How to Identify Charvel Guitars

By Sam Orr ; Updated September 15, 2017
The first 750 guitars (approximate) do not have serial numbers.

Charvel guitars were manufactured originally by Grover Jackson and Randy Rhoads in the early to mid 80s, though the company was sold to a Japanese company called AMIC. Yet, it was the early work by Jackson and Rhoads that now carries a reputation of greatness and rarity, making their guitars some of the most highly sought-after in the world. Only about 5242 guitars currently exist that were not manufactured by AMIC or the brand's current owner, Fender.

Scan the neck of the guitar, which is the long shaft of the guitar that the strings follow. Most of the guitars built by Rhoads and Jackson have a serial number from 1001 to 5491. Additionally, a Charvel guitar made in the U.S. will have a San Dimas, California or Ontario, California neck plate; it will be engraved on the plate, which is located at the top of the neck. It may also say, "MADE IN USA."

Search for a small, pre-production logo on the neck of the guitar; if this exists and the neck plate is blank, you may have a very rare, early model Charvel. However, fake copies exist, so consult with a knowledgeable friend or acquaintance to be sure.

Look for a logo on the neck of the guitar reading "W.C." or alternately, "W. CHARVEL." These guitars are often mistaken for those made by Rhoads and Jackson, when they were made by the company's original founder, Wayne Charvel, who left the company in the late 70s. These guitars are the product of a small shop in Redlands, California, and the address is usually engraved in the neck plate. They are not part of Jackson's and Rhoads' work.

Check the face of the neck close to the body of the guitar. The last fret (the metal bars running perpendicular to the neck) will have a serial number on it that is four digits in most cases. Some have letters such as "RR," "PCS," "JA," "J," or "U," before the serial number. An Ontario bolt-on Jackson will have a four- or six-digit serial number.

Warning

Models can vary wildly unit to unit since Rhoads and Jackson were innovators, so they may not have standard specifications and parts. This is why serial numbers are the best way to identify Charvel guitars.

About the Author

Sam Orr has been writing since 2006. Specializing in electronics, video games, music and home improvement, he writes for various online publications. Orr is studying physics at Ohio State University.