Charvel Desolation DC1

It was my second son’s birthday in August 2014 and he had recently started playing the guitar, using my original, rubbishy strat copy.  I felt a bit guilty about palming him off with such a bad guitar, and so I offered to buy him a guitar for his 22nd birthday.  We were in England for a visit at the end of July, and so we dropped into Anderton’s on our way past to see if we could find something he liked.  We spent an hour or two there trying out some guitars, with a budget of around £400, and eventually he decided that he liked a secondhand PRS SE.

My son's PRS SE
My son’s PRS SE

The PRS is a really nice guitar, but we were both also very taken by the range of Charvel Desolation guitars which Anderton’s was selling at half price!  Apparently, they were too blingy for the market and Charvel was replacing them with more sober models, but I really liked the blingy look and they felt superb to play – lovely neck, and a great, rocky sound from the EMG 81/84 active pickups.

Anyway, it was a tough choice but in the end my son opted for the PRS, and he was (and still is) happy with that.  I think he was slightly surprised that I didn’t also buy the Desolation at the same time, I liked it so much!  However, I was strong, and we walked out with only one guitar.  We had our holiday in England (I think it was two weeks) and went back home with his PRS SE.

Have you ever fallen really hard for a girl so that you can’t stop thinking about her?  This was like that, only worse because I knew that the Charvel wouldn’t turn around and make my life hell after the first flush of romance had died down.  I kept looking on the Anderton’s website and watching the stock levels go down until finally, three weeks after our original visit, I cracked.

Quality control before unboxing!
Quality control before unboxing!

There were several options available.  They had trans red and trans black tops, and they also had some stoptails and some with Floyd Rose vibratos  I think they also had different models – maybe the DS-1 as well as the DC-1.  And they were all half price, did I mention that?  I decided that since this is a heavy rock / metal style guitar, it would be silly to leave off the whammy bar (even though I’m no fan of Floyd Roses), so I went for the DC-1 FR, for £389 reduced from £780 or thereabouts.

It has a nice flame maple top
It has a nice flame maple top

When I received my Charvel, I was not at all disappointed – it was just as good to play as I remembered.  The condition was perfect, and I was very happy.  It’s a slightly odd, offset shape, but not enough to be offputting (although it is enough to make it difficult to seat in a triangular floor stand).  The back of the very slim neck is woody, probably just oiled, and that’s great.  It was made in China but that shouldn’t stigmatise it; indeed, I think this guitar is the best of all my collection if you rank them by value for money.

Shining in the sun
Shining in the sun

This guitar stays in E Standard (I never change the tuning of my FR-equipped guitars because it’s such a pain) and although recently it hasn’t been my most played guitar, I always enjoy coming back to it when I pull it off the wall.

OK it is a little bit blingy!
OK it is a little bit blingy!


The Charvel website no longer seems to acknowledge the existence of this model, so I include the specifications here.

  • Model: Charvel Desolation DC1-FR in Trans Black, Serial No. CJC1200061
  • Scale length: 25.5″
  • Woods: Mahogany body & neck, Maple cap, Rosewood fretboard w. Abalone Keystone inlays
  • Weight: 3.4kg
  • Neck construction: Neck Through
  • Fretboard radius: 12″ – 16″
  • Frets: 24 Jumbo
  • Nut width: 43mm
  • Neck depth at fret 1: 19mm
  • Pickups: EMG 81 (bridge) + EMG 84 (neck), no coil split / tap
  • Controls: 1 volume, 1 tone, 3-way switch