If you are a fan of thrash metal, you have probably seen a “Kelly” body guitar in the hands of thrash metal masters such as Megadeth. Did you know that Kelly model is a heavily modified version of Gibson Explorer series? Kelly design has been around since the early ’80s and was popularized by actually Marty Friedman of Megadeth.
It was designed and named after Bradford Kelly, the guitarist of the band “Heaven” in the early ’80s. Jackson Kelly models have classic pointy Jackson headstock as well as it looks edgy and pointy in all terms.
In this review, I’ll be talking about JS series Kelly models which definitely promises to give you the classic Jackson tone without busting your bank. During my service in the musical instruments industry, I have played dozens of Jackson models as well as a lot of Kelly models with different options.
As you can see, I have already released a review of Jackson JS32T Kelly electric guitar which has a hard-tail bridge. The only difference between them is that Jackson JS32 Kelly w/FR has a Floyd Rose Licenced Jackson Double-Locking Tremolo on it. And also it comes in Snow White and Ferrari Red colour options.
The one we had back in the day was Gloss Black colour. If you check out the official Jackson Guitars website, they don’t have gloss black option anymore. Only Snow White and Ferrari Red, both satin. Let’s hear the guitar first, then we continue.
In another review that I did for Jackson JS11 Dinky model, I mentioned that Jackson Guitars changed the body wood on Dinky models from basswood to poplar. When I have checked their website for Kelly models, I see the same change for Kelly series too.
But the ones you are hearing on this page all have basswood body.
Even though, this body type is not for everyone I remember having sold dozens of them in a month which was really surprising. So when we had more time, I decided to record the full video of another Kelly that we just sold. Let’s hear it in more details, but this time recorded with Marshall JVM205C valve amp + Shure SM57 microphone.
As you can hear, even on the clean channel of a valve amp it tends to break up a bit because of Jackson’s high-output pickups which make this guitar a natural-born metal axe!
|Body||Poplar or Basswood*|
|Radius||304.8mm to 406.4mm Compound Radius|
|Frets||24 Jumbo Frets|
|Pickups||2 Jackson High Output Humbucker|
|Bridge||Floyd Rose Licenced Jackson Double-Locking Tremolo|
|Tuners||Jackson Sealed Die-Cast|
|Finishes||Snow White, Gloss Black, Ferrari Red|
As I mentioned in my Jackson JS11 Dinky review, the build quality, details and even packaging at this price range is impossible to have with many other competitors. I literally had played dozens of Jackson Kelly models in a month and never bumped into a problematic one.
You will have a compound neck profile which gives you much better playability across the neck and a great resonant and aggressive sounding guitar.
So if both guitars are identical apart from their bridge system, would they sound the same? I don’t think so, but you can always decide for yourself. Since Floyd Rose tremolo bridge systems have their own mass added to the guitar, it will definitely change the sound.
Imagine a huge chunk of metal as the basis of the bridge and springs will add a different tonality to the instrument. Is it better or worse? Not really. It’s up to one’s ears. If you like the sound of it, it means it’s good for you. Other than that, both guitars have exact same playability.
As you have heard or seen in my review videos, I try to play lots of bits of music from different styles and I should warn you that Jacksons come with quite high-output pickups and I suggest you have a look for different options if you only want to play with cleanish and a bit overdriven tones.
But if you are after aggressive sounds and want to have a Floyd Rose equipped metal machine, grab yourself a Jackson Kelly JS32 w/FR today from the best musical instruments store on this planet, Thomann!