A treasure designation is an easy call for this rare, doubleneck version of Charvel’s nod to surf-music culture and detour from hot-rodded metal machinery.
I bought this cool Charvel Surfcaster doubleneck about 15 years ago at the Dallas Guitar Show for $2K. The dealer said he thought it was one of maybe only three or four made, but I can’t seem to find out much about it. What do you think it’s worth now?
Peter in Mesa, Arizona
This is a rare bird on many levels. First of all, Charvel is generally known for their “pointy” guitars used by metalheads in the 1980s and 1990s, whereas this guitar’s ’50s-style body is a complete 180 from what Charvel typically produced. Second, it’s a doubleneck that very well could be one of just a handful made. And last, it has a green-pearloid finish that appears to be unique to just the Surfcaster doubleneck. Let’s talk some history.
Charvel was founded in the ’70s by Wayne Charvel, who had worked at Fender for three years in the early part of the decade before starting his own shop called Charvel’s Guitar Repair in Azusa, California. Charvel quickly earned a reputation for quality repair work and upgrading guitars with aftermarket parts. Grover Jackson started working at Charvel’s shop in 1977 and bought Wayne out in 1978 (essentially ending Wayne’s association with the company). Jackson then introduced the first Charvel custom guitars at the 1979 NAMM show.
The early Charvel guitars were of the Strat-style, pointy variety, which quickly became popular with guitarists such as Eddie Van Halen, Richie Sambora, and Warren DeMartini. Jackson’s own trademark took off in the early 1980s when he produced a radically shaped version of the Flying V for Randy Rhoads, thus establishing two separate brands in Charvel and Jackson that have been forever linked. In the later 1980s, Jackson licensed his designs to International Music Corporation (IMC) and later sold both trademarks to them. In 1986, IMC began producing Charvel instruments exclusively in Japan.
So, how does the Surfcaster fit into all of this? I’m not sure anyone knows exactly why the Surfcaster was developed, but in the late 1980s, Fender and other manufacturers were just scratching the surface of making reissues of their famous models from the 1950s and 1960s. Because Charvel had only existed since the early 1970s, we can assume they came up with their own new/retro design to join in on the reissue craze, which ultimately became the Surfcaster. Steve Cropper was an endorser of the original model.
The Surfcaster is instantly recognizable, with its hourglass-style body and a shortened treble horn, single “cat’s-eye” bound soundhole, lipstick pickups, and pearloid pickguard. True to its name, the Surfcaster pays homage to the surf-music fad of the 1960s, and these guitars are known for their twangy sound thanks to single-coils and hollow bodies. Early Surfcaster prototypes appeared in 1990 and full-production models started arriving a year later. Specifications included a basswood body (with optional figured-maple top), a bolt-on maple neck, a 24-fret bound-rosewood fretboard with shark-fin inlays, a matching-finish headstock, two lipstick single-coils, and a vibrato bridge. A humbucker-equipped model, 12-string version, and even a bass version were also offered.
Interestingly, this vintage and rare doubleneck has a pair of different serial numbers to go along with its 6-string
and 12-string necks.
The doubleneck was another variation, but offered in very limited quantities in 1992 and 1993. It features a traditional doubleneck design with a 12-string on the left (upper side) and a 6-string on the right (lower side). Note that this guitar has two serial numbers, since they engraved one on every neck plate for all instruments, which definitely makes for some interesting record keeping! In terms of value, one of these recently sold for about $1,800, and I think that’s right around what your doubleneck is worth today: between $1,700 and $2,000. For comparison, regular 6-string Surfcasters are valued between $1,100 and $1,400. It hasn’t appreciated as much as you likely hoped, but you can rest easy knowing you have one of only a few of these rare birds.
Charvel produced the first run of Surfcasters until the mid-1990s, when the brand was largely ignored until Fender bought the trademark in 2002. (The second run of Surfcasters were produced under the Jackson trademark, circa 1998 until 2001.) Under Fender’s ownership, a third run of Surfcasters was introduced, but they were starkly different from the first two editions and were made in India, which resulted in a drop in quality. (They also produced a model called the Skatecaster that utilized the same body shape, but was essentially a different guitar.) Over the years, there have also been efforts to revive the Surfcaster by other companies, including the late Ed Roman and Eastwood Guitars.
