Oops, I’ve done it now


I know I have said I could be strong. But alas, I am weak. Weak as a kitten.

Nostalgia is a bitch, and when it strikes, it hits hard. In this case it is the nostalgia for a guitar neck. My third guitar, and the first one I bought with my own money was a 1986 vintage Charvel Model 4, from the era that they were made in Japan. It was a black body, with the pointy head stock, bolt on neck, second generation Kahler tremolo, and superb Jackson active electronics.

It was a fabulous guitar, super easy to play, it stayed in tune (unlike the Ibanez V that preceded it with a non-locking floating tremolo) with very phat electronics that were super high output and versatile.

But, its best attribute, BY FAR was the neck. It was thin, it had fat frets, it was straight (it had strengthening bars in it to improve the stability), and it had a compound radius 12″ at the nut, and 16″ at the 22nd fret, that made it feel flat. Well, flatter than a traditional 9.25″ radius of a Fender.

Why is/was that good? Well, it makes life a lot easier if you play a lot of single note riffs. As in scalar runs, arpeggios, leads, and big string bends. It allows your hands to be more natural in their position, and particularly on big bends far up the neck, not have the strings touch the nearby frets, and thus sound better.

I played the hell out of that Charvel, beat it to death, repaired it when the volume pot went bad, ran countless sets of strings through it, and continued to just jam on it.

When we moved from Tucson to Phoenix, we had a huge garage sale, and I sold it for $100. I had replaced it with the Tom Anderson, a superior guitar in every measure, except for that neck.

n.b. the Anderson’s Mahogany neck is killer, thin, very playable, but it is a short scale, and while that reduces the span of longer runs, it cramps my fat fingers when I play above the 12th fret. It is very noticeable.

So, with nostalgia for the shredder I coulda been, I have been searching the sites for Charvel guitars. There are several nice examples of the 80’s Charvels out there, but buying a 30ish year old guitar, sight unseen is a huge risk. Odds are good that the electronics are funky, that the mechanicals (tuners, tremolo’s, and intonation adjusters) are tired, and that the frets will need major work (leveling at a minimum, or a full fret job – $$$).

That has me looking for new, or new-ish. I have bought just three brand new guitars in my life. The Charvel from the 80’s, a MIM Telecaster in the early aughts, and a Takamine student grade classical guitar in 2008. Of those, I still own only the Tak.

What do I find? A Mint-y 2021 Charvel So-Cal Style 1 HSH FR in Robin’s Egg Blue. It is at a dealer in St. Paul, Minnesota, and it is barely used. Apparently the person who bought it brought it back to buy a different one after a couple of days. Still has the tags on it, it is so mint.

I had been eyeing it on Reverb as it was priced about the same as B-Stock (that is slightly blemished), or about $200 off MSRP. Then yesterday, the shop announced a flash sale, 15% off, and I couldn’t resist.

Since the shop is an authorized Charvel dealer, I messaged them to ask about the neck, explaining my love for that mid 80’s vintage, and the guitar tech promptly answered that it is a dead ringer for the neck shape and profile from that era.

That, and the 15% discount made the decision to push the button trivial. I mashed the buy button with abandon, and closed the deal. I am saving about $400 after taxes and shipping over a brand new, and getting my first guitar with a Floyd Rose tremolo, great electronics, and the best neck I have ever played.

Now comes the waiting game as it ships.

Yes, I am EXCITED. I may have to pull the GK250ML down from the attic to relive that 1980’s hair-metal genre.

About the author


Product Manager in Tech. Guitar player. Bicycle Rider. Dog rescuer. Techie.

By gander


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