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Charvel Jake E Lee Signature Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 and Satchel Signature Pro-Mod DK22 review

This pair of signature hot-rodded S-styles were inspired by the '80s but are 100 per cent relevant today, offering a speedy ride and stunning tones at a sensible price

The 2022 Charvel Jake E Lee and Satch Pro-Mod signature guitars offer to sophisticated – and hair metal friendly – takes on the classic Superstrat archetype.
(Image: © Charvel)

Guitar World Verdict

The refreshed Charvel Jake E Lee and Satchel Signature Pro-Mod guitars are lean, mean six-string machines with street-lethal tones and looks that kill.

Pros

  • +

    Both hugely playable.

  • +

    Cool aesthetic.

  • +

    The Jake E. Lee model has powerful warmth and punch.

  • +

    The Satchel offers heaps of sounds from minimalist controls.

Cons

  • -

    Bengal tiger stripes is a strong look.

Paul Riario
Paul Riario

GW's gear editor is a Superstrat aficionado who is well placed to review these signature Charvels. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of hot-rodded, high-performance electric guitars, was a massive fan of the original USA Jake E. Lee model, and owns enough Aqua Net to look the part when playing the Satchel.

The hair metal Eighties was a time when you could’ve easily identified a famous guitarist simply by looking at his guitar. Having one with a flashy finish or decked out with hot-rodded modifications almost seemed a requisite in order to stand out among the growing hordes of competing ax-slingers. 

To do so – typically on a Superstrat – proved to be the ultimate billboard that flaunted the player’s persona just as much as his or her unique style of playing. Do I even need to point out Eddie Van Halen

Two players and their guitars that embody this idea (see what I did there?) are the Charvel Jake E Lee Signature Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 HSS HT RW – an affordable alternative to the Jake E Lee USA Signature – and newcomer in a new color, the Satchel Signature Pro-Mod DK22 HH FR M. 

For those who are unaware, Lee is revered for formerly making his mark with Ozzy Osbourne, and Satchel is carrying the torch of that decade of headbanging music and debauchery by continually performing and recording with sensational glam metal auteurs Steel Panther. 

Both signature guitars are stripped-down, Eighties-era time machines that sound ferocious and are built to elevate your technical prowess game; but whereas one looks as classic as a tuxedo, you’ll have to ask yourself whether you have the chutzpah to rock Bengal stripes on the other.

Features

Charvel's new Jake E. Lee Signature Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 HSS HT RW guitar

(Image credit: Charvel)

 The JEL appears as the most modest of the two with a Pearl White finish and 1-ply black pickguard and compared to the USA JEL Signature, it’s nearly identical with the most notable swap being alder instead of ash for its classic So-Cal Style 1 body. 

From there, the JEL features a bolt-on maple neck, 12-16–inch compound radius rosewood fingerboard with comfortably smooth rolled edges, 21 jumbo frets and heel-mount truss rod adjustment wheel. 

A single volume Strat-style skirt control knob and five-way blade switch govern the Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 humbucking bridge and reverse-slanted single-coil DiMarzio SDS-1 middle and neck pickups. Rounding out the JEL is a hardtail bridge with a black base plate and Charvel tuning machines with pearl buttons. 

The Satchel is hands down the loud and proud beast with its unabashedly Satin White Bengal striped finish on an alder Dinky body with sharper-radius top edges. The graphite-reinforced bolt-on maple neck displays a 12-16–inch compound-radius maple fingerboard with rolled edges, 22 jumbo frets and black dot inlays, Charvel die-cast tuners, and a heel-mount truss rod adjustment wheel. 

The active firepower comes courtesy of two Fishman Fluence Classic humbuckers with black/white bobbins, and the sole volume knob offering push/pull activation for the pickups’ dual voices (Voice 1: vintage PAF/bridge and neck; Voice 2: hot-rodded PAF/bridge, clear and airy chime/neck). 

Other features include a three-way toggle pickup switch and a top-loaded (non-recessed) Floyd Rose 1000 Series double-locking tremolo bridge system.

Charvel Satchel Signature Pro-Mod DK22 HH FR M

(Image credit: Charvel)

Performance

The JEL and Satchel are similar in fit and function with their sparse control layout, but what sets them apart are primarily their pickups, bridge choice and neck shapes. I gushed over the USA JEL when I reviewed it a few years back, but this iteration is almost indistinguishable from it since the pickups and neck profile are the same. 

The JEL has one of the slimmest neck carves I’ve come across, which automatically puts you at an agile advantage for wide-interval finger stretches or wrapping your thumb over three strings from the top of the fretboard. 

Whether you’re able to make do with a hardtail bridge is a matter of style, but Lee had no problem executing faux-tremolo dives on his guitar, so you’ll need to be just as creative. 

The highlight for me is the pickup configuration of the JEL; The JB humbucker dishes out a punchy midrange and a broad bottom end with just enough searing gain for cutting through, while the reversed SDS-1’s boosted output adds a darker and fuller single-coil quack that never loses its lustrous detail. 

You’ll need to double-check your self-confidence and swallow a healthy dose of swagger if you plan to strap on the Satchel onstage – but let’s start offstage first. The Satchel feels thoroughbred fast with a slimmer C-profile neck and a low-action Floyd setup that makes harmonics scream and squeal louder than the audience at Budokan. 

The Fishman Fluence Classic humbuckers are primed to capably bounce between warmer classic rock tones on Voice 1 or switch gears entirely to Voice 2 for crunchier rhythms and heat-driven solos at the bridge or select the neck for a softer clean tone to arpeggiate that power ballad. 

It’s a wildly fun guitar to brazenly wield even if you don’t own spandex or drown yourself regularly in Aqua Net.

Specs – Charvel Jake E Lee Signature Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1

  • PRICE: $1,299 / £1,199
  • BODY: Alder
  • NECK: Maple, bolt-on, Speed Neck with Rolled Fingerboard Edges
  • SCALE: 25.5”
  • FINGERBOARD: Rosewood, 12-16” compound radius with rolled edges
  • FRETS: 21
  • ELECTRICS: Seymour Duncan JB SH-4 humbucker (bridge), DiMarzio SDS-1 (middle), DiMarzio SDS-1(bridge)
  • CONTROLS: 1x volume, five-way blade selector switch 
  • HARDWARE: Hardtail bridge, Hardtail Bridge, Charvel branded sealed tuners with pearl buttons, black
  • LEFT-HANDED: No 
  • FINISH: White (Gloss)

Specs – Charvel Satchel Signature Pro-Mod DK22

  • PRICE: $1,399 / £1,249
  • BODY: Alder
  • NECK: Maple, bolt-on, Speed Neck with Rolled Fingerboard Edges
  • SCALE: 25.5”
  • FINGERBOARD: Maple, 12-16” compound radius with rolled edges
  • FRETS: 22
  • ELECTRICS: 2x Fishman Fluence Classic PRF-CHB humbuckers (neck and bridge)
  • CONTROLS: Volume with push/pull function, three-way pickup selector
  • HARDWARE: Floyd Rose 1000 Series double-locking vibrato
  • FINISH: Satin White Bengal 
  • CONTACT: Charvel

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Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.