Under construction...

G.M. Spirit of 76 humbucker and a little red - the red switch tip, G.M. Premium Alnico 5 Staggered pickup cover, and the star decal
black replica Charvel neck plate

Under construction...

body back
white Belcat humbucker - 16k DCR!
Charvel neck plate
Road Worn vintage tuners
kick-ass, simple guitar

Under construction...

custom-ordered checkerboard WD pickguard with white Fleor Dual Hot Rail Alnico 5 pickup and red volume "Tone" knob
Vans decals on the back of the headstock and a large one on the back of the body
red California waterslide

Under construction...

chrome locking tuners and "Custom Shop" and "Floor Model" waterslide decals
amazing figured maple neck for a Squier?
chrome hard tail bridge, stainless steel saddles with drilled strings-thru body ferrules
custom Charvel neck plate
good-looking project with some versatility

CHARVEL -Dia de los Muertos- STRAT
Under construction...
body back
locking tuners
artistic decal and pickguard with hot G.M. pickups
black Charvel neck plate
Muertos decal on back
great theme

Under construction...

G.M. Rock-A-Sonic Retro Alnico II pickups in the middle and bridge positions
cream Jazz bass knobs - individual volumes and a master tone - just like the Jazz bass configuration
vintage trem with Graph Tech Tusq saddles
chrome Charvel replica neck plate

Under construction...

racing stripe pickguard
G.M. S-90 Alnico 5 pickups with on-off switch
black replica Charvel neck plate

Under construction...

In early 2021, a You Tube video appeared showing EVH playing the Amsterdam riff in 1987 on a Charvel Model 3 - white with black hardware - years before it publicly debuted on the 1995 Balance album 1 2 3 4
black vintage tremolo with Graph Tech saddles and Stratosphere HSS set - Alnico 5 humbucker with two Hot Texas Blues single coils
black hardware on off-white body
body back
black Charvel replica neck plate with the number 24124 - the Welby Way street number of the Fast Times at Ridgemont High house where Brad and Stacy lived in West Hills, CA.
black locking tuners

I ordered this Charvel from Musician's Friend in late 1996. It's a CHS-3, whatever that is. It originally had a dark blue metallic body with black hardware. I immediately set out to do some mods.

The first thing I did was order some locking tuners. LSR was getting pretty popular, and was used on some Jackson models, so I ordered a set in black. I was going to put a Floyd Rose on the guitar, but for some reason, I ended up putting a black Wilkinson trem and an LSR roller nut on instead. I took out the Charvel stock pickups and put in a set of Carvin humbuckers. I also added a Starr Labs on-board compressor, which was activated by a push/pull tone.

That version of the Charvel lasted a few years until I got sick of the blue body and wanted to change the pickups. Late in 2000, I ordered a new body from Warmoth - a mahogany body with a maple top, with a black accent line separator. I also changed the pickups from Carvin to DiMarzio - two zebra Breed humbuckers. I also got rid of the on-board compressor.

The guitar still has mostly black hardware, but it looks nicer against the natural wood body. Of course, I sealed the body with motor oil, and the back of the 24-fret rosewood neck is also sealed with motor oil. The body, unfortunately, was not a breeze to swap out. Although the guitar is 25.5" scale, Warmoth routed the neck pocket for a 24.75" scale. Thank you very little. I should have just sent it back, but I re-routed it and it's fine.

I added two toggle switches to cut the bridge and neck humbuckers to single coils. Very versatile! I have a black mini Carvin knob (the volume pot is Carvin, too). The 3-way switch is also Carvin. Black Schaller straplocks and black metal pickup rings. The black Charvel neck plate is stock. I even added Graph Tech string trees to the headstock.

This guitar has unbelievable action! It practically plays itself. With its super-low action, it's great for playing solos. Make sure to check out my Charvel solo on Exist Warp off of bikini. Overall, this has to be one of my best-playing and best-sounding guitars. I named it a Model 96 since it has a 1996 Charvel neck. There's also a 1996 nickel between the Wilkinson trem and the body. Quarters are for Floyds!

March 2002

Under construction...

custom build featuring the famous Mighty Mite Motherbucker
3 aged Mighty Mite humbuckers - Motherbucker 20k (bridge), 1300 Ceramic (middle), and Motherbucker 16k (neck)
triple humbucker like the Ace Frehley Gibson and the Phil Collen Ibanez Destroyer
body is a full-sized, candy apple red Fender Squier 60s Vibe
volume, tone and 3-way switch with Tele tip
tremolo features modern stainless steel saddles and a solid aluminum sustain block
chrome locking tuners
custom Charvel neck plate
good-looking guitar

Under construction...

wanted a guitar to look like the floor at Home Depot by the spray-paint section
body back
re-built the heel with JB Weld epoxy - it had been badly dented/compressed by neck plate over-tightening
Fender Road Worn vintage tuners
replica Charvel neck plate
cream Hendrix-slant G.M. Hot Railcaster pickup and one cream volume knob

Under construction...

