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1985 .Jackson Kelly

On the way to my very first guitar show back in October of 2000, Lee and I were going over the features of some of the guitars we would be looking for. When we got to Jackson guitars, he said, "Cub, you are looking for the "Made in USA" to be under the "SON" in JACKSON on the headstock. If it is, you got yourself a San Dimas and we'll jump on it." Folks, I was a young cub on the hunt...

Jump forward to the Dallas guitar show, 2017. I was chillin' like a villain in the booth when a gentleman walked by with this case in hand. "That's an Ontario," I thought and stopped the guy to see if it was for sale. It was and he lay it up on the table and I popped the top. As soon as I looked at the headstock, I'm sure I smiled slightly because sure enough, the "Made in USA" was tucked neatly under the JACKSON logo, assuring me that I was standing before a San Dimas Kelly and to be honest, I'd never seen one in person before. I quietly and quickly cemented the purchase with the seller and excitedly called the Tall One. "Dude, I got a San Dimas Kelly in the booth. Come check it out, Pimp," I said and stood back as proud as a short, plump peacock. Little did I know, my proudness was soon to be handed to me in spades.

Lee walked into the booth, took one look at the guitar and it went something like this: "Man, what'd you pay for this?" and after I told him, he put his hand on my shoulder and as gently as he could, shelled down the corn to me. "First of all," he said, "The case is wrong. The locking nut has been added and I'm pretty sure it's been refinned. The original pickups have been ganked and the (he had, by this time picked the guitar up and was looking closely under the tremolo) Floyd has been added. See that rectangle under there? That was where the original Kahler was. Got an extra strap button down here and the tremolo plate on the back has been added. Hate to say it Cub, but you, my man got jobbed. Or worse yet, you jobbed yourself."

I went from excited to slack-jawed to downright dejected. I thought I had hit a big, fat homerun and instead, it appeared that I had just purchased a stinky old bag of poop. This all happened on a Friday, so by the time we were finishing up our return trip home on Monday, I was convinced that I would be buried with this guitar and inducted into the official Guitar Dealer Hall of Shame on the first ballot. Lee tried to comfort me, but I was inconsolable. Head hung, I cleaned the guitar, restrung it and shot a set of pictures to list it up here. Little did I know...

I was returning from running my errands the next day and as I pulled into the drive, I could have sworn I heard I heard somebody tearin' the hell out of a guitar. I popped the door and sure enough, Lee was downstairs, wearing something out like nobody's business. "Probably that ESP," I thought and as I rounded the corner, there he was, giving this Kelly all kinds of fits. He had his back to me and I have to admit, I hadn't heard him give it a go like that in a good long while so I just stood there, checking it out. A couple of minutes later, he turned around and saw me. "Cub, did you even plug this thing in?" he asked and when I shook my head, he rolled his eyes. "Well maybe you should have," he said. "This damn thing's a monster," and with that, he rolled the volume knob up, stepped on an old TS-9 and flat laid into Judas Priest's "Devil's Child." I just let him go and went back to the work for the day. Grinning slightly...

So, to end this saga, all of the above is true. The pickups are a set of Bare Knuckle Aftermaths and they sound like a hundred dollar bill. The Floyd Rose addition is one of the most professional jobs we've ever seen and you would almost swear that it was factory. The paintwork also looks A-1, so ultimately, I will appeal to the guitarist out there who wants a San Dimas but isn't going to hang it in a glass case. Nope- I want the guy that can just flat play the bejeezus out of an axe and wants one that looks cool and will do 100 mph. That's the guy I want and trust me, when you find this guitar, it will be the one you won't put down. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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