The History of Jerry Jones Guitars - Ask Zac 95

April 17, 2020

In 2010, Jerry Jones auctioned the entire contents of his Nashville factory. Drill presses, unused custom fabricated parts, prototype instruments, and everything that was not part of the building itself were sold to the highest bidder. For a handful of years, his website was kept up, but finally, it too came down. Now the only information that can be found is from the descriptions on completed sales of used instruments. A recent email asked me for info on Jones, as the viewer had just bought one of his guitars and there was next to nothing about the guitars on the web. My own search ended up with the same results. So I reached out to Jerry Jones through a friend of his, and I was politely told "Jerry does not want to be interviewed, as he is retired, and to talk about this would be to come out of retirement, and he has no interest in doing so."  With that dead-end, I pieced together my own past interactions with Jerry and tracked down some of his friends and two of his former employees to put together this story. I also had the help of friends that let me borrow a bevy of wonderful Jones guitars, including the original factory prototype that was used to test pickups. So to the best of my ability, here is the history of Jerry Jones Guitars.

Some notes from Jerry Jones:

"Hello Zac,

Thanks for the opportunity to add to your excellent article.

Re: Tonequest - the article is largely accurate.

By 1982 I had built a couple of guitars for Rafe VanHoy and Debora Allen. Rafe pitched me the idea for an upgraded version of the Danelectro Pro I guitar that we dubbed “Vanelectro”. That guitar was completed in December 1983.

In the mid 80’s Bill Kenner (local songwriter) brought in the Silvertone U1 for a setup and that was the source for the prototype guitar. Kenner also owned the Longhorn Bass6 that I blueprinted at my shop about mid ’87.

In the fall of 1987 I got a request to build a Bass6 from Jack Daniels. It was that same fall when I started searching for the magnets and pickup covers. BTW, Jack got the first guitar in May 1988 which was number #101.

After discovering dome capped cosmetic products called “Kissing Slicks” and “Aziza Mascara” I scoured every drug store in Nashville looking for product and soon discovered I could purchase at a discounted price at Mid-States Paper & Notion in East Nashville for $2.60 each.

Seeking the source for these caps, I ran through the Maybelline purchasing department, then to a New York packaging supplier, and finally the source - Lakewood Medal Products in Waterbury, CT. Waterbury was known as the “Brass Capital of the World.”

The brass dome caps arrived buffed, polished, and ready for plating and were only 13 cents each….ordered in quantities of 20k.

Re: Merle’s guitars

The neck-through design did not go the full length of the instrument but only to the bridge. I started building guitars that way because the first wood I sourced in 1978 was not long enough for a full neck-through. I had also seen some S. D. Curlee guitars constructed that way.

The first Merle guitar was solid and had “Hag” on the headstock along with a pearl inlay of his dog Tuffy I had drawn. The second guitar was hollow and along with the pearl Tuffy inlay I added a name I had with been considering “Tuff Dog Tele”.

Re: Jerry Jones v. Evets Corp.

Case No. 3-98-0793

Evets did not acquire the Danelecto trademark from the original company but rather from a New Jersey guitar dealer who simply registered the name in 1979. Evets has no connection to the original Danelectro company.

The settlement of the case required Evets to abandon all trademark applications and declared that the contested trade dress is in the public domain meaning anyone can freely copy the original Danelectro designs."

Jerry's drawing for the headstock inlay on Merle's guitar.

Tuff Dog Tele

Jones original that Fender would make a variation of in the 90s

Shots of Jerry's earlier builds from Jon Sievert's 1986 GP article:

Jerry Jones holding a custom "Panther" Strat-style

Fat Cat

A Maggie model, like the one Reggie Young showed Merle Haggard. The name is reference to the magnolia inlay on the headstock

The Rafe Van Hoy headstock

The Rafe Van Hoy - Vanelectro - This is where Jones becomes influenced by Silvertone/Danelectro designs.

Vanocaster - side view

The Jonescaster - a custom neck-thru Strat with EMG pickups

Notice the beautiful maple, and the rear adjustment holes for the pickups like Silvertone/Danelectro used. No heal for easier access to the higher frets.

The Blue Strat's headstock with Jerry's magnolia inlay.

The source for the lipstick tubes

Another shot of the tube.

A scan of an original catalog, signed by Jones

Jerry Jones Guitars In This Video:

12-String (Black)

Longhorn Bass 6 (SilverJones)


12-String (Bronze)

Baby Sitar

Prototype JJ Guitar

Silvertone 1958 U2


Fender Blonde Tone Master Deluxe Reverb

Pick: D'Andrea MH 351

Effects used:

Mirage compressor

Line 6 Echo Park Delay

9v power via Truetone CS6