We love it when guitar companies blur the lines and change our preconceptions. Because most of us will think of a type of guitar and even genre when the names Jackson and Charvel are mentioned.
Both Jackson and Charvel have been part of the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation since 2002, and the brands’ instruments are produced at Fender facilities. For the Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 2 HH HT it’s the Ensenada facility in Mexico, but while the similar body curves and the licensed Telecaster headstock nod firmly to Fender, there’s plenty of distinctly Charvel calling cards here.
We don’t think it’s a bold claim to suggest Charvel are offering some of the very best examples of pro-standard spec on electric guitars around the $/£1,000 mark. And the company has been ahead of the game when it comes to delivering it.
The Robin’s Egg Blue finish really pops – previous Style 2 hardtail models have been Satin Black and Snow White so it’s a very distinct step away from colorways associated with Charvel tradition. That said, we’d like to see more choice for those who aren’t drawn to this bright blue. Hopefully that will follow.
The rest of the features here should be far less divisive, and even the details really matter – especially with the neck, a guitar’s most tactile strength or weakness. A caramelized maple neck and fingerboard with rolled edges, reinforced with graphite, provides more stability in changing temperatures that can affect tunings.
And Luminlay side notes for better visibility onstage in low light and a curved neck heel for enhanced fret access. Great on paper and even better in play - this is a lovely neck indeed.
The low action and friendly tension help – springy and great for bends, but not a flappy buzzfest. It will help Tele players with the transition to the 12”-16” radius 24-fret ‘speed neck’ here. We’d really like to see a 22-fret option like the DK22, but this doesn’t feel like a shred exclusive guitar. And the pickups confirm it.
The Fishman Fluence active humbuckers offer two voices in three positions, plus a three-position single-coil Voice 3. They cover a lot of ground but have their specialties for us; the Hot Rod Bridge’s overwound, compressed character is highly effective for tighter high gain, but the Vintage P.A.F humbucker voices allow more characterful string definition to shine and the muscular rounded cleans are welcome and superb for blues and jazz.
Voice 3 isn’t a coil-split, either; the Fluence technology really delivers cutting single-coil Tele twang that is eﬀectively wound back with the tone control. This guitar can cover so much ground that it makes preconceptions redundant.
- PRICE: $949 / £959
- BODY: Alder
- NECK: Caramelised maple
- SCALE: 648mm (25.5”)
- FINGERBOARD: Caramelised maple, 12-16” compound radius
- FRETS: 24, jumbo
- PICKUPS: Fishman Fluence Open Core PRF-COC
- CONTROLS: Volume, Tone (with push/pull activation for Voice 3), 2-way mini toggle for switching between Voice 1 and 2
- HARDWARE: Charvel die-cast locking tuners, Charvel HT6 string-through-body hardtail bridge with brass saddles, heel-mount truss rod adjustment wheel
- LEFT-HANDED: No
- FINISH: Robin’s Egg Blue (reviewed), Satin Black, Show White
- CONTACT: Charvel