Jackson Rhoads Custom
1983 San Dimas

This is an ivory dream. It is in good condition, with some patina which is normal for an instrument over twenty years old. By U.S. standards that is in good or very good condition. When I got the guitar the adjustments had in the course of time gone a bit bad and EMG pickups had been added to it. Now I have restored the guitar to some extent - naturally respecting the intrinsic value of the instrument. I want here to express my great respect for the small group of Grover and Shannon who have built such great instruments. The foundations of the guitar have not moved except for a long and very narrow crack in the fingerboard which in old extremely hard ebony is almost the rule rather than the exception. This is quite usual when ebony ages enough. I feel that the sound of the guitar has, for this reason alone, become more open, just like sometimes happens with quality acoustic guitars.

Another factor that figures in is that the guitar had not been played a lot for some time when I got a hold of it, and now, having been played plenty, it is once again the top instrument. However, everything indicates that this guitar has been played a lot a long time ago. I would say that this guitar sounds just as
I imagined it would, plus some magic added, San Dimas etc. As sometimes happens, this instrument is a remarkably good example of how the wood species used in the instrument creates a good sound quality.
I have tried hundreds of quality instruments and I would very much like to use this as a reference, especially concerning the sound of the wood. And when saying I want to use this as a reference, I dont mean that all the part areas would be of average but, on the contrary, I wonder how an instrument with such sensitivity can be so powerful, kicking, bright, and have great presence in the sound of the middle, have good quality and, with one word, be dynamic. For me, dynamics are precious. The sound has, in several parts of the frequency band, points that approach dryness but one can not say it would not be tasty. Taken as a whole the sound IS tasty.

The only infinitesimally small minus for my ears comes from a tiny snowflake like characteristic in the edges of overdrive. Would there be more of it a playful and sharp-eared listener might, for example, use words like harsh-fuzz. However, we will not use any bad words for such an excellent guitar. And it is in the very nature of an electric guitar to sound a bit like an electric guitar and not too sterile, like a synthesizer, for example. Alder quintessentially has a kind of rougher sound, and top-end harshness is rather usual for it, which is exactly why many favor it. This can be observed on different guitar models made with alder.

A great guitar; for months I have been enthusiastic, and the charm of novelty does not disappear easily when such a quality instrument is concerned, and if it does, realistically, there is so much good left that there is nothing weak.

Huge thanks for Robert and Jani.

These close-up pics show how the laquer has aged to great vintage look.


And some subsequent thoughts:
The bodies of these virtually V-shaped guitars offer the kind of high-quality sound and resonance that, from a musical point of view, make this guitar ( Im writing about), for example, a good fit for a variety of musical styles, as long as there are purpose-specific quality pickups that are right just the right way in place.
I also like to use a good Les Paul alongside the V-models when playing metal, and Les Pauls have especially earlier been touted as a good fit for jazz, rock and blues. Already for a good while, for me THE two guitar models have been the Les Paul and V-shaped, the latter of which naturally neck trough, guitars, both of which have an extremely rich and full sound. Bolt-neck guitars have never really fired me up.
As far as playing goes, I can get the job done on any guitar model and specifications, and if necessary, even tape it in studio, once I get the feel and enough familiarity with my picking hand, which takes but a few minutes but all in all, it is the sound that matters when you play. In current times, V-shaped guitars have received their fair share of attention as generally popular guitar models used by bands. I wonder though whether the increasing contemporary acceptance and growing popularity of heavy & metal music has something to do with it? That is a good thing. I would warmly recommend these body shapes and especially if you are not looking for a sound that is absolutely identical with the old pre-CBS Strato sound, but are interested in a very high quality guitar sound.

Well, this will do for the model hype for now after all, it eventually boils down to the guitar player and the notes flowing out of his fingers. The actual model and the wood selection make a difference in many ways, and yet again I am not the least bit amazed to fathom Grover, back in the day, choosing this more open alder over the stuffy mahogany for the mid-ranges that sound far superior to a standard mahogany guitar. The type of mahogany that was widely used in the 70s, and those heavy mahoganies would hardly have worked in this one either.

P.S.S. I was just able to get an excellent old Duncan Jeff Beck JBJ for this guitar. The package sounds precisely as good as it should, having that great old school sound, thanks to Jeff Becks AlNiCo magnet. Comparing it on this individual with a few other pick-ups with the same output, I discovered it best all round this time. The sound is smoothly warm and balanced.