“When Robert Fripp asked me to join Crimson, I decided I needed a new guitar. Much as I loved and owned a number of vintage guitars, live I would always play something modern – more reliable. PRS is the best of both worlds. A modern instrument that feels and looks like a classic. " - Jakko Jakszyk
Jakko Jakszyk’s story reads like a tale of rock-and-roll dreams:
“When I was 11 years old my neighbour played me a song called ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ by King Crimson, and it blew my head off. Overnight they became my favourite band. I went to see them live a year later and my senses were equally destroyed, and I vowed that night that music would be my life. I could never have imagined that I would actually find myself in that very band years later, singing and playing that very song.”
As a limited edition for 2019, in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the legendary band King Crimson, PRS will be offering a maximum of 1,000 SE Schizoid guitars, adorned with the classic artwork from Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King album.
PRS You’ve had a long, diverse, and successful music career, but how did it all begin? Why did you start playing guitar?
JJ: My adoptive father played guitar in a folk group in his native Poland, but had stopped by the time he got to England having lost the end of his left index finger in a carpentry accident. So there was an unused guitar lying around the house when I was a kid. I guess I started taking it really seriously when I was about 11.
PRS: King Crimson obviously meant a great deal to you as a young musician, how did it impact your playing and study of the guitar?
JJ: A childhood Pal played me ‘21st Century Schizoid Man’ and it blew my head off. We went to see them live the following year and I walked away thinking ‘I have to do this with my life’ I was intrigued by Robert Fripp’s playing as it seems to come from a different place than all the ‘blues’ based players in England at that time. His sound and choice of notes really appealed to me.
PRS: What were the events that led to Robert Fripp asking you to join Crimson?
JJ: Well I’d been in a band called ‘The Schizoid Band’ where all the members (apart from me obviously) had been in King Crimson. Robert, whom I had never spoken to, just called me up one day to see how the rehearsals had gone. I then asked him to play on my solo album, he then asked me to record with him. We spent a day improvising and that eventually turned into an album called A Scarcity of Miracles.
He then tried to put a band together to play older Crimson material, but not with him in it. But with John Wetton, Gavin Harrison, Mel Collins and myself. But I think he then thought he might quite like to play some of this, and I got a call from him telling me he was reforming King Crimson and would I like to be lead singer and 2nd guitarist.
PRS: Why is your PRS a good fit for your work as a musician?
JJ: What I like about PRS is that they feel like a more vintage instrument, but has all the benefits of a modern one.
PRS: What’s your signal chain?
JJ: Well, due to the fact that the band lines up with 3 drummers on the front, none of us in the back line can have conventional amps and cabs. We also monitor with ‘in-ears,’ so my rig is very simple. I use a Line 6 Helix, it has the option of two inputs with two separate fx groups. Because I have a piezo pick up in the bridge, I can plug this in, mix it with the usual pickups, process it separately, and then save it as a patch. Other than that I use a DigiTech Freqout and an Electro-Harmonix Mel9 pedal.
PRS: Do you have a favorite moment from your extensive years of touring and playing live?
JJ: Several, playing the Albert Hall with Level 42 and playing the ancient Amphitheater at Pompeii last summer.
PRS: What was the most challenging part of your musical career and how did you overcome it?
JJ: I think having to play Robert’s parts from the ‘70’s as he changed the way he tunes his guitar in the 80’s (new standard tuning) and some of those parts are ergonomically difficult.
PRS: What piece of advice would you give to young musicians?
JJ: Above all, be lucky, and wherever possible - never be an arsehole ; o
Below, watch Jakko play his custom-built P24 which inspired his new SE Schizoid: