I got this 2017 Jackson Monarkh SCXMG a few weeks ago but fucked around and didn't post a thread till now. This is a cheapo, but I've got another short-scale Jackson on it's way to me--a real unicorn in the Jackson/Charvel world (much more so than either the AT Soloist Pro or 750xl). So, there'll be a Pt. 2 thread.
Got this one on clearance at GC. Technically, it's "new", but buying a clearance guitar at GC is the same as buying a used one (meaning no returns)...except for the factory warranty coverage, which turned out to be very necessary. Any guitar that's been hanging on the lower rack at GC for two years is effectively used, anyway.
The Monarkh is basically Jackson's answer to the ESP LTD EC series, and all levels of these (JS, X, and Pro) are made in Indonesia. The JS ones are bolt-ons, but the X and Pro are both setnecks. It's a 24.75" scale single-cutaway axe with 22 frets.
The SCXMG (Jackson acronym for "X Series and comes with EMGs) must have been a GC exclusive, as it doesn't appear on the Jackson site, in their catalogs, or even in the price lists. Thus, I can't find out what the official specs are supposed to be. This one has some departures from the listed specs of the other X-Series Monarkhs. They are supposed to have mahogany bodies, but this one probably has basswood or alder (more below).
I'd played a Pro Series Monarkh at another store, but their necks are ultra thin and the price was too high for an Indonesian guitar. By contrast I was able to pick the better of two SCXMGs that GC Rockville had on clearance, and the neck on this one is fantastic--perfect slightly-thin Soloist profile and excellent fretwork. This was also the more resonant of the two they had.
The "fun" started when I got it home. I decided to swap out the EMG 81/85 combo for a 57/66 set I had laying around. When I was finished and restringing it, both the bridge and tailpiece inserts pulled right out!! The holes had been drilled too wide for three of the four inserts. So, apparently the fret guy at the Indonesian shop was having a great day that day, but the guy with the routing equipment was not.
The FMIC-certified tech at GC Falls Church did the warranty repair and it's holding fine. I think he narrowed the holes with epoxy rather than dowel/redrill, but this is a cheapo guitar so I doubt FMIC was going to pay GC for a luxe job.
More "fun": the pickup routs were clearly not cut for the slightly wider profile of EMGS vs. passives. I had to do some shaving to get any of my spare actives to fit. I don't know how the factory got the 81/85 to fit. That's how I discovered the non-mahogany status of the body. The wood color indicates either alder or basswood. It wasn't especially easy to shave the routs, so it might be alder. The tone isn't especially 'snappy', which would indicate basswood. I'm not quite curious enough to go digging further...
Yet more "fun": Jackson stuck a really cheap shitty TOM bridge on this model, and the one on my guitar was a rattling, buzzing piece of crap. The mounting holes for the saddle screws were too wide, causing the screws to rattle and buzz when those strings were played. Note that the Pro Series versions have TonePros hardware, so this is an X Series problem. At this point, if hadn't fallen in love with the neck I'd have just sold it back to GC for whatever I could get and maybe written a nastygram to FMIC about what they've done with my favorite guitar brand over the last 5-10 years...
However, the neck is amazing. So, I sourced a cheap used JT-390 Gotoh-made TOM from an old RR5, and that fixed the problem and improved the tone and sustain.
The tuners are also crap and will be replaced with Schaller locking tuners if this becomes a regular player (which it might).
Back when Jackson first moved X Series production out of Japan about 7-8 years ago, they weren't pulling this kind of bullshit move with the cheap third-rate hardware. It's sad to see them doing so now. The original price on this guitar was just under $700 (I payed half that), but the hardware would be embarrassing on a beginner's guitar.
The tone on this guitar is not at all Les Paul-ish. It's really more of a "singlecut Soloist", except even more mid-focused. The EMG 57/66 didn't have as much low-end as this guitar wants, so I swapped them for the spiffy gold-covered Duncan Blackout set I had laying around my parts bin. That's what you see in the pictures. The stock pickups had black covers. Blackouts get flubby in most guitars, but they're perfect for this guitar, and this thing absolutely screams!
Another weird/cheapo touch, but just aesthetic. The body has solid black painted binding, but the neck binding is white. It's a bizarre combo. It'd look better with Les Paul Custom-style binding, but that wouldn't have happened at this price point.
The other X Series Monarkhs seem to have their shit together in terms of features and aesthetics. This seems like they did something quick and on the cheap to justify the extra cost of EMGs for a limited run.
As much as I like this guitar now that I've dumped some money into it, I can't say I'd be enthusiastic about buying another Indonesian-made Jackson. Fortunately, the "unicorn" making its way to me is quite vintage...