The Charvel Surfcaster debuted in 1992 and at the time it was a bit of an anachronism. A little too early to cash in on the grunge-inspired attraction to vintage designs, and a little too late for the kind of clean-toned, ‘The Cure’ type tones it excelled at, the Surfcaster’s most notable user was probably Anthrax’s Scott Ian, who used one for the clean tones in the track ‘Black Lodge’ from The Sound Of White Noise and was pictured with one on the cover of a 1993 edition of Guitar World. These semi-hollow, lipstick pickup-toting axes never quite got the respect they deserved, although those who did buy them evidently loved them because it’s quite rare to see them on the used market. When you do find them, expect to pay around USD$1,000. The Surfcaster design lived on until 2005, by which time it had been shifted to sister company Jackson, with production moved from Japan to India. Personally I’d love to see Surfcasters return to regular production under Charvel.
I love these retro designs. The SGV series was probably a bit to wild for most players, with its slight upside-down melted Rickenbacker bass look and unconventional whammy bridge which worked great when you gave it a little TLC but was maybe a little too high maintenance for some. The SGV-800 (and the more upscale SGV-1200) had a pair of P90-style single coils which were fat and growly. The SGV-700 (and lower-priced little buddy the SGV-300) rocked a smaller single coil and a very unique humbucker. The retro/modern look wasn’t lost on Meegs from Coal Chamber, who used a black custom shop SGV with twin humbuckers, a fixed bridge, drop-tuning lever on the low E string, and number-shaped fretboard position markers, Jason Becker-style. You can find SGVs on eBay and in pawnshops pretty regularly and while they were underappreciated in their day, a little set-up know-how makes them a bargain well worth seeking out today.
Washburn Steve Stevens
These models were advertised somewhat heavily in the guitar magazines when Stevens was a member of Motley Crue singer Vince Neil’s solo band circa 1993. I remember seeing the truss rod adjustment at the base of the neck, as well as the 2-humbucker, 1 volume, 1 tone control layout and thinking “Dude’s trying to make a Strat-style guitar out of an Ernie Ball Music Man Edward Van Halen.” Funnily enough, by the time the Vince Neil tour rolled around, Stevens was playing… Ernie Ball Music Man Edward Van Halens. There were three versions of Washburn’s Steve Stevens signature guitar: two Chicago custom shop-built models (the SS80 and SS100) and the Korean-made SS40. The SS100 had a white front with a Frankenstein graphic and black back and sides, while the SS80 was solid black. Pickups were a set of slanted Seymour Duncan JBs, and the body wood was poplar. Check out this old-school Washburn advertisement.
CLICK HERE to see Yamaha SGV guitars on eBay.
Fender Tommy Emmanuel Telecaster
Tommy Emmanuel is well known for his amazing acoustic playing, but those who started following Tommy’s career in recent years might be surprised to know he once had a signature Fender Telecaster. Very similar in design to Fender’s Nashville Telecaster, this Mexico-made axe was made exclusively for the Australian market, and it added a Strat-style middle single coil to the traditional Telecaster layout. It also had a six saddle bridge with old-school saddles (not those big flat ones like you see on Deluxe series Fenders), and a blue finish which recalled, without directly copying, Tommy’s blue Fender Custom Shop Telecaster, which had three black Bartolini single coils and white body binding. Tommy’s main Telecaster squeeze though was a gorgeous 66 Custom, also with Bartolonis. See that one here. (Fender Tommy Emmanuel Telecaster photo from the Fendertalk forums).
Ibanez Steve Lukather (SL1010SL)
Steve Lukather’s current Ernie Ball Music Man signature is so kickass a guitar that it’s easy to forget that in the early-mid 80s he had a signature Ibanez. Part of the Roadstar II series, Luke’s model featured a carved birdseye maple top on a basswood body, a maple neck with ebony fretboard, two Ibanez humbuckers (a Super 58 in the neck and an SL Special – essentially an overwound Super 58 – in the bridge position), 22 frets, subtle cross inlays, coil splitting performed via the volume and tone pots, and the much-maligned Pro Rock’r bridge, which had a locking nut and fine tuners but wasn’t as stable as Ibanez’s later Edge series models.
