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Jaden Rose – Spider 8 String Guitar Review

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This review was submitted by Guitar Jar contributor: Fred Brum

I am one of the very few session players using 7-strings and ERG’s as the norm, with styles ranging from old-school soul and funk to full-on metal, with a bit of everything in between.

…playing harmonically complex chords, even at very high gain settings, resulted in each note ringing out beautifully – equally important, the treble strings never sounded harsh or sterile…

As such, I was looking for great 8-strings that would:

  1. be comfortable to play;
  2. have a ton of articulation and definition while not having the shrill highs that often plague the treble registers in baritone scales;
  3. have a rather versatile tonal palette.

I became a Jaden Rose endorsee earlier this year, after using those guitars on the road for a while – as time progressed, they became my main “go to” guitars over most of the others, so it seemed like the logical progression.

This resulted in much anticipation from me when Jaden said he was considering building an 8-string prototype, especially after I didn’t really “connect” to commercially available guitars from Ibanez, Schecter, and the like, in spite of their good quality, and was after something different and more “refined”, so to speak.

Features:

This guitar is the prototype from which the commercially available version spawned, featuring:

  • African Mahogany body
  • Bubinga neck
  • Maple fretboard with 24 Gold Evo frets
  • 27″ scale
  • DiMarzio D Activator 8 prototypes
  • Aluminium nut
  • Hipshot string-thru bridge
  • Hipshot tuners
  • 3-way switch wired bridge humbucker – outer coil of each pickup – neck humbucker
  • master volume and master tone pots

Ease of use:

This is always a very delicate affair when we’re talking 8-string guitars. Neck thickness, the “shoulders” it may have by the fingerboard, and how wide the neck is play a particular important part, as it is quite easy to have a profile that induces a lot of fatigue in longer sessions, or implies a lot of stress to the wrist when doing chordal work across all 8 strings, and a slightly longer than our typical strat scale length doesn’t help matters in less accomplished profiles.

This was one of the points I was interested in seeing Jaden approach and solve, especially considering my rather small hands. He opted for a very thin neck with virtually no shoulders, and a slightly narrower neck by the heel than, say, the RG2228 – a small difference, yet noticeable.

First time I picked it up it was very natural to hold, and going from chordal passages to articulate metal riffing to all-out shred was effortless. What’s best: it wasn’t fatiguing at all, as I can atest to after 9 hours a day at the Musikmesse, demonstrating it often.

It terms of top fret access, I can actually fret the low F# at the 24th fret effortlessly, and the lower horn is unobtrusive when doing larger stretches in those registers.

Controls and switching-wise, I find the pickup selector is placed in a very clever, if surprising at first (I remember the first time I tried an Original Series Jaden Rose guitar, and I was rather surprised I wasn’t hitting it all the time while having it easily accessible), in a position that may remind some of the MusicMan John Petrucci signature model, although in a more recessed and ever so slightly moved further out of the way.

Volume and tone knobs are easy to reach and absolutely unobtrusive regardless of playing style. I particularly treasure a clean picking area, and this guitar behaves stellarly in this department.

All in all, it is an extremely comfortable and ergonomically well thought of guitar.

Sound Quality:

This is yet another point I was most curious about. I don’t play a single style of music, and I am most annoyed by the whole “metal only” oriented approach to 7-strings and ERG’s in general – even though the most popular bands using these instruments are indeed firmly planted in the metal camp, that doesn’t mean the entirety of the tonal palette they use is based solely on low end chugging, and the very same principle applies to me to an even greater extent.

DiMarzio sent Jaden one of two pairs of the new D Activator 8-string prototypes, which ended on this guitar. I was somewhat apprehensive regarding how they’d work, as I found the 6-string version brilliant, but was sorely disappointed by their 7-string counterparts when they were released.

First time I plugged the guitar in, I used a Blackstar Series 1 combo the guys at Blackstar gently lent us to use on the Jaden Rose stand, and two things immediately stood out: note separation and clarity. Playing harmonically complex chords, even at very high gain settings, resulted in each note ringing out beautifully – equally important, the treble strings never sounded harsh or sterile.

Moving on to the popular metal camp, notes were tight yet with singing mids, allowing me to do full G chords rooted on the 8th string with, I must confess, shocking definition, where virtually all other offerings I tried, apart from select custom work, would basically deliver rather undefined and mushy results should the amp not be set to almost Meshuggah-like settings.

Both pickups sound lovely, and single note passages are always quite articulate, yet warm and singing when sustained, just like a good guitar should. My typical outer coil wiring allowed me to play some snappy funk grooves, and have a few rather entertaining jams playing the bass and guitar lines simultaneously – the wood combination and the pickups sound fantastic, and both DiMarzio and Jaden Rose were clearly on top of their game.

When, during the course of the Musikmess, I plugged this guitar into amps such as the Diezel Herbert and Hagen, Orange Rockerverb and the metal monsters that are the Silverblade offerings, I saw the guitar interacting with familiar amplifiers, and the impressions I had of her were more than confirmed.

Reliability:

She held her own admirably, demo after demo, being tested by numerous people between said demonstrations, and needing but a slight tuning check under the absolutely horrid temperature variations and incredibly dry air.

Seems to be quite a good indication of stability, and she will start her active live guitar duties soon, with a very good preview of how she behaves under conditions that are as distant from ideal as you can get.

Overall rating:

It’s a wonderful professional instrument, one that managed to solve many issues that were forcing me to adopt compromises to perform with 8-strings, and a beautiful axe to boot. Personally, I can’t recommend it enough. 🙂

This review was submitted by Guitar Jar contributor: Fred Brum

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