolt-on neck adds just a subtle twang and immediacy to the dynamic response.

The humbuckers pick up on that tone and add a strong low-end and high-output punch with clear highs that scream with some distortion or overdrive. The neck is super quick and lends itself to shredding solos that sound awesome through a decent amp. Overall, the Jackson JS22 sounds great.

Wrapping Up – The Final Note on the JS22

  • Pros:

    • Surprisingly good build quality humbuckers
    • Great shreddability—fast neck and huge cutaway with 24 frets
    • Reliable hardware
  • Cons:

    • Tremolo does feel a bit flimsy
    • Little versatility; mostly optimized for metal

Overall, I give this guitar a 4.6 out of 5.

The JS22 sounds fantastic feels fantastic and looks fantastic. Jackson has done wonderfully on this guitar and has provided beginners with a truly awesome guitar for such a reasonable price, just $200 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) .

A similar competitor to this guitar is, as mentioned earlier in this article, the Mitchell MM100. The MM100 looks almost identical to the JS22, but is a ¾-size instrument. The most notable difference between these guitars that makes the JS22 superior is the pickups.

If you’re torn between the Mitchell and the Jackson, just choose the Jackson.

The only reason beginners/intermediate players to not get this guitar is if they’re interested in other genres than rock and metal, as this is admittedly not a very versatile guitar, but if it’s not your case, you can definitely improve your skill level with this guitar. It’s mostly optimized for highly distorted genres that demand a speedy neck, although it would probably be okay in some other genres as well.

If you’re already in the group of players that are interested in metal and would like to dive more into the world of guitars, this is an amazing choice.

If you’re looking for a more versatile guitar that will allow you to play across a wide variety of different genres—including both clean and distorted tones—you may be better off looking elsewhere for a less shredding-oriented guitar.

I’m very impressed with Jackson’s craftsmanship with the JS22, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they put out in the future and how their budget guitars continue to improve over the coming years!

For more options or alternative guitars to try, check out my round-up of the Top 11 Electric Guitars for Beginners! 

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(1) comment

AB August 24, 2018

Great review. I recently picked one up. Last July, in fact. I am enjoying it. The neck is one the main features that stands out as well as the craftsmanship and look.

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