The Charvel San Dimas 1H


You look at that picture, what do you see? Do you see 80’s metal? Do you see an instrument indicative of an antiquated style of playing? These can be some of the emotions evoked by Charvel’s return to the guitar market. However, don’t be fooled. The only things Charvel about this guitar are the neck and the logo. The rest is made, pretty much, by everyone else. Seymour Duncan humbucker, Floyd Rose floating bridge and nut, Fender Strat body. Hell, Charvel and Jackson were bought by Fender, so they can cut the corners on the design process. So all in all, it’s a pretty standard looking guitar.

But when you pick it up, plug it in, and your fingers hit that board…

…you feel something that can only be described as magic.

The Specs: Alder body, Seymour Duncan TB14 humbucker, Standard Fender Strat body, bolt-on hard rock maple neck, ebony fretboard, 22 jumbo frets, original Floyd Rose, all wrapped up in the classic Charvel package. This is the essence of the words “Superstrat.” It is a simple guitar with one pickup, one volume knob, and a bridge that really looks like it’s floating there. There’s no pocket routing, and all of the electronics are from the back. The only thing on the front of the body is the pickup, one knob and a bridge. This is bauhaus minimalism, folks.

The neck: The first thing I do when I touch a guitar is wrap my left hand around the neck. I get a feel for how thick it is, how round it is, how flat the fretboard radius is, the finish on the neck, and the action of the frets. I’ll tell you, i’ve played 3 of the San Dimas 1Hs, and every single time I wrapped my hand around that neck, I didn’t let go. I picked it up and sat there for an hour with it every time. The neck that they put on this thing seems to epitomize perfection in neck form. It’s not paper thin as to make you want to flatten your hand, and it’s not bulky thick. Think about a fine line between an ibanez Wizard and an Ernie Ball Music Man. And now that I think about it, my descriptions can’t do it justice. My hand just seemed to have a mind of its own when I played this guitar. The action was perfect, the frets were finished perfectly, and they didn’t blast up and down the neck, they glided. As always, i’ve got to have my gripes. Usually, I love the feel of a through-neck guitar, but the bolt on seemed to fit perfectly here. However, the one neck complaint is the fact that there are only 22 frets. This is a super strat with plenty of room there with the lack of a neck pickup, so put 2 extra frets for that extra octave without risking a string-breaking bend.

The electronics: For what the electronics are, they’re perfect. The Seymour Duncan TB-14 was designed for Jackson/Charvel style superstrats, because they know what the buyer had in mind when they got one. They wanted to be able to move fast, and they wanted it to be comfortable, and they wanted tone to match the style. This TB14 fits perfectly with this guitar. I’m trying to avoid using a poetic cliche` to describe the tone of the guitar; Guitar magazines do it, and I can’t believe their advertising induced wordings, but this guitar truly sings. That’s it. It’s meant to be overdriven and played loudly, and these electronics fit extremely well. A coil tap might have been clever, but since they were going for the most you can do with the least stuff, they did extremely well. Granted, it’s not very versatile, but it’s not like this is going to replace your Joe Pass signature hollowbody in your jazz quartet (not unless you really want to shake things up). This is meant for speed, shredding, leads, and pretty much everything synonymous with lead playing. Simply put, this guitar was meant to take the lead.

Hardware: Perfectly finished frets resting in an ebony fretboard, simple Gotoh-style tuners. Charvel wasn’t exactly trying to reinvent the wheel here. Despite my hatred for floating bridges, nothing else would’ve fit on this guitar. It wouldn’t have had the same pinache on that rack with through-body bridge ferrules. So you’ll spend an hour restringing the thing, re-calibrating the bridge, and tuning it, but whenever you start to play it, you won’t care that you just spent over two hours making your guitar perfect again.

