Sunday, September 5, 2010

2000 - Jackson Surfcaster (1996 Made in Japan)

Ever since I saw a 12 string version in a music shop back in 95 I wanted one of these guitars. Later on I discovered a photo in a magazine with Scott Ian playing one (I think it was the Charvel model). The guitar looked out of place, but right at home with that metal guitarist. For some reason I didn't buy it. Can't remember why.

Soon after I'd finished school and I was broke for 4 years pretty much. At 19 I had an accident that rendered my left hand useless for music for over a year, I'd cut the membrane to a tendon while cutting a cardboard tube with a stanley knife. It's been 13 years and still not quite right. I forgot about guitars for a couple of years and just got on with working for peanuts.

It wasn't til I moved to a city in the south that my interest picked up again. I lived near a cool guitar store and there was the Surfcaster hanging on the wall all cool and black with the cream coloured binding. It had to be mine. I was broke, but I had to have it. I picked it up on a loan with some financier. 50% in 6 months the remaining 50% 6 months after that.

While I loved it, I really didn't play it that much again til about 2004 when I joined a local band... to play keyboards! (another story for another post).

Over time I realised the stock duncan designed bridge pickup was really microphonic.
I mounted the pickup upside down intentionally,
because I wanted more bass on the P90 coil.
Sounded terrible and the wrong kind of honk. I swapped it for a Paf Pro as that pickup had proven a good choice on Mahogany guitars. Not for this one. It sounded wrong, can't describe it well, but the tone was just not right and it didn't mix well with the Kent Armstrong lipstick pickup in the neck.
I let it stay that way for a while. A couple of years later I bought a Guyatone guitar which had the most amazing pickups. Not quite P90'sbut kind of close. That Was the sound I wanted from the Surfcaster.

I tried a GFS Mean 90 in it, but the tone didn't work well. Not enough bottom and a little too hot.
After that disappointment I nearly sold the guitar. In an idle google hit I stumbled upon the Seymour Duncan P-Rails. The Aussie-US dollar exchange was favourable so I took the plunge and bought the P-Rail bridge pickup.

The P-Rail is an unusual pickup with a p90 voiced coil on one side and a Strat voiced Rail pickup on the other side. It looks weird, but works!  I did the recommended wiring setup and used push/pull pots to swtich between P-90, Strat, Series Humbucker and Parallel Humbucker. The neck pickup even rejects hum in the middle position if the P-90 is selected.

This made the guitar tone improve beyond belief and got back on the rotation of favoured instruments.

Keep you safe from the cold by TheAwesomePowerOfRockets

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