The Jackson Marty Friedman Kelly KE-1T

September 30, 2022
Signature Guitars
Jackson Marty Friedman-Feature Image of guitar and Artist playing live on stage
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The Jackson Marty Friedman Kelly Signature Kelly KE-1T

Jackson Guitars is an instrument manufacturer founded by Grover Jackson, creating Electric and Bass Guitars.

Jackson Marty Friedman-- Image of Guitar company logo

The Jackson Logo, a US guitar manufacturer company – image courtesy of

Acquired by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation in 2002, Fender manufactures US Jackson Models in Corona California and the “budget models” in Indonesia and China, making their instruments more accessible to lower-end buyers.

Early Jackson

In the 70s, Grover obtained part ownership in the Charvel Guitar & Repair Company which would file for bankruptcy in 78 and sell its interest, leaving him to take over the Charvel name and brand.

First Jackson Model

Approach in 1980 by guitarist Randy Rhoads with an idea for an individualized guitar, Rhoads, Jackson, Tim Wilson and Mike Shannon (Jackson’s master-builder) would combine efforts to create the Concorde.

A Guitar inspired by the new guitarist from Ozzy Osbourne, fresh off a European tour, while flying back on the sleek white supersonic Aircraft of the same name.

Jackson Marty Friedman-- Concept Design image of the First RR1 Concorde Guitar

A Full-Scale Print Of The First Concept Design Jackson Randy Rhoads Electric Guitar – To Get Yours Tap The Image

The Instrument would have a revamped design of the traditional Gibson Flying V that was angularly shaped and distinctive to him, becoming known as the “Rhoads Models.” still in production today.

The Defining Factor

This Rhoads guitar would be the first Jackson Guitar ever to be built and branded with the now famous logo on the iconic headstock to become the guitars company defining factor. (See image)

Jackson Marty Friedman-- Image of Jackson Headstock

The headstock of the Jackson JS Series Dinky JS22 – Natural Oil with Amaranth Fingerboard-Image courtesy of Amazon

Guitar For Serious Metal Players

In the ’80s and during the heyday of heavy metal, the Jackson brand would create a loyal following and be associated with high-quality American-made custom guitars that would go on to be used by many famous guitarists of the period.

The company would go on to develop more designs, such as the…

  • Soloist
  • King V
  • Dinky and the 
  • Kelly 

All of which remain icons of the brand.

From its earliest beginnings until today, Jackson guitars are known for their slender, angled designs and are still popular with hard rock or metal musicians.

Along with distinctive headstocks, other design features like the “Inverted Shark Fin” inlays would inspire other famous guitar companies like Ibanez to follow suit with similar designs. (See Image)

Jackson Marty Friedman-- Image of Jackson shark fin inlays

A 1998 USA Jackson Marty Friedman Kelly KE-1T – Solid Black w/SharkFin inlays – Image courtesy of

The History Of The Kelly

1982 To Present

Designed and named after Bradford Kelly (Guitarist for the Australian heavy metal band Heaven)

The Jackson Kelly or KE is a modified version of the Gibson Explorer, in production since the early 1980s, and is available in different hardware configurations and finishes.

The Kelly sports a classic Jackson Pointed headstock, Thin Neck Profile, Standard 24 Jumbo Frets, Inverted Shark Fin Inlays, Rosewood or Ebony Fingerboard; a Maple Neck-Thru Design extended from the body allowing for a high level of playability, along with an Alder or Basswood  Solid body with a  Locking Tremolo or Fixed Bridge along with an H-H Pickup configuration.

The Kelly Powerstation

Both Active EMG & Passive Seymour Duncan Pickup Configurations

The Jackson KEXMG of the X Series is the only model to feature an active EMG 81 in the bridge position and an active EMG 85 in the neck position.

All other models contain passive Seymour Duncan pickups.

The Jackson Guitar features a Volume Knob, a Tone Knob and a Toggle switch.

The Kelly was later popularized by Megadeth Guitarist Marty Friedman, with a KE-1 signature model, which has since been removed from production.

