I finally got around to replacing the bridge pickup in my '85 Soloist with a vintage Duncan JBJ that I've had for a while. The JBJ sounds fantastic in this guitar (no surprise there), but the fun part is looking at the stock Jackson pickup.
For those who don't know, Jackson started making their own pickups sometime in mid-late 1984 after buying Fender's winding machines when Fender briefly closed its U.S. operations and sold off the contents of the Fullerton factory. Most early US Charvels and Jacksons before that had Duncans.
Jackson also hired Fender's pickup winder, Abby Ybarra, and its pickup designer, Paul Gagon. Gagon designed Jackson's range of pickups after working with a bunch of prototypes for endorsers.
Anyway, my Soloist was finished in January '85 shortly after the company began making pickups. The neck pickup was shot when I got the guitar and I replaced it with a Dimarzio stacked HB I got from Garrett (with a much later Jackson cover that somehow fits). I've tried other things in the bridge and had gone back to the original Jackson PU.
If you've seen production Jackson pickups, you know that they had an engraved baseplate and/or a silver foil logo with the model number.
Not this one. It's such an early Jackson pickup that the only "logo" is a piece of masking tape with the letter "B" written on it. So professional!
Because of the lack of logo, I can't actually tell which model it is. I had thought that the earliest Jackson HBs were all J-50Bs, which was a low-output Alnico 5 PAF clone. However, this one is hotter than the JB, loose low end, and lots of ceramic "jangle" on top. This leads me to think it's either an early J-80C or J-90C.
Whatever it is, it sounded like crap in this Soloist, which has a lot of low end, scooped low-mids by Soloist standards, and bright high-mids due to the OFR. Annoyed the fuck out of me.
The JBJ is perfect for this guitar, if maybe almost too dark. I had it in Dave's old Soloist w/Kahler before, and that is a very mid-heavy (~700-800 hz) guitar, and the JBJ lacked enough punch in it, I thought. I've been playing the hell out of the '85 today in writing a new metal song, and I'm hopeful it'll make the '85 one of my main players.
Here are a couple poor pictures of the '85 with the JBJ, desperately in need of a polish job.