“A brazen new model designed for the progressive guitarist seeking a spectrum of sound beyond the norm”: Charvel gets in on the made-in-Japan hype with new Superstrat-inspired MJ San Dimas models

Charvel's new, Japanese-made San Dimas models
(Image credit: Charvel Guitars)

With a new flagship Tokyo store and a run of stellar recent releases, the hype over Fender Japan's electric guitars shows no sign of stopping – and as we recently discovered, the fandom is well-deserved. Now other brands under the company's umbrella are now getting in on the party with their own MIJ releases.

Earlier this year, Jackson dropped the spectacularly overhauled MJ Series Rhoads, and now, not to be outdone by its FMIC comrade, Charvel has released two new, Japanese-made instruments of its own – a pair of Superstrat-inspired MJ San Dimas models.

The new guitars nod to the late '80s period when Charvel models were produced in Japan, and team fancy quilt maple tops with the kind of hot-rodded playability with which the brand made its name.

Yet Charvel isn't just aiming this at the nostalgia market, dubbing its new creations “a brazen new model designed for the progressive guitarist seeking a spectrum of sound beyond the norm”.

Two MJ San Dimas Style 1 HSH FR QM models – to give them their full names – are available, and identical in every respect but for their fretboard options. One comes with a maple fretboard, the other with a pau ferro 'board.

Otherwise, both models are shaped from an alder body with a quilted maple top, with bolt-on, graphite-reinforced maple necks adorned with 12"-16" radius, 25.5" fretboards (with the aforementioned choice of woods) that sport 24 Jumbo frets with rolled edges.

The San Dimas' trio of direct-mounted Seymour Duncan pickups – a Jazz SH-2N humbucker in the neck, Flat Strat SSL-6 single-coil in the middle, and a JB TB-4 'bucker in the bridge – can be tweaked by individual volume and tone controls, and your standard five-way pickup switch.

Charvel promises and "unmistakable upper midrange attack with a tight, articulate low-end and snappy Strat character" from the JB and Flat Strat combo, while the Jazz aims to deliver an "articulate, glassy treble response".

Licensed Strat headstocks, meanwhile, complete the models' '80s-era hot-rod vibe.

A recessed Gotoh GE1996T Series Double-Locking tremolo, Gotoh die-cast tuners, and a Floyd Rose 1000 Series Locking nut, in turn, highlight the top-name hardware.

Charvel MJ San Dimas Style 1 HSH FR M QM Caribbean Burst

Charvel MJ San Dimas Style 1 HSH FR M QM Caribbean Burst (Image credit: Charvel)

There's no denying the top-tier spec on these two instruments. Our only misgiving is the inclusion of a pau ferro rather than rosewood fingerboard on a near-$2,000 instrument, but otherwise, these should be pro-level right out of the box.

Both of Charvel's new MJ San Dimas models are available now for $1,799. The pau ferro version is offered in Midnight Glow and Transparent Green Burst finishes, while the maple version comes exclusively in a rather beach-y Caribbean Burst colorway.

For more info on the models, visit Charvel.

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Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.