BGRA: Jackson Custom Shop (San Dimas, CA) Concert Bass

Manufacturer Jackson Custom Shop (San Dimas, CA) Model Concert Bass
Reviewer Tom Kesel
Experience 20+ Item owned A very, very long ti
Review Date 2001-09-06 Price paid $900 (new in 1984)
Bass type4 string fretted
Neck joinNeck Through
Neck constructionmaple (3-pc., I think)
Fignerboardrosewood, 34" scale
Bodypoplar, 2 pcs.
Finishpearl white
PickupsEMG p-bass neck, EMG humbucker bridge
Hardwarebrass knobs, brass bridge, carbon fiber nut
Electronicsactive pickups/passive tone-volume
This is a tough one. While I think that this is the nicest bass that I've ever played, and have loved and adored it since 1984 when I bought it new at Sam's Ass on 48th Street in NYC, I greatly dislike Jackson's heavy metal focus. I know they have their little niche, but it would be nice if they crawled out of it once in a while. The only folks that know how great Jackson guitars/basses are tend to bang their heads a lot. How reliable can they be? Well in this case: very. Grover Jackson makes wonderful instruments at his custom shop. It's now in Texas, but mine was built in San Dimas, California. Sam Ash was one of Jackson's biggest dealers and ordered from the custom shop on a regular basis. There was always a nice choice of great axes at the 48th street location (not true anymore). Well, one day I walked in and saw this gorgeous pearl white P-style bass and checked it out. It hasn't left my hands since. Damn. It plays like buttah. The neck is a work of art. Records without need for massive EQ. Engineers are always suprised how great it sounds (it's a Jackson, who knew?). Punchy, phat, clear, warm, no dead notes (it's a neck-thru...don't get me started about bolt-ons...), stays in tune forever, truly musical. I could cover any electric bass gig with this beauty. But, of course, Jackson is for metal-heads. Maybe I should just cover up the headstock...but the pointy, deadly thing would give me away. I know that if I ever needed another bass, I'd have Jackson build me another. Probably without the homicidal headstock (I always feel bad for my wounded bandmates). This new bass would be all passive (I'm tired of batteries -- and though these EMGs are dead-quiet, I'm not convinced that active really improves an already great sounding bass. Besides, it's just one more damn thing to go wrong.),and have a large double-jazz humbucker in the bridge position in addition to the p-bass in the neck position. Other than that, status quo...poplar body -- a very underrated tone wood in my opinion. (People don't like it because it looks like greenish hell so it has to be painted, but it is WAY punchy.) Neck thru, thick rosewood fingerboard (maybe I'd try something a little weird like coco bolo). And Jackson USA is a TRUE custom shop. They'll make anything. Really. None of this semi-quasi-sort-of-custom. You want it, they'll do it. And extraordinarily well. I think this bass is a testament to a luthier who had this notion about making a very high-performance Fender P-bass without the problems associated with them -- dead notes, no real highs, clunky bolt-on heel, etc., and add some significant improvements: neck-thru, bridge pickup (Jackson later on replaced the guitar-sized bridge humbucker with a j-bass unit; a significant improvement, in my opinion), brass bridge, etc. But kept the basic esthetics of a great, classic design. I understand if the dedicated bassist with bux to spend on a custom bass can't get past Jackson's metal-mania brand image, but if you can, they make wonderful, musical instruments EXACTLY as you would envision them. If you are into metal, you already know this.
construction (98%)
playability (100%)
appearance (98%)
sound (100%)
value (100%)
overall (98%)
The BGRA is generously underwritten by David King of Bass Guitar Systems.
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