I have been playing guitar for 25-something years. This is not my first guitar. It's actually my 15th guitar (maybe more, maybe fever).
I always loved Charvel So-Cal style superstrats but I could never buy one. So I decided to buy this one instead to convert it to a superstrat since this is the closest donor guitar. I will explain the mods that I did later.
- Black paint looks great, nothing to complain about.
- Hardware is OK. The bridge, pots, switch, and tuners are all OK. You can get away with not changing them.
- Neck, fingerboard and frets are good and comfortable. I think it is more comfortable than Charvel necks
- Back of the neck has a very light satin finish, almost feels like no finish at all. It feels so natural.
- Neck shape is modern C, closer to the slim side.
- The nut is cut very very well. I will not replace it.
- Single pickups sound great. It sounds like a strat :) I will not replace them.
- It's very light, which I like.
- Its body has a bigger radius fillet on the edges than regular strat bodies. Which makes it look more modern and agile.
- The setup was not too bad.
- The setup was not too great. :)
- The neck was too relieved. I adjusted it later with the truss rod to straighten it.
- Intonation was off. I intonated it later.
- Action was on the high side, around +2mm on the 12th fret. After the truss rod adjustment and intonation, I adjusted the saddle heights. Now the action is between 1.5 mm and 1.75 mm above the 12th fret on the low E string.
- The humbucker is lacking bass response. I was expecting it to be a vintage output humbucker and it is, but I wish it has more bass response. I will replace it later. To get more volume and gain from it, I raised it using the screws so that it is closer to the strings. You can crank the gain on the amp to get crunchy tones though. You can even play some old-school metal songs but do not expect it to djent.
- The frets were a little gritty. I polished them. They are shiny and smooth now.
- The pickguard had a little bump under the neck pickup area. There was a little woodchip between the pickguard and the body. I replaced the pickguard (even though I didn't have to) and removed the woodchip. Now it's straight.
- The string tree was making some noise when I use the tremolo. I replaced it.
So the goal was to make it look like a Charvel So-Cal HSS. That means, black hardware, black screws, etc...
- I had a spare black 1ply pickguard (no white stripe in between) which is exactly the same pickguard on the guitar. I want it to be a matte pickguard, so I sanded it. I started from 800 grit then moved to finer grits. The final sanding was wet sanding and only horizontal. This step made it look like a matte finish. Elevated the looks a lot.
- I replaced the all knobs with black metal ones.
- I put a black humbucker cover over the humbucker.
- I replaced the tuners with black Gotoh tuners.
- I replaced the string tree with a black one.
- I replaced the input jack with a black one.
- I adjusted the pickup heights.
- I replaced the nickel screws with black screws.
- I changed the strings.
- I did not change the tremolo bridge, I will paint it to black later.
It plays, sounds, and looks like a $800 guitar right now. To be honest, It plays better than Charvels.
I will buy more of these guitars because I plan to make another conversion. This time James Tyler Dan Huff (yellow body, black pickguard HSS strat).