LAMB OF GOD'S Mark Morton is known as a monster guitar player. His precise rhythm strokes, rapid-fire riffs and deft incorporation of unconventional chords fuel the band's harmonious hardcore assault.
But what most don't know is that Morton is also a player of blues and country when he's off the road from touring (see "Metal Edge" sidebar). So when he sat down with Jackson to discuss the creation of a signature guitar, versatility was chief among his design goals. The result of that collaboration is the Jackson Pro Series "Dominion," a short-scale guitar based on Jackson's award-winning Swee-tone design, with distinctive classic looks and very modern features.
If you didn’t know anything about Lamb of God, the Dominion's spec sheet might lead you to believe Morton is a jazz-fusion or blues specialist. The guitar is entirely built around the goal of maximizing resonance and volume, without affecting tonal stability. This is largely accomplished through the mahogany body's tuned tone chambers, which help to keep the tone open and clear, even with the harshest distortion. A real quilted maple cap tops the partially hollow body and adds to the guitar's clean note definition.
Jackson created a chunky, vintage feel for the Dominion's 24 3/4-inch-scale mahogany neck. Graphite rods add stability to the neck-through construction, and the strings are anchored on locking Sperzel tuners. The heavy ebony fingerboard has a compound radius, which makes chords comfortable to grip in the low positions and technical artistry easier as you move up the neck. I also like that the 22 frets are side filled, making it unlikely that they will ever present a sharp edge. Extra eye candy includes an inlaid Jackson headstock logo, pearloid tuner buttons and shark's eye abalone and pearl inlays.
Although most metal players load their guitars with high-output pickups, a set of sweet Seymour Duncan 59s maintain this guitar's modern-vintage vibe. Miniature switches on the guitar tap each pickup, so that players can turn the PAF-inspired 59s into smoky single-coils, and each pickup has its own volume and tone control.
The Seymour Duncan pickups delivered the Dominion's delightful tones to my Mesa Rectifier without overemphasis or harmonic exaggeration. Highs were full, harmonics punched out of the guitar with the same strength as fretted notes, and the bass was free of mud. The guitar's dynamic abilities and round tone were especially prominent beyond the 12th fret. But this wasn't just a grand instrument through a wall of distortion. Tapping the pickups tamed the output sufficiently to give the guitar a beautiful and raunchy Keith Richards-style crunch through my Fender Vibro-King and Mesa Lone Star. Once I dialed in my amps' best clean settings, I was also extremely impressed by the Dominion's ability to create thick country and blues tones.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Metal-playing aside, the Jackson Dominion Mark Morton signature guitar is a fantastic instrument. It's acoustically powerful, extremely versatile and sounds as good through a Rectifier stack as through a blackface combo.
Mark Morton on the Dominion
GUITAR WORLD Almost every metal player opts for a solidbody guitar. What prompted you to start using a chambered body?
MARK MORTON The guys at Jackson sent me a Swee-tone to check out, and I immediately fell in love with the way it responded. Initially, I didn't even realize, or care, for that matter, that it was chambered; I just knew that I could feel the difference in the way it reacted and stood up in terms of its clarity and response. After that experience, I knew that I wanted to make the chambered body a part of my signature model.
GW I can't think of another metal guitarist that has coil taps on his guitar. Why did you want them on this guitar?
MORTON The main premise behind the Dominion was to make a guitar that had as many tone options as possible. Although metal is my main focus these days, I do play a lot of other types of music. I've got groups of dudes that I jam with when I'm off the road. We mostly play blues and country, so I thought it would be a cool challenge to design a guitar that I could use to play an arena with Lamb of God but also use in a bar with my country band. And we did it.
GW What do you like most about the Dominion? Is it the features, tone or playability?
MORTON I'm really happy with it on all those levels. It's got a cool, unique look, and it's very comfortable to play. The combination of two humbuckers, individual volume and tone knobs for each pickup and separate coil-tap switches for each pickup provides the player with total tone control and a wide variety of sound options.