Jackson Demmelition King V Electric Guitar
Jackson Guitars, jacksonguitars.com
Originally printed in Guitar World, January 2009
Guitarists who want an extreme machine to deliver the ultimate heavy tones need look no further than Jackson’s Demmelition Phil Demmel signature guitar.
Phil Demmel's blend of old-school punk rock intensity and hardcore aggression propels the veteran thrash metal band Machine Head. Because Demmel’s sound is so distorted and seemingly unrefined, it would be natural to assume that any guitar with a high-powered pickup and a Floyd Rose trem would allow a player to recreate his tone. In reality, Demmel requires a very special set of guitar characteristics to help him create his super-heavy vintage-modern assault.
Demmel recently teamed with Jackson Guitars and incorporated these specs into the new Phil Demmel signature model King V, which has been aptly named the Demmelition. There’s nothing timid or reserved about the Demmelition’s bombastic, bowel-loosening assault, yet it’s a very tonally balanced instrument.
Dangerous-looking pointed guitars are used by scores of metallists as a symbol of their aggression, but when built properly, these wild shapes also achieve precise musical goals. For example, the Demmelition comes from the factory with massive .011–.056 GHS Boomers drop-tuned to B. The extended wings work like a tuning fork to help these nearly infrasonic tones develop fully and make the guitar shake with resonance. Lightweight alder is used in the Demmelition’s V wings for its ability to clarify upper midrange and add punch to the big bass notes.
For added stability and sustain, the Demmelition is built with maple neck-through-body construction. Like most high-end maple necks, the Demmelition’s is quarter-sawn to protect against warping or twisting. Stone-hard ebony is used for the fretboard and cut on a compound radius that begins at 12 inches and flattens gradually to a hammer-friendly 16 inches above the 12th fret. Nearly invisible black binding wraps the 22-fret board, and super-jumbo wire is used to make fretting easy and maximize the volume from those massive strings. The neck isn’t thin, but it’s consistent and has a wide and flat hill that complements metal fret-hand movements. It’s also recalls the playability that made Jackson guitars famous in the early shred years.
A classic set of metal-style pickups—an EMG-81 (bridge) and an EMG-60 (neck)—deliver power and detuned clarity. Although the model 81 is typically paired with an 85 in the neck position, the ceramic-based model 60 is the best choice if you really want to hear destructive rhythm tones and wailing neck leads from heavy strings. Each pickup is hardwired to its own volume pot, and a three-way blade lets you select the pickups alone or in combination. An Original Floyd Rose double-locking trem imparts a classic metallic resonance upon the diabolic King V. Some other nice touches on the Demmelition are an inlaid mother-of-pearl Jackson headstock logo, CTS pots, a positive-feeling Switchcraft switch and beveled body edges.
Jackson makes many sonically multifaceted guitars. The Demmelition is unapologetically not one of them. This wicked-winged flyer is purpose built for high gain, extreme lows and greasy-fat leads. At the same time, its maple neck-through construction, ebony fretboard and ceramic EMGs deliver enough treble enhancement to define the Demmelition’s powerful detuned bass tones and make screaming high-end tones second nature.
Through an amp like my modified Mesa Rectifier, the Demmelition sent shockwaves of sound across the stage and awakened Godzilla-roar overtones when I chugged through power chords or dive-bombed the low B string. In addition to its massive tone, the Demmelition generated astonishing sustain in the upper registers, allowing bent notes to be held for well over 15 seconds! The EMGs had no trouble delivering clean and warm tones that sound completely unprocessed.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Guitarists who want an extreme machine to deliver the ultimate heavy tones need look no further than Jackson’s Demmelition Phil Demmel signature guitar. The name says it all: brutal assaults, unrivaled destructive power, truly unbelievable sustain and old-school Jackson Soloist-style playability.
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