Sound — 9
Anyone who has read any of my articles will know I am a massive hair metal fan, and it doesn't need saying that a 21 year old, Orange Charvel superstrat suits my music style perfectly. The pickups are surprisingly good, with a much fuller, crisper sound than pickups found in most low/mid range superstrats of today. I used to own an Ibanez RG3 something or other, and it really was no better than the Charvette as far as sound (or indeed, anything) was concerned. I usually play through a Roland Cube 60watt amp, and I can get a good metal tone out of it, not a massively brutal one (because that sounds crap anyway), but a nice, full tone that sounds pretty awesome when turned up loud. It also handles clean tones well, with loads of nice sustain and clarity etc.
Overall Impression — 9
It is a perfect hair metal guitar, being a bright Orange superstrat. In all honesty, I bought the guitar for its looks alone, so the fact that it plays well and sounds really good is a massive bonus. It will have a big stage presence - there can be no hiding behind such a violently Orange guitar. I have a reasonably largish collection of guitars, including 4 superstrats, and this is definitely one of my favourites - no way is it going to be moving on any time soon. If you have the oppurtunity to buy one of these things for under 200, do so, because it is easily as good as anything worth 300- 400 and above. The only thing I would change would be the action - I would lower it a tiny amount to make it as playable as my absolute favourite guitar. If this guitar were lost or stolen, I would certainly consider buying another were it available. It's a very good guitar indeed.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I don't have any real idea about this guitar's past, but it's survived 21 years and seems virtually as good as new. This leads me to believe it's had a somewhat easy life, probably not being thrown about or being physically abused on stage. Now I own it, and that means this will probably change once my new band gets practicing in a few weeks time. I have given this an 8, because although I don't know much about it's past, it has still managed to get through 21 years and all the inevitable transportation and occassional knocks that all guitars receive, and yet looks as if it was made yesterday.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Even though I bought the guitar second hand, I was surprised at how well it had been set up, only one string was half a step out of standard tuning. The action is ever so slightly higher than I like, but not to the extent that it is unplayable. The guitar was in excellent condition, barely a scratch visible.
Features — 7
This guitar was made in 1990 in Japan. It has a reverse head stock, a bolt on maple neck, rosewood fret board with 22 frets, a Vintage Tremolo bridge, a H-S-S Charvel pickup layout, six strings and a violently Orange finish. The body is alder as far as I can tell. Overall it has a good set of features, although not all that you would expect in a superstrat (e.g. no floating trem).