charvel.gif (79415 bytes)

Charvel 3A

This Charvel 3A was the first new guitar I purchased since 1970, and seemed like a good idea at the time.  I had played pretty infrequently since I started college in 1974, and really didn't know what I wanted.  I used this particular guitar to try out some pedals, and decided the price was right.  The body was very comfortable, and the neck was wide and thin from front to back.  It originally came with two bridge model open coil Jackson humbuckers.   The five position switch yielded a variety of dual coil and coil tapped sound, but the ultimate result was pretty dark.  I understand the Jackson bridge pickups (they used bridge models in both positions) weren't all that great.  The preferred versions of these guitars came with EMGs (probably why I got a good deal on it).  I originally bought it to play in a band attempting Rush covers, and it was much more useful than the unrenovated Jazzmaster for this application.   It was a bad time to buy guitars, since shred was the game and Fender was in transition.  In the hope of making this thing more useful for the blues I gravitated toward in the early '90's I changed the pickup complement to Seymour Duncans - a coil split JB in the bridge, and two Strat stacked humbuckers in the middle and neck positions.  With the coil split set to single coil, it is a humbucking Strat setup.   Punch in the coil split switch and you have the dual coil JB for leads.  The brighter Duncans help the overall sound, but in the end, another fate was in store for this beast.  As I got into Muddy Waters and the other fathers of blues, slide styles called to me.  The Duncan modified Charvel turned out to be the way to go, strung with 11's.  The darkness of the body mellows out the sometime shrill slide whine, and the thin neck (from front to back).   The wider neck is also an advantage, since I pick barehanded for slide.  Interestingly, the MIJ Charvels have a decent reputation these days, and it has held up really well.

Recently (2007-now) I've gotten into fusion (at least my skills have gotten to the point where I can fool around with it), and this is a pretty good guitar for that style.  I restrung it with 9's, tweaked the Kahler tremolo and fixed the string locking system.  The Duncan JB works really well, but the late '80's stacked Strat pickups just don't do much for me.  I haven't decided whether to go with two progressive humbucking S type pickups, or switch to a double coil humbucker.  I'm planning to experiment with stacked pots to give a dual volume-dual tone arrangement.  More on that later.