San Dimas Style 2 review by Charvel

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  • Sound: 6
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.2 Good
  • Users' score: 9.7 (13 votes)
Charvel: San Dimas Style 2

Price paid: $ 749

Purchased from: Sam Ash, Cherry Hill, NJ

Sound — 6
Play mostly classic rock music and this guitar fits the bill great. I use a modified Peavey Classic 30 witha Marshall 1936 cabinet loaded with Avatar Hellatone 60 speakers. Excellent bottom with guitar, but a tone control would be nice. Not especially suited to stoner rock and metal due to the straight up in-your-face Nature of the Charvel guitar set-up. I do not use the neck pick-up, in fact it is set low because aggressive playing throws the high-E under the pick-up. Could be used for other styles of music if there was a tone control. This is pretty much a Rock'n'Roll guitar suited for a nice 80's Marshall JCM or Boogie. Played this through a Fender Hot Rod at Sam Ash, not a great match.

Overall Impression — 8
If the guitar were stolen, I would definitely try to find another (harder with a discontinued model). The San Dimas Style 2 is great for me, I like Tele bodies. This guitar isn't a one trick pony, but if you just play through an amp and have no modeling effects, you may be dissapointed.

Reliability & Durability — 7
I've gigged the guitar regularly with no issues, except for string breakage stemming from aggressive playing. Guitar stays in tune day after day with only some minor tweaking to center the fine tuners every now and again. I play Standard tuning and can't give an honest assessment about drop tunings. I always have a back-up guitar but only play it when I want to. I've had to oil the FR pivots and thats about it. Your finish wearing off is a sign of play time and love. If you're wearing off the finish, you're doing something RIGHT! lol

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Here is where I will give the guitar a high score. Fit and finish were close to flawless (and that is off a rack). The bridge is great, however, FR is not for everyone. The neck had a broken in feel from day one. Tuners work great. Some set-up will be involved, not everyone plays the same. I took my Charvel to DS Guitar in Newark, DE. Dave Sumner worked his magic and the guitar is fantastic with a floating bridge. I had to replace the three way Switch after about 4 months of playing, no biggie.

Features — 7
2009 production model, Made in USA 22 frets, Quarter sawn Maple, oiled finish, jumbo frets Multi-piece Ash body in Candy Majenta Tele style body, no comfort cuts Original Floyd Rose double-locking tremolo Seymour Duncan JB bridge and '59 neck Three-way switch, one volume knob Pickups are HH Mini grover tuners with a FR nut Gig Bag

11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    If you don't have 24 frets you lose 2 notes. As if you could not get around that
    I don't like all of the finishes Charvel chose in 2009. But I am fortunate to have the San Dimas Style 2 in Pagan Gold. The finish is gorgeous and it looks incredible on stage.
    Mr Edward Van Halen changed the guitar with one pickup, 22 Frets and a bolt on neck. Point is Charvels are not for everyone, but the USA models from 2009 are the best Charvels ever! What you feel is lacking in the features is made up by the fact that the unfinished necks on these guitars are the greatest
    I prefer Charvels with Dimarzios instead of Duncans. I am thinking of dropping a Dimarzio Tone Zone in my So Cal Tele Goldtop.
    Too much fuss about neckthru, 24 frets, body shape, tone knob etc. I used to have US made Style 1 (basically the same guitar except the body shape) and it is one of the best guitars that I've played in recent years. It has a very tight neck pocket (so good sustain), unfinished (nobody mentioning that) super comfortable neck. It is like butter. I would not compare it to anything else other than Musicman. Solid sound is coming from the guitar and I think US Production Series was unbeatable for the price but now these guitars are build in Japan (still very good price for quality but necks are not as good as American ones) Charvels are great guitars period !
    i always turn back the tone control about a 1/3 turn and the boost the amp treble to compensate. ok, i don't know why, but it sounds so much better like this. i started doing this on my les paul and now i do it on everything (strat and ibanez 1570). try it. i think you'll like it. :
    Try playing some Megadeth with 22 frets,or Death or Testament,or Slayer or Satch even,I could go on and on LOL!
    Well, I hate to necrothread . . . however, those who make a fuss about 24 frets, neck-thru, to few controls blah blah blah whine whine whine . . . don't know s**t, and I will bet you most have never even played live. ANYWAY, I owned an original Charvel 1 2H and (foolishly) sold it to bey a 24-fret ESP LTD EC-1000 (w/EMG 81/85) and regretted the day I did it. Luckily, my local guitar shop has a USA Charvel 22H (even better for my taste!) available at a nice price; SO I will be going there today to trade in the LTD to get the Charvel! Back to my point: It's laughable how kids or even adults rate a guitar based upon the number of frets, number of controls, type of neck etc., when some of the best players EVER played and even STILL play with 22 frets and a bolt-on neck! EVH, Vai, Eric Johnson, Yngwie,Richie Kotzen,Kirk Hammett(though don't care for his playing) Chris Impellitteri,Iron Maiden, Jake E. Lee and Satch ALL play/ed 22-fret Fenders or Charvels at one point or another!And these guys definitely DON'T SUCK! ALSO . . . Yngwie and EJ STILL play their "crappy" 22-fret, bolt-on Fenders! Trust me, this guitar is SWEET!!!! It may not be made for you or for "DEATH" metal (but never say never!), it is PERFECT for some of us, and obviously it is for the person who wrote this review! SO, you have the right to your opinion, but me and a lot of people would take this Charvel over some Schecter, BC Rich, or LTD with neck-thru and 24 fret. I CAN'T WAIT to get my hands on a Charvel again! Bye Bye LTD and your 24-frets and set-neck! BTW . . . 24 frets is 12 MORE NOTES not 2 more! If 22 frets is enough for Eddie, Yngwie, and Eric Johnson then it's enough for me!
    Back to the topic of the actual guitar... I have this USA model in black and have been playing it for two years. Agree that the neck feels great, but also that the frets are a bit rough on the outside edges (at least relative to my USA strat). Love the pickups, too...they fit what we play in my 80s/90s hard rock cover band. Truth be told, I like just about anything with a JB at the bridge. Finish on the body is pretty thick and pretty durable. Body workmanship isn't fantastic - can see the seam where the body blocks come together...but not a big deal to me. For me the FR bridge is just too high - partly because there's no recessed cavity for it. Can see where others might like this, but it doesn't fit my preference. Also have a Peavey Wolfgang Special with a recessed FR, and it just feels better to me. Will try again to bring things down as much as possible because I really like the neck and sound. My two cents... Cheers
    I tried one of these at the local music store. When I shop guitars, I never plug them in, because if it doesn't ring out, it's no good.. and this does have a nice sound, a very good guitar. As for tone knobs, I never use them, and more cavities routed in the body for switches and knobs means sacrificing sustain. And let's face it, most of the legends, Page, Hendrix, Clapton etc. They all played Fenders or Gibsons, which have 22 frets.. As for the tone, sounds a lot like my Kramer Baretta 84 reissue, which because of the maple body, has a lot of mid range, (lighter woods emphasize the higher harmonics, heavier woods tend to sound darker). Definitely a good guitar for the price..