Charvel Jim Root Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1 review

The Slipknot riffer returns to the original hotrod shop for a Superstrat that's built to handle all manner of high-gain rough and tumble

Charvel Jim Root Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1
(Image: © Future)

Guitar World Verdict

The Satin White and Satin Black finish options might be muted, but Root's first signature Charvel is anything but. This is a bold guitar, built to play hard, with a sound that has everything you need for high-gain, high-performance metal guitar playing.

Pros

  • +

    More than adequately powered for metal.

  • +

    Great fun to play.

  • +

    Rolled fingerboard edges offer a premium touch.

  • +

    Impressive build.

  • +

    Floyd Rose vibrato.

Cons

  • -

    Aesthetic might be quite minimal for some.

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You need a specialised instrument when you are in Jim Root’s line of work. Slipknot demands a certain kind of sound. But just because Root needs extremity in his electric guitar tone doesn’t mean he wants to go extreme with the aesthetic. His latest of many signature guitars, the San Dimas Style 1, reflects his tastes of classic designs rendered monochromatically. 

The Stratocaster headstock here is on license from Fender, who own the Charvel brand. The doublecut body shape is instantly recognisable, and with that bolt-on maple neck, it’s clear the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. The differences are largely practical. 

Root is more conservative than many when it comes to his guitar’s aesthetic, with this being offered in Satin Black with a maple fingerboard, and Satin White with an ebony fingerboard, as reviewed. There is no pickguard. There is no tone knob. Anything inessential is gone. 

Some of the most unorthodox appointments are out of sight; the solid mahogany body switching up the recipe, a neck profile that’s skinnier than your average Strat and finished in satin urethane for speediness. It is surprising that the heel isn’t sculpted to enhance upper-fret access, but then you don’t see Root up there that often, and Charvel’s contouring of the lower cutaway performs a similar function.

Charvel Jim Root Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

There are a pair of Root’s active EMG Daemonum signature humbuckers at the bridge and neck positions, and a top-quality Floyd Rose 1500 Series double-locking vibrato for dive-bombing and, y’know, showing off. 

The Mexican-built Pro-Mod series is aimed at serious amateurs, jobbing pros, and a metal superstar in Root, and it is a lot of guitar for the money. The rubbed fingerboard edges add a touch of luxury. The glow-in-the-dark Luminlay side markings are now essential for serious metal guitars.

It arrives in a hardshell gigbag that’s sturdy enough for most commutes. If you’re touring, you would want to upgrade. But then there’s something so solid about this that you’d suspect it’d survive anything. 

For starters, the factory setup and firm performance of the Floyd Rose 1500 might convince those who have hitherto preferred a hardtail for playing heavy metal rhythm guitar. Mr Root is not known for tickling the wound strings. You are invited to similarly dig in.

Charvel Jim Root Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

The 12”-16” fingerboard radius is Charvel standard these days and arguably the platonic ideal for a high-performance guitar. Transitions from powerchords to lead breaks are rapid, with the 22 jumbo frets feeling very 21st century. 

Playability, of course, was one of the chief benefits the Superstrat platform presented. The other was tones with brawn and muscle, and versatility, too. 

No one can accuse this of lacking power. Root’s Daemonum pickups are based on the time-honoured EMG 81/60 pickup combo that had become the industry standard for weaponising metal riffs, and they feature a similar construction. But through EMG’s Retro Active preamp, these open-coil humbuckers offer a more dynamic performance.

At full bore, they’re still breathtakingly unsubtle. Hit a downtuned open chord and they are all string detail and venom, utterly bruising when palm-muted, with a lead sound that is capable of drawing blood. Pull back on the volume control and they calm down. The cleans are precise and bright, brilliant with a chorus pedal to widen them further.

Charvel Jim Root Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Altogether, they’re hardly PAF-alike but we’d argue they’re a little less compressed than the unstinting message discipline of the 81/60s that you’d find on Root’s signature Fender Stratocaster. In feel and tone, these guitars are not a million miles away from one another.

The Strat has a six-saddle string-through-body hardtail bridge. The Floyd Rose makes this a more attractive proposition for flamboyant lead players and it is a superb feat of engineering. The firm vibrato setup is very pleasing. You can go nuts on the whammy bar for your designated eight bars of gonzo lead and it’ll return to pitch perfectly. 

Charvel has some real doozies in the Pro-Mod catalogue. Root’s San Dimas Style 1 is right up there. It’s not quite as versatile as some of the HSS models, and its minimalist aesthetic might be too utilitarian for some, but it’s a fun ride, and adequately powered for the noble art of pummelling metal chug.

Specs

Charvel Jim Root Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 1

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)
  • PRICE: $1,499 / £1,549
  • ORIGIN: Mexico
  • TYPE: Solid-body electric guitar
  • BODY: Mahogany 
  • NECK: Maple, bolt-on
  • SCALE: 25.5”
  • FINGERBOARD: Ebony, 12”-16” compound radius with rolled edges
  • FRETS: 22, jumbo
  • ELECTRICS: 2x EMG Daemonum active humbuckers
  • CONTROLS: Volume, three-way blade pickup selector switch
  • HARDWARE: Floyd Rose 1500 Series double-locking vibrato, Charvel-branded sealed die-cast tuners, black
  • FINISH: Satin Black, Satin White [as reviewed]
  • CONTACT: Charvel

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Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.