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Fixing up my 1988 Charvel Model 6 (and a little comparison to a 2020 DK24)

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  • Fixing up my 1988 Charvel Model 6 (and a little comparison to a 2020 DK24)

    Hello, first post here, 34 year Charvel owner.

    ( Apologies, the thread title says 1988 but after getting going on this thread and looking through photos and letters I remembered it was actually a year earlier when I purchased the guitar.. and turns out the guitar, according to researching the serial number, is actually a 1986 vintage. )

    In any case, I worked on an oil tanker one summer in 1987and found myself in a music store in Singapore. Japanese electronics everywhere. I was flush with cash from the tanker gig, so went about shopping for a nice guitar. They had a black model 6 with a Kahler on the wall. It was light and resonant, but I really wanted a red one so the sales guy went back and got me one. This one had a Floyd Rose. It was beautiful,
    That wide flat neck was no joke, I loved how finger finger style you had lots of room to grip the strings.
    And of course it practically screamed at you to maybe go a little faster than you would play otherwise, it was so buttery smooth with brand new super jumbo frets. And the neck thru design of the Model 6 looked so sleek and cool from the back, and that early Floyd Rose allowed you to pretty much go nuts and not go out of tune. And the workmanship was so good. The shark fin inlays and neck binding were so precise, and the finish was so damn glossy smooth, I don’t know, it looked like a Ferrari with strings to me at the time.

    Over time, the Ferrari red body had deepened to a darker richer red, and the bright white neck binding had darkened to a vintage-ey cream color. But at this point the fretboard was shot. Finally took it in for some work.

    And last week finally got it back, the guitar I've probably spent the most time playing on (mostly, with a pre-Gibson Mesa Boogie studio pre).
    Neck is like new now, Plek'td with stainless steel frets (so arguably better than new? )
    Rosewood + abalone inlays cleaned up real nice as well. Awesome!



    In the earlier part of the 33 years I'd owned it I really hadn't taken as good of care of it as I should have. In addition to allowing multiple dings, scratches and a few chips, I had lost the battery plate after taking it off one too many times as the thing goes through batteries like candy if you leave it plugged in. I got a hold of a new battery cavity cover online and the holes didn't quite match up so I did the old "cram toothpicks in the existing holes and re-drill' trick. The screws provided were high round tops, so I hit the hardware store for some flat top wood screws so they'd flush mount.

    While the cover had been missing I had managed to catch some of the wiring on something and yanked off a solder lead somewhere. Tracked that down in the rats nest of active preamp wiring in there and soldered it back today.

    The licenced Floyd trem on these is often maligned as it only goes down, and it's made out of pot metal. But once I replaced the pot metal bar (which snapped off at one point) it's always been rock solid with tuning, and I am quite used to the more stable (to me) feel of the bridge only going down (actually in my experience you can go up a half step pretty reliably but to a full step tuning does sometimes slip). These primordial Floyd's take a little more effort to push down, unlike the new full floating one on the DK24 that moves with incredible ease. Not saying one is better than the other there either, just making an observation.

    One thing though, that clamp at the nut on the DK is now directly over the nut, That's fine, but the edges are really sharp! Like when you reach down and yank it up by the neck off a stand. It can dig into your index finger palm knuckle bone big time.

    The Model 6 is locked after the nut and while your hand may still rub against it, it has smoothly rounded edges.

    Once I got the Model 6 back up to snuff it made for an interesting comparison between the two: the thru-neck rosewood neck and the maple bolt-on. I had wanted a different flavor, and I am finding they really compliment each other. Unplugged it is quite apparent. The DK24 sounds great, strumming away on the 2020 sounded bright, mid-rangey and snappy acoustically as compared to the fuller more hi-fi and even toned Model 6.

    Tried to buff out the paint a bit. Lookin sharp now and so nice to have it back in action!

    __________________________________________________ _____

    Last edited by Infante; 02-01-2021, 06:00 PM. Reason: clarifying 'trem does not go up' statement

  • #2
    it's beautiful. a shame you didn't get the black one with kahler as well (I like kahlers) but of course, given the choice of only one, the red would clearly win out.

    and regardless of what you say, I think you've done a fine job in taking care of it. worn in, but certainly not abused like many examples of model series guitars you might come across these days.

    regarding the ease of tremolo manipulation, you might try removing one or more springs that pull the bridge back. you'll have to then retighten the claw to compensate. more springs=stiffer, fewer springs=more "elastic". the downside to fewer springs is notes will go more out of tune when you bend (like a double stop bend).


    • #3
      Yeah, the sales guy liked the Kahler too, he kind of frowned at me when I sent him back for the red Floyd. Just remembering that now.
      Re: taking care of it: I've buffed out the paint a bit with car polish and one of those mesh covered sponges, so it's looking good in the photos. There are two dings that made wood show, but both are on the back fortunately.
      Regarding the ease of trem arm manipulation: in the early years especially, i experimented with taking springs off, moving pickup heights up and down, (witness all the white lettering gone on the two front pups)
      I actually like the relative "manhandling" of the bar required stock 3 spring, and It's not like it's terribly difficult to move anyway, I was just amazed at how truly effortless the newer floating trems are to manipulate. Two different flavors is all.