Marty Friedman

Jackson Marty Friedman-- Image of artist with his signature guitar

Image of the Artist and his Signature USA Jackson KE1T Marty Friedman Model w/Tune-o-Matic Bridge & Seymour Duncan Humbucker in the Bridge Position- Image courtesy of

Marty Friedman is an American composer, producer, arranger and guitarist alongside Jason Becker in his project Cacophony from 1986 to 1989. (More on this later)

Marty Friedman is among the most influential metal guitarists of today.

He gained popularity in the late 1980s with his solo albums. Still, He cemented his position as one of the most respected lead guitar players throughout the 1990s  with the thrash metal giants Megadeth from 1990 to 2000.

Early Years

After attending a KISS concert at 14 in Washington, DC, Friedman took up the guitar and is self-taught for the most part.

Instead of ‘Woodshedding” like most young guitarists, Friedman started playing live quickly, doing easy covers from bands like KISS and The Ramones alongside their original tunes.

According to the Artist, playing live will force you to up your chops game.

He states in an interview…

“To get inspired and stay inspired and get out of a rut and playing the same things all the time, you must create opportunities to play your guitar in front of other people.” 

Marty Friedman

Moving To Hawaii

After moving to Hawaii with his parents in his late teens, Friedman formed several other music projects, including Duece and Hawaii (previously called Vixen) and Cacophony with Jason Becker, another up-and-coming young virtuoso who together featured a mixture of styles and sounds, including…

  • Neoclassical metal elements 
  • Twin guitar synchronized harmonies and counterpoints

When Cacophony disbanded in 1989, Friedman auditioned for the thrash metal band Megadeth and joined in February 1990, Integrating his exotic style of playing from the Cacophony era into the music of Megadeth.


The album recording Rust in Peace released in September of 1990, got certified platinum in 1994 and was nominated for the Best Metal Performance at the 33rd Grammy Awards.

In July 1992, Megadeth Released a more commercial album, Countdown to Extinction, aimed at a wider audience, going on to sell Double Platinum.

Friedman released three solo albums between 1992 and 1996, featuring Megadeth bandmate Nick Menza on drums.

After a total of 5 studio albums with the group and a 10-year tenure in December of 1999, Friedman departed from the group, playing his last show on January 14, 2000, citing lack of growth as a musician and wanting to move the band into a more aggressive sound than what the group was playing at the time.

But during Friedman’s time in the band, the project sold over 10 million albums worldwide.

After Megadeth, Friedman appeared on several projects from 2003-2009 while simultaneously moving to the Shinjuku neighbourhood of Tokyo.

Learning & Living In Japan

In the late 90s and early 2000, Friedman focused on Japanese music exclusively wanting to inject his musicality into the local Japanese music scene.

He had no language barrier, for he was speaking, reading and writing Japanese as a hobby while on the state-side tour buses with his bandmates.

Going to Japan on tour with Cacophony for the first time, he was impressed by their attention to detail regarding music and the business, inspiring him to move there in 2003 after the Megadeth project.

Friedman has been living in Tokyo Japan since and has appeared on over 700 Japanese Television programs, regularly contributing to music magazines and newspapers, along with launching a record label under Avex Group called Gokukara Records (2010-2013) and continued to tour and make guest appearances on multiple other music projects, allowing the Artist not to have to settle on his musical creativity.

In 2014 Friedman released his new album Inferno and moved his touring out of Japan to Europe.

Guitar Individuality

When he was in his late teens, he discovered that learning foreign music would be his path to becoming an individual regarding his guitar voice.

He started by learning the sounds of instruments from different countries, like the Indian Sitar, traditional Japanese music and string instruments from China, all of which forced him to think and do things differently than what was being done in the Rock scene at the time.

He is best known for his fusion of Eastern/Western Music, Neoclassical/Thrash Metal, and Progressive Rock styles.

He likes to use Arpeggiated chords, Middle Eastern & Exotic Asian scales stemming from Chinese/Japanese origins; different from the Minor/Major pentatonic and Mode-based playing he was surrounded by the Western world of Heavy Metal.

“I was always more attracted to note choices and the chords under the note choices that I did not hear in traditional rock.”

Marty Friedman

Unorthodox Guitar Picking Techniques

Based on the angle that Friedman’s wrist is positioned, he has learned to create an unorthodox picking technique.

He utilizes upstrokes instead of downstrokes, especially on the high B and E strings.


