As soon as you pick this guitar up, you get the sense that it’s a fully designed, carefully considered instrument. It would have been really easy for Charvel to simply take a Telecaster shape, chuck some humbuckers on it, whack a Gojira logo on somewhere and call it a signature, but where’s the fun in that?
Instead this guitar has deep heel and treble cutaway carves for easy upper fret access, a 12-16” compound radius fingerboard. Considering Duplantier’s chord-heavy style, it feels very comfortable around the lower end of the neck. It also features a Les Paul-like back-pitched neck, to allow for the use of a Tune-O-Matic-style compound-compensated bridge and stopbar tailpiece, instead of the more hardtail Strat-like bridges found on most fixed-bridge Charvels Style 2s.
There are other distinctive touches – a funny little diamond-shaped switch cap; a Gojira ‘G’ logo on the back of the headstock; and a pair of Duncan designed humbucking pickups based on the voicing of the JB and ’59 model pickups. There’s also only a master volume control and a three-way pickup selector piece, with no coil splitting to get in the way.
Sonically, this guitar is quite open-sounding, with an airiness to the top end which gives riffs with a satisfying amount of sizzle. The midrange is a little bit scooped too, which lets more sophisticated chord voicings speak clearly, while the low end is full yet tight.
And that classic Gojira ‘raked pinch-harmonic chord’ sound? It jumps right out of the speakers at you. Something about the combination of great neck/body contact, the angle of the bridge to the body, the choice of woods and the selection of pickups seems to really encourage those particular overtones. You’ll probably spend more time on the bridge pickup than the neck, but the neck model is great for clean lines and melodies. The middle setting, however, is a little plain; it has its uses but you’ll probably find yourself skipping it most of the time unless you need a particular texture.
This is a very muscular-yet-detailed sounding metal machine designed to get the job done without a lot of bells and whistles – and it fulfills that clever signature-guitar niche of ‘you don’t have to be a fan of the band to appreciate the guitar.’ It doesn’t look too ‘Duplantier’ in the way that, say, an Ibanez Jem instantly makes you think ‘Vai’.