In November 1978, Grover Jackson took his first step toward producing his own line of guitars when he purchased Charvel’s Guitar Repair shop from its owner (and his employer), Wayne Charvel. Charvel had produced guitars previously, many of which closely resembled the Fender Stratocaster design.

Jackson, however, took things in a different direction. In 1980, Jackson met with a young guitarist named Randy Rhoads, who had just left a band called Quiet Riot to play with Ozzy Osbourne. Jackson and Rhoads designed two instruments together—the Concord and, later, the Rhoads, which became the main line of the company.

From these beginnings, Jackson guitars became popular among heavy-metal guitarists in the 1980s for their fast-playing necks and unusual, aggressive designs. Rick Savage of Def Leppard, Dave Mustaine of Megadeath, and Vinnie Vincent of Kiss, for example, all played Jacksons.

Jackson still produces guitars today, and the central elements of the Jackson look have remained relatively consistent over the years. They often feature triangular “shark fin” inlays on their fret boards, and almost all sport a headstock which resembles a pointy variation of the Gibson Explorer headstock, modified to avoid the batch of copyright infringement lawsuits brought against Jackson by Fender and Gibson.

Fender acquired Jackson in 2002, but many of the post-Fender Jackson guitars are extremely similar to the original early Jackson models in design. Some musicians, however, disapproved of the change and began playing other companies’ guitars.

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