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Grover Jackson company symbolizes "superstrat" rock guitars of the 1980s. Its modernization of the classic Fender Stratocaster model brought more frets, deeper body curves, a pointed headstock, a modified pickups pinout and a highly efficient vibrato system. Jackson attracted many young quick-fire artists such as Randy Rhoads, George Lynch and Vivian Campbell, and more traditional guitarists like Jeff Beck, Gary Moore and Frank Stepanek.

The owner:

Fender

Brief history/technical and technological achievements:

Guitarist Jackson liked to mess around with instruments and in September 1977 he was hired to work in Wayne Charvel’s studio in San Dimas, California, and there he got engaged in the manufacture of guitar replacement parts. But the company was struggling with money, and in November 1978, Jackson bought the entire office with the equipment for about $40000. The workshop with a 3-employee staff continued to make necks, cases and other kind of parts as well as repair and upgrade guitars. In 1979 the new instrument debuted – it featured the screw-fastened neck and was called Charvel.

In 1980 Grover Jackson met with a 24-year-old promising guitarist whose name was Randy Rhoads. Together they developed a custom guitar design based on the Gibson Flying V design. The next year they started to design again - this time a more radical version of the instrument with the “Offset” sound board design. These guitars, clearly different from Charvel, began to use Jackson’s name as a trademark. The products of the two brands - "Charvel" and "Jackson" – had few features in common until 1986.

Charvel guitars (Fender-styled) feature screw necks. Jackson instruments construction design was more interesting. Both brands had rich colors and patterns on the guitar bodies as distinctive features. After the tragic death of Rhoads in 1982 and a surge of interest in his unusual Jackson models, the fact that the brand carried his name through its history acquired special value. In 1983 the first Jackson series model appeared - «Randy Rhoads».

Other extravagant instruments were made especially for performers such as Kelly, Australian band “Heaven” (Explorer style) and Dave Linsk, Overkill, (similar to Flying V Double-Rhoads). Jackson limited the use of his name to only these instruments ordered by musicians for individual use. But some guitars didn’t take long before becoming favorite models, and in 1983-1986 in the workshop of the company in San Dimas, all those Jackson's guitar bodies were redeveloped and later would have their own model names. These were "Randy Rhoads" (the Offset V design, 1983); "Soloist" (superstrat, 1983); "Kelly" (slightly modified Explorer style, 1984); "Double-Rhoads" and "King V" (in the style of "Flying V", 1985). Almost from the very beginning all these models came out with the two types of tuning: "Student" (rosewood neck overlay, fret-point markers, neck and headstock without edging) and "Custom" (ebony overlay, "shark teeth" markers, neck and headstock edging), although there were also other variants. Gradually Jackson developed and honed original guitar designs in the style of Stratocaster which were released under Charvel brand name - Strat Body, and then Jackson Soloist.

Since 1983 Soloist has been personifying the guitar that we know as Superstratum, the most important guitar design of the 80s. Based on the advice of musicians who regularly suggested what improvements could be made Jackson developed a classic stratum design, straightened the sides, thickened the profile, stretched out the body, and lengthened the "horns". Jackson's first stratospheric guitars came out with 22 frets and then he began to expand the access to the upper frets and increased the number of frets up to 24 expanding the range of produced notes. The upgraded board was equipped with a powerful combination of singles and humbuckers, evolving into a superstrate standard combination of two singles plus a bridge humbucker, with the addition of a locking vibrato. Jackson also popularized the "sloped" pointed headstock. This is how the superstrat was born: a new instrument for high-speed, high-gain guitar players ensuring satisfaction of their needs and capable of developing and improving their ambitions.

In 1986 Charvel brand was handed over to the line of instruments created in Japan, and Jackson brand name was put on guitars produced in the USA. By 1987 the production of Jackson instruments had moved to a new factory in Ontario (California).

By 1987 King V had become a series model. Two years later the name Strat Body was replaced with the less controversial (regarding claims and lawsuits) - Vintage Style, and the line included one more model - Dinky. Another novelty in the Jackson lineup at that time was the Phil Collen signature model. Its radically “peeled” and contoured body was something very different from the common cocept rock guitar. A more affordable model of Collen - PC3 was released in 1997.

In 1985 Jackson established a joint venture with the International Music Corporation Texas distributor. In 1989 he left. Later he developed instruments for Washburn and some other companies. After he quit three lines were released: "Custom Shop", the American series ("US series") and "Jackson Professional". in the USA "Custom Shop" instruments were made for individuals who ordered them and cost so much money that an average customer couldn’t even dream about them.

Small-scale US series models appeared in ten different polish colors to choose from. As for Jackson Professional this line, made in Japan, was devised to conquer the market with quality versions of American originals. Among them was the Phil Collen model as well as the new Fusion Pro and Warrior Pro (ultra category). Prices for Jackson Professional were too high for Japanese instruments and the selection remained limited although the company immediately responded to the emergence of new trends and demand for new products. In 1992 Professional line welcomed Infinity model (PRS styled), while retaining Jackson specification such as a pointed headstock and a reliable vibrato. In 1993 Jackson catalogue featured retro-spirit JIX as well as Kelly Standard ("Custom Shop" series). There were other limited series replica variations throughout the 90s.

Jackson focused on those segments that were considered their strengths but continued to expand in the low-cost instruments range. The Concept series launched in 1993 represented relatively affordable versions of Japanese-made models and the Performer line was made in Korea and the cost was even lower. In 2000 India was responsible for making X series.

Acquisition of Jackson by Japanese electronic music company Akai in 1997 led to the termination Charvel brand production. But the Charvel Surfcaster model survived as a Jackson series guitar introduced in the line the next year.

Today Jackson continues to improve the shapes of its instruments. In 2000 Kelly Star KS2 model was created – the design was influenced by Kelly and Rhoads styles. Fender corporation acquired Charvel and Jackson in the beginning of this century. The leader of the Megadeth band and the longtime admirer of Jackson guitars Dave Mustaine wanted to purchase the company but the deal wasn’t completed. Giving the company into the hands of Fender supervisers led to the refusal of many musicians (including Mustaine himself) to endorse Jackson guitars. However Fender decided to breathe new life into these brands by reproducing classical models and introducing new unique instruments.