Peruvian metal sensation Charlie Parra may be a rising guitar hero on these shores, but in his homeland he’s already a bona fide star – so much so that in 2016 he became the first South American guitarist to earn a Kramer signature guitar, with the release of the Candy Apple Red-finished Charlie Parra Nite-V Plus.
Now, the 35-year-old shred master and YouTube star – he leads the punk/metal act Difonia as well as his own solo band, has supported artists like Slash and the Cult on tour and runs a YouTube channel with more than 160 million views – has collaborated with the brand on a second signature design, the new Charlie Parra Vanguard.
Like Parra’s previous guitar, the Vanguard is a V-shaped model, and it also comes in the same striking Candy Apple Red finish. “We wanted to bring back the Vanguard shape, which is like a ‘spaceship’ Flying V,” Parra says of the model that Kramer first introduced with offset wings in the '80s.
As for why he favors the Candy Apple Red color? “I’m a big fan of [late Ratt guitarist] Robbin Crosby,” he explains, “and I remember he was always using V-shaped guitars in bright red and other super-flamboyant colors.”
Beyond that, the Charlie Parra Vanguard, which boasts a mahogany body, three-piece Slim C maple neck, 24-fret ebony fingerboard, a LockTone Tune-O-Matic bridge and Stop Bar tailpiece and a powerful and versatile EMG 66/57 humbucker set, is very much its own beast.
“We wanted to make it a shred guitar,” Parra says simply, “so it was important to me to have the 24 frets and a body design where it’s easy to get all the way up the fretboard. Also, it’s a great tapping guitar. I love tapping so much, and the main reason I use a V is because there’s basically no wood between my tapping hand and the fretboard.”
At the same time, he continues, “I wanted to make sure this was a guitar that was comfy to play whether you’re standing up onstage, sitting down in a recording studio or just practicing in a bedroom. And it is – it feels great.”
The Vanguard looks great, too. In addition to the sleek offset wings and Candy Apple Red finish, the guitar sports eye-catching visuals like a 12th fret Day of the Dead Owl fingerboard inlay, a satin aluminum pickguard and chrome pickup covers, as well as a classic “pointy” Kramer headstock.
As for the sound? Well, you can hear the Charlie Parra Vanguard in action on the new Difonia album, as well as in recent YouTube videos like Parra’s blazing Dimebag Darrell/Pantera and Eddie Van Halen tributes, in which he performs an instrumental medley comprised of a range of Pantera songs.
“The great thing about doing instrumental music is that it’s understood everywhere,” Parra says. “It’s not in Spanish, it’s not in English… it’s just straight guitar playing that everyone can enjoy the same.” Similarly, he sees the Charlie Parra Vanguard as a guitar that shredders of every stripe can dig into.
“I think that the legacy that Kramer represents is something that shred lovers go for,” he says. “And I believe the Vanguard – with the body style, the cutaway, the 24 frets, the pickups – has what these players will like.” Parra continues, “You know, when people talk about shredding, they say ‘more is better,’ right? So the Vanguard to me feels like the total package. And I feel humbled and honored to be part of the Kramer shredding family.”