PRS Guitars is proud to welcome Black Label Society Guitarist Nick “Evil Twin” Catanese as the newest member of the PRS artist family. Years ago Ozzy Osbourne and Black Label Society frontman Zakk Wylde dubbed Catanese “Evil Twin” in honor of his epic musical chops that kept the pace with Wylde’s intense live and studio performances. Nick has been with Zakk for the last 13 years and has not only toured the world over numerous times, but has contributed to two live DVD releases, nine studio releases and has hailed the stage for too many Ozzfests to count. Nick has also formed a band with Mike Stone from Queensrÿche (guitar and vocals) Josh Sattler (bass) of DoubleDrive and drummer Mike Froedge of Doubledrive. Their debut album will be released sometime by mid 2009 under the band name Speed X. PRS is thrilled to have Nick join the team and is looking forward to making guitars he can shred to his heart’s content.
CLICK HERE to look for the Washburn Nick Catanese model on eBay, since I guess they’ve gotta stop making it now!
Boogie Street is commissioning several runs of these High Gloss Padauk N4s. Each run will be a numbered run of 7 guitars, and each run will be slightly different in hardware color and/or other subtle differences. They will all feature a high gloss Padauk N4 body and an oil finish padauk neck, plus Nuno’s specs including the Bill Lawrence Bridge humbucker and the Seymour Duncan ‘59 in the neck.
A factory hardshell case is included, as is a Nuno-signed extra blackplate, a Washburn/Boogie Street Guitars/Nuno dealer banner, and a 10 x 16 full colour certificate of authenticity, signed by Washburn USA Custom Shop director Terry Atkins, as well as by Eric McKenna from Boogie Street.
Hit up Boogie Street Guitars for more info.
CLICK HERE to buy Extreme’s new album, Saudades de Rock and CLICK HERE for a recent I Heart Guitar story about the Washburn N3 Nuno Bettencourt limited edition and Nuno’s new signature Randall amp.
Nuno Bettencourt’s signature Randall amplifier will be officially unveiled at Winter NAMM in January 2009, but Nuno fans won’t have to wait until then to snag a unique piece of signature gear.
As posted at the Extreme band forums, Funky Munky Music is awaiting delivery of a very limited run Washburn N3, based on Nuno’s third ever Washburn prototype, which had a maple fretboard and two Bill Lawrence L500 pickups. The standard Nuno model, the N4, has a Seymour Duncan 59 in the neck in addition to a bridge L500.
There was a Korean-produced model called the N3 for a while, but the new limited edition N3s are made in the USA. They have 22 frets, unlike Nuno’s original which had 24, and feature an original Floyd Rose bridge, a birdseye maple neck and fretboard, the original 1 5/8” nut width, and the original N4 neck profile. Interestingly, at the Extreme forum, Funky Munky says Nuno asked Washburn to revert the neck profile of the N4 to the original shape within the last month or so, and change the nut width to 1 5/8” instead of the current 1 11/16” nut width.
The new N3 will be available in relic and non-relic versions, and the holographic N3 sticker will be included as case candy, so buyers have a choice over whether they put the sticker on or not.
As for that Randall amp, in an official press release Nuno says “There is a reason that I have never endorsed any amplifier company exclusively. Because I have always had to jump back and forth from amp to amp. One for rhythm, Another for solos. A different amp on every recording and tour, constantly searching, unsatisfied. Always good, but not great. Never finding that perfect tone. There was always something missing. Basically, I gave in and truly believed that Marshall would be the staple to fall back on… The Constant.”
“I’ve worked on this amp for over three years. We’ve delayed release of the amp until it was perfect. Until now. The words “I’ve got an amp that I will put my name on and have put it up against any other amplifier and blew them away.” I thought those words would not come out of my mouth. But they have. And it’s true. I’ve worked on this amp for over three years. We’ve delayed release of the amp until it was perfect. Mission accomplished. It’s not fancy. It just sounds killer. It’s a workhorse. One clean channel. One dirty channel. And a boost solo channel, with its own volume and drive controls, because when it’s time to let loose, you should be heard loud and clear.
As a bonus, it looks like no other amp and cabinet before it… the look takes the past into the future.”
I found the image of the amp at the What’s That Dude Play? blog.
For more about the very interesting saga of Bill Lawrence pickups, check out the Bill Lawrence Review website.