Great Value/Honest Review
I was worried that a neck-thru at this price would be too good to be true. To make matters worse after receiving it I was let down by Jackson's factory setup. The bridge and pickup height, and truss rod needed major corrections and consequently, intonation as well. Thankfully after allowing the neck to settle in and after some tweaking it plays perfectly. To be fair I did compare an SLX at a local music store to a more expensive ESP M-2 twice the price(and an M-1000) and that SLX was setup perfectly. It was after that comparison that I realized I liked the way the SLX played far better than the ESP. Jacksons poor factory setup was the only reason this review didn't get a full 5 stars.
Neck: Other than the radius of the fretboard the contour of the back of the neck is also more rounded at the nut and flatter towards the body though maintaining the same thickness. Unlike the ESP it just felt more natural in my hands traversing up and down the neck. Furthermore the ESP's neck had an undesirable premature tapering of the neck causing it to get thicker towards the upper register too soon, whereas the SLXs taper is at the last moment allowing for more comfort and continuity, important when playing fast.
Sound: I'm an EMG active fan so this may be interesting. I'm impressed with the TONE of these pickups being that they are alnico 5 and not my traditional ceramic. There is something to be said for trading tone for output and vice versa. The output is still suprisingly hot yet not quite as much as an EMG 81 for the bridge HB 102. There is more of a warm tone overall but the highs frequencies are higher than the 81 but the lows are a bit less so I found myself turning the bass up on my amp. This is a good thing if your amp tends to be on the bassy side. Again this is of course apples to oranges comparing active to passive plus alnico 5 to ceramic. It is advertised that the bridge is a ceramic. I contacted Seymour Duncan and they verified the bridge is in fact ALNICO 5. The HB 102 neck is a complimentary contrast to the bridge pickup. It's coils have noticeably less windings yet its lower output translates to more warmth and natural tone. These pickups are equivalent to Seymour Duncan's Hot Rodded Set, the difference is that the HB 102 set is made in Korea (to cut down on cost,) whereas the SH-4 and SH 2 are made in the USA. Cleans, blues, 80's metal to Lamb of God, these pickups are very versitile. EMG's do fill a special niche but if you want more tone and more than just "all output all the time" than consider these. Again this is powerful coming from an active EMG fan!
Construction: Fit and finish are top notch with one exception. The binding on a few frets has very tiny, barely noticable notches where it looks as though someone tried to smooth out the binding next to the frets but perhaps forgot to sand them smooth. Other than this it could visually pass for a high end guitar. It is only noticable when viewing the binding from about 6 inches away or closer. Perhaps I'm being too critical. The Snow White color is not as bright as pictured, I'm happy to say it is actually more of an off-white color in person. The tuners turn nice and smoothly and the Floyd Rose Special does an excellent job staying in tune though the bar seems to have a slight wiggle if not tightened tight. This can be easily solved with some teflon tape.
Body: Your tone comes primarily from your pickups and your amp. Period. If your the type to analyze body woods all day, you probably suck at playing. With that said for you tone snobs, consider this guitar is neck-thru, so the pickups and bridge are still set in MAPLE just as the high end neck-thru ESP I'm comparing this to. If anything the basswood wings provides a desirable amount of weight relief when standing for long periods of time. Bottom line, this guitar still SOUNDS EXCELLENT and won my hands-on comparison in the end!
Overall: No company is without mistakes, so it is how they handle them that determines their integrity. With that said, Sweetwater forgot to ship my tremolo bar with my guitar but they resolved the problem quickly and without question while maintaining friendly, professional customer service. Furthermore the setup issue was not their fault but Jackson's. I've owned and played Jacksons before and this setup issue was a first for me.