Bespoke since the Beginning.
The Jackson Custom Shop has turned out world-class custom guitars ranging from the fine to the fantastic ever since the Jackson name was first affixed to a headstock in 1980. The reason for this impressive longevity is simple: Jackson was a custom shop since the very beginning. Every Jackson guitar was an original, high-performing custom instrument.
Whereas some production guitar-makers open their own custom shops after reaching a certain age or level of success, Jackson existed from its early days as nothing but a custom shop, building distinctive and meticulously crafted instruments for a very exacting clientele. No design was too crazy, and no idea too far-fetched—if someone conceived it, Jackson’s talented, imaginative and occasionally demented craftsmen built it. This early emphasis on originality and even outlandish one-off instruments proved enormously influential for Jackson’s most famous and oft-copied body shapes.
It’s a longstanding tradition of U.S.-made greatness and devotion to craftsmanship that flourishes to this day.
Custom Select Series
Custom Select instruments recall the time-honored tradition of the ’80s-era Jackson Custom Shop, when every instrument was a special-order. Pick and choose from our massive menu to create your ultimate tool of self-expression, brought to life by the best builders in the business.Build Your Custom Guitar
Custom Shop Dealer Exclusives
The Jackson Custom Shop Dealer Exclusives feature bespoke axes designed directly with a select few of our premium Custom Shop Dealers. These outstandingly crafted instruments are truly remarkable in tone, feel and performance.See Dealer Exclusive Models
Jackson Senior Master Builder
In conversation, Mike Shannon is so unassuming and down to earth that you might have to remind yourself that he is in fact a legendary figure whose acclaimed guitar craft dates back to the earliest days of Jackson® and Charvel®.
Despite having no guitar-building experience before he started at Charvel in 1980, Shannon was already a veteran woodworker with experience and expertise building fine furniture. Shannon still recalls his initial interview, when he was shown and asked to identify a piece of wood.
“I identified it correctly and they said, ‘Okay, this is a good start!’” laughed Shannon. “I didn’t know anything about guitars at the time, but I knew about shapers, table saws, joiners, and various woodworking tools.”
Landing the gig, Shannon soon had major hand in designing and building many famous guitar models by Charvel and, later, Jackson. One of Shannon’s earliest projects, in fact, was building Randy Rhoads his second Concorde guitar, which later led to the Rhoads. He was also there for the birth of the Soloist, the Kelly, the King V, the Warrior and the Dinky.
Although Shannon joined the Fender Custom Shop in 2000 as a master builder, he returned to the Charvel/Jackson fold as a senior master builder in 2003 when Fender acquired both of the high-performance guitar makers.
In nearly four decades with the Jackson Custom Shop, Shannon has built some of the most sought out instruments for many of the world’s sharpest shredders. Although he has never learned how to play a guitar, Shannon has still earned rock star status in his own right — thanks to his remarkable craftsmanship.
While his woodworking talents are many, Shannon may be best known for his truly gifted touch when it comes to sanding necks. Challenge Shannon with any guitar neck back shape and thickness measurement and he can head straight to the sander, freeform at will and achieve dead-on calibration results.
"Red" Dave Nichols
Jackson Master Builder
Dave Nichols—nicknamed “Red Dave” for his long red hair and beard—joined the Jackson® Custom Shop in 2005 after a 16-year stint at the Fender® Custom Shop, and became a master builder in 2006.
An avid woodworker since high school, Nichols has always been into “messing with stuff with my hands.” He’d never built a guitar before, though, until a friend’s suggestion led to his arrival at the Fender Custom Shop in 1989, where his love for music, natural talent and practiced woodworking expertise served him well.
Nichols rose through the ranks steadily as an apprentice instrument builder with a particular gift for inlay work, and when “an opportunity to build something new” arose at Jackson in 2005, “Red” was ready. “I love being the guy who makes dreams come true,” he said. “That’s our motto—making dreams come true. It’s awesome when people come through here and I can watch them turn into kids in a candy store.”
Jackson Custom Builder
Pat McGarry joined Charvel® and Jackson® back in the original era, in 1982. Having previously worked with Mike Shannon at a custom furniture maker, McGarry was already an experienced woodworker.
He started out with Charvel and Jackson by making ebony fingerboards, book-matched tops and other specialized guitar elements, and he is the builder behind much of the rough-mill woodwork for countless artist and showpiece instruments. Few are better at “reading” the strength and tone of a piece of lumber for its best use in a guitar, and factory lore holds that McGarry can simply look at a piece of lumber and tell you where the tree it came from grew, what conditions it grew in and when the tree was felled.
McGarry’s expertise in milling lumber and matching grain is invaluable to Jackson, and his commitment to quality is absolute—sometimes to the chagrin of prospective new vendors who proclaim the merits of their wood, only to find themselves schooled by him on their own wares.
“It doesn’t matter if the guitar is going to be painted or get a natural finish,” he said. “The quality of the materials and the joinery are always the same. I build each guitar as if it were going to my favorite artist.”
Promoted to a Master Builder in 2018, Joe Williams first came to Jackson in 2005 from a vintage guitar shop, where he repaired and set up used guitars.
His passion for tinkering with guitars started much earlier. Williams began playing guitar at age 13, when his parents—assuming it was only a phase—got him an inexpensive Squier beginner instrument. An enterprising teen, Williams quickly taught himself to modify and improve his $100 guitar to sound and feel like his friend’s high-performance Charvel.
Williams was well versed in guitar craft by the time he arrived at Jackson, where he did wiring and setup work. His attention to detail drew the attention of acclaimed Master Builder Mike Shannon, and Williams was subsequently given sole responsibility for custom assembly work. Under Shannon’s expert wing, Williams slowly worked his way backward through the production process—from final assembly to buffing and polishing to mill work.
“The most rewarding aspect of my position is being a player and the builder,” Williams said. “Getting to feel and hear the difference of each build; knowing what went into it having done each step and learning from each variance of the process is a privilege.”
At Jackson, Williams has contributed to many high-profile Custom Shop projects, including management of the relic process, assembly and setup for the Randy Rhoads Tribute Concorde Replica models, and initial conception and design of the B7 and B8 models.
Williams also built the first Jackson “multi-scale” instrument. In what he good-naturedly referred to as “a beast of a build,” he created an eight-string Soloist model with an innovative 27.75”-25” scale length and asymmetrical five-piece neck.