Versatile, high-performance and stylish electric guitars and basses that are perfect for players who demand fluid playability and formidable tone.
When it comes to slick, hot-rodded instruments Charvel is one of the top guitar manufacturers. Since establishing in the 1970s, Charvel has built a fierce reputation for high-quality guitars with incendiary tone and ultra-fast playability. Charvel was at the forefront of the Shred Revolution in the late '70s and '80s, having created the first “superstrats” that took the classic Stratocaster and modified them for the contemporary player. There’s a reason why virtuosic players such as Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, Richie Sambora, Guthrie Govan and Randy Rhodes have favoured Charvel guitars over the years. If you want a guitar or bass that oozes class and style whilst allowing you to execute demanding techniques with ease, a Charvel-made instrument is a top choice.
Charvel started out offering a repair service for out-of-warranty Fender instruments. They soon began offering modifications, including upgraded hardware, high-output pickups and bold refinishes that reflected the larger-than-life style of the time. The California-based company would eventually build their own instruments and go by the name Charvel - the surname of its founder, Wayne Charvel. Today, Charvel’s modern instruments stay true to their roots, presenting an impressive range of hot-rodded Strat-style (Style 1) and Tele-style (Style 2) as well as the compact Dinky. Coming in at a variety of price points, with a wide selection of pickup configurations, finishes and tonewoods - there’s sure to be a Charvel model that’s a great match for you.
The mainly Mexican-made Pro-Mod series is the most affordable way to own a Charvel guitar or bass. The Pro-Mod range is ideal for beginner, intermediate and even experienced guitarists who want a top-notch instrument that captures everything that makes Charvel iconic - hot-rodded performance, tonal versatility and eye-catching style - at a keen price point. If you want to discover what Charvel guitars are all about, the Pro-Mod series is a great place to start.
Charvel’s MJ series call back to the late '80s when all of their guitars were crafted in Japan. You can expect exceptional quality across the board. From the tonewoods to the components and hardware, every single element of these Japanese-made guitars results in a jaw-dropping instrument that can meet the demands of any professional player. Price-wise, the MJ range is also more attainable than the US Select series, as manufacturing costs aren’t as expensive over in Japan.
All of Charvel’s USA Select instruments are lovingly and meticulously built using top-end tonewoods and components at their Custom Shop in the United States - where it all started for Charvel. The entire USA Select line is exclusively made to order using the time-tested recipes that Charvel have developed over the decades. If you want the highest quality Charvel guitar or bass, the flaghsip USA Select range is what you’re looking for.
The Charvel So-Cal models harken back to the hot-rodded and heavily modded guitars that kicked things off in the '70s. The So-Cal range takes those classic Fender designs and invigorates them with the shredder-focussed features such as Floyd Rose bridges and hot Seymour Duncan pickups. Like the Strat and Tele, Charvel’s So-Cal instruments feature a front-loaded pickguard. If you love old-school Charvel, a So-Cal guitar is the one for you.
San Dimas Series
The San Dimas models are inspired by Charvel’s early '80s designs, moving away from the “souped up Fender” ethos of the So-Cal range and towards a more modern, original approach that was beloved by many Southern Californian guitarists. The name “San Dimas” comes from the place where the model originated. San Dimas guitars are back-loaded, with the electronics and pickups mounted directly to the guitar. This design promotes sustain, vibration and resonance.
The DK or Dinky series is based on the Jackson model of the same name, presenting a slimmer, streamlined version of the Strat. The smaller size makes the Dinky lighter and very comfortable play, especially if you’re a more diminutive player or playing standing up. DK series guitars feature a bolt-on neck for easy customisability and a snappy tone. There are two versions of the DK, the 24-fret DK24 and the 22-fret DK22.
Before Charvel became one of the leading guitar companies, it was known as Charvel’s Guitar Repair and was based in Azusa, California. The repair shop was created by Wayne Charvel in 1974, who was known as an expert refinisher that specialised in flames and other hot-rodded designs. Previously, Charvel had worked on guitars for Ritchie Blackmore and, most notably, Billie Gibbons of ZZ Top. After working for Fender doing finish work, Charvel would open his own repair shop that offered refinishes and out-of-warranty repair for Fender guitars.
Eventually, Charvel’s Guitar Repair would start to offer aftermarket customisations like high-output electronics and sold parts that allowed guitarists to build their own guitars. In fact, the legendary Eddie Van Halen himself was an early customer. At a time when the big guitar builders were at a low point, independent luthiers like Charvel started to come into their own. Professional and discerning guitarists alike would begin to seek out Charvel thanks to the quality of their modifications. By letting Charvel perform their magic, guitar players could take what may have been a mediocre guitar and make it extraordinary. It’s easy to see why trailblazing guitarists who were looking for an edge in sound and playability would flock to Charvel. A lot of this shift can be credited to Grover Jackson, who was employed by Charvel at the time. Jackson, alongside Charvel, would help define the look and sound of rock guitar in the '70s and '80s.
When the late '70s rolled around, Charvel would begin to build their own guitars - which would become affectionately known as “superstrats”. These high-performance guitars were equipped with unfinished, flat necks, larger frets and punchy pickups that would make your amp scream. They reflected the demands of guitarists at the time and the burgeoning shredder scene. By the 1980s, genuine virtuosos such as Steve Vai, George Lynch and Jake E. Lee could be seen proudly wielding a Charvel guitar onstage. Whilst Charvel guitars were a hit with rock and metal players, they were also a success with fusion players such as Allan Holdsworth. Any player the demanded dexterity and elegance from their guitar gravitated towards Charvel.
Production would eventually move to Japan in 1986 and Jackson would sell his interest in the company to Texas investment firm International Music Corporation (or IMC). Many of Charvel’s original employees would go on to work for Fender as master builders, a lot of them are still there today and helping the Charvel brand retain what made it special. Fender would acquire Charvel in 2002 and would re-establish the company as a force to be reckoned with in the guitar world.
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