Here's a quick guide to help you get an overview of the legendary Jackson® Rhoads import guitars, made in Japan from 1990 thru 1995. These guitars seems more popular than ever, as I am getting many questions about them lately. This little article is to address some of the questions and to help you identify a Jackson® Rhoads from this era.
More info and serials
For more information about this first batch of Japanese Jackson® import guitars, be sure to check out the links on the right. Also, further down here are the serials explained, which apply to the Jackson® Pro guitars from the 1990-1995 Professional Series.
1990 • Rhoads Pro (retail $1595)
22 fret quartersawn maple neck through body, ebony fingerboard with Mother of Pearl (MOP) sharkfin inlays and MOP sticker logo, cleared over just like the USA RR1 Rhoads. Poplar wings (sides), active Jackson® electronics, some guitars having two covered Jackson® named humbucker pickups, some with Reflex logoed humbuckers (Made In England).
Schaller JT-590 tremolo, metal back plate and a control layout just like the USA RR1 Rhoads. Around 1993, the pickups on the Pro were uncovered and its truss rod cover engraved "Rhoads Pro". Nothing else changed to the series. In My Guitars Gallery, several pictures of a 1993 Rhoads Pro can be viewed.
1992 • Rhoads EX (retail $695)
Priced lower than the Pro, with features like the eastern maple and flatsawn bolt on neck (Quartersawn / Flatsawn necks explained).
Un-bound neck with white plastic headstock logo, rosewood fingerboard with Mother of Pearl dot inlays (I think), passive Jackson® pickups and circuitry, control cavity routed from the back (no face control plate), five way blade pickup selector switch, JT-580 tremolo and plastic back plates.
Both blank and engraved truss rod covers were also seen on this model, the engraved ones reading "Rhoads EX".
1993 • Rhoads STD (retail $995)
22 fret quartersawn maple neck thru body like the Pro, un-bound neck with white plastic headstock logo, rosewood fingerboard with Mother of Pearl dot inlays, passive Jackson® pickups and circuitry, JT-580 LP tremolo and a control layout just like the USA RR1 Rhoads.
The back plate can either be metal or plastic, according to different owners I have talked to. Maybe Jackson® used both materials in the production run of these guitars. Truss rod cover read "Rhoads Std".
1994-1995 • Production change
The production of the Professional Series Rhoads Pro guitar ends and the EX and Std disappears as well. A major name change for several models and series takes effect, as the new 1995-6 product line hits the distributors. Several other Rhoads import models has since been made, but the quality of the 1990-1995 Imports (Pro models in particular) never returned.
Jackson® did include the Rhoads Pro in their 1994-1995 catalog and on their 1995 Pricelist, but such a late Pro is somewhat rare. My feeling is that most of the late Pro's went to the European market.
Serial numbers, Jackson® Pro models 1990-1995
The Jackson® Pro guitars from the 1990-1995 Professional Series, which are neck-thrus, have a 7-digit serial stamped on the last blind fret of the fingerboard (except for the Stealth Pro and + Fusion Pro which are bolt-ons and have a six digit serial engraved on the neck plate).
This serial tells you what year the guitar was built. Here's a couple of examples:
J303045 Jackson® 1993
J001020 Jackson® 1990
J is for Jackson®. The first number after the J designate the X in 199X.
What month was my Professional built?
A letter from a former Jackson® employee, Kevin Easton, sent to one of my guitar friends in The Netherlands, indicate that the production month of a Jackson® Professional can be determined from the 7-digit serial.
I have examined a lot of serials to try decipher the Jackson® "code", but I haven't had success yet. The only clue I can give you, is the serial from the letter where Kevin Easton somehow dates a Rhoads Standard to March 1995. The serial is J500303.
Before jumping to conclusions, keep in mind that I own a 1993 Rhoads Pro with the serial J303045 and that e.g. December would need 2 digits.