Shopping for an eight-string electric is a bit like buying a guard dog. You're looking for all the same qualities: plenty of bark, more than a little bite and, err, a firm bottom-end. The usual rule applies - always buy from a reputable breeder. And you don't get much more reputable than Jackson, whose stock-in- trade is tailor-making electric guitars for musical roughhousing. And the firm has pulled out all the stops when spec'ing the DKA8.
This is the Dinky series, but put all thoughts of small and subtle out of your head. You could unbolt the maple neck and skate on it, such is its width, but the neck is flat-sawn and left satin-smooth to make the DKA8's extended range eminently accessible, and crucially, make the guitar playable. Two DiMarzio D Activator humbuckers in the solid alder body provide the firepower.
The rest of the DKA8's fixtures and fittings are just as impressive: the HT-8 hardtail bridge has a pleasingly low profile, and Planet Waves locking tuners help steady the ship. It might not be a looker - the Metallic Black finish looks a bit like the linoleum found on the floors of provincial nightclubs, the killswitch like it was purloined from a 16-bit coin-op arcade machine - but the DKA8 saves the flash for its performance.
Joking aside about the bottom- end, the low F# on an eight-string guitar must be responsive to the pick and in turn articulated by the pickups. This is how Meshuggah can sound like the world is falling on your head - there's definition in their chug.
High gain and low tunings are what the DKA8 handles really well. The clean tones, incidentally, are perfectly usable, with a good range between the warm elasticity of the neck pickup and the sharp clarity of the bridge 'bucker.
Whether at industrial levels of saturated distortion or glassy cleans, the DiMarzio D Activator continues to impress. One of the obvious advantages that the D Activators have over ubiquitous active EMG sets is that they don't need a battery, and yet still their output is gutsy, disciplined, and harmonically bright. Dial in some gain and there are some outrageous pinch harmonics to be had.
With a master tone, master volume and three-way pickup selector, the DKA8's controls hold few surprises, but the addition of a kill switch - a bright red button at that - completes a guitar designed with the post-progressive metaller in mind, and takes the hot-rodded S-type concept to new extremes.
An eight-string guitar is a game-changer for your playing and sound. Do you need to occupy the bass player's frequencies and write riffs that'll have you known throughout the rehearsal studio circuit and beyond as some sort of chug laureate? Then you definitely need an eight-string, and you'll definitely want this monster.