Rather than strictly picking from his elbow or wrist, Friedman will pick by moving his fingers in a circular pattern—a technique known as “circle picking,” which again goes against the conventional hand position frequently used by Western players.

The USA Jackson KE1 Marty Friedman Signature Model

Playing almost exclusively Jacksons, the company has created a signature line of Marty Friedman Kellies.

Two models within Marty’s signature series ranks are the…

  • Jackson Kelly KE1T (A Model w/Tune-O-Matic Bridge) &
  • Jackson Kelly KE1F (A Model w/Floyd Rose Original)

Made from a solid single-cut flat top Poplar/Alder body w/Mahogany wings, a Maple neck running through the body’s center, a Tune-o-Matic bridge w/String-Through Construction, a 24-fret bound ebony fingerboard, one volume knob, and a Seymour Duncan humbucker in the bridge position. (Read on)

Jackson Marty Friedman-- Full image of the Marty Friedman Kelly Guitar

The USA Jackson KE1T Marty Friedman signature model Guitar in solid black finish with Black Chrome Hardware-image courtesy of

The Tech Specs


  • Body Materials – A Poplar body w/quilt maple top option from 1996-1999  and an Alder body w/quilt maple top option from 2000-2001.
  • Body TypeSolid Body
  • Body StyleDouble cutaway/Explorer shape
  • Body “Wing” Wood Mahogany
  • Binding –On Neck & Body
  • Manufactured in the USA
  • Years in production – 1996-2001 worldwide
  • Catalog price – 1996: $1,645 (solid finishes) / $1,745 (trans finishes)
  • Gloss Finishes in various colours- BLK(Black), SWP(Snow White Pearl), TBK(Transparent Black), TB(Transparent Blue)


  • Neck Material- Quarter Sawn Maple
  • Neck FinishGloss
  • Neck ShapeSeries Standard
  • Fingerboard Material – Ebony (with binding)
  • Inlays- Pearl MOTO Sharkfin “inverted.”
  • Frets- 24 Jumbo Size
  • Nut Width-1.6875″ (1-11/16″)
  • Nut MaterialBone
  • Scale Length25-1/2″
  • TunersDie-cast, locking
  • Neck Joint- Neck-through

Neck Through Construction Pros & Cons

As seen on high-end instruments and made from one continuous piece of wood, you have no separation in the junction between the neck and the body, this design is optimum for maximum sustain, resonance, and tonal quality. (See image)

Jackson Marty Friedman-- Image of MF_1T Guitar with neck through construction

The 1998 Jackson USA KE-1T Marty Friedman Kelly w/Neck Through Construction-Image courtesy of


  • Look and Feel Slick and Clean
  • Maximum Tonal Resonance and Sustain
  • Easily played in the higher fret registers


  • If the neck gets damaged, it is impossible to replace, so you would need to purchase an entirely new instrument.
  • It is the most expensive of the 3 types of neck construction and takes significant experience and skill to manufacture.
  • Unlike the bolt-on, you cannot mix and match fretboards.
Want To Learn More About The Different Guitar Neck Constructions? Tap Here


  • Pick Up Configuraation – H
  • Bridge Pickup – Seymour Duncan TB-4 Humbucker with powerful low ends, crisp highs, and upper midrange.
Jackson Marty Friedman-- Image of Jackson Kelly with bridge and pickup

The Jackson USA made Marty Friedman KE-1T w/Seymour Duncan humbucker and Tune-o-Matic Kahler AMP3310 Bridge-Image courtesy of

Hand built in Santa Barbara, CA, these Seymour Duncans use an Alnico 5 bar magnet, silver nickel bottom plate, 4 conductor lead wires parallel and split coil and vacuum wax potted for squeal-free performance.


  • Bridge – A Tune-o-Matic Kahler AMP3310 (String through) or Floyd Rose option.
  • HardwareBlack
Jackson Marty Friedman-- Image of The TB-4 Seymour Duncan Pickup

The Seymour Duncan TB-4 Humbucker. Recommended for the bridge position, Great for everything from heavy blues to heavy metal – Tap the image to order

Special Features

1 Volume Knob

The placement of the volume knob is designed based on the Artist’s aggressive approach to his attack on the instrument and the unorthodox picking technique. (See image)

Jackson Marty Friedman- Image of Jackson Kelly with 1 volume control button

The Marty Friedman Jackson Kelly KE-1T w/1 volume knob on a Transparent finish-image courtesy of

Friedman designed the instrument free of controls because of his attack on the guitar.

