Charvette review by Charvel

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 8.4 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (27 votes)
Charvel: Charvette

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).

10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Charvettes are not made in Japan, but in Korea. Nevermind, they are excellent tools for incredibly little money. If you can grab one in good condition, it's gem. You'll be rewarded with plenty of character and vibe.
    I have an 89 charvette, it has a custom "chameleon" paint job and I love it. Its better for playing softer songs such as songs from the band "Live", and anything soft. its a great guitar, got it used from guitar center and a warranty for $160. Love it.
    Its funny...ALL Charvette's were made in Korea. Some had solid bodies but most were plywood. The first run had Original Floyds or Floyd 2's. The rest were not so good and were pretty much just Charvels entry level guitar. Very much like Ib's RG is now.....
    Charvel newbies need to read folks! All Charvels have the FT Worth or Cali neck plates...these were all made in Korea folks! Not Japan nor America! They are great players for the money.....but they were still the 80's entry level Charvel.
    From what I've read online (take with a grain of salt) in 89 some where made in Japan,hence the solid body all the ones made In Korea were laminate.model and serial # show mine to be made in 89 with basswood body.Funny thing mine is like 9 lbs without the neck.kinda been my Frankenstein guitar I put a Floyd on it for while. now it has a Fender vintage bridge at the spots I dremeled and drilled I swear its maple.tone sounds like maple also.80s where a crazy Time for guitar builders I guess lol.
    I have a 250 which is made in Japan - solid body, no plywood. Always liked the sound from the bridge pickup but neck and middle were a bit weak. Great neck. The Tremelo poor though. Recently got it out of the garage having not played it in almost 15 years. Neck still fine and played fine. Replaced with pickups with some Seymour Duncan single coils and and Iron Gear bucker at the bridge. Managed to find an axetec strat style bridge that fitted the narrow post width. Getting great sounds from it particularly the new neck PUP
    I have a 270 MIJ that someone put a Jackson neck and a Jackson Floyd Rose on and it's a monster guitar.
    Gundude & RV-Phoenix - Charvettes with Made in Japan on the back are not made in Korea , the clue is in the Made in Japan label. also the whole plywood stigma makes me laugh (on Squiers too) the body wood makes very little if any difference to guitars with a fully floating trem system (Hence why people get away with making plastic ones), the trem unit and mostly the block quality are the big things there. Plywood is ideal as it`s tough as hell - no one complains about the Gibson ES175 being made of the stuff.