Jackson DKA8 Pro Series

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by Kharem, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. Kharem

    Kharem SS.org Regular

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    Aug 27, 2012
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    Brisbane, QLD, Australia
    I'll start by saying this is my first review, and its of my first 8 string, so this will probably be more useful to people looking to move into 8 strings (or ERG's in general) but I'll cover how I felt about the guitar as a whole so hopefully even experienced 8 extended range players can at least find something informative from it.

    Before I launch into the topics I'll say I picked it up through a trade and it was pretty badly cared for, not damaged at all, but I just doubt it was ever cleaned in its entire life (although only a few months) or ever set up, and I think it even still had the stock strings, minus the low F#. So it needed some serious cleaning and care before it was good to go.

    Ease of Use:
    Having never even held an 8 string, when I first picked up the dka8 I found the edges of the neck to feel a bit sharp and uncomfortable but it was completely fine after 15-20 min of just messing around. The neck joint looks pretty bulky and obtrusive from pictures but haven't found it to be a problem at all yet, although I don't play a whole lot of higher fret stuff. The maple neck isn't as smooth as I expected from a neutrally finished neck, but it was pretty grotty when I got it and even though I've been putting some axwax on it every day or so its still a bit dry, I still like it quite a bit more than the gloss finish on esp's but its just not quite right yet. The body carve is excellent, actually kind of reminds me of my old rga7 (even though it had that constant radius carve), its a pretty subtle top carve and is ridiculously comfortable.
    All in all its an extremely comfortable guitar to play, and I started gelling with it much faster than I had expected for my first 8.

    Features:
    The DKA8 has some pretty crazy stock specs for the price point, decent quality locking tuners, passive routs and d-activators, maple board, a pretty low profile bridge, fantastic finish and okish scale length and stock strap locks.
    The planet waves tuners are ok, probably not my first choice for locking tuners but its good to see good quality locking tuners stock, although putting a set of tuners on an 8 that can't fit an 80 confuses me. The d-activators are great, first time I've used them and whilst they don't have the same kind of bite as the aftermaths I've used, they have a pretty nice growl and punch to them. I haven't put any time into what they are like clean yet so can't really comment on that. The white tops is also a nice touch as well, plus the direct mounted passive routs is really nice to see.
    The maple board and neck is really nice, no inlay dots or anything hasn't really been a problem and I like the really clean look. When I got it the board was ridiculously grubby and needed a pretty full on scrub, and its ok now, still needs some more cleaning for some spots I can't seem to get out but even like this it feels excellent.
    The bridge is alright, not really much to say, similar to a hipshot but just not quite, doesn't feel quite as solid as a hipshot but still a pretty good bridge.
    I really really like the finish. I've got pretty simple tastes in my guitar finishes but do get a little bored of the black and the subtly sparkle is great, probably not for some people but it's really nice.
    The scale length is ok. When I first started looking for an 8 I really wanted something with a full 27", or even 28 like the blackjack sls's, but the 26.5 is fine really, I haven't had it past the glass cloud/acacia strain/HLB low F tuning but with the dr strings 80-11 tite fit set its got pretty decent tension, the low F is a little looser than I would have liked but being in Australia there isn't that many choices for 8 string sets.
    A guitar coming with strap locks as stock is a pretty sick move, but could see it being irritating to people that don't use dunlop straplocks. I have flush mount locks on my other guitars so I was able to just use the same straps no problem, and the fact that its the dual system means its fine just using a normal strap with no locks at all anyway.

    Reliability:
    I've only had the guitar for a few weeks so its hard to comment on the reliability, but it feels like a really solid quality instrument. Plus the fact that it survived not being looked after at all and is still in excellent shape is a good sign.

    Value:
    Kind of hard to say again since I got it through a trade, but the trade was pretty heavily in his favor and from what I can tell the prices on these aren't that great here in Australia new anyway, but from rolling around here I think they are considered pretty good for the money in NA.

    Customer Support:
    No comment really, only thing I can think of is the fact that they don't come with a case could be considered something to do with customer support (?), although mine came with some piece of shit hard case it doesn't fit properly that the dude threw in so its not the end of the world for me.

    Sound:
    The guitar sounds great right away, I did some minor tweaks to pickup height, intonation and truss rod, but by no means was a proper set up, and it still plays and sounds incredibly well. The d-activators don't quite have the bite I'm looking for but they are excellent for stock pickups, like seriously good. The temporary killswitch thing is a pretty cool little addition, I haven't done much with it yet and can't see it being ridiculously helpful in many situations, but its still kinda cool to have and could lead to some creative uses. Again, I've still only spent a handful of hours tweaking stuff on my kemper, and its my first time working with the low F, and it does take some work to really get some definition out of the low F string but it sounds incredible for a completely stock mid/low range guitar.

    Overall:
    All in all its a pretty great guitar. There are some small things that I would consider changing but I think that comes down to personal taste more than anything. I think its a great guitar for the price and is right at the spot where your getting a really quite decent quality instrument, that I would happily keep for years and hopefully continue to enjoy, at a price point that makes it accessible and realistic for people looking to move into 8's without doing a bunch of mods to an rg8 or have a nightmare with an agile or something.

    Hopefully the review is at least vaguely helpful to someone out there looking at the DKA8, I'll try update this as I get my sound to where I really want it with the kemper, and especially the reliability section as it ages and I get some more time with it, plus if I ever have to deal with jackson customer support I'll try add something there.

    Feel free to shoot me any questions you have about the guitar that I haven't touched on in the review, or if you think I should add anything else in here.
     

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