Charvel San Dimas Style 1 HH - Black
Charvel San Dimas Style 1 HH - Black

San Dimas Style 1 HH - Black, ST モデル from Charvel belonging to the San Dimas Style 1 HH model.

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King Loudness 08/30/2011

Charvel San Dimas Style 1 HH - Black : King Loudness のユーザーレビュー (content in English)

"Killer throwback"

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The Charvel San Dimas was introduced in 2008 as an attempt to bring back the hot rodded guitars that Charvel built in the eighties with the general motto to keep the prices down, but use the best parts possible and build them in the good ol' US of A. For the San Dimas model, this included an alder body, a quartersawn maple neck with oil finish, Strat style headstock (as featured on the earliest Charvels), Grover tuners, Original Floyd Rose Tremolo, Seymour Duncan humbuckers (a JB at the bridge and a '59 at the neck), a single volume control, and a 3 way toggle switch. There isn't a whole lot of crazy options here, but they eschew flash for just killer quality and playability in a price point that has many average guitars that focus more on looks.


The design of the San Dimas is basically like a refined Strat that is built for old school shredding. It's not quite as refined as many boutique takes on the Strat (IE: Suhr, Tom Anderson, Don Grosh, etc) but it's still extremely ergonomic and great feeling all around. The alder body is reasonably light in weight and is comfort contoured to fit to the body quite well. The only gripe I have is that the neck plate is rather bulky and sticks out a bit, impeding upper fret access somewhat. The neck is maple with an oil finish... can you say fast? There is no trouble moving up and down this neck at warp speed and it's perfect for the fleet fingered who really need to fly. It doesn't get sticky unless you really don't maintain it (easily done by wiping it down with a cloth) and overall is one of the nicest necks I've tried. I so liked the feel of quartersawn maple with oil finish that I requested it on a Suhr Custom that I had built. The upper fret access is fairly good on these guitars too.

Getting a good sound out of this guitar is fairly simple. Since it lacks a ton of different features, you basically know that you're going to have to look to the amplifier that you're using to get a whole lot of true versatility out of the ax. The pickups are well suited to the guitar and work well for the classic vibe that Charvel was aiming for. They work for everything from clean to mean and a bit in between. They're not the best pickups for extreme metal or the cleanest of jazz tones, but the guitar was built for hard rock, so that's not a huge concern of mine.


I've tried this guitar through a myriad of different amplifiers and had great success achieving the tones that I wanted to hear and that the guitar was built for. As I stated prior, it's not the most versatile guitar in the world, but if you're looking for an excellent tonal throwback to the days of big hair and spandex, this guitar is the best bet you'll find. The Duncan JB and '59 humbuckers are medium output affairs that offer a decent palate of tones ranging from clean to higher gain. The clean tones are fairly gutsy and rich sounding, great for bluesy or perhaps modern jazz or country. They're not quite pristine enough for certain things, but as far as a decent clean tone goes, this guitar does it. Slipping over to the dirty side, this is where the guitar shows its true personality. This guitar oozes harmonics and overtones, and when put through a high gain firebreather amp... that's when things just WORK. The Duncan JB in particular works really well and overall the guitar has a very EVH or George Lynch sounding vibe going on that makes me smile whenever I hear it. It works great for eighties rhythm and of course those gunslinger leads that everyone and their dog had to learn way back when, and when you're in the zone, it's just the perfect guitar to let the notes flow. It's fairly forgiving and doesn't expose mistakes like crazy, but it's also not quite as effortless to play as many modern guitars nowadays can be.


All in all I think the Charvel San Dimas is a total winner all around. They sell new for about $1000 and considering that price point, I don't know where you can find a USA made guitar that is a killer superstrat that combines good parts, good craftsmanship, great tones and the coolest vibe around that would compete with these. Unfortunately Charvel has discontinued these and replaced them with the admittedly less superior Japanese made models, so you'd have to find a used or NOS model if you want one.