I was asked by The Tone King to do some homework on Charvel. I definitely learned a few interesting things that I can now travel onto others.
Wayne Charvel worked for Fender guitars in the 70′s and eventually opened up his own repair shop. Today, there is a call for “relic” guitars and people are willing to pay for the abuse time will gladly give, but in the early 70′s people wanted a guitar looked like a hotrod. And, that’s what Wayne gave them.
Even though it was Wayne’s name, Grover Jackson was the person that put the name Charvel on the map when he bought the company and started making bodies for Mighty Mite and Dimarzio.
Kind of like when Walt and Jesse weren’t getting enough biz on their own so they went to Gus because he was already the Meth King of the Southwest.
I guess I’m kind of worked up on Breaking Bad lately. (Did you see the last freaking episode!!!!!)
Throughout the 80’s, Charvel became the go-to guitar for many players who wanted to look the part and have a guitar that was built to rock. Your granddads TV yellow strats and 1930 Ford Model A Coupes were things of the past. Charvel was cutting edge.
After Randy Rhoads left Quiet Riot, he played an audition for Ozzy using his ’74 Cream Les Paul Custom. Not long after that, he talked to Charvel and inSeptember of 1979, the iconic Polka Dot flying V was built. But, it didn’t have any name attached to the headstock. Make no mistake that it was made through Charvel, even if Karl Sandoval, who also worked at Fender, was the mastermind behind the iconic guitar.
This worked for a while but as Ozzy’s fame grew, so too did Randy’s. They got together and hammered out some ideas inspired by a turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner plane. This was the prototype that is still made today called the “Concorde.”
This was the first guitar with the name “Jackson” on the headstock.
Diary of a Madman was released soon after in November 7, 1981. I wasn’t able to find out if Randy used the Concorde to record the album. If anyone knows for sure, let me know below.
Anyway, Rhoads felt that the Concorde (or “The original SIN”) was too close to the traditional flying V. So he twisted it, shaved off the bottom wing and extended the top wing.
The iconic guitar he will always be remembered for after his death in March 1982.
Grover (Jackson… I KNEW IT!) locking tuners were a feature of the original model along with gold hardware.
This iconic guitar is still being slung around by the likes of Alexi Laiho, Pat O’Brien, Phil Demmel, me, and this guy who looks like he can snap his guitar in half between the humbuckers.
The only thing more impressive than that dudes biceps is his bookshelf
From Charvel, to Jackson, then to…
Fender bought Charvel/Jackson in 2002 and added it to their already staggering list of big names. (Gretsch, Guild, SWR, Tacoma, Ovation , Kaman, Sunn Amplifiers, Hamer, Takamine , Olympia and obviously Squier)
Charvel has been a gigantic part of rock history. You know how TheToneking.com loves their history. Charvel guitars are still out there, and there are new models being produced every day. You might wanna check one out. You might want to own a piece of history.
Let me know what you guys and girls think of Charvel below!
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About the Author: Started playing bass at 15. It was Danko Jones who inspired me to play at all, and in a small town I couldn't be picky on what I can get my hands on, so I bought a squire with pride. Obtained a B.C. Rich guitar months later. Moved to the city at 17. At 19 joined my first metal band as a bassist which ended at 20. Joined a bass heavy rock band, which I loved being in whole heartily. I now wait to venture into a new project. For the time being though, I am exploring my abilities as a writer.