In conversation, Mike Shannon is so unassuming and down to earth that you might have to remind yourself that he is in fact a legendary figure whose acclaimed guitar craft dates back to the earliest days of Jackson® and Charvel®. Shannon started work at Charvel in 1980 and had a major hand in designing and building many famous guitar models by Charvel and, later, Jackson. Despite having little guitar-building experience before 1980, he was already a veteran woodworker with years of experience and expertise, and he proceeded to build fine instruments for many of metal’s sharpest shredders.
Shannon joined the Fender Custom Shop in 2000 as a master builder, but returned to the Charvel/Jackson fold as a senior master builder in 2003 when Fender acquired both guitar makers. He is a veteran woodworker with years of experience and expertise, and he continues to some of the most sought out instruments for many of metal’s sharpest shredders.Back to Top »
Dave Nichols—nicknamed “Red Dave” for his long red hair and beard—joined the Jackson® Custom Shop in 2005 after a 16-year stint at the Fender® Custom Shop, and became a master builder in 2006. An avid woodworker since high school, Nichols has always been into “messing with stuff with my hands.” He’d never built a guitar before da friend’s suggestion led to his arrival at the Fender Custom Shop in 1989, where his love for music natural talent and practiced woodworking expertise served him well.
Nichols rose through the ranks steadily as an apprentice instrument builder with a particular gift for inlay work, and when “an opportunity to build something new” arose at Jackson in 2005, “Red” was ready. “I love being the guy who makes dreams come true,” he said. “That’s our motto—making dreams come true. It’s awesome when people come through here and I can watch them turn into kids in a candy store.”Back to Top »
Pat McGarry joined Charvel® and Jackson® back in the original era, in 1982. Having previously worked with Mike Shannon at a custom furniture maker, McGarry was already an experienced woodworker. He started by making ebony fingerboards, book-matched tops and other specialized guitar elements, and he is the builder behind much of the rough-mill woodwork for countless artist and showpiece instruments. Few are better at “reading” the strength and tone of a piece of lumber for its best use in a guitar, and factory lore holds that McGarry can simply look at a piece of lumber and tell you where the tree it came from grew, what conditions it grew in and when the tree was felled.
McGarry’s expertise in milling lumber and matching grain is invaluable to Jackson, and his commitment to quality is absolute—sometimes to the chagrin of prospective new vendors who proclaim the merits of their wood, only to find themselves schooled by him on their own wares. “It doesn’t matter if the guitar is going to be painted or get a natural finish,” he said. “The quality of the materials and the joinery are always the same. I build each guitar as if it were going to my favorite artist.”Back to Top »