Review: Jackson DKMG with EMG-81, EMG-85 and Floyd Rose

Review: Jackson DKMG Floyd Rose/EMG 81 & 85

Jackson Guitars

Jackson Guitars has an incredible reputation for being a rock/metal/shredding powerhouse. The Jackson Company started out in the 1970’s and latched onto the contemporary heavy music scene. A boom in the 1980’s brought notoriety to the Jackson name but it was not until the collaboration with Randy Rhoads did the company become legendary. When I think of Jackson today, I immediately think Slayer & Lamb Of God.

When I first picked up this guitar, I quickly found out this was not a just a toy, but a workhorse. As I began to noodle around on the Jackson DKMG, I immediately felt how comfortable the neck was in hand and how reliable and fun a good Floyd Rose can be. I had my heart set on a guitar that had 24 frets and a tremolo, and this model fit the mold. I asked the salesman how much for the axe, and he said $350. I was dumbfounded. I knew generally how much it was before I had asked him because I read a lot of guitar magazines and I am constantly browsing Sam Ash and Musician’s Friend. I grabbed the Jackson and played it some more. Then I played a plethora of others. I wound up coming back to the DKMG and four years later, I’m still loving it.


  • Body – Alder With Carved Top
  • Neck – Bolt-On Rock Maple Neck/Scarf Joint Head Stock
  • Fingerboard – Rosewood with Compound 12″ to 16″ Radius
  • Tuning Machines – Sealed Die-Cast Tuners
  • Bridge – Floyd Rose® Licensed Jackson® Low Profile JT580 LP double-locking 2-Point Tremolo
  • Frets –  24 jumbo frets
  • Pickups – EMG 81 + 85


I do not baby anything. I am rough on all my equipment because I feel that a well-built instrument should withstand some normal wear and tear. Also, I’m just plain clumsy. I have gigged a number of times with the Jackson DKMG. I’ve taken it on a bus from NY to Boston, and on a plane from NY to L.A. All the while, just slamming the Floyd Rose as well as the finish.


It has finish chipping on the seams (a la Kirk Hammett) and the sides. There is also a slight gash in the front near the top horn. Other than these minor cosmetic flaws, it plays just like the day I bought it, a dream. Even with all of the abuse, the neck has no signs of warping.

Official Jackson DKMG Dinky Electric Guitar Demo

I still see this guitar listed on popular musical instrument websites commanding $700 + and I bought it for $350 in 2006. Either they sold me the floor model or they rang up the wrong price. What ever the case may be, I have a great guitar that I got at a fantastic price. The thing is, I don’t know if I would feel the same way about it if I had paid a lot more. From my experience, it’s a well built guitar that needed to be set up only once, when I bought it. If you can live with the finish chipping and really want a Floyd Rose that can hold up, get this guitar. Even for a street price of around $750 – $850 it’s a good buy.

Pros: Lightweight, Solid feeling guitar, Floyd Rose is excellent.

Cons: I have played many Jackson Guitars and I have come across a few lemons. Finding a good Jackson that can hold up is going to take some research, but it’s worth it.

MSRP – $1,119.99

Mike Kolbenson is a staff writer at SMG. Mike is a recent graduate from Purchase College, SUNY and absolutely in love with all things guitar. Email:

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  • Chris Lucus

    Hello all. I’m Chris. My age is 42 and I started playing guitar when I was roughly around the age 13. I love playing. Anyway, to the Jackson DKMG Dinky. I love this guitar. It’s the only one that I’ve seen with the different type of fret inlays, which I like, and I love the inverted head stock. Don’t let Dinky fool you, this is not a small, kiddy guitar. It’s a very nice professional guitar. My first gripe about it was the pickup combo. I Immediately took out the neck 85 and replaced it with a EMG60. I like the EMG 81, 60 combo better and they are both ceramic magnets, also the power they are putting out is more equal as compared to the 81,85 combo. The 85 is a dark, loud pickup, and a great pickup but just not for me and my style. The tremelo system is awesome. It took me a while to get it adjusted perfectly but once I did it was ON!! I’m talking dive deep as you want and come back as far as you want. be rough with the bar, whatever you can think of and it will still be in tune (if you broke your strings in before you locked it down and have it set-up right) I have never in my life played on one that holds such perfect tuning, just WOW! EMG,s – I modified mine to run off of 18 volts which seemed to give it more saturation, a little less compression and it just brings it alive. It’s kind of hard to explain you have to hear it for yourself. My biggest complaint is the F’n metal used for the screws on the tremelo. Cheap, cheap, cheap…. I’ve broken several of them and I need on right now. If anyone has a set of good metal screws email me at The fret board is very easy to move around on and the design of the neck is just too cool, I love it. A guy can’t go wrong getting this guitar and just because I don’t like the EMG 81, 85 combo doesn’t mean you won’t. When you reach a level like this there is no best. It is what you like the best. I like the EMG 81,60 combo with Alder wood. Best wishes to all of you out there. Hello from S.W. Oklahoma in the Wichita Mountains.

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