Randy Rhoads: Flight of the Concordes

Originally published in Guitar World, April 2010

Jackson Guitars issues Randy Rhoads’ Concorde ax in an extremely limited edition.

Randy Rhoads not only influenced how metal is played—he also had a profound impact on how metal guitars look, thanks to the Jackson guitar that he helped design. As legend has it, in late 1980 Rhoads approached Grover Jackson, then with Charvel’s Guitar Repair, with a sketch of a radical new guitar body design. The resulting white ax, dubbed “the Concorde” because of its futuristic, angular shape, established a new aesthetic for metal guitar design. It also marked the first time the now-famous Jackson logo appeared on a guitar’s headstock.

Although many photos of Randy performing with the Concorde exist, the instrument was eventually replaced by an even sleeker-looking black model based on his refinements to the original design. While that guitar has become known and revered as the Jackson Rhoads, many fans still consider the Concorde the Randy Rhoads model.

In celebration of the company’s, and the guitar’s, 30th anniversary, Jackson is producing a limited edition of Rhoads’ Concorde that replicates every nuance of the original, right down to the wear and tear the guitarist inflicted on it. Just 60 examples will be made, each handcrafted by Jackson Custom Shop master builder Mike Shannon, with relic work done by Chip Ellis, the craftsman responsible for the critically acclaimed limited-edition Eddie Van Halen “Frankenstein” relics.

Rhoads’ Concorde has been recreated in the past, but never to this exacting degree. And with good reason: Jackson’s new relic model marks the first time the Rhoads family has allowed the original to be painstakingly examined and measured. The resulting Randy Rhoads Tribute guitar was unveiled at the 2010 winter NAMM show by Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian with Randy’s brother, Kelle, and sister, Kathy.

Buyers may find the guitar’s $12,619.56 price tag unusual, but it’s symbolic—Randy was born on 12/6/1956. Should you be among the exclusive group to own one of these instruments, you’ll be celebrating in more ways than one.

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