NGD: Charvel Pro-Mod MJ San Dimas style 1, FR HSH 24

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bandit2013

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This axe arrived a few days ago. Wanted to set it up found some hold ups on adjusting the string height. Did not realize the Goto bridge has some added features the Floyd Rose does not have. The posts have a height stop screw. I discovered that after removing the bridge as I thought something was in the studs that prevented the posts from a deeper adjustment. Yeah, there was something in the way, long set screws used for a height adjustment stop. As for the rest of the bridge, it was well engineered. I am sort of impressed with it. First Floyd Rose styled bridge that I do not need to install the Red Bishop Majic Arm. This one has no wobble. Arm is a screw in type and the collar on the bridge as a tension adjustment set screw. So far this bridge is nice. Pickups are the Jef Beck in the bridge, Jazz in the neck and a flat strat in the middle.

The New axe is the one on the left MJ = Made in Japan. The one on the right (not new) is a Mexican Charvel Pro-mod DK24.

Neck is great too, Fret wire did not require any polishing, no grooves or rough spots. The Fret wire feels a bit taller than the other Charvel. Pau Ferro fretboard is nice and smooth too. I had a Fender Player strat with that fret board wood, it was rough.

Fit and finish is really good too. No flaws. Did not expect the spring cover and control cover to be made of anodized aluminum. Not plastic. Nice for noise reduction. The Mexican one has plastic covers.

Plays quite well, sounds amazing, I would buy again once they get more models to choose from. It is either this (midnight glow), transparent green burst or blue Carribean burst.

The maple top, it is just a thin lamination just like the amber colored guitar. It is not a quarter inch slab like you would get with a Carvin or Kiesel Bolt or similar. Looks good and the axe rips quite well. More of an influence on the body wood than from the decorative top.


20231116_162338.jpg
 
I forgot to mention one interesting thing. The trem-spring cover and the control cover are both made from anodized aluminum. At first glance I thought it was just a decorative plastic. Nope. Since I had to remove the trem-spring cover to set up the guitar with different strings I was surprised to find metal plates vs plastic plates. Both plates on the back side of the guitar are fully recessed into the body just like the MIM Charvel guitars. Unlike a Fender Strat that has the plate for the tremolo springs just surface mounted, so it sticks out. Not that it really matters much on the back side. Just thought I would point this out. I am expecting another Charvel So-Cal model. I did call Charvel (Fender) to get an answer to a question regarding the pick guard: 1 ply anodized aluminum. Is it metal or plastic fashioned to look like aluminum as I have seen that material before. They did answer the question but I will not say what the answer was until I get the guitar in my hands today to confirm that it is metal and not plastic. I can place a link to the NGD when it arrives on this thread. Sometimes the little details matter.

20231124_082125.jpg


Also note that the fret wire is a little different than the MIM Charvel guitars. It is much wider and a bit taller than the MIM jumbo fret wire. Not sure if it is silver nickel like most except for the USA models which may use stainless steel. Not many Japanese companies to choose from these days since most of that business shifted to South Korea. FujiGen Gakki was hinted at in a video I was watching but was an independent creation and not supported by Fender. I found the MJ model to be a decent build quality. It is a little different than the Mexican Pro-mods but only in a good way.

I fell off the custom build of Carvin / Kiesel tree. Most of the Carvin guitars I bought used and did order a few of them direct. Always thought of those instruments as quality made guitars but the price point just kept going up and finally, they started limiting the options. Changed their pickup line to something undesired and dropped one feature I wanted most, Floyd Rose bridge. Sometimes you may find a guitar with the FR on their store but if you want to build the same or similar guitar the FR was not available. They may have added compound radius necks but not interested in the Wilkinson bridge by any means. If it is not full locking it is not for me as I will get it out of tune no matter what tuners they put on the instrument. I may look from time to time, when I see one I like, I am usually turned off by their asking price.

Fender has upped their game in this market and the Charvel pro-mods are offered at an affordable price for an amazing performing instrument. Too bad they did bring that method over to their Fender branded instruments. Even the EVH models had some minor issues or lacking the attention to detail in some areas. I still like the Bumble Bee model though. The Wolfgang is decent too. To my surprise, both EVH guitars have a flamed maple neck but is not so obvious due to the finish on the neck. The Charvel guitars have become my go-to axes. I just can't keep them all out at the same time, do not have enough stands for that.

20231120_214813.jpg
 
This one arrived a few days earlier than expected. Thought it would be arriving on Monday. It came just a few minutes ago. It is not all that cold out, in the mid 50's but cold enough compared to the inside temperature. I did get the case out of the cartons (bought a Fender case with it) and opened it up, yep, both the pick guard and the tremolo spring covers are made from anodized aluminum. Not plastic. I did call Charvel and got that answer before I decided to buy the guitar and seeing is believing. I will let it normalize for a day or so before I get it out for pictures and such. For your reference, this is the guitar I bought:

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/de...-style-1-hss-fr-m-electric-guitar-gloss-black
It is only the gloss black one that has the aluminum plates. There are other colors too but those have plastic plates. There is a white one in an HH format that has a gold anodized pick guard, that is also aluminum based on my conversation with customer relations at Charvel (Fender).