Under construction...

Charvel Pro-Mod DK22 SSS 2PT
Fender Hendrix Stratocaster with reverse bridge pickguard route

Under construction...

Under construction...

My first guitar made out of pine. Well, most of the wood is pine.

In late 2009, I got really interested in some of Fender Squier's new Telecaster designs that utilized uncommon body woods, such as cedar and pine. (Actually, pine really used to be quite common for Teles - about 60 years ago!) I picked up a cedar Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster SSH and with a few mods, turned it into my Fender Nashville Telecaster. But I wanted something a little different for pine - and Tomahawk Custom Guitars had just what I was looking for.

The Tomahawk Tele Hawk guitar design is a take on the Tele, but totally modernized. I had Brian from Tomahawk Custom Guitars make me an all-pine body, but he suggested going with a walnut/mahogany/walnut strip down the center for strength. The body arrived and I was floored - excellent quality and the woods are so beautiful. And I love the smell of pine. Brian even included the custom black pickguard. I finished the body in lemon oil - just lemon oil, and I was very patient in letting it dry.

For the neck, I wanted to make sure and get a perfect neck for this fine body, so I ordered a 22-fret Warmoth maple Tele neck with a graphite nut, and finished it in straight lemon oil. I applied a black vinyl Charvel decal and cleared the headstock. For the hardware, I went with all black. A black Wilkinson Tele bridge, black GFS locking tuners, black Schaller straplocks, a black circle string tree, a black Electrosocket jack plate, a black neck plate, and black/black pearl knobs - on the chrome control plate.

As far as the electronics, I stuck with GFS and went with their noiseless Neovin "Power Rock" Tele pickups - a black NEOTB12 in the bridge and a chrome NEOTN9 in the neck position. For maximum power, I wired these up with 1 Meg pots and used a Sprague Orange Drop .047uf tone cap. These pickups get a huge sound and the noise is virtually non-existent. I wired the pickups to the 3-way switch "backwards" in that the first position on the switch is the bridge pickup and the last one is the neck, but I thought that was kinda cool so I left it like that. The center is still both.

The guitar turned out just as planned and it looks and sounds like a pro. The body still smells like pine and you can never go wrong with a Warmoth neck. And GFS pickups continue to impress. And Brian even put a picture of my axe on his web site in the Gallery section.

September 2010

CHARVEL -Tijuana Trio- STRAT
Under construction...

fun project with gold Mexican flag eagle decal
Tijuana vinyl decals on the back
three exposed mini humbuckers
Charvel neck plate with TJ area code
CBS headstock with locking tuners
looks like a beast

Under construction...

Pine guitar #2. And wow, this was a fun guitar to put together. Some real firsts here.

I loved my pine Charvel Telehawk project so much, I wanted to work on another pine guitar. And then I saw the Fender Snakehead guitar. The Snakehead was Leo Fender's first prototype attempt at the Telecaster back in 1949 and Fender recently made 60 reissues of the Snakehead - each retailing for around $6000. What a deal! The Snakehead was made out of pine, had an unusual control plate and pickguard, one bridge pickup, and that unique "Snakehead" headstock, which really looks like a boa constrictor head or something. And neither the original prototype nor the reissues had truss rods! Wow! So anyway, I decided to make a much cheaper & updated version of this classic. With a truss rod.

I already had the neck (a reverse rosewood Warmoth Tele neck) that I had ordered for my Jackson Firecaster project. I decided - after I got the neck - that I really wanted the Firecaster neck to have trapezoid inlays, not dots, so what to do with this reverse rosewood neck with dots, a Jackson decal, graphite nut, V-contour back, and chrome locking tuners? Hmmmm.

And then there was this guy (Jim Iltis) from Maine on eBay selling pine Snakehead Tele bodies for $75. And I'm talking about a body with knots and other imperfections - all in a 1 1/2"-thick, one-piece slab of white pine. Even his description of the wood was intriguing: Due to the nature of Eastern White pine, you may find occasional small amounts of stabilizing epoxy applied where there are sap pockets, knot checks, grain tearout, or small worm holes. Yeah! So I pulled the trigger and went to work. I had some leftover whitewash stain and stained the body to get it transparent white. I then ordered a chrome Jackson neck plate and a chrome Wilkinson Tele bridge (my favorite). I lightly scuffed up the hardware (including the locking tuners), as this guitar was to be a light relic of sorts. Although things were looking up, I still needed to choose a bridge pickup and I had to fabricate a custom control plate and a custom black pickguard - no one sells Snakehead parts like this.

