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Jackson is a guitar manufacturer originally owned and operated by Cole Davey, a partner of Wayne Charvel of Charvel Guitar Repair. It started with the creation of the concord later known as the "Rhoads" V model guitar, originally designed and used by guitarist Randy Rhoads (Who was known to be best friends with Cole Davey)Grover put his name on the Rhoads rather than the Charvel name because he felt the design was too shocking for Charvel's regular customers. This model inspired Grover to start the Jackson guitar company.

Wayne Charvel sold his interest in the Charvel name to Grover Jackson on November 10, 1978. The shop was located in Glendora, Californiamarker (while using a PO Box in neighboring San Dimas) and manufactured guitars in this location from 1979 to 1986, when the Company merged with IMC (International Music Corporation), a Texas based importer of musical instruments. The factory then moved to Ontario, California.

In the Fall of 2002, Fender Musical Instrument Corporation purchased Jackson/Charvel, and operations were moved to the Fender factory in Corona, CA. Fender is now manufacturing guitars that are almost exactly like the original San Dimas Charvels, save for a few details. Both Jackson and Charvel models are being produced at Corona. This had short term negative consequences, as much of the artists who were on the company's roster list in the 1980s and 1990s left to endorse other guitar companies. Though significantly improved since the buyout, interference by FMIC is still stated to be a problem with Jackson, Most however see that some of the new things that FMIC has instituted, such as the fairly low prices on high end USA models and improved quality in lower end models that the company will begin to experience a turnaround.

Jackson Guitars has become known for its slender and elegant models, often with an aggressive look popular with harder rock and metal music.

The Jackson headstock

Almost all Jackson (and many Charvel) guitars share the typical Gibson Explorer-like pointy drooped headstocks. Various models feature a reversed pointy headstock with the tip pointing upwards. Another trademark are their so called "shark fin" fret inlays, which inspired other famous guitar companies such as Ibanez to develop a similar design to that of Jackson's original, called "shark tooth".

Charvel/Jackson was the target of many copyright lawsuits from Fender which ended the use of Stratocaster styled headstocks for Jackson and Charvel guitars until recently.

Jackson Guitar Models

Jackson guitars currently in production:

  • The Jackson Rhoads, an asymmetric 'V' shaped body with pointy "wings". Originally called the "Original Sin", and designed for guitarist Randy Rhoads. After his death they renamed it the RR or Randy Rhoads.
  • The Jackson Soloist. The Soloist has a neck-through body with the superstrat body design.
  • The Jackson Dinky. The Dinky has exactly the same body shape of the Soloist but with bolt-on necks.
  • The Jackson 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.
  • The Jackson King V, a symmetric 'V' shape with long pointy wings. The guitar was originally designed for Robbin Crosby of Ratt, but was popularized, through prolific use, by Dave Mustaine of Megadeth who had a signature model, the KV1.
  • Phil Collen PC1 Signature Dinky with a Jackson Sustainer/Driver pickup in the neck position, a DiMarzio HS2 Stacked Humbucking Pickup in the middle position, a DiMarzio Super 3 Humbucking Pickup in the bridge position, a Floyd Rose original locking tremolo and gold-plated hardware. It was followed by the short lived PC3 model, a moderately priced version featuring DiMarzio HSS pickups and a Wilkinson floating vibrato.
  • The Jackson Warrior. An aggressive looking body consisting of four pointy ends designed in-house. The points themselves were designed after the Jackson headstock shape. The Ibanez Xiphos and B.C. Rich Stealth (the original) are similar, except the points are more rounded, and have a different shaped headstock.
  • The Jackson Mark Morton Dominion. A signature series guitar designed by Jackson and Lamb of God guitarist, Mark Morton.
  • The Jackson Phil Demmel Demmelition V. A signature guitar, based on the King V, with slightly changed wings, in the form of cut-outs.
  • The Jackson Adrian Smith San Dimas. A signature guitar, based on the 80's Jackson custom shop models which were produced for Iron Maiden's Adrian Smith.

Jackson guitars that are only available through custom shops:
  • The Jackson 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.
  • The Jackson 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.
  • The Jackson Demon has a shape almost exactly like an Ibanez 540.
  • The Jackson "PC Archtop" was 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 that had 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.
  • The Jackson Roswell Rhoads has the general concept of a Rhoads (asymmetric 'V'), except it's more curved, like an asymmetrical U.
  • The Jackson Star is exactly like the original Charvel Star, except with the Jackson headstock and label.
  • The Jackson Surfcaster is exactly like the original Charvel Surfcaster except with a different logo.
  • The Jackson Xtreme Rhoads, is a Rhoads with a slightly scaled down body, and a shorter top fin.

Also all the original shapes, and even custom ones can be done in the custom shop.

Jackson guitars that were discontinued:
  • The Jackson Kelly Star. similar to the Kelly; the bottom portion of the guitar was cut almost like the Randy Rhoads, but the upper portion, near the neck, remained the same.
  • The Jackson Firebird, which was a copy of the Gibson Firebird but with the trademarked Jackson headstock. This model is shredded often by popular guitarist Donny Verbeck.

Jackson Professional Series:

  • Jackson Professional Series was the Made in Japan line of many popular USA models. Therefore, all Jackson's with "Professional" on the headstock were made in the Japan factory. Made famous by Australian guitarist Dave Jenkins.
  • The Performer tag is denoted on Jackson low end models, produced during the mid-90's in overseas factories (initially Korea, and later Japan).

Jackson players and endorsers, past and present


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