Charvel and Jackson’s histories have been intertwined since Grover Jackson walked into Wayne Charvel’s workshop in the late 1970s, but both brands have been part of the Fender family since 2002. The DK in this snappily titled instrument’s moniker stands for Dinky – originally a Jackson design, the scaled-down Superstrat concept has become a staple of the Charvel catalogue too in recent years.
Part of Charvel’s Mexican-made Pro-Mod range, this 22-fret solidbody was launched at the NAMM show back in January. Despite its SSS designation, the pickup closest to the bridge is a Seymour Duncan Hot Rails humbucker, while 2PT refers to the neatly recessed two-point Gotoh vibrato and CM denotes that the model has a ‘caramelised’ maple neck. It certainly sounds tastier than ‘torrefied’, ‘baked’ or ‘roasted’, but it means the same thing – the neck has been thermally treated for improved resonance and stability, just like the vikings did with the timber they used for longships back in the day.
The satin Electric Blue finish is striking but, married with the matt parchment plastics, it isn’t too flash. Overall the DK22 has a sleek and stripped-down vibe that, despite its shred credentials, wouldn’t look out of place in too many musical contexts.
The body is designed to provide maximum comfort and access, including a generous belly/ribcage contour, a softened heel and a plunging scallop at the rear of the treble cutaway. As you might expect, the latter facilitates unfettered access to the higher reaches of the fretboard.
The graphite-reinforced neck is a slim D with inviting rolled fingerboard edges. Its shoulders provide support for more technical playing styles, while the 12-16” compound radius guarantees a choke-free platform for the largest string bends we can muster.
The input jack socket comes in a Strat-style housing, and although its rear-mounted position takes some getting used to, it’s angled to guide your cable safely up and over your strap, or into a wireless pack. Smart thinking.
You might see a five-way switch on a three-pickup guitar and think you know what to expect, but you’d be wrong here. Position one is the bridge pickup in full humbucking mode, position two the inner coil of the bridge pickup and the middle unit, position three is a Tele-style pairing of the bridge pickup’s outer coil and the neck pickup, position four the middle and neck, and position five the neck pickup in splendid isolation.
Through a souped-up Plexi, the famous brown sound is on tap immediately, enhanced by a dollop of midrange honk. The bridge pickup has an aggressive snarl that is slightly softened by its reverse angle, but the no-load tone control ensures there’s still plenty of bite.
Through a cleaner channel there’s a playful but powerful snap and brilliance that’s reminiscent of Guthrie Govan’s tone when he visits funky clean territory. It’s enormous fun hearing how venomous we can make even innocuous chord shapes sound, while engaging the neck pickup even musters up a Texas blues vibe as the amp is pushed into break-up. All the while, unless you are seriously abusing the whammy bar, the Gotoh 510 proves capable and reliable, with the body recess allowing a full tone of uplift.
While it excels in balls-to-the-wall rock territory and is terrific fun to play, the DK22 delivers tones for all occasions, including some exceptionally dynamic clean sounds. It would be nice if a gigbag was thrown in, but the DK22’s price-performance ratio makes it a very tempting proposition indeed.
- PRICE £1,009
- DESCRIPTION 6-string solidbody electric guitar, made in Mexico
- BUILD Alder body, bolt-on graphite-reinforced caramelised maple neck with hand-rubbed satin urethane finish, 12-16” radius caramelised maple fingerboard, pearloid dot inlays, Luminlay side dots, 22 jumbo frets
- HARDWARE Charvel die-cast locking tuners, Gotoh Custom 510 two-point vibrato bridge
- ELECTRONICS Seymour Duncan Custom Hot Rails Strat SHR-1B humbucker (Bridge), Flat Strat SSL-6 single-coil (middle), Flat Strat SSL-6 RWRP single-coil (neck), 5-way blade pickup selector, 500k EVH Bourns low-friction volume control and no-load tone control
- SCALE LENGTH 25.5″/648mm
- NECK WIDTH 42.9mm at nut, 52.7mm at 12th fret
- NECK DEPTH 19.7mm at 1st fret, 22.7mm at 12th fret
- STRING SPACING 52.9mm at bridge, 36.7mm at nut
- WEIGHT 3.2kg/7.0lb
- LEFT-HANDERS No
- FINISHES Electric Blue satin (as reviewed), Pharaoh’s Gold satin, Gloss Black
- CONTACT charvel.com