Recording King debuts new Carl Jackson model banjo

Greg Rich and Carl Jackson with the Carl Jackson Signature banjo at SPBGMAphoto by Robin Jackson

Recording King has recently announced a new model to their line of banjos: the Carl Jackson Signature Edition model.  

“We’ve worked with some extraordinary musicians over RK’s tenure, and we’re proud to have them collaborating with us on development, playing and design. These RK Legacy artists are the best at their craft, and we couldn’t have built the modern incarnation of RK without them,” states the company’s web site.

“Grammy-award-winning musician Carl Jackson has been a part of the RK family since our early days. First cutting his teeth with Jim and Jesse, Carl rose to fame as the banjo player and right-hand man of Glen Campbell. 

As a songwriter, his songs have been recorded and performed by top country artists like Campbell, Vince Gill, Garth Brooks, Ricky Skaggs, Trisha Yearwood, Pam Tillis, Diamond Rio, and Emmylou Harris. Carl’s advice and support for our early banjos helped pave the way for RK to become a player in the bluegrass world, and we’re proud to call him a family member and a friend.”

Jackson’s compositions have also been recorded by a long list of notable artists in bluegrass including Rhonda Vincent, Doyle Lawson, IIIrd Tyme Out, Sideline, Mountain Heart, and Darin & Brooke Aldridge, just to name a few. Songs he has penned such as Little Mountain Church House and Erase the Miles have become classics within the genre.

Though most contemporary bluegrass fans know Carl primarily as a writer and producer, in the earliest days of his musical life he was a hot shot banjo picker. His family would take him as a teen to festivals and shows all over the southeast, leading to him accepting a job with Jim & Jesse. They would feature him on a scalding, banjo-led version of Orange Blossom Special at ridiculous speed that ended up on Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Live album as per Bill’s request.

All that led to his biggest break when Glen Campbell invited him to join his band, where he remained for 12 years.

The banjo’s designer, Greg Rich, explained how the Carl Jackson model came to fruition. “I’ve been friends with Carl for 40 years. I brought it up to Carl to do a signature model, and Recording King built the prototype. He wanted a Mississippi influence so we included the state flower in the inlay and a colonel rebel in the headstock. It is a nickel plated banjo with a maple sunburst resonator.”

Jackson was humbled by this honor. The Grammy-winning songwriter, singer, musician, record producer, and publisher thanked Rich for his unwavering sense of detail and help on this project, not to mention, his friendship.

“I am completely honored and thrilled to have a banjo designed by longtime friend, Greg Rich. He had made me a banjo a few years ago that I played a bunch at the Station Inn.

I am so pleased with Recording King’s signature model with its magnolia inlay, dove on the fifth fret, and a southern gentleman on the headstock to represent my Mississippi heritage. I think we’re going to call it the Lonesome Dove in honor of the song I wrote with Larry Cordle, as well as a tip of the hat to one of my publishing companies, Lonesome Dove Music.

I’m told it will be Recording King’s top-of-the line banjo, above the Elite model. These guys have really stepped up to the plate, especially Greg.”

Rich presented Jackson the Recording King prototype in Nashville during SPBGMA in January.

“For Recording King, I would like to present Carl Jackson with his brand new, signature model banjo. Thank you so much. Thank you for all the years of friendship,” shared Rich in a press conference during the event.

Inspecting its workmanship, Jackson responded, “Thank you so much, Greg. It’s beautiful, man.”

Carl’s wife, Robin, shared, “If you know Carl Jackson, then you know how precise, and amazing, the tone, and overall craftsmanship must be. He refuses to give an inch on quality and sound. Thank you so much to Recording King for an unbelievable piece of art, with Carl’s name, and backing, of such an exquisite instrument.”

Jackson then picked Home Sweet Home on his new banjo for the camera and those in attendance. After the banjo master played his new banjo, Rich took it back for a couple of final little tweaks.

Rich concluded, “If you are interested in purchasing a Carl Jackson signature model, contact your local Recording King dealer. This is the prototype and will be available for purchase soon.”

Jackson said of his new banjo, “Greg is amazing. He’s such an artist, and I’m honored that they wanted to do a signature model for me. They did a beautiful job. Everybody who played it at SPBGMA loved it.”

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.