Jackson Kip Winger Professional

Jackson Kip Winger Professional

Year: 1991

Made In: Japan

Specs: Lacewood neck-though with lacewood wings, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: Reflex P & J active pickups

Controls: Volume, blend, tone

This is an interesting one, a Kip Winger signature model. Made in Japan, it’s rare even within the scope of the volume of Kip Winger basses made by Jackson during the short production run.

Based on the neck-through Futura XL model made by Jackson at that time, it has a lacewood neck and body wings where the XL had a maple neck and maple or lacewood body wings. The XL also featured an ebony fretboard whereas here I’m looking at a nice slab of rosewood. It’s a comfortable and compact shape which sits nicely on the body and the neck is tastefully slim front to back with a Precision width nut. It’s similar to my Charvel JP from the same year and sets up just as nicely. The knobs are tastefully recessed into the body and build quality is high throughout.

Information on these basses has proven hard to come by. There were a few different versions during the production run featuring a mix of Jackson and EMG pickups, others came with a Jackson bridge like this one while others had a large Kahler unit. This one deviates even more, however.

I’m speculating and open to correction – actually, if anyone does know, please get in touch – but I think this must be one of a small number of basses intended for the UK market. Why? Well, this one features Reflex pickups, active pickups made in the UK which featured on quite a few Jacksons and Charvels sold at this time. More significantly though, is that it features just three control knobs, where every other Kip Winger model I’ve been able to find has four, apart from a handful like this which all reside in the UK. Again, if anyone has any more information on this, I’d love to hear from you.

As with the Charvel JP, I’m not really sold on the Reflex pickups, though I am quite enamoured by the bass itself. They are very heavy on mids and, while I’m trying to give them some time, I can’t promise I won’t swap them out at some point in the future. The bass is a really nice player, very resonant unplugged, and I’m just not getting that coming out of the amp. I think it deserves pickups which will let the real character of this bass come through.

This bass, as with so many others, languished for sale at a very reasonable price for quite some time before I intervened. It’s clearly a fine looking instrument but it has genuine quality too. Maybe the pointed headstock puts people off these days but I’m of an age where I can recall when such features were desirable. Perhaps the association with Kip put people off but do the young people even know of his bare chested ways? Whatever the cause was, a fine, fine bass was left overlooked. This is a rare gem for sure and, with better pickups, could be a most worthy addition.

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Coming Soon

The quest to salvage neglected and abused 80’s and 90’s MIJ gold is never-ending and, to that end, I’ll soon add entries for this pair – an abused 1985 Yamaha BB1100S and an unwanted 1991 Jackson Kip Winger/Futura – once I have finished working on them. The Winger needs just a little TLC while the BB1100S needed some serious repairs (and an industrial clean-up operation to remove years of human biocrud). These are serious quality basses which have been hanging around local sales sites for around a year and, despite genuine effort, I was no longer able to resist and felt I had to put an end to the neglect.

There are a lot of great instruments out there looking for new homes at prices which just don’t come close to reflecting the quality of the instrument itself. While that is a shameful indictment of the brand-obsessed times we live in, it does present the opportunist with means to harvest some real bargains of rare and interesting gear.

More to come.

Jackson Kelly Performer PS 67

Jackson Kelly Performer PS 67

Year: 1999

Made In: Japan

Specs: Poplar body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: Jackson Humbuckers x 2

Controls: Volume, three-way switch

Sometimes, when you buy a guitar predominantly on looks, you have to suffer the consequences and that’s largely the case here. I was surprised to see something as exotic as a Kelly in the shops here and, in a moment of weakness, splashed out after a very brief try out.

The build quality of the body and neck, I suppose, were decent enough. It was solid, if entirely unspectacular. The biggest problem was the utterly risible hardware they installed on it. The bridge, pickups, switch and pots were just junk. It would go out of tune if you breathed on the bridge and no amount of tweaking could resolve it. The switch was more temperamental than a pre-menstrual teenager and the pickups encouraged you to not bother plugging in.  Other than that it was grand.

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before it got eased on out the door.