The fretboard has some streaks in it as well. Almost looked like flamed maple but too early to tell, it could have been light reflected off of the fret wire. I did get it out and checked it over briefly but put it back in the cold case to allow things to warm up properly. This guitar has me stoked. The MJ is also awesome too.
 
Here is what the So-Cal Looks like. If you look at the neck close enough, it does have a flamed maple fretboard. That was a surprise. It is hard to see it in the image but depending on lighting conditions and angle of the instrument to the light it will reveal itself. If you click on the image you can get a zoom on the neck.

20231124_170313.jpg


The pickguard is not plastic. The grain of the brushed aluminum is fine enough that I do not feel it. Always wanted a strat with aluminum pickguard. Now I have one.

20231124_170319.jpg
 
I forgot to mention one interesting thing. The trem-spring cover and the control cover are both made from anodized aluminum. At first glance I thought it was just a decorative plastic. Nope. Since I had to remove the trem-spring cover to set up the guitar with different strings I was surprised to find metal plates vs plastic plates. Both plates on the back side of the guitar are fully recessed into the body just like the MIM Charvel guitars. Unlike a Fender Strat that has the plate for the tremolo springs just surface mounted, so it sticks out. Not that it really matters much on the back side. Just thought I would point this out. I am expecting another Charvel So-Cal model. I did call Charvel (Fender) to get an answer to a question regarding the pick guard: 1 ply anodized aluminum. Is it metal or plastic fashioned to look like aluminum as I have seen that material before. They did answer the question but I will not say what the answer was until I get the guitar in my hands today to confirm that it is metal and not plastic. I can place a link to the NGD when it arrives on this thread. Sometimes the little details matter.

View attachment 2542

Also note that the fret wire is a little different than the MIM Charvel guitars. It is much wider and a bit taller than the MIM jumbo fret wire. Not sure if it is silver nickel like most except for the USA models which may use stainless steel. Not many Japanese companies to choose from these days since most of that business shifted to South Korea. FujiGen Gakki was hinted at in a video I was watching but was an independent creation and not supported by Fender. I found the MJ model to be a decent build quality. It is a little different than the Mexican Pro-mods but only in a good way.

I fell off the custom build of Carvin / Kiesel tree. Most of the Carvin guitars I bought used and did order a few of them direct. Always thought of those instruments as quality made guitars but the price point just kept going up and finally, they started limiting the options. Changed their pickup line to something undesired and dropped one feature I wanted most, Floyd Rose bridge. Sometimes you may find a guitar with the FR on their store but if you want to build the same or similar guitar the FR was not available. They may have added compound radius necks but not interested in the Wilkinson bridge by any means. If it is not full locking it is not for me as I will get it out of tune no matter what tuners they put on the instrument. I may look from time to time, when I see one I like, I am usually turned off by their asking price.

Fender has upped their game in this market and the Charvel pro-mods are offered at an affordable price for an amazing performing instrument. Too bad they did bring that method over to their Fender branded instruments. Even the EVH models had some minor issues or lacking the attention to detail in some areas. I still like the Bumble Bee model though. The Wolfgang is decent too. To my surprise, both EVH guitars have a flamed maple neck but is not so obvious due to the finish on the neck. The Charvel guitars have become my go-to axes. I just can't keep them all out at the same time, do not have enough stands for that.

View attachment 2543
what a great collection. awesome guitars.
 
I recently got another MJ. It was the satin black and gold HSS with the ebony board. Interesting that the neck feels more like the Mexican made models.
I recently got another MJ. It was the satin black and gold HSS with the ebony board. Interesting that the neck feels more like the Mexican made models vs the other MJ I have. That neck finish is not as smooth, you can feel it but not like a glossy-grip no-slip neck. The MJ is the one with the ebony FB. The two on the left are both San Dimas, MJ has 24 frets vs the Mexican 22 frets.

20240204_042144.jpg
 
I forgot to mention one interesting thing. The trem-spring cover and the control cover are both made from anodized aluminum. At first glance I thought it was just a decorative plastic. Nope. Since I had to remove the trem-spring cover to set up the guitar with different strings I was surprised to find metal plates vs plastic plates. Both plates on the back side of the guitar are fully recessed into the body just like the MIM Charvel guitars. Unlike a Fender Strat that has the plate for the tremolo springs just surface mounted, so it sticks out. Not that it really matters much on the back side. Just thought I would point this out. I am expecting another Charvel So-Cal model. I did call Charvel (Fender) to get an answer to a question regarding the pick guard: 1 ply anodized aluminum. Is it metal or plastic fashioned to look like aluminum as I have seen that material before. They did answer the question but I will not say what the answer was until I get the guitar in my hands today to confirm that it is metal and not plastic. I can place a link to the NGD when it arrives on this thread. Sometimes the little details matter.

