Samick Motherlode

December 2014
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Builder Profile: Jackson Custom Shop

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Builder Profile: Jackson Custom Shop


Jackson Master Builder Pablo Santana’s workbench features the signatures of various employees
over the years. On it are routing templates for control cavities of different Jackson models.

What was the reasoning behind the second guitar having a D-profile neck? Did Randy request it and then change his mind about it?

On the second one, we didn’t have the specs so we made it kind of like a standard Jackson style—which is a little thinner. At the time, we didn’t know he preferred the Les Paul-style shape. We were trying to get the body shape correct, and the neck wasn’t a big question at the time.

Were the rock maple and the poplar wings on the second Concorde one of Randy’s requests?

Again that’s another really tough question for me. That’s how we started making neck-through-body guitars as a standard model. I think it was due to weight and cost of materials at the time.

What can you tell us about what was actually on that first sketch napkin?

It was more about the flying-V shape that he had wanted, along with some bow-tie inlay sketches.


1. An old CNC tool carousel still in use at the Jackson Custom Shop. 2. The body-route template for the original Randy Rhoads guitar. 3. Body-shaping templates for a Kelly (left) and a Warrior. 4. Mike Shannon (left) and tune tester Joe Williams worker inspect an RR 24 Rhoads with a welded-steel-themed custom paint job.

Was he particular about qualities he wanted in the pickups, controls, woods, hardware, or other ergonomic considerations?

I’m sure he was, but I didn’t really get to know him as well as other people. I know he was really particular. He had an accident with the white one where he made a little chip on the wing. He brought it back into repair and he was nearly in tears—he felt super bad. We did a repair on it and he felt better.

What is known about the pickups used in the first two Concordes—were they pretty much vintage PAFs?

I believe they were Duncans but I forget the numbers.

How do those guitars compare with the current Rhoads model?

The main differences are the front control plate and the string plate. We don’t typically use the Tune-o-matic[-style] bridge anymore. That was a bridge made by a local guy here in Orange County. The front control pocket today is a little bit smaller than what is on the original Rhoads, and our shark-fin inlays are larger. On Randy’s original model, he had binding over the frets—the frets are installed and filed flush to the edge of the fretboard. Then the binding is put on and all filed out between the frets. Today, we have notched frets—we put the inlays and binding on, and then press the frets to where they overlap the top of the binding. In special-order cases, the customer can still buy the binding over the frets.

Did you ever meet Randy?

Just briefly as he went through our mill doing a walkthrough with Grover. Most of the times he came in, it was after hours. Being a rock star, he probably didn’t get up until four in the afternoon. He seemed like a real nice, quiet kid. He was older than me at the time, but we were all kids. Grover described him as a really nice, reasonable kid.


Sean Silas (left) and Joe Williams at their final-assemply stations. Photo by Oscar Jordan


A pin router with a custom Soloist in progress. Photo by Oscar Jordan


One of the latest prototypes for Megadeth guitarist Chris Broderick along with one of the body-shape
drawings its based on. It’s routed for a 3-way toggle in the forwardmost position, followed
by a Volume knob, a Tone knob, and a coil-tap switch. Photo by Oscar Jordan



A USA SL2H Soloist with a mahogany body and neck-through design topped with green-stained
quilted maple. Hardware includes Duncan JB TB-4 (bridge) and JB (neck) humbuckers, a
3-way toggle, and Volume and Tone knobs.
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