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

The Jackson Predator

by Michael Rogers

To pick up where we left off in Part I, I had to go to eBay for some better parts for the task of resurrecting this long forgotten guitar.

The first order of business was a good neck. I found a Jackson Performer 19mm neck from a Rhoads V that totally fit the bill for a little over a hundred bucks. Yes. The Performers were the low-ball successors to the Concept Series introduced in 1994. The Performer Series guitars were introduced in 1995 and were originally manufactured in the Chushin Gakki plant in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, next to their more expensive Jackson Professional counterparts. The Performer necks of that era were the same until production was moved to Korea.

Rhoads V neck – came complete with a locking nut and truss rod cover…

I also wanted something a little snazzier than stock Jackson pickups, so I went with DragonFire Crusader pickups. I actually already installed a set on a Dinky EX parts mutt I have, and was really impressed with them, so I decided to order a set for this guy. I’ve read accounts from people who believe these pickups actually outperform the Seymour Duncan Invaders these things are clones of. I honestly can’t compare them as I’ve never used the actual Duncans they’re cloned after. I just dig them.

DragonFire Crusader Humbucker

So now the real work begins.

I assembled the neck, which basically means I put the best set of Jackson branded Gotoh tuners on it and attached it to the body. The neck fit nearly perfectly. Being that it came from a Rhoads V, the screw holes didn’t line up perfectly, but there’s enough maple to hold it together, though the bottom right hole did crack at the bottom during the installation. It’s in there solidly, and I’m not planning on removing it anytime soon, so it shouldn’t be a problem. The fit is very snug and required no shimming for the angle.

As I’d mentioned in Part I, the back plates were lost to time.

I found two Charvettes at Music Go Round and the guys up there were nice enough to pop a back plate off one of them and allowed me to take a tracing of the cavity control cover. I made a new cover from an old, plastic garbage can:

Cavity control cover made from an old garbage can.

The guys at the shop were also nice enough to sell me a trem cavity cover for a buck.

Now comes all the wiring – and sanding! The neck pickup is made to fit inside a Strat-styled pickguard. This is a direct-to-body mount, so some sanding is required to make the pickup fit as it should.

The real heavy lifting happens – cutting, sanding, and wiring.

As I mentioned in Part I, the trem I want in there, a Takeuchi JT-580 measures 74mm at its mounting points. The body is routed to accept a 72mm single-locking trem. The JT-580 has some wiggle room, but it required smaller bridge posts than the standard JT-580 posts. I have some phillips head posts that were stripped from an old Kramer Focus, if I remember correctly. They may’ve also come from an old Ephipone super-strat knockoff. Anyway, the threading is correct, and I can top mount the bridge and float it correctly.

Mounting the double-locking tremolo bridge.

So now I have a guitar that’s nearly complete. I exchanged the TRS-101 for a Jackson-branded bridge. I had ordered a JT-580 Low Pro bridge by mistake. I did try to mount it to the 150 body, but the range for pulling up was very limited with it. So I just swapped it out for a JT-580 from a previous build. The donor guitar has a recessed rout the Low Pro fits nicely in, and the regular JT-580 works well as top-mounted Floyd.

So now, I’m left with this instrument:

Incarnation II – The Slotter POP guitar…

It’s better. It’s more of what I want. There’s even a black metal pickup ring for the bridge pickup. I had a three-way blade switch laying around from a time when I stripped an old Rhoads EX Professional for parts. I basically wired the guitar the same as a Fender Telecaster.

In Part III, I’ll discuss more about putting the finishing touches on it.