Desolation DS-1 ST Review

manufacturer: Charvel date: 11/13/2014 category: Electric Guitars
Charvel: Desolation DS-1 ST
I play alot of metal from old to new and blues. The guitar is great with the metal. I am a rhythm guy so this guitar is going to work great.
 Sound: 9
 Overall Impression: 9
 Reliability & Durability: 9
 Action, Fit & Finish: 9.3
 Features: 8.3
 Overall rating:
 Reviewer rating:
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reviews (3) pictures (5) 22 comments vote for this gear:
overall: 8.2
Desolation DS-1 ST Reviewed by: Dr. Bonebrake, on december 10, 2012
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 649.99

Purchased from: Sweetwater

Features: I bought this guitar because I was looking for a fixed bridge Les Paul style powerhouse at a reasonable price. I felt that this was the best option out there and I haven't been disappointed. It's a 2012 guitar manufactured in China - which may turn a lot of guitar enthusiasts away. However, if you are like me and would rather the instrument speak for it's quality rather than the country of origin, I think you will enjoy playing this guitar. Being that the guitar is under $700, some features had to suffer, but for the most part it's loaded with reasons to love it. First off, it has a pretty light weight mahogany body with a carved top. Mine is the transparent blue smear finish, which has a nice looking flame maple veneer with matching head stock. The head stock and the body both have a abalone binding. The finish is very expensive looking to my eyes and I get tons upon tons of compliments on it. The hardware has a black nickel finish which looks very nice, but has already discolored where my palm rests on the bridge. Unfortunate, but I can deal with it. The neck is a thing of beauty. I love how it plays, it felt very natural to me from the first time I picked it up. I was a little worried about making the transition to something like this since I've grown accustomed to the super fast Wizard neck on my JS-100, but my skepticism was for naught. It has 24 jumbo frets on the rosewood compound-radius fretboard, which is fitted to a mahogany neck that is lightly sanded and oiled (one of my favorite features of the guitar). Another selling point for me was that it is neck-through. One part about the neck that I'm a little confused by is that it is a Strat/Tele scale of 25.5" instead of the typical Les Paul scale. To me, it seems the balance while wearing the guitar is a little off because of this, but again - I'm not that concerned by it. The tuners are nothing special, but they work well. The bridge is standard-style and made to compensate for the compound radius fretboard. It didn't come with a case or gig bag. The pick ups are Seymour Duncan Blackout active humbuckers. I have a lot to say about those, but I had better leave some of that for the next section! Two volume knobs, two tone knobs and a three-way selector control the pick ups. // 8

Sound: So, on to the most important category. How does this guitar sound? Well, pretty awesome in my opinion. I play in a progressive band that is heavy, clean and in between, so I need some versatility in a guitar. I play through an Egnater Tweaker 40 combo with TC Electronic's FlashBack Delay, Hall Of Fame Reverb, Spark Booster, and Dark Matter Distortion. I also have the Vox Ice 9 Overdrive. With the combination of everything, I can get a ton of different tones. However, saying that I can get a ton of different tones out of a bunch of effects isn't really speaking for the guitar, is it? What I've noticed that this guitar brings to my equipment is a really thick, high output sound. It's very warm, even on the bridge pickup, and I am very fond of a warm guitar tone. Unfortunately, this has it's drawbacks. First off, on a completely clean setting on my amp, if I dig in too hard with my pick I will get a little bit of break up. I'm not saying that it is always a drawback, because I can use that, but it's not always a desired effect either. Second, since the Egnater is a very warm amp, when adding the warm character of the guitar on top of that things can get a bit muddy. The tone knobs don't do a whole lot to help counter act this. The volume knobs, on the other hand, seem pretty responsive. I can roll back the volume on any of my distortions - be it the amp, the Dark Matter distortion or the Ice 9 overdrive - and it will clean up very nicely. Also, I can roll back the volume on the neck pickup and use the three way selector to switch from a mild overdrive to full out distortion on the same channel. Pretty cool. As far as noise goes, I've found the Blackouts to be very quiet. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: I feel like the fit and finish of this guitar was pretty excellent. I had it shipped from (where they do a 55-point evaluation before it leaves the warehouse) and it arrived in great shape. The action was very comfortable, low with not a hint of a fret buzz to be found. Pickups were adjusted nicely. I did tweak them a little bit, but then pretty much reset them to factory afterwards because it sounded better before I messed with them. No noise in any of the pots or pickup selector. // 9

