Where Are Charvel Guitars Made And Are They Good?

Almost every guitarist has heard about Charvel, but not too many are familiar with what Charvel can offer or where the guitars are made. Charvel is famous for being a kick-starter in the custom shop revolution, which sparked quickly.

So where are Charvel guitars made? Charvel guitars are made in The U.S, Mexico, and Japan. This all depends on the model. The San Dimas and So-Cal series are made in The U.S and Mexico, while the MJ Series is made in Japan. Charvel’s custom shop lineup is made in Corona, California.

Charvel has an interesting history in its path to becoming known as a company that makes “super-cars” of guitars. Known for its crunchy sound with long sustain, what else do Charvel guitars have to offer?

Charvel Guitars

Charvel, in his past, has an interesting turn of events. This guitar company was founded by Wayne Charvel in 1974 as a guitar repair and refinishing of Fender instruments for which its warranty is expired. 

The fact that Asian companies started to copy and sell Charvel parts at lower prices pushed Wayne Charvel into making complete guitars for which the material they used was outsourced by Boogie and Schecter bodies. In 1978 Charvel was bought by Jackson, and Wayne Charvel has been out of business since then. 

After the Charvel was bought by Jackson, it started producing various guitar parts for Dimarzio, Mighty Mike, and Music Man. This led to an increased flow of funds and experience through Charvel which allowed Jackson to grow the Charvel brand. 

Since then, Charvel had introduced many interesting designs and concepts in the art of guitar making. They had made many custom guitars for famous artists such as Jake Lee, Eddie Van Halen, Guthrie Govan, Satchel, Joe Duplantier, and many more.

Where Are Charvel Guitars Made?

The birthplace of the making of the Charvel guitars is Azusa, California. These guitars were made here from the beginning of the Charvel until 1986 when they moved their facilities to Ontario in California, where they soon stopped manufacturing in the USA. 

During 1980, Charvel had encountered great success and an even bigger demand for their instruments. This led them to introduce mass production of some models, which would be done in Japan. 

Up until then, every Charvel instrument was essentially a handmade instrument. Manufacturing in Asia will eventually lead to categorizing their instruments into models. 

Charvel’s acquisition by Fender in 2002 led them to introduce new models such as the most famous “San Dimas” which is considered as most influential guitar by Charvel, and these guitars are made in the USA.  

Today most of their manufacturing is done in Fenders facilities in Corona, USA, and Ensenada in Mexico and Japan. The models made in the USA are “USA Select,” “Artist signature,” and Custom shop series. Pro-Mod and DK series are made in Mexico, and the MJ Series are made in Japan. While many models stand out, most of them are really good and feel great to play.

Does It Matter Where Charvel Guitars Are Made?

Most people in the guitar community agree that the U.S makes the highest quality guitars, then comes Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and finally China. However, there are exceptions, and it isn’t always true.

While almost all of the Charvel guitars are considered to be in the range of high-quality guitars, there are differences between Charvel guitars made in USA and Japan. 

When it comes to Charvel guitar’s quality and the questions of the matter of the place where are they made it is all dependent on the type of model. The models such as “San Dimas” which are made in the USA are considered to be of better quality than the ones that are made in Japan. 

On the other hand, there are some great fast-neck models which provide great quality and their manufacturing is done in Japan. These models are considered that they provide great value for the price.

How Good Are Charvel Guitars?

Charvel guitars are in the top class when it comes to the quality of the instrument. The fact that they were bought by Fender says it all. And if that is not enough for you, just take a look at some of the artists that have been playing their guitars. 

It is commonly considered that the guitars from the mid-1980s are considered to be the “Golden Age” of Charvel. One of the reasons for this s the fact that the production line was under the supervision of Grove Jackson himself. He wanted to make sure that quality would be great so the company would be more competitive in the market. 

In the reviews on many forums, you will find phrases about the Charvel guitars that say they are every shredder’s dream guitar. The reason for this is that these guitars have much thinner necks than Fender or Gibson guitars resulting in lower string action allowing the players to play fast.

