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Grover Jackson obtained ownership in Charvel's Guitar Repair of Glendora, California in the 1970s with a promise to bolster Charvel's business. Wayne Charvel eventually sold his interest to Grover Jackson on November 10, 1978, which gave Jackson control of the business and the Charvel name.
Jackson Guitars originated in 1980 when guitarist Randy Rhoads approached the company with an idea for an individualized guitar. The collaborative design effort between Rhoads, Grover Jackson, Tim Wilson, and Mike Shannon resulted in the creation of the Concorde, an innovative revamp of the traditional Flying V. The Rhoads guitar model designs were such a departure from Charvel's Stratocaster-based models that Jackson elected to label them with his own name.
Throughout the heavy metal heyday of the 1980s, the Jackson brand was associated with high-quality, American-made, custom instruments, and was endorsed by many popular guitarists of the period. In addition to the original Randy Rhoads models, the 1980s spawned distinctively designed Jackson models such as the Soloist, King V, Kelly, and the Dinky, all of which remain icons of the brand.
The 1990s brought changes in musical trends. While still making the high-end American-made products, brands like Jackson began producing inexpensive, Asian-made versions of their staple designs in an effort to make their products more accessible to lower-end buyers.
In the Fall of 2002, Fender Musical Instruments Corporation purchased Jackson, and U.S. operations were moved to the Fender factory in Corona, California. Present day Fender-era Jackson and Charvel guitars are being produced at the Corona works. Fender still manufactures various lines of lower-end imports, as well.
After several years of running a successful company doing sub-contracting work for many well known guitar companies and extensive design consultancy, Grover Jackson is now co-owner of a new guitar brand, GJ2 Guitars, in Orange County, California. His partner in this venture is former Fender Senior Vice President Jon Gold. Grover Jackson maintains his commitment to high quality USA made guitars.
From the earliest beginnings until the present day, Jackson Guitars is known for its slender, elegant designs, and feature aggressive motifs that are popular with hard rock and metal musicians.
Traditionally, Jackson (and many Charvel) guitars share the typical pointed headstock that first appeared on the Rhoads prototype in 1980. This likely arose from trade dress infringement issues as a result of Charvel's use of Fender Stratocaster shaped headstocks until the early 1980s. Fender's 2002 acquisition of both the Jackson and Charvel brands has enabled the Strat-style headstock to be reintroduced (under license).
Another Jackson trademark is the 'shark fin' inlays, which inspired other famous guitar companies such as Ibanez to follow suit with similar designs.
In 2004, Jackson released the DK2 guitar series featuring a Sustainiac® Driver/Pickup in the neck position of the guitar.
- Jackson guitars currently in production
- Dinky: A bolt-on superstrat with a body 7/8 the size of a Stratocaster.
- Kelly: A sleeker version of Gibson's popular Explorer, made famous by Marty Friedman of Megadeth, who had a signature model made for him, the KE1.
- King V: A symmetric 'V' shape with long pointy wings, based on the Double Rhoads model originally designed for Robbin Crosby of Ratt, but popularized, through prolific use, by Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, who had a signature model, the KV1.
- Monarkh: A single cutaway guitar similar to a Gibson Les Paul. Available in both 6 and 7 string models.
- Rhoads: An asymmetric 'V' shaped body with pointy "wings". Named for guitarist Randy Rhoads, who was helping to design the guitar before he died.
- Soloist: A neck-through body superstrat with a body 7/8 the size of a Stratocaster.
- Warrior: An aggressive body style consisting of four pointy ends that mimic the Jackson headstock shape.
- Signature series
- Phil Demmel's Demmelition V: Based on the King V with cutouts on the bottom of both wings.
- Mark Morton's Dominion: Designed by Jackson and Lamb of God guitarist, Mark Morton.
- Misha Mansoor's Juggernaut: A double cutaway with elongated horns.
- Phil Collen's PC1: Dinky style with a Jackson Sustainer/Driver pickup in the neck position, DiMarzio HS2 Stacked Humbucking Pickup in the middle position, DiMarzio Super 3 Humbucking Pickup in the bridge position, Floyd Rose original locking tremolo and gold-plated hardware. It was followed by the short lived, Guitar Center only designated PC2, which only came in Amber, Natural, and Red Trans finishes, with "Custom Shop" on the headstock instead of Collen's signature, and the mass marketed PC3, which had Collens' signature on the headstock like the PC1. Both were a moderately priced version featuring Duncan Designed pickups and no sustainer. The PC2 was fitted with a Wilkinson floating bridge, where as the early PC3 came with a Wilkinson, then later fitted with a licensed, brushed finished Floyd Rose.
