What do you do when you’re a huge fan of Fender and Gibson guitars? Well, you take your favourite bits of both to create one super-guitar, of course. At least that’s the case with the latest signature model from Charvel and Gojira frontman Joe Duplantier.
And you just have to take one look at this new Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 2 to realise that. Having already gone for very clean and modern finishes with his two previous signature models, Joe sought to go down a more vintage route and “wanted the colour of the guitar to look like your grandmother’s table”.
A lovely thought, although we’re not sure our grandmother’s table looked this good. The mahogany finish with a black pickguard is familiar territory for any Telecaster fan, but slap on a Tune-O-Matic bridge and cover the fretboard in pearloid big block inlays and you’re in Gibson country.
On paper, this shouldn’t work, but it does. Combined with the worn nickel finish on the DiMarzio pickup covers and you can consider the vintage aesthetic nailed. It’s not all vintage, though, as the twist is that this model is equipped with some thoroughly modern essentials. Locking tuners, a graphite-reinforced neck and a heel-mount truss rod adjustment wheel firmly bring this model bang up to date.
The vintage/modern combination is perfectly summed up with the pickup choice, a DiMarzio PAF 36th anniversary edition in the neck and Joe’s own signature DiMarzio Fortitude in the bridge are paired to perfection. In fact, the latter can be considered a beefier version of the PAF, especially in the low-end department.
This is where the guitar really earns its personality. The Fortitude has been voiced to Joe’s own specifications after being so impressed with the PAF 36, he knew he wanted to take it further and with the help from the folks from DiMarzio, the result is vintage warmth and clarity with bags of bottom-end heft.
The Fortitude can kick out so much range in the lower frequencies that you’d be forgiven that this guitar is geared up for one thing only, metal. Which it sort of is, but it can be capable of more than just blunt-force trauma in the sonic stakes. Fans of Gojira will be very much aware of the soundscapes that Andreu and Duplantier are capable of creating, which is where this guitar shines.
When met with just the one volume knob and a pickup selector, there is a tendency to just set everything to 11 and thrash out. If that’s your game you will not be disappointed here in the slightest, but experimenting with pickup selection at varying levels of gain and you will find that both the PAF 36 and Fortitude pickups combine for a useful palette of tone to suit those blues meanderings should the mood take you.
One thing that impressed us the most on unboxing the JP San Dimas 2 was how comfortable it immediately felt. The setup was nigh-on perfect; the intonation, tuning and action are at the level that we’ve become accustomed to from Charvel and its parent company, Fender.
With all the vintage and modern touches, we’re glad to see that Charvel and Joe have plumped for a natural-oiled finish on the neck and it feels like you’ve been playing this guitar forever.
And above all else, it is lightning quick, all thanks to the 12”-16” compound radius and ‘Speed Neck’ with rolled fingerboard edges. It’s these touches that most guitarists would instantly reach for when modding a guitar. It’s well-considered and, most importantly, neat.
We have to say that the Joe Duplantier Signature Pro-Mod San Dimas Style 2 HH Mahogany nails the vintage/modern vibe with aplomb. Well-pointed finery is meticulously laid out with a finish that not only looks the business but also feels like you’ve owned this guitar for years.
That feeling of comfort is backed up with a very confident pickup pairing that doesn’t sound like every heavy-tinged axe going but brings with its own personality and a platform for you to explore yours, all at a fair price, too.
- PRICE: $899 / £719
- BODY: Mahogany
- PICKUPS: Joe Duplantier Signature DiMarzio Fortitude (bridge), DiMarzio PAF 36th Anniversary (neck)
- CONTROLS: Volume
- PICKUP SWITCHING: 3-Position Toggle
- BRIDGE: Charvel Fully Adjustable Radius Compensated Bridge with Anchored Tailpiece
- HARDWARE FINISH: Chrome
- TUNERS: Charvel-Branded Die-Cast Locking
- NECK MATERIAL: Mahogany
- NECK CONSTRUCTION: Bolt-On with Graphite Reinforcement
- NECK FINISH: Oiled
- NECK SHAPE: Speed Neck with Rolled Fingerboard Edges
- SCALE LENGTH: 25.5”
- FINGERBOARD RADIUS: 12”-16” Compound Radius
- FINGERBOARD MATERIAL: Ebony
- NUMBER OF FRETS: 22
- CONTACT: Charvel