Reliability & Durability: I wish I could give this guitar a 10 in this category, but the damned black nickel finish fading on the bridge leaves me no choice. Everything aside from that seems very sturdy and durable. The strap buttons on this guitar are monstrous things that provide nearly as much stability as a strap lock system with a decently made strap. I haven't had any troubles gigging with it and I would be comfortable not bringing a back up, though I tend to bring one anyway in case I break a string. It stays in tune pretty well, too, even with heavy bending. Aside from the hardware finish, it seems to be very well made hardware that will last for years and years to come. I could see the finish wearing off of the guitar itself much later down the line, but not anytime soon. That's something that you'll have with pretty much any guitar, though. // 8

Overall Impression: Overall, I'm very pleased with this guitar. I can't really give it a 9 or a 10, because it has a few issues, but all in all they are small gripes as far as I am concerned. I can see myself buying another one of these in a little while. It fits the style of music that I play very well, I would say it even over-achieves when it comes to the heavier stuff. If I were to buy another one, I would probably try to put some burstbuckers in it for a little less output and more versatility. I may end up upgrading a few things on this one too, such as replacing the plastic nut with a graphite or putting some locking tuners on it, but I'm not in any rush to do so. I'm chalking this up as a win for Charvel and for myself for purchasing it. If you are looking for a new guitar with some of these features, I highly recommend you go out and try one of these.

// 8

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overall: 9
Desolation DS-1 ST Reviewed by: phaedrusguitar, on november 13, 2014
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 299

Purchased from: Feller Vintage via amazon

Features: Stop tail, neck thru, mahogany, 24 fret ,oiled neck, Les Paul style, flat black with abalone binding,tuneomatic bridge, active blackout pups,2 tone 2 volume, three way pickup selector, guitar chord and hex wrench. I wish this site would autopopulate the configuration of the guitar for non-custom guitars. I am a Bayesian and believe there is always something I don't know, so my max rating for any item will be 9 on 10. // 9

Sound: no noise, very nice tones, brings my Peavey Vypyr 30 alive. I can finally tell differences in tone across the different Vypyr settings, my Jackson JS32T Kelly could not. Without amp the guitar resonates, not like an acoustic but like a silent guitar. Makes it a joy to practice on without amps. I play Satriani and Metallica stuff and a little Pantera. To my amateur ears, I think I can match all of those sounds playing with my Vypyr. The natural sustain in the guitar is amazing (so I practice unplugged even for some of the short legato runs) - amped up I am not sure if the guitar sustains more because of the amp or the guitar. Notes are well defined on clean as well as on distortion. Really makes the rhythm fills on sanitarium come through. 

To be sure, I have the EMG 81/85 on the Skatecaster FR, and I can dial in the same sound with either if I tweak the Vypyr a bit. Given that both active pickups are basically preamps, they are louder than a passive. You can dial down the preamp on the Vypyr if you feel the overdrive coming up too early or use the volume knobs on the guitar for cleans. Both seem to have very good note definition in clean and on overdrive/metal settings. // 9

Action, Fit & Finish: Hmm, I am not a guitar tech and almost always pay 42 bucks to my luthier to have it set up the first time. To be honest the set up didn't feel too different before vs after. I think the factory specs are quite low - and I had the guitar tech set it to factory specs .55 mm at the first fret low e string, 1.6mm at the 17th fret (warehouse, shipping etc could mess with that). And I am very happy with how it plays now. Great for speed licks and for stretched out chords. 

