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Guitar Blog #9 - Jackson-BELA

This guitar has been in and on many magazine covers and articles with and without me not to mention Def Leppard videos. It currently resides at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland Ohio in a coffin-well a glass case actually but close enough considering the face painted on the guitar.

The artwork was done by Dan Lawrence. During the recording of the Hysteria album I ordered my second custom Jackson guitar (the first being the cracked black and silver Soloist in the 'Women' and 'Pour Some Sugar on Me' videos). Grover Jackson, the name where the Jackson guitars title comes from said, "You know we could paint anything on a guitar and even make it glow in the dark". Back in the 80s when Grover still owned Jackson Guitars he was pretty hands on. Many a time he would come out on tour, make sketches that would later take shape on wood, and eventually become a guitar. I'd also go to the old factory and Grover would take a saw to a guitar and hack a new shape. I even have a prototype Phil Collen guitar at home that has pencil marks and is totally raw which was hacked out by Grover (I'll take a photo and share it with you all when I get home). Anyway Grover said, "If you get me a photo we can copy it." Being a horror movie buff like Grover I went to Forbidden Planet, a comic and memorabilia store in London and got an 8x10 black and white photo of Bela Lugosi, arguably the most famous film version of the vampire Dracula and sent it out to California to the Jackson factory.There's a story about when the artwork and specs were left on a table and the next day a vampire bat was on the wall next to the plans when everybody came into work in the morning. That aside the guitar was finally finished and made it's first live appearance on the Hysteria tour.

The guitar itself is/was a Jackson dinky with a bolt on neck. It originally had a Khaler trem system on it as did a lot of my early guitars mainly because my friend and red hot guitar player Rudi Riviere knew the tremelo bridge's systems inventor Dave Story when he designed the trem in London. The guitar has been through some major changes over the years but still glows like crazy when the lights go out. I had Dimarzio super distortion humbuckers put in as the guitar has 2 hum buckers, not that you can see them as they have plastic covers painted over. It has an ebony fingerboard with shark fin inlays and I eventually had a Floyd Rose tremelo system installed with an FU-tone titanium block.

This guitar has improved with age and sounds better than it ever did. I've had it for 28 years. You can hear this guitar on the first half of the solo on 'Let's Get Rocked' and see it on the videos 'Animal', 'Armageddon It', 'and 'Rock On'. You can also hear it on the live version of 'Nine Lives' on the Mirrorball album.

I just got to play it for one night only (Tues Aug 26th) when we played Cuyahoga Falls near Cleveland. I would like to thank the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum's Shelby Morrison, Mngr of Artist & VIP Relations and Amanda Pecsenye-Registrar for bringing, hanging with us, and later collecting Bela at our Cleveland Show at the Blossom Music Center. Scotty set it up and re-strung it. I played it on 'Love Bites', 'Let's Get Rocked', 'Armageddon It', and 'Sugar' before it had to be returned to it's crypt before daylight. You can see Bela on display anytime at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. I'll probably get it back next year so it can go on our 2015 world tour with me, of course.

Jackson-Bela - See all photos HERE


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