The PC1 is a really fun guitar. With all the knobs and switches it might looks a little confusing, but that’s hardly the case. Far from a one-trick-pony, it’s not uncommon to see other artists also putting this bad boy to work.
You get a mahogany body with a maple top and a nice chunky maple neck. When these first came out, I wasn’t a big fan of Jackson’s version of the ‘Strat’ headstock, but going in to business with Fender took care of that and the real ‘Strat’ headstock really finishes this design out nicely. It also comes with an “Official” Floyd Rose trem, a Sustainer, and DiMarzio pickups.
The Sustainer seems like something that can have a make-or-break opinion for some people. Yes, the control cavity is totally dominated by the board for the Sustainer, with the controls pretty much hard-wired to the board and the pickups connected directly to it. For me, that means it’s not a guitar I want to look at modding. I’ve seen some players that prefer other pickups that swap them out without incident. The battery compartment is in the back and accessible without having to open the control cavity. The guitar does work as a normal guitar without batteries installed. Switches control the on/off for the Sustainer and the type of Sustain. A knob controls the volume of the Sustain effect. Pretty simple.
Otherwise, the PC1 comes with a DiMarzio Super 3 in the bridge and a DiMarzio HS-2 in the middle. I do find this selection to work out well in this guitar. I’ve heard from guys that use other brands/models with good results. There are also players that totally remove the Sustainer feature, put a regular pickup in the neck, and claim it’s the best guitar they’ve played.
Not everyone likes gold hardware, and I understand that. But it just seems to work on this guitar. I even got some gold screws for the pickup mounting/adjustment screws and DiMarzio was very accommodating at providing gold pole pieces for the bridge pickup. That’s really about as far as I was going to take it.
With regard to the PC1 hardware, I’ll interject this. I like me some German Floyd Rose action, and does it ever deliver what you want on this guitar. The only opportunity I can imagine for better hardware performance would be genuine Floyd Rose titanium, made in the USA by TiSonix. My PC1 already has titanium bridge mounting machine studs, a titanium tremolo spring claw, and a titanium tremolo block. A titanium locking nut and saddles would be on the menu for this guitar. These FR Ti parts are made of the highest grade mil-spec titanium and very complimentary to a guitar like the PC1.
It comes with 10 gauge strings and I found that it did really seem to like that better than when I tried 9 gauge. The setup was just more agreeable to the heavier gauge.
The neck is something else that seems to affect opinions. Is it thicker? Yes. Does it make it harder to play? I don’t think so. I have to say I think too many players get caught up on things like this and treat a fraction of a millimeter as if it’s the span of the Grand Canyon. It didn’t take much time at all before feeling right at home on this neck. The additional mass also translates to more tone and more sustain and natural resonance. I’ve made hardly any modifications to this guitar and I very rarely feel like the Sustainer feature is necessary.
The PC1 is a well-made, solid workhorse. You’ll frequently see Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Rock Of Ages, Cher) and Mark Day (Fractal Audio) using PC1s. There’s a relatively short list of artist model guitars that are used by other artists. I think that says a lot about the PC1.
Check out Phil talking about his Jackson guitars in this video:
The guitar is comfortable, fun to play, versatile, nice combination of woods, and nifty features. Be sure to check one out the next time you see one.