Jack­son DK3 Ok­oume + Ash

JACK­SON TAKES TWO DIF­FER­ENT AP­PROACHES TO THE SAME BA­SIC GUI­TAR WITH A SIM­PLE, BUT EF­FEC­TIVE CHANGE OF BODY WOODS. WORDS BY PE­TER HODG­SON.

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

It’s been in­ter­est­ing to see Fender Mu­si­cal In­stru­ment Corp jug­gle its many dif­fer­ent gui­tar brands. In re­cent years, it ap­pears they’ve re­ally hit the right mix: Fender makes... Well... Fen­ders.

If you want gui­tar with a hot-rod­ded Fender feel, you look to Charvel where you’ll get things like Floyd Rose tremo­los and hum­buck­ing pick­ups on other­wise pretty Strat-like form fac­tors. But if you want a real high-per­for­mance shred axe – the kind that lives for ul­tra-fast arpeg­gios, crush­ing metal rhythms and in­tri­cate fu­sion-in­spired melodies – you’ll find it at Jack­son.

That doesn’t mean the lines can’t blur from time to time – the trans­par­ent satin fin­ishes of the DK3 Ok­oume and DK3 Ash gui­tars on re­view here have a bit of a high-end Charvel vibe to them – but it sure helps in nar­row­ing down what brand to look at if you want to find the right gui­tar for you.

TWO OF A KIND

We’ll re­view these two gui­tars to­gether, be­cause they’re vir­tu­ally iden­ti­cal in every way ex­cept their wood choices. It also gives us a great op­por­tu­nity to note the dif­fer­ent sonic im­prints of these two wood types. Both gui­tars are Pro Se­ries Dinky DK3 mod­els built on a HSS (Hum­bucker/Sin­gle/Sin­gle) pickup for­mat.

Aside from the choice of ei­ther ok­oume or ash body woods, these gui­tars have a one-piece bolt-on maple neck with graphite re­in­force­ment bars and a scarf joint. The neck is fin­ished in a hand-rubbed ure­thane gel, and the head­stock is bound in black. The fin­ger­board is made of ebony and is shaped to a 12-to-16-inch com­pound ra­dius, get­ting flat­ter as you move up the neck to the shred­dier end.

The frets are jumbo and there are 24 of them, in true shred-ap­proved tra­di­tion. The truss rod ad­justs at the heel of the neck with an eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble wheel, which is an­other ex­pected, yet un­ques­tion­ably wel­comed ad­di­tion. Jack­son strings this mon­ster up with .009-.042 gauge strings – per­fect for speedy styles, but maybe a bit light if you’re a re­ally heavy player. Elec­tron­ics are a trio of Sey­mour Dun­can pick­ups, a JB hum­bucker and two SSL-6 sin­gle coils, with the mid­dle one re­v­erse wound/re­v­erse po­lar­ity for hum-can­celling op­er­a­tion in the two and four po­si­tions on the five-way pickup se­lec­tor. Strangely, there’s no abil­ity to coil-split the bridge hum­bucker in the Two set­ting.

There’s a master vol­ume and a master tone con­trol. It would have been easy to make one of these a push-pull to turn the bridge hum­buck er into sin­gle coil mode for an ex­tra two sounds in con­junc­tion with the five avail­able with the switch, but there ya go.

The bridge is a Floyd Rose FRT-O2000 dou­ble-lock­ing unit, re­cessed into the body so that you can pull it back as well as push it down. Tuners are Jack­son-branded sealed die-cast units.

THE SAME BUT DIF­FER­ENT

So brings us to the ques­tion on ev­ery­one’s mind: how do these two woods dif­fer in sound? Well, ok­oume oc­cu­pies an in­ter­est­ing lit­tle area; it’s son­i­cally sim­i­lar to alder, but vis­ually

rem­i­nis­cent of ma­hogany. It’s also a lit­tle denser than alder, giv­ing it a more full fre­quency re­sponse. Ash, on the other hand, is a brigh ter, harder-sound­ing wood. So each of these gui­tars has their own iden­tity, em­pha­sised by the sym­pa­thetic pick­ups.

The JB is a hot vin­tage-style hum­bucker with fat mids and full low-end, and it sounds more fo­cused in the Ash model and more full and thick in the Ok­oume one.

If you’re in a two-gui­tar band, I’d say go for the Ash model be­cause it’ll give you a tighter sound that will knit more ef­fi­ciently with the other gui­tarist. If you’re the only gui­tarist in your band, hit up the Ok­oume model, which has richer har­monic over­tones and is great for re­ally ex­pres­sive, nu­ance-laden so­los.

Playa­bil­ity-wise, both gui­tars are the ul­ti­mate in shred-friendly play­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. The com­pound-ra­dius fin­ger­board lets you re­ally get a grip on lower chords and higher sweep-pick­ing pat­terns, and it just feels right as you progress up or down the neck.

The Floyd Rose op­er­ates ex­actly as you’d hope it would, keep­ing great tun­ing sta­bil­ity and let­ting you re­ally go out there with the bar gym­nas­tics. For the ex­per­i­men­tal amongst us, this makes the Jack­son DK3 an es­pe­cially en­tic­ing range.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

These two gui­tars have many sim­i­lar­i­ties, but they’re for two dif­fer­ent types of player. And that makes them a great ex­am­ple of how FMIC has used its var­i­ous brands to mi­cro-tar­get dif­fer­ent play­ers even within the same nar­row brand of tastes ,such as ‘HSS Su­per­strat with trans­par­ent fin­ish and com­pound-ra­dius fin­ger­board.’

The folks at FMIC re­ally lis­ten to play­ers, be­cause yeah, their job is to sell gui­tar s, but they want to sell the right gui­tar to the right player, and they’re not afraid to get su­per-niche to do it. Case in point: these two shred-heavy works of pure art.

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