NGD: Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 HSS FR M

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Feb 22, 2013
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North Carolina
Another NGD. This is somewhat related to the other NGD I posted on the MJ San Dimas. It is what inspired me to buy this one. I recently got an MJ San Dimas and was really impressed with the guitar. I still had plenty of fuel in the tank, so I had to get this one too. Call me nuts. 🤪 The MJ has black anodized aluminum back plates. That was unexpected. They look just like the pickguard in the image of the guitar in the link below from Sweetwater.
I was uncertain if the pickguard material was plastic or actually aluminum. The 1 ply threw me off. The cover plates on the back of the MJ San Dimas looked the same as the pickguard on this So-Cal guitar. There is an HH version in white with gold pickguard. Actually, thought about buying that one too. Not ready to break the bank this year. Need to withhold any more purchases as I am waiting for two Mesa cabs to arrive that are on back order.

I needed confirmation on the actual material of the pickguard. Is it metal or plastic? I decided to call up Charvel and talked to one of the customer relations people. That was a good conversation on the guitars in general and I got confirmation the 1ply anodized aluminum is actually a metal and not some plastic that looks like metal. I have also seen some youtube videos claiming they pickguard was plastic. Nope. This reviewer did not have the actual guitar they were commenting on but just looking at the websites in general. The description 1 ply anodized aluminum should have just been anodized aluminum. The "1 ply" is in reference to plastic, how many layers of plastic are there?
when dealing with plastic pickguards, matters not of the pickups are noiseless, you will still get noise, also plastic tends to build up static charge and that makes noise while playing the instrument. The full foil treatment usually eliminates all of that. This is what I had to do with the Dave Murray California Stratocaster, otherwise it was a static fest and not playable through the amp. I have done this to every guitar with a plastic pickguard, including the Fender American Ultra Precision Bass as that was noisy as all hell before I did the shielding.


Now for the prize: Charvel Pro-Mod Style 1 HSS FR M



The pickguard is black anodized aluminum. Not plastic. I gave it some time to adjust to the room temperature and plugged it in as I wanted to hear the difference between the SD Full Shred and the Distortion pickup. I do have a DK24 HSS version. This one is just a bit different and it is not green. This one makes #6 in the Charvel collection I seem to have formed. I must really like these guitars as I keep buying them.


I just got the MJ San Dimas, no chance for a honeymoon with the new axe and along comes another one. The MJ is awesome and so is the So Cal. The SSL-6 pickups sound much the same as the DK24 HSS I have. I had to look at the Charvel website, it is the neck pickup that is reverse wound. All 5 positions sound great, clean, or full tilt grind through the Badlander or Mark VII. I was running both amps with Mesa Switch track and having both on was great too. The metal pickguard is brushed aluminum but the grain in the finish is not that deep and feels very smooth. the neck is also smooth as butter just like the rest of the Charvel guitars I have. Wonder if the wood will darken over time as that seems to be the trend I have noticed with the other Charvel guitars. This axe does have a flamed maple fretboard. You can almost make it out in the first picture, click on it for a close up view. This fretboard would have looked sick if it was a roasted neck or stained. You get some features like that every once in a while. It is just a standard maple fretboard.

Right after I ordered this guitar, I placed an order for a Red Bishop Magik arm. I should have that in a few days. The FR tremolo arm was a bit finicky to get on. I usually ditch the FR arms in favor of the Red Bishop (they remain snug and to not wobble in the hole, need to replace the receiver so the FR needs to come out. I usually install it when I do the first string change.) The MJ San Dimas does not need it. That is a Gotoh FR bridge that has a tension collar and the arm screws onto a treaded stud inside the receiver. I may consider the Red Bishop but will find out if it is a mod I can do. I liked the Gotoh FR bridge I ordered another one. Was not very expensive so I can experiment with that to find out of the Red Bishop receiver will fit.
I sort of like the chrome but I don't. Seems a bit off. I have this Charvel DK24 in Dark Amber and that had too much gold on it. So why not see if the parts can be changed. Yes, but the intonation had to be reset. More of a chore than I expected but here is the before and after. I had to take the bridge off anyways so I could replace the tremolo arm. Red Bishop Magik Arm is what I prefer. Not plugging the product but it works.


And the after effect.

big fan of these. i have this baby and looking to get the green one next.


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i too like green guitars, but only have the one so far...


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is that black h/s/s form the 2010 era of MIJ Charvels?
I used to have one just like it.
also a fan of the Red Bishop arms, I used them on all of my Edge trems.
I have a Dark Amber as well, just dropped a zebra set of Custom 5/Liquifire's
sounds way better , I hate the fullshred.
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I actually like the full shred pickup. Probably for different reasons. I love the character I get when rolling back on the volume as it cleans up quite well if the amp in question has a wide dynamic range. Say for instance, the Royal Atlantic RA100 or the Mark VII. I feel it sounds great with all of my amps. Perhaps it is the medium output that I find appealing. I can do with it what I want without the pickup being too much. It does have a slightly different voice to it than the other pickups that Charvel uses in their guitar lineup.

