Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 FR E HSS

Ultimate Hod Rod
Charvel Pro-Mod So-Cal Style 1 FR E HSS
Price: $1,099

Designed more than 30 years ago, the latest incarnation of Charvel’s Pro-Mod So-Cal keeps the “super” in superstrat.

An eye-catching, ergonomic guitar with alder body bolted to a U-shaped, oiled-maple neck with 12″ to 16″ radius, 25.5″ scale, compound-radius fretboard, and 22 jumbo frets, it also has an ebony fretboard with dot inlays, and other touches include die-cast tuning machines, single Volume and Tone controls, and a Floyd Rose 1000 Series vibrato.


The Style 1 FR E HSS uses Seymour Duncan Custom Flat Strat single-coil pickups at the neck and middle positions, and a Duncan Distortion TB-6 humbucker in the bridge. The neck pickup is overwound, middle is pristine (reverse wind/reverse polarity for hum canceling), and the humbucker roars. A five-position selector yields humbucker sounds in Position 1, bridge inner single-coil and middle pickup in 2, outer bridge single-coil and neck in 3, middle and neck pickup in 4, and full neck pickup in 5. Any and all sounds can be combined (the single-coils emit moderate 60-cycle hum).

Plugged into a Marshall combo or Deluxe Reverb, the Style 1 FR E HSS proved comfortable, with even weight distribution and offering more girth than typical shred-style guitars. The Floyd Rose endured sadistic abuse and – impressively – held tune.

The single-coils yielded rugged sparkle and a glossy Alnico V chime, while the Distortion humbucker offered more range than its name suggests – tight bass, soft mids, and clear highs made it quite versatile. This axe can shred alongside ’80s-era George Lynch, bop with Mike Stern, or funk along with Nile Rodgers. It shines through a clean amp for funky chord work, works well for gut-wrenching blues solos, and roars when high-gain mayhem is required.

Overall, the Style 1 FR E HSS delivers a variety of vibrant Strat sounds, hot-rod muscle, and effortless playability.

This article originally appeared in VG’s September 2023 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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