The Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod San Dimas is a return to form for the Slipknot guitarist. Today we check out the features and specs of this hot-rod shred machine.
Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod San Dimas: Going Back In Time!
The new Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod guitars have been a “hush hush” topic for a while. We knew Jim was going to release a new signature guitar alongside his new EMG pickups, but no one knew what the model was going to be. It is finally here, and I got to play with one!
We have talked a lot about the Jim Root Signature guitars from Fender over the years. Mostly because everyone here at ElectrikJam really wanted one. They always appealed to me because these were stripped-down versions of Classic Fender guitars. Throw in a thin, flat neck and EMG pickups and you have me completely sold.
Jim has often talked about how much he likes the classic and traditional guitars that Fender makes. He played them in Stone Sour for years, and he also played Fender often at home. But I think that a classic-styled Fender would look quite out of place at a Slipknot show.
Not only would a classic Fender look out of place, it would also lack the features that a shredder like Jim Root needs. I’m not saying that you can’t use a Telecaster for Metal, but it would not be the first choice for most guitarists. Single coil pickups and chunky neck profiles are not usually “shred friendly”.
The new Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod San Dimas guitars are not really that different from the previous Fender models. Jim has moved maybe five inches over on the “metal scale” for guitars when it comes to brands. Charvel is one of the companies that is owned by Fender, so this is not some huge change for Jim.
So let’s take a look at all of the features that the new Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod is sporting, and talk about the thing we love the most: Simplicity!
Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod: Features And Specs
For such a simple guitar, there is a lot to talk about with the Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod guitars. There is also a little bit of a story that comes with these, and I can understand why Jim went in this direction. Charvel has recently made a huge comeback, for a myriad of reasons, but mostly for being what Charvel was known for.
Wayne Charvel started his company on the basis of making Fender instruments that were out of warranty better. His repair shop became legendary. Wayne even worked alongside Grover Jackson, making his own models under the Charvel namesake in the 70’s and 80’s.
Since Charvel has been a part of Fender (2002), the company has flourished by going back to its roots (no pun intended). I always associate Charvel with Eddie Van Halen, and the whole “Custom Shop Hot Rod” mentality that Charvel offers. Charvel is known for making the “Super Strat” that dominated the market in the 80’s.
While Fender may own Charvel now, the attitude remains the same behind the company. The whole idea is to have a Super Strat with options that make you feel like you have a custom guitar. Charvel offers so many different models that I have a hard time even keeping up with them. But I know that every Charvel I have played in the last 10 years or so, has been excellent.
Jim Root noticed this as well, and he was surprised at the Charvel models that were under $1500. Jim bought a few for nostalgia’s sake, since he had played them years ago. In a recent interview he talked about how surprised he was at the features you get for an affordable price. Jim “fell in love again” with Charvel guitars.
Keeping signature guitars in budget territory has always been a part of Jim’s philosophy. His Fender and Squier models were both reasonably priced. Jim also steers away from over-branding, and likes to keep the guitars simple. The Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod follows in this tradition, and maybe even beats his Fender models in a few categories.
Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod San Dimas Features:
- Mahogany Body
- Maple Neck
- Bolt On Construction
- Maple Or Ebony Fretboard With Rolled Edges
- Satin Black/Satin White Finishes
- Luminlay Side Dots
- Compound Radius: 12”-16”
- Graphite Reinforced Neck
- EMG Jim Root Daemonum Pickups
- 3 Way Switching
- Single Volume Knob Control
- Floyd Rose 1500 Bridge
- Charvel Locking Tuners
- Heel-Mount Truss Rod Adjustment Wheel
- Charvel Case
Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod: Up Close Review
I have a personal build project with Schecter that is almost identical to this guitar, so it was an absolute delight to play. There is beauty in simplicity, and I think the Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod is a great example of how simple can be effective.
The cool thing about both Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod models, is that they are mirror images of each other. The black body has the Maple neck, while the white body has an Ebony neck. They both sport matte black hardware, but the black version has zebra-style pickups instead of plain white. The look may be spartan, but it is striking.