So, the Surfcaster basically represents Charvel’s reissue of a guitar that never existed. When you consider how rare the doubleneck model is, it’s pretty easy to classify your guitar as a treasure.
Looking for more great gear for the guitar player in your life (yourself included!)? Check out this year's Holiday Gear Finds!
D'Addario XPND Pedalboard
DR-05X Stereo Handheld Recorder
Wampler Pedals Ratsbane
Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
LegendaryTones, LLC today announced production availability of its new Mr. Scary Mod, a 100% pure tube module designed to instantly and easily expand the capabilities of many classic amplifiers with additional gain and tone shaping. Created in collaboration with legendary guitarist George Lynch of Dokken and Lynch Mob fame, the Mr.Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage and an onboard Deep control, which together are designed to enable an amp to have increased sustain while still retaining note definition and dynamics.
Originally released as the Lynch Mod in February 2021, the updated Mr. Scary Mod features the same core circuit as the Lynch Mod but is now equipped with a revised tube mix combo per George’s preference as well as a facelift in a newly redesigned electro-galvanized steel enclosure. As with the Lynch Mod, each run will be limited and the first run in Pumpkin Orange with Black hardware is limited to just 150 pieces worldwide.
The Mr. Scary Mod adds an adjustable tube gain stage on top of the cathode follower position, keeping note definition and articulation while further increasing sustain. Each Mr. Scary mod is meticulously built by hand in the USA, one at a time, and tuned using high-grade components. Equipped with a single ECC81 (12AT7) in the first position and ECC83 (12AX7) in the second, the Mr. Scary Mod can clean up beautifully when rolling down your guitar’s volume, and still adds scorching gain when you roll it back up. This is a gain stage that’s been tuned and approved by the ears of the maestro George Lynch himself.
“The Mr. Scary Mod excels with dynamics and is incredibly touch-responsive, allowing me to shift from playing clear, lightly compressed cleans to full-out aggressive sustain and distortion –and control it all simply by varying my guitar’s volume control and picking,” said GeorgeLynch. “In many ways, it’s an old-school approach, but it’s also so much more natural and expressive in addition to being musically fulfilling when you can play both the guitar and amp dynamically together this way.”
The Mr. Scary Mod installs in minutes, is safe and effective to use, and requires no special tools or re-biasing of the amplifier. Simply insert the module into the cathode follower preamp position of compatible amplifiers (includes Marshall 2203/2204/1959/1987 circuits) and
immediately get the benefit of enjoying a hot-rodded amp that delivers all the pure harmonic character that comes with an added pure tube gain stage. The handmade in the USA Mr. Scary Mod is now available to order for $319.
For more information, please visit legendarytones.com.
October Audio has miniaturized their NVMBR Gain pedal to create two mini versions of this beautifully organic-sounding circuit – including an always-on gain device.
The NVMBR Gain is a nonlinear amp that transitions gracefully from clean boost to overdriven tones. Volume increases from just over unity to about 10db before soft-clipping drive appears for another 5db of boost. Its extraordinary ease of use is matched by outstanding versatility: you can use it as a clean boost, push a stubborn amp into overdrive or create a just-breaking-up sound at any amp volume.
October Audio’s new family of mini NVMBR Gain pedals includes a switchable version that allows you to bypass the effect: one option features brand logo pedal graphics, while the other sports a fun “Witch Finger” graphic with a Davies knob as the“fingernail”.
The second version in the new lineup is an always-on device featuring the Witch Finger graphic and Davies knob, with the same NVMBR Gain circuit that lies at the core of the switchable version.
- Knob controls gain and clipping simultaneously
- Stunning silver hammertone finish
- Switchable versions are true-bypass, available with classic or witch finger graphics
- Authentic Davies knobs, including the “fingernail”
- 9V center negative power supply required
- Dimensions: 3.63 x 1.50 x 1.88 in
Witch Finger (always on NVMBR Gain) demo
All October Audio pedals are assembled in Richmond, VA, and available for purchase directly through the online shop. Street price is $109 for NVMBR Gain footswitch versions and $89 for the always-on device.
For more information, please visit octoberaudio.com.