Master builder Mike
Shannon talks about
his path from building
furniture to working on
Randy Rhoads’ custom
Concorde V. Plus,
Chris Broderick and
David Ellefson of
Top: Randy Rhoads and his original Jackson Concorde V at a dress rehearsal for the Blizzard of Ozz
tour at Zoetrope Studio in late 1981. Left: Mike Shannon and Chip Ellis measuring the Concorde V
at Delores Rhoads’ Musonia School of Music in North Hollywood in 2009. Right: A young Shannon
with Rhoads’ second Concorde V in November 1981.
BY OSCAR JORDAN
Although things really started to happen for Grover Jackson after he bought Charvel’s Guitar Repair from Wayne Charvel in 1978—not
long after Edward Van Halen had spearheadewd a new era in hard rock
with his “Frankenstein” guitar built from a Charvel neck and body—the
rise of the Jackson brand can be traced back to a disposable napkin.
In 1980, a young guitarist named Randy Rhoads contacted
Jackson with the hopes of having a guitar built for him based on the
sketches he’d made on a thin, flimsy square of paper snagged from
some long-forgotten dining table. The instrument’s name and shape
were unique in that they derived from his preferred mode of travel to
and from Europe—the Concorde supersonic airliner. Soon thereafter,
Jackson and Rhoads went to work creating one of the most distinctive guitars in history. With its offset V shape, streamlined body, and
neck-through construction, Rhoads’ Concorde turned a lot of heads—
and the guitars based on that design continue to do so today. The
Concorde became the first official Jackson model, the beginning of a
respected and iconic brand that has lasted for more than 25 years now.
Master Builder Mike Shannon was there at the beginning. He
worked alongside Jackson, building and designing some of the
most acclaimed instruments to bear the Charvel and Jackson name.
In fact, after Rhoads toured with the first custom V for a while,
Shannon built the second Concorde for him.
In 2000, Shannon went to work at the Fender Custom Shop.
When Fender acquired Charvel and Jackson in 2003, he was
promoted to Senior Master Builder for Jackson. Today, he maintains the same high standards and absolutely freakish attention
to detail that he learned as a teenager from Grover Jackson in
the early ’80s. And he’s still surrounded by many old friends
from the original Charvel/Jackson crew, which the company
says makes Jackson the longest-running custom shop in the
We recently visited the Jackson shop to talk with Shannon about
his storied history with the company and take a look at the many
cool projects going on there.
PREMIER GUITAR JULY 2011 143