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  • Writer's pictureJohn Barton

Jackson at Friendly River!

Back in 1975 when I was still pretty new to this business I was repairing a lot of old Fender guitars. I couldn’t get parts directly from them as I wasn’t a dealer yet, but was able to get nice replacement parts from Wayne Charvel in Glendora, California. Wayne’s mailing address was actually San Dimas and it is the San Dimas instruments that have become the most coveted. We never did a lot of business, but I don’t think he did much business with anyone back in those days. Wayne was trying to get into building guitar necks and bodies and ran into financial difficulty.

Wayne then met guitarist Grover Jackson and in 1978 sold Grover the company and name for $40,000. Grover began selling necks and bodies the following year, and within the year was selling whole guitars with the name Charvel on the headstock. Friendly River Music was one of their first dealers. 

In 1979 Randy Rhodes approached Grover about making him a guitar styled after the Concord jet and in 1980 the first Jackson Randy Rhodes was produced. As the Charvel guitars were all bolt on Strat style instruments Grover decided to put his own name on this neck through creation. Friendly River was once again offered it’s customers some of the first Jackson guitars. It is interesting that I once asked Wayne Charvel how they came up with the distinctive pointy headstock he claimed that he took a sander to a Gibson Explorer headstock and like the result. It is quite possible that Grover may have a different account as Wayne was really no longer involved with the company when those guitars first showed up. There was a period when Friendly River was a Floyd Rose tremolo dealer and actually supplied them to Grover/Jackson for some of their instruments.

Over the next decades the Charvel/Jackson company and name has gone through many changes, ownerships and litigations. Grover sold the company. Wayne went on to work at Gibson for a while and actually made some great guitars for B.C. Rich. Remember the “Gun Slinger”? You can readily see Wayne’s influence there.

In 2002 Fender purchased the company and after much deliberation we have decided to offer you these fine instruments once more. Grover is currently a consultant and the guitars are currently being built in California and a various “off shore” facilities. 

The new Jacksons still incorporate most of the elements I like most about the originals.  They have great necks and are solid, well made instruments. Many still are equipped with Floyd Rose units and we are pretty experienced working on them. Friendly River has been a factory authorized service center for Jackson and Charvel guitars since Fender purchased the company. Parts are readily available. Come by and see why we decided to reconnect with Jackson. You will be in good company. Cheers, john

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