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Jackson Surfcaster SC4 Guitar Review

The Jackson Surfcaster SC4. Ever since I first saw a Surfcaster, I think it was in the ownership of some dreadful band like “Anthrax”, I wanted one! That was probably a Charvel Surfcaster model, I’m guessing the SC1 now, from the research into various models that I have done. Anyway, I found one, on a site called Swapz. It had a cool amber flame striped top and kooky 50s style surf looks, combined with a very playable low action flat radius neck, like Jackson are famous for, and Duncan designed Lipstick tube pickups. The guy accepted my swap proposal, my side of the trade was a Fender Stratocaster Mexican 1950s Surf Green, maple neck, made in 2002. The Strat was a really good player but like I said the Surfcaster was a long time dream.

Jackson Surfcaster SC4
Jackson Surfcaster SC4 Guitar

As it turned out this Surfcaster was in pristine condition, it had just been on a guitar shop wall and the shop went bust, so in effect it was a new one. This SC4 was made in Japan but apparently some were made in India, just before the model was phased out all together in the year 2000.

The guitar’s construction was very good, no rough edges or bad finish anywhere, looked like lots of attention to detail was taken. The neck was a typical Jackson in that it was thin, wide and with a flat radius. It was very easy to play but not as comfortable in longer sessions as a more curved radius neck like on the Strat I traded it for.

Jackson Surfcaster SC4 Guitar, full view
Jackson Surfcaster SC4 Guitar, full view

Note that the Jackson version had a different headstock to the Charvel model. The Charvel has a much cooler offset paddle shape to match the offset waist body. I’d say that the Charvel version was the 100% Surfcaster guitar and this about 80%, shame really.

Yes, this guitar didn’t turn out to be a true dream to own. Sadly I don’t have the cash/budget to own many guitars, I only have two and a bass and it’s always been like that. The Jackson Surfcaster SC4 is let down badly by the pickups/electronics. Of the other few mentions of this guitar on the web, others agree and are very critical of the pickups/electronics. The pickups are “Duncan Designed” lipstick tube single coil types. The middle pickup is reverse polarity for hum cancelling out of phase tones. For me, simply the guitar had no guts for my kind of playing. I considered changing the pickups but as the scratchplate is not easily replaced I didn’t want to carve it up on a gamble that new pickups would make this guitar a keeper. I’d have had to carve it up because just changing to other lipstick pickups wouldn’t have cut it for me. Owning just 2 guitars means that I need both to be versatile and have good clean and distorted sounds for funk and space rock respectively!

Jackson Surfcaster SC4 Guitar, another view
Jackson Surfcaster SC4 Guitar, another view

Here are the specs for the Jackson Surfcaster SC4;

  • Surfcaster SC4
  • Alder body
  • Rock Maple bolt on neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • 22 Fret / 25.5″” scale / 1 11/16″ nut
  • Duncan Design LS101 neck pickup
  • Duncan Design LS101RW/RP middle pickup
  • Duncan Design LS101 bridge pickup
  • JT390 tunamatic with strings thru body
  • Made in Japan

I’ve done a little research and I’ve found the various Jackson Surfcaster SCXX model information and some Charvel Surfcaster information below;

  • SC1, HS semi hollow (Charvel HT and SC90)
  • SC2, no info available
  • SC3, HSS semi hollow
  • SC4, SSS solid (as was Charvel ‘Standard’)
  • SC12, SS semi hollow

I think the model that I would have kept is either the SC1 or SC3, especially as I could have or would have swapped out the pickups for more zingy/ballsy models. Also if it was the Charvel version probably would have helped too! Anyway as they say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all! So I don’t miss this Surfcaster really but looking at the pictures reminds me it was quite a good fun guitar to own, if only for it’s looks and playability. The sounds just didn’t match up.

If you have any info on the SC2 or any comments on the Surfcaster, just leave them below. Mark

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