The fist black HSS guitar with the aluminum pickguard is a Mexican made So-Cal with 22 frets. It is current production so not an older MJ model. That one has the distortion humbucker. That one is decent too. It is different and more of a high output pickup. The same with the JB in the MJ HSH. That bridge pickup is a bit over the top but sounds great through the Badlander.

I do like the MJ guitar just as much as the others. I did recently get another MJ but this one is the HSS sating black with polished gold, not the satin gold that was on the deep amber mahogany DK24. Odd that the JB pickup on that one is not as over the top, as the other one on the midnight burst or whatever they call it. So now I have two black and gold Charvel guitars. The maple fretboard is the So-Cal made in Mexico, the one next to it with the ebony fretboard is the 24 fret MJ San Dimas HSS. Shortly after I swapped the hardware from the Amber to the black, I got into some sort of black and gold guitar phase. I was so tired of the odd color offerings, why not go black right?


The guitar on the far right is a Chinese made Fender Squire contemporary. I changed the electronics to the EMG active/passive type. Forgot the model numbers. The Epiphone was bought on a hunch it may be ok. It is actually decent for under $800. Still, I find more value with the Mexican made Charvel guitars. The Japan made versions are about the same, just a few differences in the hardware. Actually that is a good thing as I found the Charvel neck was probably the best I have played considering I was a Carvin/Kiesel nut for some time. I still am but I have not bought a new guitar from that company since they restructured their portfolio. The main reason I bought the Epiphone was to install an FRX bridge on it.


The EVH strip series that has the licensed Fender neck is also made in the same factory as the Charvel guitars. Just a slight difference in the neck but plays just as good. Practically the same body as the So-Cal but not routed for a pick guard to cover up the cavity. Basswood vs Alder so it is a bit lighter. They both have the same volume control pot.


The Wolfgang has a different neck. Neck width is slightly narrower. It is also made in Mexico. What I found interesting about the EVH versions, the neck wood is flamed maple. It sticks out more on the Wolfgang since it is sort of roasted. As for the Dave Murray on the left, just your yellow pine colored maple with a super thin rosewood fretboard. I added the D-tuna to it but removed it. I had shimmed the neck so I can get more of a free float on the bridge. I will leave the EVH guitars as they are.


I do not mind green, that color sort of grew on me. Was not a fan of the color. However when I ordered my second Carvin guitar, was not sure what finish to go with the flamed maple top. The deep moss green sort of stood out from the rest of the options. That one I have the SD custom shop Frankenstein bridge pickup. The one's on the EVH sound similar but they are not made by SD. The Charvel in this picture is the Okume DK24 they no longer make. I did consider getting a Jackson Pro Plus Soloist, it has stainless steel frets and graphite reinforced neck. If it was made in USA or Mexico I would have bought it. Made in China. Not that it is a bad thing, that Epiphone and Squire came out of China. Sort of on the fence on the price. For that amount I could get a used Carvin or Kiesel and not have to question the wood it is made of. I know the Squire is made from poplar. The Epiphone is some sort of Mahogany species. It could be Okume which does have a similar grain to Mahogany.


Here are my two favorite Carvin guitars. Older picture as I have changed the pickguard a few times on the Bolt. The body route will support 3 humbuckers.

RA100 half stack.JPG

Why am I doing a show and tell thing here? For one, it is to show the color of green I am fond of. Secondly, it was the workmanship and quality that drew me to the Carvin brand which is also when I bonded with the FR bridge. When Kiesel took over the company and then changed the company name and restructured their business model, I sort of lost interest in buying another Carvin/Kiesel since they dropped the Floyd Rose bridge option. When I had GAS to get another guitar, I saw that the Charvel models had the carbon fiber (graphite) reinforcement in the neck. I was not unfamiliar with Charvel, I had a Model 4 made in Japan back in 1986, so why not get that is readily available with the FR bridge. Got the White one first and was amazed how well it played. Before I bought the Charvel, I got the Fender Dave Murray also made in Mexico. Thought it was well made and comfortable to play. Bought a Fender Strat HSS format with the FR bridge and did not like it one bit. The Squire actually played better. Sure it needed a major fret polishing but after that it was far better than the HSS strat. That was what triggered the Charvel purchase. After that I was hooked. They play just as good as the Carvin guitars but with a compound fretboard. No sharp edges to deal with. I gave away the Fender HSS strat to my friend at work for his 60th birthday. I could have sold it as I found I could not bond with it for some reason. Now I have almost as many Charvel guitars as I do Carvin/Kiesel guitars. It is a sickness I suppose. Now I want this one before they decide to change the model lineup. Just not ready to jump on it. Perhaps I am waiting to see what comes next?

Even that metallic lime green has some appeal to me. Not sure why that yellow green color catches my eye more than the emerald or bluish greens. Not much of a fan of blue but that EVH was not all that bad. That specific ocean is more of a light shade of blue but still green.

Wrote another novel. my bad.

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