Price paid: $ 594.75
Purchased from: Dolphin Music
Sound — 8
I play mostly black metal with various other kinds of metal as well as blues, rock etc thrown in for good measure. Sonically it actually suits black metal very well but this is largely accidental. My main amp is an Engl Screamer 50 and like everything else I've run through that amp, it sounds glorious. the amp's distortion is meaty enough to run without a pedal and it has excellent spring reverb so the only effects I run on top of that are delay and flanger and even then not that often. The pickups are fairly quiet for passives but at high gain settings and volumes you need to stay a fair distance away from the amp because the combination of body wood and bridge pickup mean that you will get feedback. I've been alluding to this all the way through so hear it is: the DK2T is made of alder. As a body wood, alder tends to accentuate the highs in your tone a lot more than mahogony or other woods. That's fine. However, the Duncan JB in the bridge is a pretty high output pickup and it's also very trebly compared to other Duncans. Don't get me wrong, I think the JB is a wonderful, wonderful pickup and I think it sounds better than EMGs and the like in most situations but it's perhaps not the best choice for this guitar. The treble-accentuating properties of the alder and the naturally trebley JB combine giving you a tone that's very trebly and can be very harsh. This can be good, of course, particularly for lead tones but a lot of other people will find that they need to roll their tone control back to bring the treble into balance with the mids and lows. It's not something that would stop me buying the guitar but it should be kept in mind by potential buyers. A Duncan Distortion might have been a better choice of bridge pickup. For me, strangely enough, the JB and alder is actually the perfect combination because the harsh, trebly sound is ideal for black metal! Just coincidence though. If you can find a blance with your tone though, it does sound great, the JB is a lovely rich pickup and flexible enough to do more or less anything well. The cleans can be a bit twangy, again because of the pickup and body wood but you can either get used to it, play with your amp or use the neck pickup. Ah yes, the Jazz. Again, I'm not saying it's a bad pickup, it's not, it's excellent but once again I don't feel it's the right pickup for this guitar. It's very bassy and quite often needs a totally different set of EQ settings to get a good sound to those of the JB which is a problem for me as my own has a shared EQ. The cleans can be very rich, with lots of depth but it can take a bit of effort to get them there. It's a relatively low output pickup compared to the neck and this is very noticeable by how much gain it takes on the clean channel before it distorts. There's No Doubt that this pickup gives a lot of tonal flexibility but given that Jacksons are usually pitched as metal guitars something with a bit more life and sparkles would have made a better rhythm pickup, a Duncan '59, specifically. Overall, the guitar can sound reallly excellent if you're prepared to put in the effort to find what works and the Duncans are top quality but still, a strange choice of pickups when you consider the guitar as a whole.
Overall Impression — 8
I have found this guitar to be an excellent match for black metal but through sheer accident as much as anything else. I wish I'd done a bit more research into the pickups and gone for something with a '59 instead of a Jazz but it's not too big a deal. Were the guitar stolen/lost I'm not sure if I'd buy another one, I think I'd investigate a Washburn or Schecter in the same price range, like the X50 Pro or C1 or else I'd save a little more and go for an ESP LTD EC400, F400 or H400. My main guitar is an FX400 and frankly it's far superior to the Jackson DK2T. At European price differences (150+) the difference in quality is acceptable but if I lived in North America where ESPs and LTDs are better value I would choose one every single time. I love how playable the DK2T and was really impressed at how well it was set up out of the box. However, the cheapness of the hardware (oh how I long for the Grovers, Earvana nut and stop tailpiece of my LTD) annoy me considering that Washburn guitars have better quality hardware at the same or sometimes cheaper prices. Don't get me wrong, this is a great guitar and the perfect backup but I can't help but feel that Jackson made a few poor decisions when chosing what specs it should have. I've no idea why they couldn't have included better hardware for the price but these things can't be helped. It remains very good value for a great sounding guitar however you look at it.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I have no doubt that the guitar will be great for live palying but I bought it primarily as a backup and for the tonal flexibility of the Duncans as my main guitar has EMGs. It's durable and looks like it could take a few knocks if it came to it. I mentioned before that I'm not overly thrilled with the hardware but it seems reliable enough. The strap buttons are only Standard ones but they seem fine and I don't think I'll be needing straplocks. The finish on the front is fine but I had some paint chip off at the neck joint after a couple of weeks.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I think this is the only guitar I've ever got that was set up perfectly out of the box. I don't know if that's because the site I ordered it from set it up for me or if it came out of the factory like that but it was fantastic. Action set to just the right height, intonation great, even the strings were in decent condition! The only problem I have is that after a few weeks it became clear that one of the pickups wasn't tightened in enough and it sometimes vibrated when playing the open G string but all it tooks was a screwdriver to sort that out.
Features — 7
This guitar is a 2006, Japanese made DK2T, that's the non-trem version of the DK2. It has a 24 fret bolt on maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard and jumbo frets. The neck is very nice to play, very fast, mostly because it's so flat at the back. It's maybe slightly fatter across than I prefer but it's still comfortabel and after a few minutes I tend not to notice anymore. The neck joint can be a bit annoying at times, especially if you're used to a set neck or neck-thru design but it's nowhere near as bad as a lower end Strat or Tele copy, for example. Lower fret access is good but not perfect as a result. The body is a super-Strat shape and is made of solid alder with a flame maple veneer. The alder has a dramatic impact on the sound of this guitar, which I will return to in the next section, while the maple is all about aesthetics. I opted for the transparent black finish which brings out the different grains in the maple. It looks very good indeed, much better than a solid balck finish even if it is inclined to smudge up from fingerprints quite quickly. The bridge is a fairly Standard affair, Tune-O-Matic on a string-thru body. It's nothing to write home about but then there's also nothing to complain about - it's a solid setup. The tuners are bog-Standard Jackson ones and are a bit disappointing. Not only do they lack the quality of, say, the Grovers you find on the LTD 400 series plus, they just look and feel cheap. This is mostly because the part between the tuning peg and the Machine Head is made of white plastic and stands out as an eyesore. On top of that, the black finsih on the hardware is thin and prone to chipping. The controls are fairly Standard, one tone, one volume and a three-way pickup selector. The pickups are passive Seymour Duncans, a JB in the bridge and a Jazz in the neck which I feel are strange choices given the body woods and what the guitar is likely to be used for but more on that later. Overall, a good if not spectacular feature set.