Grover Jackson’s GJ2 Guitars was very quietly launched at Winter NAMM last year. The product line-up was limited to a handful of Arete models, a sleek and stylish take on the Superstrat idea. Over the past year it seems that interest in the brand has steadily ramped up, but as beautiful as the Arete is, one model isn’t really enough to sustain a whole guitar company – especially one with the legacy of a guy like Grover Jackson. And so this year GJ2 Guitars returned to NAMM with a bigger display space and three entirely new models in addition to the Arete: the Concorde (which shares some DNA with the guitars Grover made for Randy Rhaods), the Glendora (which is a modern update on the type of Superstrat coming out of Grover’s shop back in the day) and the Zora, a single-cutaway singature instrument for No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont. Let’s check the new models out.
The Glendora name pays tribute to the area in California where Grover first began designing and building his own line of guitars in the early 1980s. We’re all familiar with ‘San Dimas’ as it relates to guitars, but it turns out that Grover’s first company wasn’t actually in San Dimas – that was just where the Post Office box was! The actual factory was in Glendora. So the GJ2 Guitars Glendora takes Grover’s history and updates it with his subsequent decades of further refinement.
The Glendora is available with a wide range of options and in many different colours – such as this Green Meanie model, available in very limited numbers (12 right-handed and 4 left-handed for Drum City Guitarland in the US, and a few more for other markets).
The Concorde line is an evolution of the offset V design used by Randy Rhoads, and it takes its name from the jet aircraft Randy was fascinated by. You can see echoes of that aircraft’s angular forms in the points of the guitar. The first Concorde was given away as part of a tribute to Randy at Book Soup in West Hollywood, and Grover says he liked to think the Concorde model might be the custom guitar Randy would be playing today if he were still with us.
Tom Dumont has been road-testing various Zora prototypes with No Doubt, and the guitar accomplishes that rare feat of being a single-cutaway instrument that has its own personality. And the attention to detail on these babies close up is phenomenal. Let’s turn it over to Tom to talk about the Zora and his association with Grover Jackson and GJ2 Guitars.
“So, Grover makes guitars. Everybody knows Grover’s history as one of the greatest guitar makes of the last century. When I was a teenager, I grew up listening to classic rock: I was a rock music lover. And I started playing in bands when I was 12 years old. When I was about 15 or 16, all of a sudden these new guitars came on the scene and they all had his name on them: Jackson Guitars. I grew up in Orange County and everybody here either wanted these guitars or played one. So they were a big part of my growing up.
Another part of my story is, my older sister was a guitar player as well. She’s the one who actually kinda taught me to play guitar. And she acquired, early on, a used Charvel guitar, which was from a punk band. I’ve spoken to Grover about it and he remembers the guitar and the band. But she bought this white, Strat-bodied Charvel and it played like no other guitar I’d ever played. Now, admittedly I’d played mostly cheap guitars at that point in my life, but this thing was just fast and sounded great. It was so much better than anything else. This was the guitar which, in my family and my group of friends, that we loved. And what’s really interesting is so many years later, about a year and a half ago I met Grover Jackson and I found out he was starting a new company and they were going to start making guitars in his shop, not far from where I live, fortunately. And it became an exciting opportunity. And we collaborated on a guitar design. And I get the same feeling from his guitars today that I got so many years ago with that Charvel. Years ago he had bought the Charvel shop and was manufacturing guitars as Charvel, then changed the name… and the G2J Guitars feel the same. They play fast, they feel good, they sound great, they’re made by this man in Orange County in the United States, and most of the parts of this guitar are also made here. These things are beautiful and I’m just thrilled to be involved with him.”
Grover Jackson: “I’m very fortunate to work with Tom, because he’s really one of the most consummate professionals I’ve worked with. I’ve been in this business quite a while – actually over half a century. And I’ve had the great fortune to work with a lot of great artists. Randy Rhoads, Jeff Beck, Allan Holdsworth, and what we’re doing today with GJ2 is the summation of my life’s work. GJ2 is a one-year-old company, so we’re young, we’re small and we’re really hungry. We’re really pushing the envelope as hard as we can.”
GJ2 Guitars showed plenty of Arete models at NAMM (including the more affordable Arete 3-Star line), including a few painted by Josh Cardinali of Stoney Eye Studios, whose artwork caught the attention of AudioFly, an Australian-based maker of high-quality headphones, who commissioned a couple of Arete 5-Stars painted by Josh with portraits of their favorite rock ‘n’ roll pinup model, Jasmine.