The quality of the Charvel instruments today is not worse or better than in the mid-1980s era. To this day, Charvel still makes great instruments and guitar parts that stand out from the crowd and are available almost in every corner of the Earth. 

The Price Of Charvel Guitars?

Charvel guitars go for between $900 and $3500. When it comes to the Custom Shop guitars, the price starting point is about $3000. Then it all depends on the price of the parts you would like to use and the complexity of the build. The price of a custom guitar can go as high as $5000.  Considering the quality of the sound and build, these prices are great.

One of their most famous models today is the Pro-Mod So-Cal style. This model goes for about $1000. You will get a guitar for this price that you can take to the biggest shows and your bedroom. 

The guitars made in the mid-1980s are still available to buy, and their price is not blown out of proportion. You can find them online auctioned starting at around $1500. 

Charvel Electric Guitar Models

While there are many Charvel guitar series that you can find in their repertoire, we will go over some of their most popular models from different series. At the time of writing this article, Charvel offers six different guitar model series: Pro-Mod, Artist Signature, MJ, USA Select, Limited Edition, and Custom Shop series. 

Pro-mod Series

This series features guitars that are built for high-speed performance. This means that you will be getting the lowest action there is. These guitar series feature four different guitars: So-Cal Style 1, San Dimas Style 1, So-Cal Style 2, DK24, and Dk22. As an example of this series, we will take a look at the So-Cal models of guitars.

So-Cal models have a Stratocaster style body with HSH or HH Seymour Duncan pickups configuration. These models have Floyd Rose 1000 series double-locking tremolo bridge system which is famous for improved sustain and intonation. 

They also feature a push-pull volume knob which is used to control the coil-split of the humbuckers. This goes only for the HH models. The 3-way blade is also connected to a push-pull knob so you will be getting a lot more out of your split single-coil pickups. 

So-Cal models sound great. You can get that great distorted sound that will cut right through the mix while not losing the crisp of the clean sound. The price of these guitars goes for about $1000. 

Artist Signature Series

This series, as you have guessed by the title, features Artist signature guitars. Charvel in its past had worked with major names in the guitar industry. These are some of the artists that have a signature guitar made by Charvel and play Charvel instruments: Rick Graham, Angel Vivaldi, Guthrie Govan (The Aristocrats), Joe Duplantier (Gojira), Satchel (Steel Panther), Warren DeMartini (Ratt), and many more. You can find all the models of all artists who have Charvel’s signature guitar here.

Almost every guitarist, professional or beginner, had or has their guitar hero. The one guitarist who inspired them to take on the journey of learning how to play guitar. Most of those people aim to have their guitar sound similar to their guitar heroes. 

In this series, Charvel allows you to experience what your guitar hero experiences. Each one of the models in this series has a personal stamp of the artist himself. The price of these guitars varies from model to model. Everything depends on the artist, from the price to the characteristics of the guitar. 

MJ Series

This series takes you back to the mid-1980s and the time when the Charvel guitars were made in Japan. You can consider them as an homage to the legacy of the “Golden Age” of Charvel. 

The most famous example of this guitar model series is the Guthrie Govan signature MJ San Dimas SD24. This guitar has a personal touch to almost every aspect of this guitar. 

This guitar features strat style Basswood body with an ash top. The neck is sturdy and can withstand a great amount of abuse. This is thanks to it being caramelized and granite reinforced. It has 24 jumbo stainless-steel frets and the pickups are American-made and are in HSH configuration. 

Pickups are controlled with a five-way switch and it has a two-way mini-toggle switch that engages the simulation of single-coil in the bridge and neck humbucker positions. It also comes with a volume and tone knob with illuminated numbers. 

This guitar has a wide specter of tone within it. This is the guitar which you can take to any type of gig and it will deliver what is expected of it. The price of this guitar at the time of writing of this article goes from $2500 to $3000.

USA Select Series

USA select series features USA handmade guitars straight from the Charvel Custom Shop in California. This means you will get the best instrument that has been made with a lot of care and attention to detail.

