Wayne Charvel has been designing and building guitars for 54 years.
He has designed guitars for B.C. Rich, Gibson and worked for Fender Guitars in the 1970's.
Wayne started Charvel Manufacturing in San Dimas California and later hired Grover Jackson for administration work. Eventually Wayne sold Charvel to Grover Jackson. Since that time Wayne has continued to build high end USA made guitars. His current line is the Wayne Guitar.
Edward Van Halen -Van Halen
Mike Anthony -Van Halen
Billy Gibbons - ZZ Top
Dusty Hill- ZZ Top
Tommy Bolin-Deep Purple
Riche Blackmore -Deep Purple
Harold Cowart-Bee Gees
Jeff Ross-Bellamy Brothers
Mark St. John -Kiss
Paul Gilbert -Racer X
Dave Murray-Iron Maiden
Nuno Bettencourt - Extreme
Kenny Lovelace -Jerry Lee Lewis
Janet Robin-Precious Metal
Mara Fox- Precious Metal
John Entwistle- The Who
Pete Townsend -The Who
Allen Woody- Allman Brothers
Greg Allman -Allman Brothers
Warren Hanes- Allman Brothers
Fred Newell -TNN
Hank Williams Jr.
Shawn Jones -Waylon Jennings
Sid Fernadez- New York Mets
Jim Root -Slip Knot
Warren DeMartini -Ratt
Curt Mitchell - Learn to Burn
Eddie Ojeda -Twisted Sister
Brian Young-David Lee Roth Band
Jim Root -Slip Knot
Lance Turner-The Atomic Punks
Russ Parrish- The Atomic Punks
BrianYoung -The Atomic Punks
Reggie Boyd Jr.-Off White
Don Rich- Buck Owens
MauriceHuffman-BigMo Full Moon
Scott Shaw-Visions Rush Tribute
Ray Benson- Sleep at The Wheel
Loren Tipton- NIHILIST
Matt Smith- NIHILIST
Joe Perry - Aerosmith
Johnny Davis/ Mary Ford
Norton Buffalo-Steve Miller Band
I bought my first new Fender strat and amplifier in 1959; I wish I still had that guitar. I was working in a sign shop at the time as a spray-painter, and in about 1960 I decided to take my strat apart and paint it Candy Apple Blue. It was then that I became interested in repairing and refinishing guitars.
At the time, Fender Guitars needed someone to do their out-of-warranty refinish work and asked me if I would be interested. I said yes, and worked for them for about three years. I also recovered amplifiers and electric pianos as well in tolex. I repaired guitars in my garage for about a year. My first customer was Jeff Ross, a great tele player. He later became lead guitar player for the Bellamy Brothers.
I opened Charvel’s Guitar Repair in 1974 in Azusa, CA. It was in this shop that I continued to do work for Fender. Fender sent me my first “rock star” customer, Deep Purple. They wanted custom work done to their instruments, such as humbucking cavities routed in the bodies and custom pickups installed. In those days Fender did not do any custom work except for finishes. Somehow the Who found out I was doing custom work and Alan Rogan, their main roadie and instrument buyer commissioned me to build a clear plastic bass for John Entwistle. Soon after that I started making after-market custom guitar parts that fit Fender and Gibson Guitars.
At that time my best friend, Lynn Ellsworth was interested in what I was doing. He was an excellent wood worker, but he had never made any guitars, so I showed him how to make bodies and necks. He later started Boogie Body Guitars.
About eight months or so after opening my shop, a local music store owner asked me if I could make a jack plate that was unbreakable for a Gibson Les Paul. I said yes, because I had already made a few jack plates out of aluminum. This triggered an idea to make jack plates and trem arms for strats that would not break. These were made out of stainless steel and were four times stronger than the original ones.
I advertised in Guitar Player Magazine, and received excellent results, but was only making enough money to pay for the ads. None of the distributors wanted to carry my parts, so I added more and more parts to the line and increased the size of my advertisements.
I was doing quite well, until the Asian markets caught on to what I was doing. They copied my parts, and sold them for about half of the price. At that point, my guitar parts business drastically decreased. The one thing that the Asian market couldn’t do was make guitars.
My first hand-made guitar was made in about 1962. I still have the original neck. It was my love for the guitar and the fact that my parts business was decreasing that I decided to make guitars. My first customer was Tommy Bolin of Deep Purple. My next clients were Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill from ZZ Top.
In the early 1970′s a young man came into my guitar shop in Azusa, CA, and introduced himself to me as Eddie Van Halen. He asked me if I could stop his Dimarzio pickup from squealing. I told him I could. ( a trick I had learned from an electronics genius, Bob Luly) The pickups would be soaked in hot wax, which is now known as “potting”. To the best of my knowledge, we were the first to “pot” after-market pickups. Eddie was happy that the pickup didn’t squeal anymore.
After that, Eddie would come by the shop a lot, and sometimes he would sit on the floor and play the guitar while I repaired some of his other guitars. He also did some of his own work. About eight or nine months later, I moved my shop to San Dimas, CA. Eddie and Michael Anthony, (also from Van Halen) used to come over to the new shop and hang out. We would talk about show business, managers, etc.. I gave them some World War II Atom Bomb Blast glasses and some old paint respirators. They used to wear these on stage for some of their Hollywood shows! (Don’t ask me why!)
In that same time period, I teamed up with Dave Schecter from Schecter Guitar Research. He also made bodies, necks and pickups for guitars. One weekend, Dave and I made one hundred bodies and finished sanded them. I was already in the mail order business selling guitar parts, so it made sense that I would sell Schecter bodies and necks. We also sold Boogie bodies and necks.
Shortly after that I purchased two overhead pin routers and made my own bodies and necks. We sold everything, including Dimarzio pickups.
Randy Zacuto, from JB Player also purchased parts from me. He hired a friend of mine named Seymour Duncan, who had been making tele three piece bridge saddles and rewinding pickups to make Mighty Mite pickups for him. A short time later, Seymour came out with his own line of pickups.
One day Eddie came over to the shop and asked if I had an extra body and neck. I told him that I had an extra Boogie Body neck, and an older body that I had constructed in my shop. I gave Ed the parts, and the next time I saw the guitar, he had painted it white with a spray can, and put black tape on it for the stripes. He used nails to hold the pickup in the body.By the way, the first Dimarzio pickup I potted for Eddie, got too hot and the cream plastic bobbin shriveled up. It looked bad, but it still worked fine. Eddie liked the way it looked. (He liked funky things in those days.) He asked us to build a guitar that was black with yellow stripes. It had a birdseye maple neck, only this time the stripes were painted on. In those days we used laquer and polyester. Eddie was and still is a nice and down-to-earth guy, and so is Michael Anthony. I’ve seen Eddie and Michael over the years, and I am happy to say that they haven’t let their “rock star” status go to their heads. When I was in Hawaii for a Van Halen concert, Eddie introduced his beautiful wife, Valerie Bertinelli to me. She’s even prettier in person.
I worked for Fender Musical Instruments for three years in the 1970′s, Gibson for three years as a guitar designer and artist relations, and B.C. Rich for one year as a guitar designer and pattern maker. I also owned the W.C. Guitar Company, and the Ritz Guitar Company.
My oldest son, Michael, and I own and operate Charvel Music, a full line music store in Paradise, CA. We are currently manufacturing the “Wayne” guitar as a joint venture. Our new rock legend guitar line is a high quality guitar for the player who wants to get that early “brown” sound.