      A friend is expecting a Charvel delivery Friday decked out with those new Fluance pups, with the coil tap 5 way and the additional switch for two PAF tones. Real curious to see how he likes those..


      • #4
        That has aged so beautifully. In those pics you can't even tell where the dings and dents are.

        Those stainless steel frets will make that guitar immortal. We'll all turn to dust and those frets will still look brand new in the year 3000.


        • #5
          The 86 (Kahler) and the 87/88 (JT-6) had different necks.
          And, to be honest, I am not sure the modern Charvel guitars are to be compared to the Model Series. The Model models were "clones" of the Jackson models.

          As to the nut - that is on all guitars.
          Most guitars used nuts back then. Then they started with the 'nut lock', which is a nut and lock all in one, as the standard.


          • #6
            Number of the Priest:
            I agree, It has aged nicely. That neon red against bright white off the showroom floor could be considered kind of gaudy by today's standards, Nice it happened to mature along with me. ha!
            And yeah, as for posterity, I don't think I'll be doing 6 hours of Schenker bends a day on it from here on out so it should hold up nicely. That stainless will just get shinier and shinier.

            I've got to say, It felt really good to get it back so renewed and solid, That initial play after getting it home, as I was putting it up on the wall and realizing how important a part of me it was for quite awhile there, I got a piece of that back now.

            Oh, I'm sure there has been a lot of progress in 33 years. I was just contrasting the two I happen to own.
            As for the nut, I have no problem with the lock placement, just wish it was maybe a little more rounded off at the corners there, for me anyway. i might try my hand at filing it a bit at some point.
            Last edited by Infante; 01-11-2021, 07:17 PM.


            • #7
              Well now I have to wipe the drool off my screen.

              Great Job Infante She's looking Beautiful!!


              • #8
                For keeper guitars, I've got an 88 Les Paul "The Paul" that has an incredible feel, a '77 Tele Deluxe (that I had steel frets put on as well), and this Charvel. It just has that feel and solidity that you get in your hands and ears acoustically that makes that connection. So glad I held on to it and have now restored it to spec. Falling in love all over again. Very satisfying.

                I don't mean to give the 2020 DK24 short shrift here. I'm still bonding with it. It is very well made, and a pleasure to play, and that glossed natural mahogany/gold flamed maple against the white pickups with a fender headstock is a gorgeous look. And the inverted cable socket around back is brilliant.

                The Model 6, my model 6 I suppose I should say, just has a certain gravitas. I say this beyond any sentimentality, seeing all the years of use having smoothed out and glossified the ends of the textured pickups and the undeniable appeal of holding and playing decades old instruments. Also, we are talking maple vs rosewood, that maple bolt on is a snappier affair. All i know is that it's a great time to be alive and be a guitar player.
                Last edited by Infante; 01-11-2021, 09:50 PM.


                • #9
                  I am drawn to Ebony and Rosewood with Sharkfin inlays on Jackson, and recently Charvel.

                  Now then, make it a Reverse Headstock, Ebony Fretboard, and Abalone Sharkfin Inlays, and I go into
                  the " I GOTTA get that !! " mentality.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JJ119 View Post
                    make it a Reverse Headstock, Ebony Fretboard, and Abalone Sharkfin Inlays, and I go into
                    the " I GOTTA get that !! " mentality.
                    you forgot color-matched before the words reverse headstock


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pianoguyy View Post

                      you forgot color-matched before the words reverse headstock

                      Aww shit.

                      Oh well. Black is perfectly fine too.


                      • #12
                        Beautiful. I'm partial to the Model 6. Have a couple of Rainbow Crackles. One with the original JT6 pot-metal trem, the other I changed to a beautiful Gotoh.

                        As for lock-behind the nuts on the Model 6, yes most were like this. However I have one of the last Factory Model 6's with a proper Floyd lock and no plastic nut.

                        By the way the shark-fin inlays are Mother of Pearl, not Abalone.

                        Was it costly to go with Stainless frets? It would be quite tricky with that antique binding too. Awesome idea though.
                        The only solution to GAS is DEATH...


                        • #13
                          Yeah, stainless was a $150 up-charge, and it was another $50 - $75 to work with the binding.

                          Thanks for the mother of pearl vs abalone correction. You eat the abalone then make some nice guitar neck inlays with its inner shell.

                          Re: additional expense: It was worth it to me for the never-again longevity and the general slinky feel they afford.
                          Last edited by Infante; 01-12-2021, 01:10 AM.


                          • #14
                            Nice. That's not too bad price-wise and considering they kept the antique binding intact, nice job. I hear the SS frets are a bitch to work with.
                            The only solution to GAS is DEATH...


                            • #15
                              I saved this post while researching repairs, maintenance, mods etc. for the Model 6 (sorry, I don't have the direct link, but thanks whoever posted it). This person went all out to remedy perceived flaws with the stock model.

                              Last edited by Infante; 01-13-2021, 02:40 PM.