Out of the box the Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod needed a little bit of a setup, but that will be the case with most guitars. The fit and finish was perfect, as I have come to expect with Charvel guitars. The blacked-out hardware gives a uniform look to both models. I like that Charvel can now use the Fender headstock shape as well, as it adds to overall aesthetic.
The body is lightweight to be Mahogany, and it has the popular San Dimas shape. This makes it a little smaller than your Fender Strat, and a tad bit slimmer, but overall still very familiar. Mahogany for a Super Strat is a rare choice, but Jim has said he prefers it over Alder or Basswood.
The finish is matte on both models, but it is also extremely thin. For people that have a problem with wear showing on their guitars, the Jim Root Charvel pro Mod is definitely not for you. I can imagine the finish will start to show signs of wear at the point where you anchor your hand for palm mutes. Any ding, buckle rash, or scrape will also show up.
The satin finish is going to be a deal breaker for some guitarists. I have never been a fan of “relic” guitars, but I certainly don’t mind some battle scars that I put there myself. But I also know plenty of guitarists that want to keep their instruments in pristine condition. So the finish is a love it/hate it sort of feature.
You have all the usual Charvel body contours like the arm rest and the belly cut on the back. But the body also has a slimmed-down neck heel and a contour on the lower horn. This makes playing up on the “dusty end” of the neck easy, and reaching the upper frets is unobstructed.
The neck is always the most important part of any guitar for me, and Charvel knocked it out of the park. I seem to always forget about compound radius necks until I play one. The 12-16 radius is very noticeable when you are doing legato runs up and down the neck.
The 22 jumbo frets makes bends effortless, and the back of the neck has a familiar “Thin C” shape. It is almost like if you took a Stratocaster neck, and shaved off a few millimeters on the back. It doesn’t flatten out like an Ibanez or a Jackson. If you have ever played an ESP guitar, you know this shape.
Like I said, I had forgotten how nice a compound radius neck can be, and playing above the 12th fret was smooth and easy. Having such a wide radius also allows you to keep the action set really low. This neck reminds me a lot of the Nick Johnston Schecter models, and I fell in love with those immediately (I even kept a demo model!).
So the neck on the Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod is slim, but not as slim as a Wizard-style neck. I really love the headstock shape, and the locking tuners may seem redundant on a Floyd-equipped guitar, but I assure they are NOT. Having locking tuners makes everything faster when changing strings.
Like Jim’s other signature guitars, the only indication of this even being a sig is the small logo on the back of the headstock. I appreciate when artists do this, because no one wants to feel like they are “playing someone else’s guitar”.
The Floyd Rose 1500 is a brand new edition for Jim Root’s signature guitars. His other Fender models all had a fixed bridge setup, similar to a Les Paul. This is going to be a feature that divides players as well, as you either love a Floyd Rose. or you hate it. I love them, and recently explained how easy they can be to setup.
The 1500 series causes a little bit of confusion for some guitarists. The 1500 series was originally a Schecter feature, and is basically just a 1000 series with upgraded parts. The locking screws on the nut, and the string clamps have been replaced with stainless steel to avoid stripping. The intonation screws are also stainless, and you get the “pop in” arm that is adjustable.
Purists will look down on the 1500 or 1000 series, but I have used one for about 4 years now and I have had zeros issues. The Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod feels SOLID, and I think the Floyd adds to that overall feeling. It is nice to see other companies taking up the 1500 series, because its a great bridge at this price point.
I had no problems doing dive bombs and harmonic squeals with the Floyd, and it always returned to zero point. Yes, it needed some setup out of the box, but most Floyd guitars need a little tweaking. Make no mistake, this is a “proper” Floyd Rose.
Jim wanted his usual single volume control, and he asked Charvel to move the three way switch up a few millimeters so you can grab it with you pinkie. I’m a big fan of minimalist control layouts for Metal guitars, and the Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod feels very natural. Like, this is exactly what you want in a hot rodded shred machine.