Binding is perfect and the guitar holds tune like the ocean holds water. Note that 23rd to 24th fret access is a little difficult ("Glasgow Kiss" riff on the high octaves is a little iffy but you can play it if you use different fingers than what you use on the lower end of the scale). The cutaway is sloped so that helps. On the other hand the first fret chording is very nicely accessible as that end of the neck is closer to you (in comparison to the Skatecaster, which has much better upper fret access but leaves the lower fret a little further away from the body). // 9

Reliability & Durability: I am not a performer and I have had this for 2 weeks so can't make any claims here. My rating is a reflection of my confidence - and so far its not been shaken by any funny business like loss of tuning/sound cutouts or funny string action. The finish is perfect looks really good but I am not performing for a live audience so it could be pink with hello kitty on it for all I care. I wanted a technically sophisticated machine and this feels like one. It is made in China - I've run outsourcing operations in China and understand the variation in quality. I have two desolations and both seem outstanding. Nothing to complain here. // 9

Overall Impression: Satriani to Metallica. About 3 years of playing of and on, maybe 14-15 months of serious playing). I wanted a guitar where I was sure that my playing technique was not being held back because the instrument was lousy (my first two years of crappy 100 buck guitars had me fixing the wrong stuff). I was in the market for a thousand buck guitar and was researching it for about 3 months. I then bought the Floyd Rose EMG Charvel Skatecaster SK1 for 250 bucks and this for 299. Including setup that puts me in at 650 for both types of guitars - which means I can whammy or droptune. I love the fact that it is really easy to play and just lets me focus on the song and my technique. Any difficulty I have playing is a problem with me and not the machine - no funny neck or action or pickup issues. Welcome home sanitarium sounds outright mean on the DS1. I wish upper fret access were better, but I am not sure I should expect that in a Les Paul. Its the guitar I practice with in front of the TV in the hall even without an amp. // 9

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overall: 9.6
Desolation DS-1 ST Reviewed by: awesome alex, on january 05, 2012
2 of 13 people found this review helpful

Price paid: $ 599.95

Purchased from:

Features: - What year was it made? 2011 - Where was is made? China - How many frets? 24/Jumbo - Neck Shape? Through-Body Fast Neck with Tilt-Back Scarf Joint Head Stock - Laminated top? Laminated - Body and neck woods? Fretboard: Rosewood, Body: single-cutaway mahogany - Finish? Transparent - Body style? Single-Cut away - Active or Passive electronics? Active - Bridge Pickup: Seymour Duncan AHB-1B Pickup - Neck Pickup: Seymour Duncan AHB-1N Pickup - Which controls? Are given 2 Volume and 2 Control - Tuners? Charvel Locking Tuner - Any included accessories? Cable, neck adjustment tool // 8

Sound: How does it suit your music style (and what is that style)? I play alot of different styles but even from metal to Mars. The pick ups are very versatile. What amps and effects are you using it with? I use a Spider Line 6. So yes, it is complete with all effects. But even putting the amp on clean, very happy! Is it noisy? No noise except the ones I want. Lol. On what settings? Tone controls seem to not work very well. What kind of sounds can the guitar make? // 10

Action, Fit & Finish: Factory Set-up: I live in a tropical environment so I had to adjust the truss rod once I received it. Other then that, beautiful sound. Great sustain. Picks ups seemed adjust fine. Will keep playing with the different sounds to ensure it is at thier peak performance. No flaws were noted. Guitar was shipped overseas and not a single scratch on it. // 10

Reliability & Durability: I don't play in venues yet but the hardware seems to be very well built and should last a lifetime. The strap buttons seem to be solid. The guitar has great sustain and I believe it will be a great asset for any guitar player. I will be depending on this guitar for alot because of the ease to play and the fast neck. // 10

Overall Impression: I play alot of metal from old to new and blues. The guitar is great with the metal, the blues is hard to get the right sound but it was not purchased for this reason. I have been playing off and on for almost 15 years and still have a ton to learn. I own a Fender acoustic and an Ibanez with the whammy (don't like). I am a rhythm guy so this guitar is going to work great. I love the look of the transparent black and the abalone inlay. The pick ups are awesome. Nothing is hated at the moment but then again, it is a new toy. I compared this guitar with a ton of others and I am super happy with the product I got. // 10

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