The other day I bought Lamb of God’s new CD, Wrath, and it’s got some killer old-school thrash moments on it. Lamb of God played at the Soundwave festival the other day but unfortunately they were scheduled to play at the same time as Nine Inch Nails, and a decision had to be made, so NIN won out and I’ll catch Lamb of God next time. Anyway, here’s my review of the Jackson Mark Morton Dominion signature model.
This made-in-Japan metal machine looks a little unassuming at first. The body outline almost resembles an amoeba or a melted Fender Jaguar, but structurally the guitar has more in common with Gibson’s classic designs than Fender’s. (Interestingly, Fender Musical Instrument Corporation owns Jackson, after reportedly trumping an offer to buy Jackson by Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine a few years ago).
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The Dominion is available in five transparent colours: Wine Drunk, Primer, Bourbon Burst, River Bed and Old School Burst. It features a chambered mahogany body with a quilt maple top – yep, chambered. It’s almost unheard of for a metal guitar to be chambered or hollow (with the exception of the weight relieving in later Les Pauls), because some feel that such construction techniques would invite uncontrollable feedback to burst through the door and stomp all over your guitar tone, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue with this axe, and I’m sure it plays more than a little role in helping to give this guitar a tone all its own.
Construction is of the neck-through-body variety, with the mahogany neck reinforced with graphite rods for stability. The bridge is a Schaller 456 fully adjustable bridge with anchored tailpiece. The neck has 22 jumbo frets on an ebony fingerboard, a wood prized for its solid, consistent tone, tight grain, and blacker-than-black looks.
Pickups are a pair of Seymour Duncan ’59 models in the bridge and neck. Each pickup has dedicated volume and tone controls, as well as a coil tap switch for single coil sounds.
I tested the Dominion out by using it to record some rhythm tracks for a song I had kicking around. First up was a chunky rhythm part which combined palm-muted pedal tones and ringing chord stabs. I selected the bridge humbucker for the first take, and switched it to single coil mode for the second. This allowed me to blend the two sounds during mix down to get the best of both worlds. The Dominion’s tone is loud and bold, no doubt aided by the chambering inside the body. Every strum or pick sets off a palpable resonance within the body, and single note lines blossom with harmonic complexity. Although Morton uses this axe in a band with two guitars, it sounds fat enough to fill up more than enough space in a single guitar band, and it covers enough ground for rhythm and lead styles.
Playability is not what you would expect from a metal guitar. It’s not a firey-fingered shred monster, and if you’re more at home with Gibson-style designs you’ll feel comfortable with this guitar. It’s not hard to play at all, but it does expect you to do most of the work, unlike most metal axes which seem to play themselves.
While there are signs this is Morton’s signature guitar – his signature on the truss rod cover, the distinctive gothic headstock outline, the shark eye inlays – the Dominion has enough common appeal to transcend the signature axe stigma and be seen as a unique guitar in its own right.