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April 22nd, 2009:

Collectable Guitars pt 25 – Charvel Spectrum


icontexto-webdev-social-bookmark-09facebook481The Charvel Spectrum was a Superstrat type guitar made from 1989 to 1991 in a variety of wild colours.

The series was inspired by a custom model made for Jeff Beck.

The model was a part of Charvel’s Contemporary Series, and was possibly named after the veritable rainbow of bright colours it came in – including bright orange, dark blue, teal and magenta.

For the uninitiated, Superstrat guitars are so named because they take Fender’s classic Stratocaster design and update it, deepening the cutaways, putting in high-output pickups, often adding a Floyd Rose tremolo or one of its derivatives, usually having 24 frets as opposed to the 21 or 22 employed by the Fender.

Charvel Spectrum Guitar

More expensive Superstrats often have neck-through construction and seven-string versions are not uncommon.

This design of guitar is still made by Charvel, adding to the numerous models made by Ibanez, Jackson, BC Rich, ESP and Washburn. The whole genre of guitar was popularized by Eddie Van Halen with his famous “Frankenstrat” guitar.

The Spectrum differed to the usual Superstrat template in various ways, having 22 frets, occasionally a maple fretboard, and a scratchplate based on the old Fender Precision Bass design. They also employed bolt-on construction as opposed to the neck-thru designs of more expensive Charvels. Many sources I have seen state that the body wood is poplar, although there isn’t much concrete info on this.

The neck is maple and the fretboard usually rosewood, although some versions have maple fretboards. The three pickups appear to be single-coils, but are in fact “stacked” single-coil sized humbuckers with an active tone circuit with a wah function.

I have been fortunate to play a couple of examples of this very nice guitar, and I think that any fan of the Superstrat design would like the Spectrum. They are quite collectable now, as not many were made and there are a wide variety of different and unusual finishes.

They don’t tend to command prices out of reach of most players, however.