Charvel Pro Mod So-Cal Style 1 HH FR review

The number of the beast

  • £709
  • $899

MusicRadar Verdict

This Charvel, as Bill and Ted might say, is most triumphant.


  • +

    Superb playability.


  • -

    Doesn't clean up as well as its stablemates.

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The So-Cal defines the 'SuperStrat' concept as originally nailed by Eddie Van Halen in the late 70s.

That classic body shape, the Floyd Rose double-locking vibrato, the slim maple bolt-on neck with its compound radius and fat frets...

It all adds up to shredder heaven. The guitar's thick single-ply scratchplate comes loaded with a pair of Seymour Duncan humbuckers, a TB-6 Distortion in the bridge position and a SH-6N Distortion at the neck. These are wired through a volume control with push/pull action to split the pickups' coils, the aforementioned No-Load tone pot and a three-way pickup selector blade switch.

In the full-on, non-coil- split setting, the switch gives you three options: bridge 'bucker, the inner coils of both pickups and the neck unit solo. Lift the volume knob and you engage the coil-split mode.

Now you get an additional tonal trifecta: the bridge humbucker's outer coil, both pickups' outer coils, and the neck's outer coil.

The high-output Duncan Distortion 'bucker, originally launched back in 1980, features ceramic magnets and overwound coils.

The result, in Seymour Duncan's words, is a pickup rich in 'powerful upper mids'. Translation? This is the perfect metal'bucker, one that cuts through a mix no matter how much gain you unleash. The neck unit thickens up the tone on offer with serious synth-like sustain, again with the gain cranked up.

Granted, the So-Cal doesn't cleanup quite as sweetly as the other models in this line-up, but who cares? If you're looking for a brutal-sounding guitar with flawless playability and unshakable tuning then you won't be able to wipe the grin off your face.