For the control plate, I went to Home Depot and picked up an aluminum electrical control plate and cut and shaped it for the guitar control plate. The aluminum is just thick enough to be sturdy, but it's thin enough to work with. I decided to go with just one pot/knob (volume), as I never really use tone knobs and this certainly was not an exacting re-creation of the 1949 original. For the pickguard, I had ordered a large black sheet of pickguard material years ago and made a paper template and then handcut it out on the black material. I sanded down the edges with sandpaper and files and made a pretty good pickguard. That was kinda fun.

Last, but not least, was the bridge pickup. Someone on eBay selling a used Seymour Duncan Little '59 for Tele humbucker. I have a Little '59 for Strat in the neck position of my Jackson JTX guitar and a '59 humbucker in my green Kramer 5150 -Envy-, and I love both of them. And since this was going to be a more "hot-rodded" version of the Snakehead, why not put in a humbucker? I wired it up straight to the volume pot and lightly scuffed the top of the humbucker to give it a "light relic" appearance.

Everything worked out perfectly. The only issue I had was opening the bridge string-through-body holes up a bit to match the holes coming through the body's back, and I thought after doing this that the top edges may be too sharp for the string coming through, so I used abrasive cord to smooth the hole edges. No big deal. The pickup sounds great and I think this is axe is one of the most striking guitars I own - it really looks sharp.

So what are the differences between my '49 Pinecaster and the original Fender? Well, there's the reverse Tele headstock with a Jackson decal, the bridge humbucker pickup, one knob vs. two, Schaller straplocks, locking tuners, updated Wilkinson bridge, and the 22-fret rosewood neck vs. 21-fret maple board are the major ones I can think of. And I consider these differences to be upgrades after 60 years. And this baby even made the Testimonials page of the now-defunct site.

September 2010

Got a couple of weird things going on with this one.

After figuring out what I wanted for the Hondo Pirate project, which featured a GFS MODboard chorus circuit on the guitar itself, I thought it would be cool to do another one with some unique onboard electronics, but with the MODboard DL-1 Analog Delay effect. For years, I had an '84 Ibanez X Series Destroyer with a mounted DOD FX90 Ananlog Delay pedal right on the body, and I could get some really weird sounds with that. (I eventually trashed that guitar, but did save the Ibanez neck, and the neck ended up on my Ibanez Bolt guitar.)

Around the same time, I stumbled on an advertisement for a really interesting bridge, the Tremma tremolo from Australia. It replaces the Tune-O-Matic/Stop Tail setup, and wasn't too expensive. And the installation looked simple enough, so I ordered one.

So I had a MODboard delay unit and a Tremma bridge. What about the wood? I ordered an ash KnE Dinky body and had it routed for a single humbucker and the TOM setup. The grain on the two-piece, center-joined body really stands out, so I decided to leave it natural and just finish the body with lemon oil. And man is the body heavy! For the neck, I found an ebony/maple Mighty Mite Strat neck, and I applied a black Jackson waterslide to the headstock. In addition to the Tremma unit, I went with black GFS locking tuners, black Schaller straplocks, black knobs, and a real black Jackson neck plate.

And then there was the electronics. It looks like there isn't too much going on as there's only one pickup, but this was a chore to wire up, and I kept putting it off. I tracked down a used Jackson J-80 humbucker and that was the easy part (my old Ibanez Destroyer had a J-90 and it had to be one of the best-sounding pickups I've ever had, but I sold it!). I then had to wire in the MODboard, and even though I had successfully done one previously, it was a pain, mostly because of the crammed guitar cavity. I had plently of room for everything with the Hondo Pirate, but the Charvel-sized cavity was barely big enough for the bubble-wrapped MODboard, 9-volt battery bag, on/off switch, volume pot, and dual concentric pot (delay feedback and time). In hindsight I should have routed some more room in there before I shielded it, but oh well.

The Tremma is an interesting tremolo (vibrato) - very subtle and it takes some getting used to for proper use, as you use your palm to apply pressure to sharpen the pitch. The J-80 sound really good and the delay functions as it should, although I prefer the onboard controls of a DOD FX90. But the let me say the Tremma with the Jackson J-80 looks really cool and the beautiful grain all over the ash KnE body is stunning! Another success!

November 2015

I bought this Jackson Professional JTX used in early 1997 from Gilmour Bros. Music Shop in Appleton, WI. Supposedly, some local guitar stud owned it and traded it in for a new axe - its awesome Tele-style body made it irresistible to me. Not too many modifications on this guitar, although I guess that's just a matter of opinion.

I immediately switched the pickups from stock Jackson (not too bad sounding) to white Seymour Duncans - a Little '59 in the neck and a Pearly Gates Trembucker in the bridge. Around this time, I took the Floyd off my Ibanez Destroyer so I had this great chrome Floyd Rose bridge laying around and trust me - the real thing is better than these licensed versions. The stock Jackson locking trem was pretty cheesy. I did sell it on eBay for $140, but I'd much rather have a real Floyd.

