Jackson Guitars started out in the late 70s around the time that heavy metal experienced a virtuosic rebirth in popularity. Jackson Guitars is the baby of the small guitar repair shop ownerGrover Jackson.
Grover Jackson was employed by Wayne Charvel of Charvel’s Guitar Repair Shop in Glendora, California. He decided to buy the shop with a firm promise to Charvel that he would see to the continued success of the guitar repair business which eventually became Jackson Guitars.
The success of Jackson Guitars began with the demand of the new generation metal guitarists looking for high-quality, high-precision, and high-shredding instruments.Jackson and his highly talented staff heeded the call and started manufacturing custom, high-performance guitars with headstocks featuring Jackson’s name.
Randy Rhoads and the Concorde
During the latter part of the 80s, Randy Rhoads, a young, somewhat unknown but extraordinarily talented guitarist at that time contacted Jackson. Back then, Rhoads had just ended his stint with the Quiet Riot metal outfit and had just joined forces with the new band of ex-Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne.
Rhoads and Jackson’s fateful meeting that year prior to Christmas proved to be a major turning point for Jackson Guitars. It was in that they visualized the legendary Concorde guitar, by sketching its design on a paper napkin. Concorde was colored white, had an angular, futuristic V-shape with the headstock featuring Jackson’s name for the first time ever.
Concorde is regarded as the first Jackson guitar but was rejected in the long run in favor of a second model with an extra set of features that Randy Rhoads recommended. Unfortunately, Randy met his untimely demise in ’82 and was photographed with the Concorde only several times. In this light, the second Concordemodel went on to become the legendary Jackson Rhoads guitar.
Since then, Jackson Guitars became synonymous with heavy metal because of its incredible performance and power. Aside from the aggressive shapes and the V-shape, another trademark of Jackson Guitars is the inclusion of shark fin inlays. Fender acquired JacksonGuitars and Charvel around 2002. This acquisition saw the rebirth of the Jackson Guitars headstock with the Strat-style, under license of course.
The Lineup of Jackson Guitars Still in Production
Jackson Rhoads – a futuristic looking, V-shaped guitar with pointed wings especially designed for the heavy metal guitar legend Randy Rhoads.
The Soloist – a guitar with a superstrat body design and neck-through body.
Dinky – a smaller version of the superstart.
Kelly – similar in design to the Gibson Explorer, but sleeker. This model was made popular by Megadeth’s Marty Friedman.KE1, a signature model of the Kelly was designed after Marty.
King V – an asymmetric V-shaped guitar with longer pointed wings initially designed for Ratt’s Robbin Crosby, but made famous by Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine.Mustaine also had a signature King V model, KV1.
Phil Collen PC1 Signature Dinky – a dinky styleguitar with the neck position featuring a Jackson Driver/Sustainer pickup.
Phil Demmel Demmelition V – a signature, King V based model with faintly altered wings in cutout formation.
Adrian Smith San Dimas – a signature model based on the 80s Jackson custom models made for Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden.
Warrior – a mean-looking guitar with four pointed ends imitating the shape of the Jackson headstock.
Mark Morton Dominion – a signature model by Mark Morton of Lamb of God and Grover Jackson.
The Custom Shop Jackson Guitars
Death Angel – a guitar akin to the model,Death Kelly with the upper part nearest the neck having a Kelly/SG shape and the lower part of the guitar having a Warrior-like cut.
Death Kelly – similar to the model Kelly with the upper part nearest the neck having the same shape and the lower part being cut like the model Warrior.
PC Archtop – the first signature Phil Collen model made in 1988 after utilizing other Dinky and Soloist custom made versions in 2 years. Jackson and Phil then settled on creating a more ergonomically accurate guitar model with a typical arched-top body ala Superstrat with the difference being the bigger top horn and the Fender Telecaster-like lower horn shape. It was likewise concaved similar to the Spector NS-Series Bass Guitar.
Roswell Rhoads – a guitar with the Jackson Rhoads overall concept, except that it is more U-shaped than V-shaped.
Surfcaster – a twin of the authenticCharvel Surfcaster but with a different logo.
Xtreme Rhoads – a Jackson Rhoads model with the top fin being shorter and with a scaled down body.
Demon – similar to the Ibanez 540.
Star – a twin of the authentic Charvel Star, with a different label and Jackson headstock.
Jackson Guitars Discontinued Models
Firebird – a duplicate of the Firebird model of Gibson but with the trademarkedheadstock of Jackson.
Kelly Star – akin to the Kelly with the same upper part nearest the neck but with the lower part being cut like the Jackson Rhoads.
Y2KV – a custom made V-shaped guitar but with rounder edges. Released in 2000 and made until 2002. Used by Dave Mustaine.
Jackson Guitars Professional and Performer Series
The Jackson Guitars Professional Series are versions of famousUSA models but made in Japan. All Jackson Guitars with a headstock that has the tag ‘Professional’ are Japan-made. Jackson Guitars ‘Performer’ on the other hand are low-end guitar models made in the mid 90s in Korea and Japan.
Jackson Guitars still continues to flourish today with all of their popularproduction and custom series enjoying immense success. The Jackson Guitars Custom Shop is also known to be the longest operational guitar custom shop in the U.S. with almost all of its true blue staff still employed today.