Charvel’s Production-Mod San Dimas and So-Cal series now has a new chameleon member in the form of the Wild Card, a guitar which changes its specifications every three months.
The concept behind the limited edition Wild Card models, says the company, is to ‘take the modified vibe of the Pro Mods a step further by offering features, options and configurations that change every three months’.
Every Wild Card model will come with finishes and pickups from Charvel’s Custom Shop, along with choice body, neck and fingerboard woods.
The yellow centre of the burst resembles a mid-’60s Fender sunburst; this morphs into a faded cherry, then around the periphery the cherry tint meets the blue of the back and sides, so the transitional edge of the burst is actually purple. With the lovely quilted maple veneer top I guess you could call it eye candy – with the emphasis on candy.
The unbound 22-fret fingerboard is made from a thick slab of rosewood; an unusually attractive piece with grain and colour variation that almost looks Brazilian rather than Indian. It’s just a shame that such a lovely piece of rosewood is let down by white plastic marker dots.
ith a compound fingerboard radius that goes from 12" at the nut to a flatter 16" at the top end. The jumbo frets aren’t especially high, but they’re tall enough to get under the strings for easy bends and vibrato.
This Superstrat configuration combines a JB in the bridge with STK4N and STK4M stacked single coils in the middle and neck positions. All three pickups are screwed directly to the body, and this hot-rodded rock machine does not feature a tone control or a coil tap switch.
The whole point of satin-finished necks is that they should feel super sleek and comfortable, but the Wild Card’s feels a bit rough and raw. It may well smooth out with use, but we might feel inclined to hasten the process with some 1200 grit wet and dry paper.
The way ours is set up, though, means you need to use a light left-hand touch to prevent buzzing and choke-out on the unwound strings – regardless of whether you’re bending them.
With our test amp switched to Hot mode and the Gain control turned halfway up the bridge setting is crunchy, overdriven and vibrant, but the single coils sound almost completely clean.
You can switch directly from burning solos and meaty power chords to snappy, funky tones with plenty of glassy treble. The compromise is that amp settings which allow the humbucker to do its clear, tightly-focused and harmonically-loaded thing tend to make the single coils a tad edgy and scooped through the midrange.
This is fairly effective for modern clean tones, but don’t expect the Wild Card to deliver classic vintage single-coil sounds and power-crazed rock without substantial amplifier adjustments.
We would have enjoyed the Wild Card more if the pickup heights could have been adjusted. Unusually, the humbucker sits directly onto the bottom of its rout, so it’s already as low as it can go. The single coils could potentially be raised, but some springs or spacer foam would need to be installed first… and that’s not really our job. Ultimately this is a fine-playing shredder-style guitar with a beefy, clean-sounding humbucker and eye-catching looks. The single coils are underwhelming in this context, but if you spend most of your time playing on the bridge pickup, that shouldn’t put you off playing a Wild Card.