- Christian Andreu's Rhoads: A single humbucker, single volume Rhoads with a "G" (short for Gojira) inlay at the 12th fret. Available only in Black with a dragon tattoo.
- Adrian Smith's San Dimas: Based on the 1980s Jackson Custom Shop models produced for Iron Maiden's Adrian Smith.
- Chris Broderick's Soloist: Based on the Soloist but with a custom asymmetric arch-top design. It features stainless steel frets as well as custom DiMarzio pickups, a low-profile Floyd Rose tremolo, push-pull potentiometers, and a kill switch along with other unique features. Available in both 6 and 7 string varieties.
- Scott Ian's T-1000: A signature guitar for Scott Ian of Anthrax, based on his original Soloist but with a slightly bigger body.
- Jackson guitars available only through the custom shop
- Death Angel: Similar to the Death Kelly; the bottom portion of the guitar is cut almost like the Warrior, but the upper portion near the neck has a SG/Kelly type shape.
- Death Kelly: Similar to the Kelly; the bottom portion of the guitar is cut almost like the Warrior, but the upper portion near the neck remains the same.
- Demon: A double cutaway but with elongated horns, similar to the elongated horns of the Jackson Juggernaut.
- Double Rhoads: Originally designed for Robin Crosby of Ratt. This is the same basic shape as the King V model, but with a body that is approximately 3 inches longer at the end. Crosby's height was 6'6", the King V was created as an option for people closer to average height.
- PC Archtop: Jackson's first Signature Model for Phil Collen, developed in 1988 after using various Soloist & Dinky custom models for 2 years. Phil and Grover Jackson decided to make an ergonomically correct guitar with a body like a normal arched-top Super Strat, except the top horn is dramatically bigger, the lower horn has more of a Fender Telecaster shape, and was concaved much like a Spector NS-series Bass Guitar.
- Roswell Rhoads: General concept of a Rhoads (asymmetric 'V'), except it's more curved, like an asymmetrical 'U'.
- Star: Exactly like the original Charvel Star, except with Jackson headstock and label.
- Surfcaster: Exactly like the original Charvel Surfcaster except with different logo.
- Xtreme Rhoads: Rhoads with slightly scaled down body and shorter top fin.
- Discontinued models
- Firebird: based on the Gibson Firebird but with a trademark Jackson headstock
- Kelly Star: Similar to the Kelly; the bottom portion of the guitar cut almost like the Rhoads, but the upper portion near the neck remained the same.
- Strat: A full-sized Fender Stratocaster body with bolt-on neck. Replaced by the Dinky, which has a more streamlined 7/8 strat body, in the mid 80's. Typically having 22 frets.
- Swee-tone: Double cut-away, superstrat style body shape somewhat resembles to Soloist AT. Non-pointy headstock with 3 by 3 tuner layout, 22 frets and 25 inch scale length, mahogany neck-through and spruce body wing construction, 2 humbuckers, 3 knobs and a blade switch. Mark Morton played it for a brief time around 2005, then he developed his Dominion signature model around this one.
- Y2KV: Used by guitarist Dave Mustaine; a custom V with rounded edges, first launched in 2000 and offered until 2002.
- Like the guitars, all were made to order, be it shop-order or custom-order. Typically Soloist-shaped poplar body, 21 frets neck-through design and P-J or P-H pickup layout. "Standard" range was rosewood fingerboard with dot inlay. "Custom" range was sharkfin inlay and bound ebony fingerboard.
- Concert bass: Usually had Soloist-shaped body and 22 frets. 2-band active preamp.
- David Ellefson Signature: based on his Concert bass that he used in "Rust in Peace" and "Countdown to Extinction" era. Also available in 5 string variants and imported version.
- Chris Beattie Signature: 24 frets, offset body, bolted-on neck joint.
Jackson Professional and Performer (import) Series
- "Professional" (1990-1997) is a tag that denotes the Japanese-made versions of many popular USA models. All Jacksons with "Professional" on the headstock are made in Japan.
- "Concept": (1993-1994) One of the rarest production series of Jackson imports ever built was the "Concept" models. They were made for only a few months, beginning at the end of 1993, before quality issues forced Jackson to end it's contract with the factory that were making them. The Concept Series was replaced with the Performer Series.
