’89-91 Charvel Spectrums

A personal peccadillo, the Spectrum. One of my friends, a fine player, used to get some great stuff out of one of these when they were first around in the late 80’s, but I was too busy, snobbishly turning my nose up at anything but Tom Anderson.

Many years later, I was reflecting and wondered if I could find one of these. A few years further on, I have this set including a one-off sparkle/pearloid variant made for a trade show. They were offered in turquoise green, magenta pink, fluorescent orange, black, metallic dark blue and ‘desert sand’ – a pale beige finish with black hairline cracking. All colours were offered with both rosewood and maple fingerboards, and as you can see all of mine are rosewood, so I wouldn’t mind finding one or two with maple boards too. I’m also in the market for several original cases, preferably the shaped ones though rectangular ones would be ok too.

The three pickups are stacked Jackson single-coil humbuckers with good output and tightly-focused magnetic fields, so they’re fairly bright. The tone circuit has a switchable active option, giving volume boost and onboard sweepable tone boost rather like a wah pedal. Great for big hair solos.

The earliest of these have jackson-branded Floyd Rose trems (adjustable from behind), no back rout for bending up and no scalloping around the neck plate on the rear to give better access to high notes. The more common later models have a Jackson-licensed trem unit (adjustable from the top), trem routs for upward bends and scalloping around the neck plate to aid access to the upper frets. To my knowledge, this is the only way of dating them as the serial numbers on the neck plates are not sequential.

The Charvel Spectrum follows on from the rare Charvel Model 8, which looks identical except for the earlier US Charvel headstock logo (see second last and last pix, sadly neither one of mine), whereas Spectrums all have the ‘toothpaste’ logo. Jeff beck played a custom Jackson around the time of which acted as the prototype for the Model 8 and subsequently the Spectrum (the last pic shows him with it on the cover of a contemporary magazine. The video for ‘Ambitious’ featuring the prototype Model 8 is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbpQf22c494).

Made in Japan they might be, buy these are great guitars, easy to play, lots of great sounds and naturally resonant. They look cool and come in lots of great colours.

I’ve just bought a cheap Chord stand for them on eBay, so I’ve added a pic of them in the stand to the gallery.  Awesome…

48 Responses to ’89-91 Charvel Spectrums

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