NAMM 2011: The Fret-King Black Label Series JD guitar

The Fret-King Black Label Series JD guitar will receive its grand unveiling at Winter NAMM 2011
The Fret-King Black Label Series JD guitar will receive its grand unveiling at Winter NAMM 2011

NAMM 2011 PRESS RELEASE: John Hornby Skewes & Co Ltd, worldwide trade distributors of Fret-King products, is proud to announce the release of the new Fret-King Black Label Series JD guitar, designed in conjunction with Jerry Donahue.

A real guitarist's guitarist, Donahue has been on the scene for 40 years. Renowned for his masterful and original approach to string bending (Danny Gatton referred to him as "the string bending king of the planet"), Donahue has released a number of solo albums, is a charter member of guitar group The Hellecasters, and has a list of album and band credits across the spectrum of modern popular music as long as the proverbial arm.

As a member of Fotheringay and Fairport Convention in the 1970s, Jerry has also lent his playing to some of the greatest folk rock records ever released. Jerry's discography and story can be found here.

The project got off the ground in early 2010. After Jerry had been so impressed with JHS' Vintage brand V52 ICON guitar, he called JHS MD Dennis Drumm and enquired as to whether there might be a possibility to work with the company to get all the things he'd always wanted into a guitar of this sort, at a price which was affordable to all players.

Drumm commented: "The answer of course was yes, because I knew that if we could impress Jerry that much with the Vintage V52, at a UK RRP of £329, we could so easily make the best ever guitar Jerry's helped to design for not much more... and we have!"

"Don't forget," continues Drumm, "that part of the whole brand ethic of Vintage and Fret-King is to totally over-deliver at the price point, in a way which other brands seem to not always want to do!"

Jerry commented: "I'm over the moon with the amazing range of iconic tones the Fret-King JD produces. It's literally the best of the three most popular solid bodies ever, rolled into one!"

This new guitar, created with close cooperation between Jerry and designer Trev Wilkinson, uses Jerry's custom pickup designs, wiring, and switching, with a beautifully comfortable vintage neck profile and unique - but very recognisable - body shape, all constructed with materials usually associated with boutique guitars, and a build quality the equal of anyone's custom shop!

The Fret-King JD will be the very first Black Label model, and also the first of a string of models to be released throughout 2011, designed in conjunction with internationally renowned players of distinction.

Donahue has always been known for his single-coil sounds, and this special new guitar stays true to form. Coming in a classic single cutaway shape, the body is alder with an ash veneer top, and is complemented with black binding. A 22-fret maple neck and fingerboard add slinkiness to the feel of the guitar, and the contrasting black pickguard brings a classy touch to proceedings.

The Black Label JD guitar really comes into its own in the sound department. Powered by two specially designed, custom-wired Wilkinson single coil pickups, the five-way selector switch allows a multitude of tones, gleaning the best of the classic tones associated with three of the most iconic, benchmark guitar designs into one instrument.

Position ONE: This neck pickup yields the rich, sparkling tone of the traditional three-pickup guitar. The result: that unmistakable single-coil sound that echoes the soaring, majestic blues tones of the '60s and '70s.

Position TWO: The neck pickup (now with a special cap engaged), affords this position a special tonal quality you would ordinarily expect to hear from a full-body jazz guitar! Engage an overdrive and you capture that classic late '60s "Woman Tone".

Position THREE: The neck and bridge pickups are in a customised parallel wiring, producing an enhanced, more contemporary version of the customary middle position timbre on the classic two-pickup guitar.

Position FOUR: By combining both pickups with a capacitor and resistor in a controlled degree of reversed phase, this position offers the popular "in-between quack tone" found in this position on three-pickup guitars.

Position FIVE: This is an updated stock-style bridge pickup with symmetrically staggered pole pieces for great string balance and a special wind for increased sustain. It captures that amazing gutsy lead sound found on the very best of those traditional two-pickup guitars!

The Fret-King Black Label Series JD guitar will receive its grand unveiling at Winter NAMM 2011 Hall E 1212, where Jerry will be on hand to put the guitar through its paces, and chat with visitors.


Body: Alder. Ash veneer top
Black, plastic
Maple, 22 Medium Jumbo frets. Bolt-on
Pickups & Controls: Two specially-wired Wilkinson single coils. Five-way selector switch. Brass volume and tone pots
Pickguard/Hardware: Black 3-ply pickguard. Wilkinson bridge and tuners.

Information taken from official press release, for more visit JHS

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