As I recall, the guitar was special ordered along with a Warwick bass buy a pair of drug dealers in central VA, at Mars Music. When they were prosecuted, the instruments were part of a property seizure / forfeiture. The local Police "Band" was given the instruments which they promptly traded back to Mars for PA gear. The guitarist in the cop band, "The Force" called me and gave me a heads up on the trade. (He's a lefty)
I bought the guitar in maybe 1998 or 1999.
In researching the guitar, I noticed the odd body and neck combo too. The features of the guitar seem quite like the J Custom you speak of. The hardware, neck construction and inlay, the headstock inlay, all are identical to a production J Custom of that year. It is certainly a mystery.
I reached out to Jim Donahue and here is his response:
This guitar I have never seen and it was not at the Namm show because I believe I would have been the one that set it up, So what country did this come from? Does anyone know.
We were making many J custom Samples for the Anniversary, Some of the sample made it to production and some just did not make it into production, They made many samples as always and the ones that we felt would sell we made into the J customs. The one guy that would know the best on this model is Mike Shimada he is on Facebook he is a nice guy and ran that project.
Great advice on the pickups.. that helped a LOT! Still the harmonics are not quite as nice as I'd like, but it's much better and will hold me over while I research pickups.Try lowering the pickups a bit... you might like the results.
Oh and congrats on really cool find. Have you consideredremovingthe neck to see if there is any writing, or model info on the neck pocket and neck heel?
No kidding, I agree, I like off-the-wall designs like this. The flamed tops are nice but they're so common now and don't give you that feeling of uniqueness.F**k flamed maple tops! I want J. Customs to look like this!