The Whole Shebang: Simply stated, this guitar is magnificient. When you pick it up, it tells you exactly what you’re going to play on it. You’re going to want to play Eruption, Hot For Teacher, or some sort of 80’s shred fest with some sort of galloping rhythm. And since it is a very expensive guitar for something so simple as a standard alder Strat body with a maple neck and ebony fretboard, you’re going to get it perfectly set up. The Floyd Rose will be parallel to the body, new strings, perfectly tuned, ultra-low action, and perfectly intonated. You’re going to realize it’s got limitations without a neck pickup, 24 frets, a fixed bridge, a tone control, or a through neck. But trust me on this, you’re going to forget every single one of those things whether you’re playing it through a 15 watt Crate or a Marshall JCM 900. Every one of those possible flaws I felt I could never get over, just seemed to disappear. Amazing, this guitar makes you not care about anything that might be wrong with it. That’s powerful stuff.

The Pros: Perfect neck, perfect frets, looks gorgeous, perfect tone for that guitar, feels perfect. Absolutely perfect.

The Cons: It’s about as versatile as a drag racer, but you only get a drag racer for one reason. 22 frets? No tone knob? No fixed bridge? No thru neck? No one cares.

The Grade:


Filed under Charvel, Charvel San Dimas 1h, Fender Guitars, guitar, guitar rant, guitar review, Jackson guitars, San Dimas

12 Responses to The Charvel San Dimas 1H

  1. haven’t tried a charvel in a while (back in hair metal days); this looks cool

  2. Lawrence

    Hello, I recently picked up a Charvel, single pick up, double cut, strat style electric. I am trying to identify the model/year but am struggling to find accurate information on the web. It looks like a San Dimas (1H?) but how do I tell for sure.

    The neck plate (bolt on neck) has the etched charvel logo and a P.O. box address in Fort Worth Texas. The serial number between the logo and the address is 241398 (does that date it as 1982??)Charvel is written on the head stock. It has a single pickup (Seymour Duncan??), one volume knob, Gotoh-style tuners, floyd rose floating bridge (a pain to tune with the fine tuning knobs but worth it once you take the time).

    Any info you can give me on the guitar, the model, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

    best regards


  3. John

    I also have an 80’s model Charvel double cut with a Fort Worth name plate except mine has a uncovered humbucker on the bridge and 2 single coils in the middle and neck position all being square to the neck, a 5 position selector switch, one volume and one tone knob all mounted in a pick guard. The neck is a 22 fret rosewood and the neck is flattened in the back (a very fast and smooth neck) I’m also looking for information on this guitar and have look for weeks with out success. Is this a copy or and original???? Looking for any kind of info..

    Thanks to all….


  4. Hi, I recently have bought a used charvel as well with the FT. Worth Texas plate on it I did find out that all charvels with this plate were made in Japan. So they are not a U.S.A. guitar at all. However Made in Japan in this case dosent matter because to me the guitar kicks ass just like the U.S.A. models. Heck my Charvel even has a cracked neck and the fret board is peeling away from the neck and it still plays like a dream!!!!! Amazing!!!!! Gary

  5. Hal

    hey morons – it says fort worth – thats your big friggin clue

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  8. josh

    how much is the standard???

  9. dave

    i have a red san dimas standard very nice 1/4 sawn maple neck unfinished which is nice love the way they wear, but rosewood and ebony are nice too, not a tremelo fan,i have the old school fender style bridge , i just put all springs on it and tighten it down so it wont move, set up was perfect i’v never played such a nice guitar before just like butter, one suggestion tho , take the time to have it set up for 10 guage strings but take to some one who knows what their doing as the neck and nut and intonation must be adjusted. those necks are great but heavier tension will ruin them so get it setup rite and you will be very happy..

  10. thegaindeli

    The 1H does not sport a “Fender body”… These are exact reproductions of the original Charvel’s we know and love!
    As for the Trem…. I think anyone would agree that an original Floyd Rose is superior to any after-market “knock-off”.
    “Don’t be fooled… These are 100% Charvel!

    • sharon

      ive got a charvel guitar it 1982 machine gun ive ben looking for some infore on it.ive bought it from akron music he was in NEW YORk for a showing bought it i was told it was made for eddy van halen and he didnt like it he said it was to trashes

  11. RJ

    Whats the value difference between a Charvel with a ‘San Dimas’ backplate and a ‘Fort Worth’ backplate (US made and Japan made)?

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