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Watch Anthrax’s Scott Ian unveil his collection of custom Jackson guitars and share the stories behind them

Scott Ian has been a Jackson superfan since the get-go, and in the latest episode of the Californian guitar brand’s YouTube (opens in new tab) series Thrashed, the Anthrax guitarist shows off some of his favourite custom electric guitars.

And there is a wealth of high-performance gold in his vault, with many boasting custom graphic finishes that chart the most significant moments in Anthrax history. Those familiar with the Scott Ian oeuvre will not be surprised to learn that there are a lot of V-shapes, and that his collection is a veritable endorsement of the aesthetic perfection of a Jackson six-in-line headstock. 

“Such a big part of thrash metal was pointy headstock headstock guitars, and Jackson certainly led the way with that,” says Ian. 

Ian kicks off his tour with a replica of the Randy Rhoads Concorde, the asymmetrical V developed by Grover Jackson and the Ozzy guitarist that would change the game for metal guitars. The Concorde would inspire the Rhoads lineup which has been a cornerstone of Jackson design since the ‘80s. 

Ian’s first significant Jackson was a 1982 Custom Shop Rhoads that every Anthrax fan will recognise as the NOT guitar. It has the Sgt. D sticker on the front, NOT graphics on the front and down the side of the body – and is hiding a secret. It is a refin. The original was finished in animal print, which was en vogue at the time but not very Gung-Ho.

“I paid for this guitar,” says Ian. “And even in 1982, a Custom Shop Rhoads cost a lot of money. I’m thinking probably in the high twos – $2,700, $2,800. I worked my ass off. I used this on all the touring for Spreading The Disease, Among The Living. It’s kind of iconic. I still use it. I bust it out on every album.”

Other gems include his NOT Soloist, which is finished in black with the New York Yankees decal on the body, NOT inlay and the coolest thing ever – which needs to be done on more Custom Shop models, just think of the possibilities – is that it is fretless above the 14th fret. 

After all, what’s a rhythm machine like Ian doing up that end of the ‘board if it’s not to make some weird noises? “One pickup, one volume, that's all I needed,” says Ian.

For a player who likes his guitars utilitarian, there are some seriously cool pieces in his vault, but his number one – which he reveals on tape – takes some beating.

Why Jackson? Well, part of the reason is the Custom Shop is game for anything.

“That’s what’s so great about the Jackson Custom Shop, I think they really love when you come in with ridiculous ideas and then they actually get to make them real,” says Ian.

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.