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Two Grover Jackson Kellys: 1993 Custom and 1999 KE.S-350

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  • Two Grover Jackson Kellys: 1993 Custom and 1999 KE.S-350

    I went into an obsessive pit searching for Grover Jackson Kellys a few months ago. Through some combination of luck and insanity, I wound up with two that seem to be on the rare side: a 1993 Grover Jackson Kelly Custom (left) and a 1999 Grover Jackson Kelly KE.S-350. Both with their original cases, both in excellent condition. I'm in NYC but I got the Custom from Ukraine and the 350 from a consignment shop in Japan that listed it on It was a lot of work to make it happen. :sweat-smile-emoji here: Happy to share the details if anyone's interested.

    The KE.S-350 plays like a dream. It has its stock pickups, which aren't quite right for me and I'll probably swap them for something more appropriate for black/death metal. (Would love recs!) According to the scanned catalog page, I don't think this red was an option. I also don't think this was refinished. Given its original price and the likelihood that very few were actually made, I wouldn't be surprised if the shop was willing to customize it for its original owner. The incredible tech who works on my guitars wondered if it was actually Japanese made at first, he thought it might have been made in the US and then shipped to Japan for sale. We'll probably never know but if anyone has any information on this guitar, please share!

    The Custom is also an incredible guitar. It's heavier than the 350 and feels quite different due to the trem and neck construction: the trem (licensed FR, sadly) is mounted above the body and the neck angles back like you'd find on a Les Paul. I'm not sure if this was a detail of any other guitars made around then but it's my understanding that Itaru Kanno, founder of Caparison Guitars, worked in the shop that made this at the time and continued this approach to construction when he started building his own guitars. (Apologies if I got some details wrong there, someone please school me if I'm wrong?) Its last owner replaced its pickups and the bridge is now a TB-5, which sounds pretty killer to my ears. Even though the 350 plays a bit easier and looks more impressive to me, I'll probably use the Custom live and on the road because I don't get nervous taking it out of its case.

    Condition-wise, they're both in great shape. The Custom is in nearly perfect condition aside from a ding on one of the horns that cracked the finish but didn't break it. The 350 has some cracked and missing spots around its horns but nothing too nasty. Frankly, I expect some minor imperfections on any pointy guitar that's more than a few years old, so I'm thrilled by their conditions. Can provide pics of these if anyone's curious.

    The Custom's original truss rod cover was lost by its previous owner but not before he snapped some pics of it, so I'm satisfied that it is what it claims to be. It also came with a really cool sales card from the shop in Japan where it was purchased. Both came with their original cases: a thick padded leather gig bag and a hard flight case, respectively. I've got a new fitted hard case on its way and I'll probably get a second one for the 350 and put its original in storage, it's just too big and obnoxious to move around.

    These satisfied my urge for Jackson Kellys for now! I want to give a SERIOUS shout out to Mechayoshi and his Jackson Charvel Page, which was absolutely crucial to my research. I dug through international guitar listings for months before finding these and never would have been able to make sense of it without this page. Thank you to him and to this forum, where I know folks were also contributing information.

    Last edited by clgnyc; 11-25-2021, 11:30 AM.

  • #2
    Those are gorgeous! Nice to see the 350 has an Original Floyd Rose. The Custom looks to have a Schaller JT590.


    • #3
      Thank you! You are correct about both. I’d love to replace the JT590 with an OFR, I’m going to do some measurements and see if there’s space.


      Kelly Custom - “High end Kelly. Yellow poplar body, quarter sawn maple neck (neck-thru). Bound ebony fretboard with pearl sharkfin inlays. 24 frets. Jackson J-50BC/J-90C HH pickups. Schaller JT-590 tremolo. Vol, tone, three-way toggle. Black hardware. Finishes: metallic black, pearl blue white, aluminum”

      KE.S-350 - “A high end Kelly with exotic wood. Flame maple body with mahogany neck (neck-thru). Bound ebony fretboard with reverse pearl sharkfin inlays. 24 frets. Seymour Duncan APH-1n/ TB-5 HH pickups. Org. Floyd Rose tremolo. Vol, tone, three-way toggle. Gold hardware. Reverse headstock. Came with tour case. Finishes: supreme purple, supreme blue, supreme green”

      EDIT: I realized just now that with the Custom’s upgraded pickups, they have the same bridge but sound very different. I wonder if it’s a question of pickup height or just the composition of the guitar?
      Last edited by clgnyc; 11-26-2021, 12:08 AM.


      • #4
        If you intend on replacing the JT590 with an OFR, read this first:

        The specs on that Custom are basically like the Jackson Professional Kelly Pro for the international market. Top level stuff like binding, ebony, MOP, neckthru, and a JT590.

        The 350 is pretty special and might even be a step above the Professional Pro guitars with an actual OFR and unique transparent finishes that showcase the neck block running through the body.


        • #5
          Yeah, I’ve read that over a bit. I probably won’t rush to swap it out unless I start having problems with the JT590. I don’t tune too low, just a whole step down, so I’m guessing I’d probably be fine with a swap… but you never know.

          I hadn’t actually compared the Custom’s specs to the Professional Pro! That’s really interesting. The trem mounting and neck angle are the biggest immediate difference. I’ve been a Gibson guy for a long time so the Custom’s approach appeals to me, though I’m not sure I’d notice the difference between the two.


          • #6
            Thanks for the shout out!! These look gorgeous but I never knew about the neck angle part. Catalogs never say things like that and you'd never know unless you had one in person, so in a way you've educated me in return. Anyway, rock on.
            Database (WIP)
            My collection also there!


            • #7
              ...I never knew about the neck angle part. Catalogs never say things like that and you'd never know unless you had one in person...
              What's so interesting to me is that nobody seems to mention that part when you read about these guitars online! Part of what I find so exciting about guitars like these is that they're practically myths, they seem to exist almost exclusively in scans from catalogs or bits and pieces in forums. Even more fascinating is that this information represents Jackson's entire business spanning decades, countless skilled craftspeople, large sums of money... and they don't even seem to have the full history documented! Your site appears to be the only thorough, maintained collection of this information.

              I'd love to know how many of each of these guitars were actually produced. I wouldn't be surprised if they were extremely low numbers, especially the 350.