Jackson PDX Demmelition King V
Two years down the line, we still have bittersweet memories of testing Phil Demmel's Jackson King V signature model.
Sweet, because we got to luxuriate in its elitist, grand-plus spec, spew white-hot riffs and feel like the god of thunder for the afternoon. Bitter, because giving it back to Jackson felt like losing a limb.
Phil feels our pain. He was once like us. That's why the Machine Head hero has just emerged from the Jackson workshop with a new X-Series Demmelition model that looks the same but costs half the price.
Did the man on the street just get lucky? Wake up. Phil Demmel is not Mother Teresa, Jackson is not a charity, and cuts have inevitably been made to get the PDX Demmelition down to £479.
Some are irrelevant (do you seriously care that the finish is limited to black or red?). Others are negligible (would you honestly have noticed that the Floyd Rose is licensed – not 'official' – if we hadn't told you?).
OK, so you could strop about the substitution of a maple boltneck for the original's thru item, and bleat about the EMG-HZ humbuckers (they're passive, not active), but that would be missing the point.
This guitar gets close. Damn close, in fact, which by implication means it's streets ahead of most metal electrics in the sub-£500 price bracket. Visually, it's the exact same barbed arrow that Demmel sketched, and physically, it's vintage Jackson - a sleek, well-balanced body that leads onto a wide, flat neck whose compound-radius fretboard practically screams 'solo on me!'.
Lazy, emotive bends aren't the forte here; it's all about legato, alternate picking and tapping.
It's not perfect, though. Sans overdrive, Jacksons can sometimes sound a little dull, and the PDX is more solid than spectacular on the clean channel.
It's arguably not the most versatile axe, either. But that's OK: this guitar is all about the metal, and it knocks that out of the park, delivering a tone that roars at the neck, crunches at the bridge, and will satisfy punters hoping to approximate Machine Head's dark thrash. In the studio, you'll miss the high output and unbeatable filth of the active units; at a rowdy gig, you probably won't care.
If you're expecting the PDX Demmelition to take its well-heeled older brother to the wire in a game of spec sheet 'spot-the-difference', you'll be disappointed. But if you're a realist, you should see that it actually represents better value, looking the part, getting admirably close to top-dollar performance and blowing the already-competitive mid-range metal market wide open.
Hit the guitar shop, play both, listen hard, and be honest: if you can't detect £500-worth of difference, put the spare cash towards a killer amp. Then get out there and cause some Demmelition.
Great value, fast player, meaty sound.
A little flat when clean.
By no means perfect but, at this price, who's complaining? Long live the King.
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.
Black with silver, red with black
No. of Frets
2x EMG-HZ humbuckers, 2x volume controls, 3-way pickup selector