Some info on Jacksons --
Soloist's have a longer scale like a Strat, Fusions have a shorter scale like a Les Paul.
Both Soloists and Fusions were made in the USA and in Japan. The way to tell the difference is the headstock. The made-in-Japan models say "Professional", the USA models say "made in USA".
However, 1989 through 1992 the Japanese models were made to the exact same specs as the USA models. They used the same wood, pickups, hardware -- everything. There are 2 major differences in a Japanese model. First, Japanese labor was cheaper back then, and Second, the Japanese had better manufacturing techniques. (remember how Toyota and Honda raised the quality of car manufacturing to a new level).
Therefore, a Professional Soloist or Fusion from that time was every bit as good as USA model, in fact the manufacturing tolerances were probably better on the the Japanese models. But since the labor was cheaper, it was a cheaper guitar. In America, more expensive usually means better -- but not always. The USA's have always been more expensive.
Another psycological reason (vs. a REAL reason) the "made in USA" models are considered to be worth more is because they have more in common with the Custom Shop Jackson -- both are made in the USA. But that's where the similarities end. The Jackson Custom Shop (s/n starts with a "J") has unsurpassed quality from time consuming hands-on American craftsmanship, neither of which the USA or the Professional model have.
The more recent Japanese models such as the "Performer" and “Soloist Pro XL” that are made to entirely different specs and the “Performer” is of much lower quality. Again giving added distance between the perceived value of Japanese vs. American Jacksons.
All of this to say, the Professional series (both Fusion and Soloist) from 1989 to 1992 completely ROCK! But, if you’re a collector (like me) or buying for re-sale, your better off with a USA or Custom Shop model because they hold there value much better.
If you’re buying a guitar just to:
- get a good sound
- you have a good idea it may get trashed on your next tour
- or coming up with the money is an important factor,
the Professional is a great way to go.
I believe the true "Professional" models were not being made after about 1994 because they were taking away from USA model sales (although I'm not sure if this is true). Well, it makes sense, the "Pro" was the same exact guitar, but less expensive!
P.S. I know all of this because I read the Jackson's original brochures at that time and talked to authorised dealers during 1989 to 1992 when I was considering buying one for myself.