Sunday, May 07, 2017

1992 Jackson Professional Series Dinky LT

I dare say that we are looking at a Jackson Professional Series Dinky LT, judging from the "Jackson Professional" script on the headstock and "DK-LT" stamp in the neck pocket. This Dinky sports a comfortable downsized strat-styled body with a gorgeous flame maple front/back and "full cut" neck heel (which should enhance high note access). Pickup configuration is HSS, with the only stock pickup being the middle single coil; presumably. The tuners are 6-in-line Jacksons, and the back of the headstock sports a holder for two Allen wrenches. Nice touch, eh?

The bolt-on maple neck features a 25.5" scale bound rosewood fingerboard with 22 jumbo frets, black side dot markers and pearloid sharkfin inlays. The tremolo appears to be a JT-590, which is a "Floyd Rose licensed double locking tremolo precision crafted in Germany" by Schaller. Last but not least, the control cavity sports an Oak Grigsby 5-way switch and CTS pots for master volume, neck tone, and middle tone. Each tone pot has its own 0.022uF cap. Judging by the components, one can safely conclude that this was an attempt by a previous owner to upgrade his/her beloved axe.   

The serial number (911468) on the neck plate of this guitar suggests that it was manufactured in 1991, according to JCF Online. However, one cannot ignore two facts. The first is that the earliest appearance of the Jackson Dinky was in the 1992 Jackson/Charvel Catalog. I did check out the Charvette/Charvel/Jackson 1990-91 Catalog just to be sure, but there was no Dinky to be seen. The second lies in the research of Hjortnaes (2006), which indicates that production of the Jackson Dinky LT only commenced in 1992. All things considered, one could deduce that the neck plate on this particular guitar could have been unused stock from 1991. The owner, on the other hand, insists that his guitar is a 1991 model. To each his own, I guess.

The guitar came to me in a totally unplayable condition, due to a number of issues which needed to be addressed with haste. The first was the fingerboard, which had come totally unglued at the headstock end. After carefully removing debris and old glue residue, I dry-fitted the surfaces to be glued and determined the best position for my F-clamps. Having done this, Titebond III glue was liberally applied to both surfaces, and the joint clamped. Excess glue squeeze-out was quickly wiped away with damp paper towels. After 24 hours, the clamps were removed, and the affected areas sanded smooth with successively finer grits of sandpaper.

The second issue was that the thin layer of rosewood beneath the locking nut had cracked and fallen off in two shards, exposing the truss rod channel's metal cover. I did not think that this would adversely affect neck stability as the area would be firmly clamped by the locking nut anyway. But it didn't feel right to just leave it like that. So I got out the Titebond III once again, gingerly repositioned the rosewood shards, and used a mini C-clamp with a plexiglass caul to keep things in place for 24 hours. Once the clamp and caul were removed, the repaired area was lightly sanded to even things out.

Next was the JT-590, which was so caked in rust and unidentifiable gunk that intonation adjustment was impossible. Time for treatment with hazardous chemicals, I'd say. Much to my relief, the treatment worked and I was able to deconstruct the troublesome trem. Next came a thorough going-over with a brass-bristled brush and sandpaper, plus a generous helping of WD-40. You can imagine my huge sigh of relief when the trem was finally reassembled and determined to be functioning as it should.

Following this was the poor condition of the 22 jumbo frets and fingerboard. Now, while I'm used to seing divots, low spots and flattened frets confined to the "cowboy chords" region of the fingerboard; this one had them all over the place. As there was still enough height left in the frets, a refret was not necessary. Time for a fret dress, then. So, out came the marker pen, masking tape, sanding beams, crowning files, sandpaper; and 0000 steel wool. Hmmm .... just remembered that I never bothered to measure the fingerboard radius. If I'd used a radius block, I would've had to measure the radius beforehand. Sheesh ... now I'll never know.  

The final issue was the absolutely gnarly condition of the maple neck. It was covered in a motley mixture of crud and paint, making playing a truly out-of-this world experience; but not in a good way. And so a-sandpapering and steel-wooling did we go. Took me a couple of days to de-gunk the neck, but what I discovered beneath blew me away. True, fungus had eaten into the wood and turned it permanently gray, but I could not ignore the presence of birds' eyes and tigerish-looking stripes. Aha, time for some good ole' Tru Oil. The Tru Oil made the eyes and stripes really pop, imbued the dull gray neck with an appealing amber hue; and imparted a slick feel very unlike a poly or lacquer finish. Do give Tru Oil a shot the next time you're refinishing a maple neck, I think you'll fall in love as I have.

Besides tackling the aforementioned issues, I also cleaned and reconditioned the rosewood fingerboard with 0000 steel wool, a toothbrush and lemon oil. Did a thorough electronics check too, and found that the second tone pot was a tad wobbly. This is what happens when you force 18-spline knobs onto 24-spline pot shafts. The pot casing had actually come loose and you could push the knob and shaft into the body. Luckily, as no permanent damage had been done to the resistive track, it was just a matter of bending the pot casing's four tabs back into place.

Last of all was slapping on a new set of Darco 009s, tuning to pitch, adjusting neck relief,  and setting up the JT-590 to float; which took me the better part of an afternoon. Ah, the joys of having a floating trem, I hear you say. Not for me, I'm afraid. I'll take a rock-solid hardtail over locking nuts and fine tuners any day. But you've gotta give the customers what they want, no?

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