This series features three guitar models: San Dimas, So-Cal, and DK24. This series manages to satisfy old-fashioned and modern guitarist needs. San Dimas and So-Cal are guitar models that feature traditional specifications that will take you back to the old-school Charvel guitars. 

A good example of old-school Charvel guitars is the USA Select San Dimas Style 1. This guitar has a super strat body made out of alder and maple neck with a vintage truss rod. The pickups are DiMarzio DP100 Super Distortion bridge pickup and DiMarzio DP-116 HS2 neck and middle pickup. They are laid in HSS or HH configuration and it does not have a coil split. 

The sound and playability are great. You can play them straight out of the box and will not require any setup. The price of this guitar goes from around $2000 to $2500.

On the other hand, you have DK24 models which are made for guitarists who are pickier when it comes to the sound of their guitars. As a representative of these models, we will take a look at USA Select DK24 HH 2PT CM. 

This guitar features an iconic Jackson-style body made out of alder with a carmelized maple neck with graphite reinforcement. The neck of this guitar is made for speed which means the action is low. 

The pickups are made by Seymour Duncan and are laid out in HH configuration giving you that fat sound of distortion with big tone diversity.  They are controlled by a 5-way blade, 500K EVH Bourns low friction potentiometer volume, and no-load tone controls. The tremolo bridge is a vintage-style Gotoh custom 510 which keeps the guitar in tune at all times. 

The sound and build quality overall is more than great. According to reviews, this guitar can take a beating. The price of this guitar at the moment of writing this article is about $3500.

Limited Edition Series

This series of Charvel guitars features limited edition Charvel models that re-create iconic Charvel guitars with modernized and innovative features. This guitar series features the Super Stock Models. At the moment there are only two guitars within this series: Super Stock Model 2 and Super Stock SC1. 

The Super Stock Model 2 model takes you back to the original Model 2 from the mid-1980s with modern improvements. It features the super strat body made out of the alder with the original Skull and Bones graphic. The neck is graphite-reinforced and bolted onto the body of the guitar.

It has only one bridge positioned Seymour Duncan TB-6  humbucker pickup which makes this guitar ideal for rock and metal music. 

The bridge is a Top-Loaded Floyd Rose 1000 double locking system that will keep your guitar always in tune so you can dive-bomb as much as you want. This guitar goes for about $1000 today. 

Custom Shop Series

As the last guitar series by Charvel, we will take a look at the Custom Shop series. In case you have not found what you want in the previous series, the custom shop is there to make your wishes come true. 

What kind of guitar you want is completely up to you. The builders at the Charvel Custom shop are there to help you get the instrument that is unique only for you. 

The custom shop guitars are available both in the USA and Europe, and the price of the guitar completely depends on what kind of wood, material, and electronics you would like to use.

Does Charvel Make Other Products Besides Guitars?

While there is limited information regarding this topic, Charvel does not make any other instruments apart from electric guitars and basses. The reason for this is unknown to the general public. 

This might be to the fact that they have been bought by Jackson and then, as a part of Jackson, bought by Fender, keeping them as a company that makes electric guitars only. The fact that they are only focused on the making of guitars is probably a big part of why their guitars play and feel great. 

Who Uses Charvel Guitars?

During the 1980s, Charvel had started to stand out and get used by famous rock and heavy metal guitarists. One of the most notable guitarists from that era was Eddie Van Halen, who used guitars made by Charvel during the golden time of his career. 

Today’s most famous ones are:

  • Guthrie Govan
  • Warren DeMartini
  • Rick Graham

Most of these guitarists have their own signature guitar made by Charvel.


Charvel, in its past, had always made great guitars and also made them for great guitarists. The question of where they are made is almost irrelevant when it comes to Charvel. All of their guitars are great instruments no matter where they made them, Asia or USA. 

This is one of the reasons why Charvel is one of the most famous guitar brand names in the world. Despite its interesting past and being bought by two different companies, Charvel has always made great instruments for professionals and absolute beginners.

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I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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