I auditioned the Jackson JS2 and JS3 Spectra basses: some thoughts

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jharismaiden, Dec 14, 2020.

  1. I'm getting back into bass after playing seriously for several years and was looking to buy a new one. I had narrowed it down to the aforementioned basses so I went to a major musical instrument chain in my country to try them out. I thought I'd share what I thought of them since there isn't a ton of information about those basses here.

    Just for context, I'm sharing my thoughts through the lens of someone who used to own a Squier P Bass Special (PJ bass with Jazz neck), and is pretty used to simplicity and not having to deal with things like active electronics. I also mainly play classic rock and classic metal and love the classic metal tones (think Duff McKagan, Geezer Butler, Steve Harris, Frank Bello, Jason Newsted, David Ellefson etc). So I'd recommend still giving the basses a go if you're considering them, as your mileage may vary.

    First I tried the JS3, which has all the nice features like a 12-16 inch compound radius neck, high-mass bridge, binding on the neck, 3-band active EQ, coil-splitting for the humbuckers etc. It's not a bad bass at all. It was comfortable, had a nice feel and got good tones out of it.

    What was interesting to me was is the neck profile. It's called a "Jackson Speed Neck" but really it's a little chunky in a strange (but not bad) way. Can't find any definite information but people seem to say it resembles a "D" profile. It didn't seem thick to me (though I can't remember what my Squier Jazz neck feels like) yet it felt somewhat blocky in a way that the back of the neck felt quite flat. It was definitely way more comfortable to rest my thumb on the back of the neck (think "proper" technique) and my thumb felt anchored. But the neck felt thin enough to wrap my fingers around it sometimes (and I have really short fingers). The compound radius... I don't think I noticed until I picked up the JS2, but I found the feel across the fretboard inconsistent in a way that made me feel slightly uncomfortable. I think I would have needed more time to get used to it.

    In terms of tone, I found myself using the passive mode more often, and mostly the neck pickup since I feel like there was too much of a "lead" tone instead of a punchy tone when both pickups were on full (at least for my personal preferences). The PJ basses I've tried have this as well so I tend to dial down the bridge pickup volume anyway, but it was more apparent on the JS3. The active mode was alright but made the sound even more refined. Nothing to really dislike about it, but I realised the bass maybe wasn't for me when I picked up the JS2.

    So I put the JS3 down and picked up the cheaper JS2. This bass isn't as fancy and only has a single 12 inch neck radius, less body contours and a PJ set up. It was a little better set up, and had the exact same J-style (in terms of width at nut) neck. And yet I felt it was nicer to play on. I think the consistent fretboard radius contributed to this feeling. I appreciated the fact that I didn't need to tinker with the knobs as much (it only has an active bass boost (no cut), volume blend, and two-in-one master volume/active circuitry bypass).

    The most important thing, however, is the classic PJ tone. I really love the P growl which doesn't sound as clinical as on the neck humbucker of the JS3, and adding a touch of bridge J volume gives a bit of bite. While the JS3 definitely gave a more refined tone, I think I found it too refined for my tastes. Maybe I just have an "old school" taste? Maybe the volume was a little soft on the amp when I was playing the JS3? I don't know. While I didn't dislike the sound of the JS3, I felt way more at home with the sounds the JS2 was making. I ordered mine last night.

    Hope this was helpful! Feel free to ask questions about my experience, and I'll my best to recall.
     
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  2. Update:

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  3. VWbug

    VWbug Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2010
    New Jersey
    Do you know how much it weighs? I've heard Jackson is now a subsidiary of Fender?
     
  4. I'm afraid I don't have the exact weight, but a random website I looked up says 15.8 lbs. I don't find it too heavy.

    I have also heard Jackson is now owned for Fender, I believe for quite a few years now. Have no idea how that's impacted their products as a whole.
     
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