Having a volume knob in the standard location and toggle switches around the pickup would create a conflict in his trying to avoid the knobs, by simplifying the design and moving the knob as far from his playing area as possible gave him freedom and a clean playing space.


Pros & Cons

  • American Made Instrument
  • A Poplar w/Optional Quilt Maple Top Between 96-99
  • An Alder w/Optional Quilt Maple Top Between 2000-2001
  • Neck-Thru Body Construction
  • Fingerboard: Ebony (w/Binding)
  • Pearl MOTO Sharkfin Inlays
  • H-Seymour Duncan Humbucker
  • AMP3310 (String Through) or Floyd Rose Bridge Options
  • Various Finishes
  • Hard to Find
  • Pricey

Final Thoughts

Friedman’s impactful and game-changing contributions cannot be overstated; his musical influence and ability to play very melodically over chord progressions are very appealing.

He cites that key modulations are a key factor in his songwriting approach.

I never followed him during the Megadeth run but became a fan of his abilities later on in his solo work.

The ability to play strong melodies is very attractive to me as a guitarist, as opposed to just playing quickly, and Friedman has established a sound and technique that is truly his own.

Jackson Marty Friedman - Image of Marty Friedman with his signature Kelly in Black and White.

Want More Marty Friedman? Tap Image.

Should You Add This To Your Collection

Playing almost exclusively Jackson’s Kelly guitars for almost 3 decades, this guitar and his brand are established.

Finding one might take some doing, also the US Models will still be pricey, but you will still be getting a very good American-Made Jackson guitar that can be used exactly as it was intended for.


Would have liked to see a 12”-16” compound radius fingerboard on this battle axe.

Did You Like This Article?

Check out my review of the Zakk Wylde Gibson Les Paul Custom


Leave your comments in the section below if you would like me to review a favourite guitar.

As always, stay the course and keep playing.

Jackson Marty Friedman - Image of Website logo

Feature image of Marty Friedman Jackson KE-1T courtesy of
Feature image of Marty Freidman playing the Jackson live courtesy of
Image of Marty Friedman in the CTA courtesy of

The Marty Friedman Jackson KE1


Poplar/Alder Body w/Maple Top Option


Neck-Thru Body Construction


Seymour Duncan Bridge Humbucker


AMP3310 Bridge


Various Finishes



  • Neck-Thru Body Construction
  • AMP3310 Bridge
  • Seymour Duncan Bridge Humbucker


  • Hard to Find
  • Pricey

Starting A Journey At 7 Years Of Age, The Love For The Guitar Only Became Stronger Going Into My Teens. This Leading To An Exciting Time Of Teaching, Performing, And Recording. Join Me Now As We Can Bring The Love Of This Instrument To Other Musicians Globally.

  • It is interesting to know that the famous branding -Jackson- can be dated back as far back as 1978 when I was born. Top of it is that they have maintained the quality, the branding and the goodwill of generating followers in music and the market. As you rightly said they have not just retained their brand name but also have retained their angled design and slender shape

    Parameter November 9, 2022 12:56 am Reply
    • Hello Parameter

      Thank you for your visit and for leaving feedback on the article.

      I am happy that you found value in the article as much as we enjoyed writing it.
      Do not hesitate to read more of our articles,s and leave your thoughts are always appreciated.



      admin November 9, 2022 12:56 am Reply
  • Wow, what a great post; thank you for sharing “The Jackson Marty Friedman Kelly KE-1T”. That’s one of the best posts about guitars I have seen. If I can meet you in real life and you can explain how it works, it would be fantastic, but I can pick it up through this post. Thank you for sharing.

    Have a great day



    Vlad_B November 18, 2022 8:44 pm Reply
    • Hello Vlad

      Thank you for the visit and the feedback on the post.

      I Appreciate the interest in the subject matter, and it would be fun to take this instrument for a test run if you can find one. I am completely familiar with his Jackson MF1 and would recommend that guitar to anyone, it is my go-to instrument.

      Feel free to read more of our signature guitar posts and leave more feedback if you find it valuable.



      admin November 18, 2022 10:46 pm Reply

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