Jackson Predator: A Guitar That Never Was But Totally Should’ve Been – Part I

The Jackson Predator
by Michael Rogers

Jackson? I thought the Predator model was a late eighties Charvel thing? It was!

Anyone who knows me knows I play guitar. They also know I’m a bit of a mad scientist when it comes to the instruments I play, too. I don’t care for the modern aesthetics of instruments. I yearn for real Indian rosewood with a compound radius beneath the fingers of my left hand. I love the sustain and punch of the old, big-block Takeuchi-made tremolos of the early to mid-nineties.

I love old Japanese guitars.

Back in the late eighties and early nineties, when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I owned several Charvel Model Series guitars. Aside from their truly awful JT6 tremolos, these guitars hold a special place in my heart. I’m always trying to recreate that look and feel in the instruments I play now, and I have, with varying degrees of success.

Early to mid-nineties Jackson Professional/Concept parts mutts.

A few weeks ago, while scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, I saw a picture from my local Music Go Round. A tornado destroyed the store last year and they recently reopened in a new location. They announced the return of “the parts bin” with the photo below. Immediately, I recognized one of the white guitar bodies in the box as something special.

I recognized something rare and special in the box on the left.

I went to the store as soon as I could and dove into the box. What I pulled out of there was what I knew I saw: A diamond in the rough. For thirty bucks and some Pennsylvania sales tax, I purchased a (more than likely) 1989 Charvette 150 body.

See the “150” stamp in the neck pocket?

It survived the last thirty years pretty well, huh? I could easily picture this guy hanging on the rack in Sugarman’s music department in 1990. It probably did early in its life. It still had its original bridge studs and pins, but its back plates were lost to time.

When I bought it, I seriously believed I had enough parts laying around the house to construct a good, working guitar with it. I probably did, until my perfectionistic instincts kicked in. I wanted it to be a masterpiece. As it turned out, I got a guitar out of it that combines the best of older and newer. It’s totally incorrect to the period, yet it feels and plays as though it could be.

So when I got it home, I slapped a 17mm mid-nineties Jackson neck I had laying around into the neck pocket. I came up with a wiring harness pulled from an old Concept model, and I slapped in some old, original Jackson pickups. I also pieced together a trem from parts using an unbranded Takeuchi TRS-101 bridge. I did it basically to get an idea of what I was dealing with and to make a picture in my mind of what the instrument would look like when it was finished.

So, this is what it looked like in its first incarnation:

The first incarnation of the Jackson Predator: Cool, but no pop. It’s kind of bland.

Though looking at it now, I realize that if Jackson did make its own production version of the Predator model, this is probably pretty close to what it would look like.

The problems I observed coming right out of the gate were:

1.) The bridge cavity is cut for a single-locking 72mm bridge and I’m looking to use a double-locking 74mm Takeuchi licensed Floyd.

2.) The neck has a fatal crack in the back between the first fret and the head stock..

Time to go to eBay and hunt down some electronics and some parts!

We’ll continue with that part of of the Jackson Predator’s journey in Part II of this article.