Just as Willie Nelson can still please crowds strumming a few songs on the worn-out Martin N-20 acoustic guitar he calls “Trigger,” 25-year-old country purist Jade Jackson doesn’t need much in the way of gear to wow potential fans
Jackson is a California punk rocker at heart, with a knack for applying the same three chords and similar truths to roots-influenced country and folk songs. As a lyricist and guitarist, she’s mastered evoking the struggles, losses, and triumphs of a small-town dreamer with big city ambitions. Her debut album Gilded (Anti- Records) was produced by Mike Ness of Social Distortion and has been lauded by such major media outlets as NPR and Rolling Stone.
This influx of critical acclaim doesn’t make Jackson an overnight success. Instead, it’s the culmination of over a decade of writing songs—she’d penned over 300 before her high school graduation—and performing live whenever and wherever, in the spirit of D.I.Y. punk. “I started playing when I was 13-years-old,” she says. “I didn’t just start playing and then a few years later start performing. I started performing quickly after I wrote my first song. I’d play everywhere. I played alleyways and in front of tour buses to get the main bands to hear me. To be on a tour like I am now, I’m overjoyed because I always played those random places with a bigger tour in mind. For me, this is the dream and I just want to keep going.”
Despite being on a larger indie label, Jackson still uses most of the same equipment she played at acoustic gigs long before forming her current band with Andrew Redel (guitar, piano, mandolin), Jake Vukovich (bass), and Tyler Miller (drums). In her case, songwriting talent and an insatiable drive for success has superseded any need for an elaborate setup. That’s not to say she doesn’t have bolder ambitions, as she’s already picked out a dream guitar, but her recent success is a reminder that any like-minded songwriter and guitarist playing acoustic open-mic nights chasing similar dreams needs the right songs, not the “right” gear.
Jackson, who is currently on the road with Social Distortion, shared a glimpse of her minimalist guitar setup. Gilded is available for purchase now.
Taylor 510: “I am a big fan of dreadnought guitars (larger-bodied guitars that make for bolder tones and are popular among folk and bluegrass performers). I have a Jumbo Taylor, a 501 Taylor that I’ve had since I started playing. It was my first guitar purchase.”
Gibson J-200: “Now I’m actually in the market looking for another guitar. My dream would be a Gibson J-200 dreadnought like what Emmylou Harris plays (dating back to her duets with West Coast country-rock legend Gram Parsons). I haven’t actually purchased it yet. I’m still in the market for a new acoustic electric.”
Strings: “I’ve always been a fan of Elixir’s Special-Coated Strings. I’ve used them since I first started playing.”
Acoustic-Electric Amp: “Since I play acoustic electric, I have an L.R. Baggs D.I. for customizing the tone of my guitar in my own monitors. Other than that, I’m not a big gearhead with amps.”