View attachment 2542

Also note that the fret wire is a little different than the MIM Charvel guitars. It is much wider and a bit taller than the MIM jumbo fret wire. Not sure if it is silver nickel like most except for the USA models which may use stainless steel. Not many Japanese companies to choose from these days since most of that business shifted to South Korea. FujiGen Gakki was hinted at in a video I was watching but was an independent creation and not supported by Fender. I found the MJ model to be a decent build quality. It is a little different than the Mexican Pro-mods but only in a good way.

I fell off the custom build of Carvin / Kiesel tree. Most of the Carvin guitars I bought used and did order a few of them direct. Always thought of those instruments as quality made guitars but the price point just kept going up and finally, they started limiting the options. Changed their pickup line to something undesired and dropped one feature I wanted most, Floyd Rose bridge. Sometimes you may find a guitar with the FR on their store but if you want to build the same or similar guitar the FR was not available. They may have added compound radius necks but not interested in the Wilkinson bridge by any means. If it is not full locking it is not for me as I will get it out of tune no matter what tuners they put on the instrument. I may look from time to time, when I see one I like, I am usually turned off by their asking price.

Fender has upped their game in this market and the Charvel pro-mods are offered at an affordable price for an amazing performing instrument. Too bad they did bring that method over to their Fender branded instruments. Even the EVH models had some minor issues or lacking the attention to detail in some areas. I still like the Bumble Bee model though. The Wolfgang is decent too. To my surprise, both EVH guitars have a flamed maple neck but is not so obvious due to the finish on the neck. The Charvel guitars have become my go-to axes. I just can't keep them all out at the same time, do not have enough stands for that.

View attachment 2543
Hey there, I'm in the market for one of these guitars used. I'm mostly aiming at either the Okoume or the Dark Amber. Any preference between the two and if so why? I would have to get them off Reverb or Guitar Center. My favorite local store has one of the MJ San Dimas ones in green, and I really liked the guitar, however I'm not too keen on the middle pickup, and the price obviously higher than the other two. I stumbled across your posts and thought you might be a good person to ask :) Thanks!
 
Considering I have three of the DK24 FR guitars, one of Alder, one of Okoume, and the other is Mahogany (dark amber). As for the MJ HSH setup, I get that, what is the middle pickup doing? That model always runs a pair of coils. Not sure what is pos 1 in reference to the bridge, I will assume pos 1 is the humbucking bridge position. Pos 2 is one coil of the bridge and the middle, Pos 3 is one coil on the bridge and one on the neck, Pos 4 is one coil on the neck and the middle, and position 5 is the neck in humbucking mode. I personally thought it sounded good. Though the JB pickup is a bit over the top, backing off on the volume helped. The two guitars you have in mind, Okoume and the Mahogany models. Both guitars use the same pickup arrangements. Still a 5 way switch, it uses pos 4 and post 2 in a way that sounds like single coil pickups. Almost like the HSS version but not quite.

The Dark amber Mahogany guitar just as a decorative thin overlay of quilted maple. It will not contribute to the overall tone of the body. the same would apply to the MJ models as well, however they are made of Alder. I was after the Mahogany as that tone wood does sound great with the JP2C amp especially when you boost the midrange control. It has good sustain characteristics similar to the Alder tone wood but a bit darker in tone. I would not go as far as claiming it has a Les Paul characteristic. That usually requires a thick slab of maple. Body shape may have some impact as well as the bridge type. It has the same weight as the Alder body version.

The Okoume is extremely light wood. Almost has the appearance of Balsa wood. For a hardwood, it is on the soft side. The only disappointment I have with that in particular is that I tend to rest my fingers on the guitar body and have started digging into the wood a bit. This would have been much better if Charvel had used a harder finish like a gloss clear. The wood grain is nice to look at but not as ribboned as the Mahogany. Tone wise, it is very responsive and reactive. More so than Koa tone wood. Very easy to get into an uncontrolled feedback with the Okoume. I tend to sit in front of the amp so that plays a major role in controllable or uncontrolled feedback. I get into similar conditions with Mahogany and Alder tone woods.

In both cases the pickups are decent enough for most. Not over the top like the JB or Distortion types used on the other models. More of a medium output level. Very easy to manage and usable for those who regulate guitar volume with the volume knob. These back off and clean up much easier than the higher output pickups.


I cannot say which I like better. I prefer the Mahogany one a bit more than the Okoume. Yet, they do have similar tone characteristics with the Okoume being more sensitive than the others.
 

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