Charvel 3A Six String Electric Guitar
Another guitar with a Made In Japan sticker attached, though this one comes with genuine all-American parts; but it's not just these that stop it from being just another Strat copy, albeit high quality.
The body shape is classic contoured double cutaway Strat styling. The black/white/black laminated scratchplate accommodates two Jackson J80C humbuckers which, according to JHS's excellent manual, have ceramic magnets "for accentuated upper harmonics".
You can try pushing and pulling the knobs in a vain search for a coil tap, but it's not there. The coil tapping all takes place inside the selector - which is why it's a five way switch when there are only two pickups. The switch positions are not quite what you might expect: front position is front humbucker only, while the second position gives back humbucker only (very odd); third position gives the back coil of the front pickup combined with the front coil of the back pickup; (also odd); fourth position gives the front coil of the front with the back coil of the rear (odder still), while the fifth position is the equivalent of the ordinary Strat's third - both pickups full on (oddly odder still).
This configuration takes some getting used to. No longer can you slam your hand down, knocking the selector to its lowest extremity, as you leap into that ear-savagingly trebly solo. Now you have to locate the (former) back position, which can be annoying in moments of stress.
The single coil positions weren't as dramatic as you might hope either - this is not a guitar for Knopfler impressions. The two middle coils give a more bassy sound than the two outer ones, but it's only a minor distinction.
The neck is a paragon of current fashion: it's extremely wide and flat (like the M1, but without the roadworks), has a pointy black headstock, resin nut, string clamp, 22 fret high rounded frets, and has a satin semi-gloss finish to the back of it.
This Charvel is a superbly made guitar, with a faultless finish. My quibbles about the undistinctive coil tap settings aside, it sounded good; it's not a Strat, nor is it a Les Paul, but it lurks tonally somewhere between the two.
I wasn't too happy with the Kahler Fulcrum tremolo - it bent the strings, no problem, but the fine tuners were fiddly and stiff, and the arm didn't sit too happily in its thread.
The neck is wide, but that's a matter of taste, not a problem. It plays superbly, with no dead spots, no buzzy frets, and no choking of notes when you bend strings.
My major complaint is the wiring of the pickup selector. But if you're paying good money for this guitar, you'll probably be willing to persevere and relearn the settings. Good luck.
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