Price paid: £ 640
Purchased from: Andertons
Features — 10
- Built in 2013, made in Mexico
- Alder cutaway body
- Bolt-on 1 piece maple neck with maple fretboard, 12" to 16" radius and 47.6mm nut width
- 26.5" scale, 7 strings, 24 jumbo frets
- DiMarzio D Activator DP720 bridge pickup, DiMarzio D Activator DP719 neck pickup (passive)
- Volume knob, tone knob, 3-way toggle switch and killswitch button
- Jackson HT7 hardtail thru-bridge and Planet Waves auto-trim locking tuners
- Weighs 7lbs
- Available in matte white
- Suppied string gauge 9-42 with a low 56
Whilst I'd played many different 7-strings before, this was my first 7-string purchase and appeared not to compromise in any areas that cheaper models had.
Sound — 9
While the DKA7 is far from the only guitar in this price range to sport DiMarzio pickups, they tend to be of the lesser PAF range - not so here. The sound is the guitar's strong point, with both D Activator pickups able to replicate pretty much any sound in the metal spectrum - particularly thrash and metalcore. The bridge pickup has plenty of bite and retains tight palm-muted sounds even with extremely high gain, whilst the neck pickup has plenty of dynamic character and attack with both high-gain and clean tones. The guitar is suited for the clean, polished production of modern metal - the sound is quite bright due to the maple fretboard, and the pickups don't have as much low mids as a set of active EMGs or Seymour Duncans combined with a rosewood fingerboard would have.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The guitar arrived from the factory in reasonably good condition, although after having it setup by a tech playability was greatly improved. The neck isn't the flattest for a 7-string, but the compound neck radius makes shifting from rhythm to lead playing effortless - if you find ultra-flat Ibanez necks too painful or ultra-fat Schecter necks impossible to grasp, this is a perfect middle ground. The only initial negative point was a few very miniscule scratches to the bodywork that only 20/20 vision would see from more than a foot away. The auto-trim tuners make changing strings quick and easy, if a little unnerving at first due to the immense in tension before a snip, although they sometimes tend to not be so good at staying in tune - the G and B strings regularly go slightly out of tune after excessive bending, and then when tuning them back up sudden jumps in pitch are common. Whilst the string gauge would probably suit most players, my heavier picking style meant I went for a 10-52 set with a low 70, which I can just about downtune to a low E.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I'd heard numerous horror stories about the quality control on the DKA7 when it was released in the US, thankfully they appear to have been mostly dealt with before arriving in the UK. The guitar has suffered no major faults in the two years I've owned it, although the wiring on the killswitch is slightly dodgy and very occasionally keeps itself turned off after being pressed requiring a second press to turn the pickups back on again. This guitar seems like it would work well both live and in the studio - it's precise tones and clear sound lending well to a live environment as well as making things easy for a studio engineer. The guitar's comparatively cheap finish is a potential vulnerability though, it will easily suffer through carelessness.
Overall Impression — 9
- Phenomenal sound for the price
- Excellent hardware arsenal
- Solid fast neck, very easy to play
- Auto-trim tuners make changing strings effortless
- Retuning and tuning stability can be inconsistent
- Cheap finish
- Quality control issues, would not recommend purchasing online.