The tuners, pickguard, and 3-way switch are stock, and there is no neck plate on this guitar - just four screws through the body into the neck. I had the volume pot switched out to a Carvin pot, and it has a chrome Carvin mini knob.

Like the Charvel Model 96, the JTX has a coil-splitting switch for each pickup. Talk about total tone versatility! The Pearly Gates has to be my favorite pickup. It has an incredible tone! Just ask Tim Randolph. He used this Jackson for his killer solos on You from bikini.

This was the first guitar I bought that has a routed pull-up area for a locking trem. I can't stand these! I can't tune those floating trems and they break strings left and right. I inserted a small screw beneath the Floyd plate to prevent pulling up.

I love this guitar! The dark brown, see-through ash body (it's hard to see the wood grain unless you're up close to it), the ultra-slim maple neck, the super-low action, the awesome tone... this guitar rocks!

March 2002

UPDATE: May 2009

In an effort to consolidate and save my guitars with Floyd Rose trems from the 1980s on my striped models, I swapped the chrome Floyd on the JTX for one of the new Floyd Rose Special tremolos. The Asian-manufactured model is pretty tight and is comparable in quality to the Schaller, Ping, or Gotoh trems. My plan is to use the 1980s Floyd on a future project. I made some upgrades on the Special, including the arm, sustain block, and I replaced the stock zinc saddles for Korean-made 1000 steel saddles in chrome.

Oh my goodness - did this project turn out A LOT better than I thought! And using quality Mighty Mite parts went a long way to get it there.

I really got the bug to make this guitar after seeing pictures of some 1969 Fender Stratocasters in really cool colors - one of which was Monaco Yellow. But I didn't just want to make a simple Fender version of a colorful Stratocaster with a white pickguard and black pickups. I envisioned something a lot more modern - say a Jackson with a reverse headstock, a Floyd Rose, and a humbucker in the bridge position. Something in line with Jackson's other "Super Strat" models for Phil Collen and Adrian Smith. So in late 2009, I tracked down a really nice Mighty Mite maple reverse Strat neck that was pre-routed for a Floyd locking nut. Now I needed a body.

To save money, I originally went with an bright orange GFS body, but I had quite a bit of trouble installing the Floyd Rose studs in the extremely light-weight Paulownia wood body, so I decided to use that body for another project. (I repaired the bridge holes/damage in the orange body and ironically ended up painting it bright yellow and used it for my Tonka guitar. But I still ordered another GFS orange Paulownia Strat body for my Halloween Scarycaster guitar.) So after learning that lesson, I went back to Mighty Mite and ordered a "graffiti yellow" Strat body made of hard, hard ash. And it fits the Mighty Mite neck perfectly. At this point I remembered the last time I used a Mighty Mite neck and body together also turned out well (Tokai Springy Sound Scalloped), so I was feeling good again about this project!

As far the hardware, I had some leftover chrome reverse Gotoh tuners with black buttons from my failed Firebird project, and I really wanted to try out the new Floyd Rose Specials, so I ordered a chrome model (refer to my Floyd Rose page for more details). I replaced some of the screws on the Floyd Special and added a real 42mm Floyd block to it, as well as an Original chrome arm. Lastly, I swapped out the zinc saddles for the chrome, Korean-made 1000 steel saddles. Otherwise, not a bad trem and a great deal overall. Instead of using a quarter for the Floyd to rest on, I found a 2007 Monaco 2 Euro Grace Kelly coin on eBay that looked cool and ties in with the "Monaco Yellow" theme. I also added black Schaller straplocks and a chrome Strat jack plate. I had to order a custom WD white/black/white Strat pickguard for a Floyd trem and bridge humbucker.

For the electronics, I went with a hand-wired Dragonfire Texas Blues set (I had to swap pickguards) that included a reverse-wound middle single-coil pickup. And one of the tone knobs actually controls a 5-way rotary tone switch that dials in these custom wiring setups - 1-series phase, 2-SC north, 3-parallel phase, 4-SC south, 5-series out of phase. Very cool and different than everything I have. For the knobs, I ditched the stock black Fender knobs and added some really cool mini black/gray Strat knobs.

Not too much else to do on this guitar, since it was already professionally painted yellow. Applying the Jackson waterslide was a breeze and everything fit together perfectly. And the pre-wired pickguard makes it so easy!!! And the bright yellow body with the white pickguard and black pickups looks totally cool. Jackson cool.

May 2010

See other Charvels:

Signature Charvel / Jackson Projects
Van Halen Charvels
Squier Thin Body projects

-Charvel 1980 Natural Strat
-Charvel EVH Frankenstein J Bass
-Charvel -Green Machine- 5 Bass
-Charvel Precision Jazz One Bass

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