#1
Im interested in a charvel surfcaster but i cant find any info about them or price ranges. so if any one knows about or owns one can you please give detail on them
#6
I'm new here, so I'm in no position to talk forum protocol, but as a relatively new Charvel Surfcaster owner, I can relate to what mvgmvg is talking about. There ISN'T a whole lot of information about Charvel Surfcasters on the web and some of it IS conflicting or incomplete.

That said, here's what I've discovered in addition to the links above. Charvel Surfcasters were supposedly made from 1992-1995. There are some mentions of Surfcasters being made as early as 1988, but I have yet to see any evidence.

During the period of 1992-1994, the Surfcasters came in 2 configurations: a "Hardtail" version with a Trapeze "C" cutout tailpiece, and Trem version with a fulcrum vibrato bridge and roller nut. The hardtail version had a "phenolic compound" nut whatever that means. Both versions were offered with 2 lipstick Chandler pickups, volume and tone controls, and a 3-way pickup selector. The tone control had a push/pull pot, which put the pickups in either parallel or series wiring schemes. Surfcasters were also available in 12-string versions and a Bass. Notable features on the 12 string include individual saddles on the bridge and a tuner system much like a Rickenbacker 12 string.

During the period of mid to late 1994-1995, the Hardtail version was made available with a hi-output Jackson humbucker pickup in the bridge position. The push-pull circuit was modified to be a coil-split for the humbucker. All Surfcasters from the 1992-1995 period were made in two material configurations: Guitars in Transparent finishes were made from mahogany with a figured maple veneer; and solid color finishes were made from basswood. Both configurations had an Indian rosewood fingerboard, mother of pearl sharktooth fretboard inlays, jumbo frets, a distinctive Rickenbacker-like F-hole, and cream-colored binding around the top, fretboard and painted headstocks. The headstock is of particular note, as the Surfcasters from the '92-95 period had what's referred to as a "Gumby" headstock (shaped like, well, Gumby's head) and had what's referred to as the "ice cream" logo (the Charvel logo looks like it's written in ice cream, horizontally i.e. running parallel with the strings). Later models produced late 1995 and after, had a more squarish headstock.

The Surfcasters made in the 92-95 period were all made in the Fuji-gen Gakki factory in Japan. This factory is known for manufacturing very well made guitars with high attention to detail and workmanship. Surfcasters produced after this period were made in India. These Surfcasters did not have many of the features of the earlier Surfcasters, with no binding, no F-hole, no sharktooth inlays, no Gumby headstock, etc. and are generally considered fair to poor quality instruments. Towards the end of the 92-95 period, Grover Jackson bought out Wayne Charvel and the Surfcaster was produced after 1995 under the Jackson brand. There are some Jackson branded Surfcasters that have the shark tooth inlays, the Rick-style F-hole, binding and Gumby headstock, and while generally considered fine instruments, they are not considered as collectible as the Charvel versions. There are also, some made in Japan Charvel-branded Surfcasters that have 3 pickups, Charvel brand name written across the headstock (i.e. parallel to the frets) but do not have the cool inlays or f-hole. These tend to appear on eBay for anywhere from $200-500.

The prices of Surfcasters can vary. The prices have been driven by demand and limited availability. Given that the Charvel Surfcasters were only produced from '92-'95, there aren't a whole lot of them in guitar stores, but you do see them on eBay, albeit at inflated prices, some as high as $2,500. Are the worth that? They are if there's consistently someone willing to pay that. There's a thread on the JFConline forum that indicates color being a factor in pricing, with Sea Green Surfcasters commanding a premium - I don't know if that's true or not. There does not seem to be any indication that the Maple/Mahogany Surfcasters command a higher price than the Basswood Surfcasters, nor do the trem versions command a higher price than the hardtail versions.

As far as sound is concerned, Surfcasters are known for a bright, jangly tone that is typical of lipstick tube pickups. The Chandler-made lipstick tube pickups tend to be hotter than original 50's/60's era Danelectro lipstick pickups, but with relatively similar crisp, bright tone. The 94/95 Surfcasters with the Jackson humbucker in the bridge offer a great more versatility, although there are many, many more humbucker options available on the market today that provide better tones, depending on what you're after.

From a playability standpoint, Surfcasters are known to have low action and be easy to play, primarily due to the jumbo frets. Surfcasters have wide, thin necks, typical of shredder guitars of the 90's. Depending on the size of your hands and what you're used to, this can either be incredibly comfortable and fast, or can result in hand fatigue. The fretboard radius is quite flat - probably 12-14".

One last thing to note, there were some Surfcasters made in Japan in the mid-2000's made only in Red, Black and Sea Green. While they offered the same features as the original '92-95 period Surfcasters, I have never seen/played one in person, and cannot provide any info as to their build quality. There was someone buying these from Japan and then selling them on eBay, so always inquire as to when a Surfcaster was made.

Lastly, I have a '94 Sea Green Charvel Surfcaster. It's extremely well made, I find it really comfortable to play, and I did swap out the Jackson humbucker for a Duncan Custom 5, which I'm currently really happy with. I play mostly blues/rock/funk and the Surfcaster seems to be able to "do it all" with ease. If you can find one and you can actually play it before you buy it (and you can afford it), I think you'll love it.

Good luck!