- "Performer" (1994-2001) is a tag that denotes Jackson's low end models, produced during the mid-1990s in Asian factories (initially Japan, later Korea and eventually again in Japan).
Even though they continue to make various series of guitars, sometime in the late 1990s, Jackson began dropping the series labels from the headstocks of their imported models. Since Fender took control, all imported models say "Jackson" on their headstock with no mention of a series.
Jackson players and endorsers, past and present
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- Alex Skolnick of Testament, Savatage, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden
- Alexi Laiho of Children of Bodom
- Andreas Kisser of Sepultura
- Brian Perry of Dirty Looks and Lizzy Borden
- Chris Broderick of Megadeth
- Chris Caffery of Savatage, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Dirty Looks
- Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P.
- Christian Olde Wolbers of Fear Factory and Arkaea
- Corey Beaulieu of Trivium
- Criss Oliva of Savatage
- Dan Spitz of Anthrax
- Dave Amato of REO Speedwagon, Ted Nugent, Cher, and Black Oak Arkansas
- Dave Mustaine of Megadeth and Metallica
- Dave Murray of Iron Maiden
- Dave Sharman
- Davey Johnstone of Elton John, Alice Cooper, Meat Loaf, Rod Stewart, Bob Seger, The Pointer Sisters
- David Davidson of Revocation
- David Ellefson of Megadeth
- Derek E. Miller of Sleigh Bells
- Deron Miller of CKY and World Under Blood
- Doug Aldrich of Whitesnake, Dio, Hurricane, House of Lords, and Bad Moon Rising
- Dr. Know of Bad Brains
- Eddie Van Halen
- Eric Meyer of Dark Angel
- Frank Stepanek of Black Uhuru
- Gabriel Garcia of Black Tide
- Gary Holt of Exodus
- Gary Moore
- Geoff Thorpe of Vicious Rumors
- Gustavo Cerati of Soda Stereo
- Helmuth Lehner of Belphegor
- Jake E. Lee of Badlands and Ozzy Osbourne
- Jacky Vincent of Falling in Reverse
- Jeff Beck
- Jeff Golub of Rod Stewart and Billy Squier
- Jeff Hanneman of Slayer
- Jeff Healey
- Jeff Loomis of Nevermore, Arch Enemy, and Sanctuary
- Jenna Jameson
- Jimmy Bower of Eyehategod, Down and Superjoint Ritual
- John Campbell of Lamb of God
- John Mayer
- Johnny Lee Middleton of Savatage and Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Juan Croucier of Ratt, Dokken, and Quiet Riot
- Juho Räihä of Before the Dawn
- Kevin Bond of Superjoint Ritual
- Kip Winger of Alice Cooper, Winger, and Alan Parsons
- Kirk Hammett of Metallica
- Kristian Ranta of Norther
- Larry Tarnowski of Iced Earth
- Lee Altus of Exodus and Heathen
- Mark Morton of Lamb of God
- Mark St. John of Kiss
- Marty Friedman of Megadeth and Cacophony
- Matthew Tuck of Bullet for My Valentine
- Michael Sweet of Stryper
- Mike Clark of Suicidal Tendencies
- Mille Petrozza of Kreator
- Misha Mansoor of Periphery
- Oz Fox of Stryper
- Oni Hasan of Warfaze
- Phil Collen of Def Leppard and Man-Raze
- Phil Demmel of Machine Head and Vio-Lence
- Randy Jackson of Journey and from American Idol.
- Randy Rhoads of Ozzy Osbourne and Quiet Riot
- Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi
- Rick Hunolt of Exodus
- Rick Marty of Alice Cooper, Dirty Looks, and Mistress Gaga, and from Nashville
- Robbin Crosby of Ratt and Dirty Looks
- Roope Latvala of Children of Bodom, Stone, Sinergy, and Waltari
- Sam Totman of DragonForce
- Scott Ian of Anthrax and Damnocracy
- Shawn Lane
- Steve Vai
- Tommy Victor of Prong
- Trey Azagthoth of Morbid Angel
- Vinnie Vincent of Kiss, Vinnie Vincent Invasion
- Warren DeMartini of Ratt
- Wes Borland of Limp Bizkit
- FMIC Brands at Fender website, 8 Dec 2014
- "Dealers". Jacksonguitars.com. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- "Randy Rhoads: Flight of the Concordes". Guitar World. Retrieved 2012-10-20.
- "Jackson DK2 Sustainer Review". Guitarhoo!. Guitarhoo.com. July 1, 2004. Retrieved April 16, 2014.
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