Overall, this is a well-built, minimalist version of what Charvel has to offer. I can see why Jim went with Charvel with this project over Fender, even if it was only for nostalgia. But there is one more area that we need to talk about concerning the Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod, and it deserves its own section…
The EMG Daemonum Pickup Set
Jim Root has been known to use the famous EMG 81/60 combo for most of his career. This classic EMG set has been used by Metallica, Slayer, and countless other heavy bands for decades. I have used this combo myself for years, but I have since switched to the EMG 57/66 set.
EMG is easy to experiment with, since you don’t need to solder any wires. They all have quick-connect wire harnesses that make swapping pickups easy. Jim Root had tried quite a few EMG sets, but recently found the newer Retro-Active sets. The Retro Series from EMG tries to capture the “hot-rodded” PAF tones from the 70’s and 80’s.
Jim was using the Retro Actives for a while, but would also slip back to the 81/60 combo. EMG reached out to Jim to make the Daemonum set, which is said to blend the 81/60 with the Retro-Active series. This is no small task, since I think there is a massive difference in tone.
The Daemonum set comes loaded in both of the Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod models, and I had an absolute blast testing out these pickups. If Jim and the EMG design team were going for an updated 81/60, then they absolutely nailed it.
The Daemonum neck pickup looks like a traditional open-coil pickup, but it is not. It has ceramic slugs in the place of the pole pieces. It sounds great clean, and has a very warm tone. The midrange is right up front, so while it works well for cleans, it also works great with distortion.
I would usually want to use the tone knob to make the neck pickup a little smoother and rounded out, but the Daemonum does that for you! You can get smooth, singing lead tones without a tone knob. Jim says he uses this pickup primarily for clean tones, but I think its great both ways.
The Bridge pickup also uses ceramic magnet slugs, and it sounds a lot like an EMG 81. The difference is the compression and midrange qualities. The Daemonum has the same bite as an 81, but the midrange definition makes it sound much less “sterile”. It honestly sounds closer to being a 57, just hotter.
This makes the Daemonum bridge pickup have a distinctive “growl” to it. The string definition is also insane, and you can hear every note in complex chords. I imagine this is because Jim is usually tuned way down to A, so in standard tuning this pickup sounds like its in high definition.
While Jim says he likes the neck pickup for cleans, I found the best position for getting clean tones was the middle position with both pickups engaged. You get all the warm fatness of the neck, with the definition of the bridge pickup. This sounded great with some reverb and delay.
So the clean tones are great, and totally usable. But that’s not what you would use the Daemonum set for, primarily. These pickups were made to chug and shred, and they excel at both. In fact, I think the last guitar I own that has an 81 in the bridge, might need the Daemonum instead!
Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod: Wrapping Up…
So I really looked for something to complain about when it came to this guitar, but like I said, it is eerily similar to a guitar that I am currently working on for myself. So I honestly can’t find any cons that aren’t subjective. Oh wait, I don’t like the knob. I would change the vintage one to a dome knob.
I would also prefer 24 frets opposed to the 22 that this model offers, but that is being extremely nit-picky. I can easily bend the notes to compensate for the lack of those upper frets. The Jim Root Charvel Pro Mod might seem very simple and stripped-down at first, yet care went into the things that matter.
The small detail like the truss rod adjustment, the locking tuners, and the contoured cutaway are all things that get overlooked sometimes. You almost never see locking tuners on a Floyd Rose-equipped guitar, yet Charvel thought of that. Guitarists that plan on gigging and recording with this guitar will appreciate these small touches.
This may be a signature guitar, but it also has the feeling of an “off the rack” Charvel. Jim just added a few features that make it unique to his style. So I think that Charvel fans, as well as Slipknot fans can both find something to like here.
So if you are looking for an all-out shred machine that has minimalist features, with some hidden bells and whistles, this might be the guitar for you. The price takes this axe out of budget territory, but it is definitely affordable when you consider the features. I have a whole rack of Charvel guitars to check out this month, so I can’t wait to see what they have in store for me next!