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This article was originally published in issue #38
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The progressive metal and Djent scene is huge right now, with a mass of guitar players switching to extended range seven and eight string guitars in scenes reminiscent of the shred scene in the 1980s. This shift is partly due to one Misha Mansoor of the band Periphery, a pioneer of the Djent scene and a very influential figure in its ranks. Loyal fans will want to play almost any guitar that Misha has his hands on, so it makes sense for a company such as Jackson to get involved in producing signature models for such a great and influential player. The Jackson Juggernaut HT-7 was the first iteration of Misha’s signature guitars with an eight string design perfect for the Djent Djeneration! (sorry - I couldn’t resist!). Realising that not everyone wants or can adapt to a seven string, Jackson and Misha have teamed up again to produce the new Juggernaut HT-6, a six string variant that retains the design features of the original but is more accessible for the average player.
The Juggernaut HT-6 is a true signature instrument in every sense, being built totally for Misha’s requirements without too much concern for the end cost for the consumer. These are the actual guitars that Misha uses on tour and, as such, Jackson has adopted a no compromise approach to this build. Stability is of the utmost importance, so the body is constructed from baked basswood for the opaque finish models, or alder with a thick quilt maple top on the translucent versions. In both instances, the neck is quartersawn maple, featuring graphite reinforcement and an ebony fretboard. Our review model sported a luscious quilt maple top with scraped binding and a deep blue, Laguna burst finish with a gloss polyester top coat to emphasise the beautiful wood grain.
Hardware appointments on the HT-6 are as modern and high end as it gets, with 24 Jumbo frets, a Graphtech ‘NuBone’ nut, a pair of Bare Knuckle Juggernaut Humbuckers (Misha’s signature model), Hipshot fixed bridge and locking tuners, 5-way switch, master volume and tone controls with a push/pull coil select feature. All of the hardware is finished in a suitably ‘Metal’ looking matte black that matches wonderfully with the ebony fretboard. Small shark tooth inlays add a slightly more menacing quality to the design that complements the very pointy body and reverse headstock design giving a result that looks very much 2015 rather than a 1980s throwback.
The build quality on our sample was exceptional, as it should be at this large four figure price. The finish is of the highest quality and it’s immediately evident from seeing the cool custom case that you’re dealing with a quality product here. Everything from the scarf joint neck design to the direct mounted pickups screams quality that rivals any boutique handmade guitar. The playability is exceptional too, thanks to the super-flat 20” neck radius and thin neck profile, finished with an incredibly smooth hand rubbed urethane gel. This is a shred and riff machine that is perfectly balanced for low end chug and screaming lead work.
If there was any criticism of our sample, it would be that the combination of jumbo frets, a 20” radius and an action so low that, while it managed to avoid any buzzing, meant that some of the life in the tone had been sucked out and each note was accompanied by a slapping sound against the fret. This is perfect for Misha’s high gain style but for lower gain settings it would be worth raising the action somewhat. That, of course, would be no problem but it's worth bearing in mind if you try one and are disconcerted by this effect.
Tonally the HT-6 is equally impressive thanks to the pair of Bare Knuckle Juggernaut pickups. Bare Knuckle are all the rage in the Metal and Djent world and they have a reputation that is well deserved. The Juggernauts excel for both clean and heavy drive sounds with a very impressive level of clarity and dynamics for a high output humbucker. The HT-6 is also surprisingly versatile thanks to a selectable coil split with some cool Strat-like, glassy and ambient single coil tones at your disposal for clean tones, something that Misha makes great use of in his song writing. The HT-6 arrives with a set of 11-56 strings on board, detuned for maximum Djent ability and the Juggernaut pickups do a superb job of translating and controlling the extra low end on offer here. Tuning stability is excellent as you’d expect with Hipshot hardware and the open gear locking tuners look very cool indeed on this reverse, 3-per side headstock.
The HT-6 is a fantastic instrument that is perfect for Misha’s unique style and, as mentioned at the beginning of the review, represents a real signature instrument. The price though is a reflection of the quality of guitar and hardware required for Misha to produce the tones he requires and be road worthy enough for regular touring. It’s evident that Jackson never intended this to be a mass produced, affordable instrument, but rather an uncompromising guitar for one of their rising artists. There will almost inevitably be a more budget friendly, cut down version somewhere down the line, but for now this represents an authentic signature model that is worth every penny if you are a big enough fan and can afford it.