Gearified: Jackson’s Pro Series King V still reigns, bloodily

As most of you know, the first guitars designed and built under the Jackson name were various Randy Rhoads Flying Vs. One could say that Vs are the plasma of the Jackson “Bloodline.” This month, Gearified takes the pulse of one of their finest and oldest designs, the Pro Series King V. Originally custom-made for Robin Crosby of RATT, but made much more famous by Dave Mustaine, this guitar has secured its future as an icon of metal mayhem the proper way—by blood, sweat and beers.

The Pro Series King V is nearly identical to the original issue, save for the control knob configuration. The original had three-two volume and one tone (like a Gibson V), and the new Pro Series has two-shared volume and tone. Other than that, it’s the same. Apparently the motto at Jackson is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Which is right on the money in our book—good metal and rock is nothing without a healthy dose of tradition. The size of the body is the same as a Gibson V in length and width. The wings of the V are obviously pointier, which gives the Jackson a more modern and sleek form.

Under the Hood
The glassy black finish looks stunning on the alder body. The three-piece maple neck is hand-rubbed with oil and connects to the body via a seamless neck-thru joint. Surprisingly, the pointed, six-in-line, bound headstock is an extension of the aforementioned three-piece neck—not a scarf joint. Another advantage to this design is the strength attributed to the three opposing wood grains. It’s nearly unbreakable—then Jackson adds a graphite reinforcement inside the neck! It all adds up to an indomitable combination, which stands up to road rigors like Iron Man arm-wrestling a two-year-old. 

The ebony compound radius fingerboard hosts 24 jumbo frets and the subdued, metallic alumiloid-colored sharktooth inlays. On the hardware side, we have a Korean-made OEM Floyd Rose locking tremolo system, die-cast tuning keys and, directly mounted to the body, the tried and true pairing of EMG 81 and 89 active pickups, all in the slimming color of black. Controls include a three-way pickup switch toggle and shared volume and tone knobs, with a push-pull pot for coil-splitting. 

The combination “speed shape” and hand-oiled (shut up, Beavis!) finish on the neck is like fertile earth to grow acres of shred fruit. The girth is just right for chording, leads, arpeggios, vibrato and bluesy bends. Even though these models are mass-produced, the quality standard on the fingerboard blew us away. The ebony is flawless and the fretwork is on the level that you would expect of guitars priced a few thousand dollars higher.

Most of us can close our eyes and imagine what alder, maple, ebony and EMGs will sound like through a JCM 800 half stack. For those who can’t, think of the Islam Martyr Reward: 72 dark-eyed virgins, etc., but on toast, with a pint of cold, frothy Guinness. This is the sound of modern metal on steroids—crunch, punch, squeal, scream, shred, rage, burn and scar. It’s all there. Turn the key; just add Hessian aggression and the will to take another man’s life in battle.

The look and sound of this beast is unbeatable, the price a flat-out steal. There’s nothing further to discuss!


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