Guitar Review

Charvel Warren DeMartini Signature Pro-Mod Blood And Skull

The Blood And Skull is a guitar every respectable MTV-generation shredder and riff-ranger is familiar with! It’s synonymous with the earliest Ratt music videos from the first album Out Of The Cellar.

Check it out, you know the one:

RATT – Back For More (Official Music Video)

You can also see it here, showing off an earlier tilt-back pointy headstock:

RATT – Round And Round (Official Music Video)
Pro-Mod vs US
Blood And Skull Pro-Mod vs USA
Blood And Skull Pro-Mod (top) vs USA (bottom)

As far as dimensions, they are practically identical. If you remember the article on the USA Signature Snake, I point out that USA Snake and the Pro-Mod Snake are actually different bodies. For this Blood and Skull, the hardware is an obvious point. The Pro-Mod has a glass finish to the satin on the USA. Otherwise, it’s down to the attention and craftsman ship of the factory in Mexico or the factory in the US. And about $2,300.00.

Neck

At the time of purchase, I’m looking at 2 of these guitars and opt for the one with the best-looking quartersawn neck. The feel of this neck is much more like the USA Signature Snake than the Pro-Mod Snake. Mostly when it comes to the rolled edge.

The hand-rubbed satin urethane finish on the neck almost feels as if it’s not there. The tactile sensation is that you can tell that it’s not a raw neck, but it is seems as if it’s close. Very natural touch and a great alternative to the overly-finished necks that you can find on the market.

The 12″-16″ radius is comfortable. The fingerboard is loaded with jumbo frets. Honestly not the biggest fan of frets this tall, but they do manage to pull this one off without running in to intonation issues while playing. Players with a much stronger grip may encounter other results.

Body
Blood And Skull Back

The alder body is in the San Dimas shape. That means it is very Strat-like in the curves and the roundover. In other words, it’s comfortable and it’s familiar. As near as I can tell from the ones that I’ve seen, it’s not easy to find an identical blood splatter pattern. Which is to say there is a degree of unique individualism to each guitar. Nothing more rock and roll than that!

Part of the unboxing and the initial inspection is to practically break the instrument down to basic parts. For what is to be taken and a non-custom shop import, there is an elevated attention to small details. Things like the fit of the control cavity cover. The countersink in to the finish for the screw holes. And even the proper amount of clearance for the tremolo sustain block springs.

Hardware
Blood And Skull Hardware

The chrome hardware is fairly part and parcel for this level of a Charvel. The Charvel-branded tuners and a Floyd Rose 1000 Series double-locking tremolo system. They work as they should with no issues. The Floyd 1000 is another in a growing line of the Korean-made units that hold up quite well.

Speaking of the Floyd. Even though it’s top-mounted, it is not flush. You do have some room for the pull-ups and the wide wiggles. If you want to go off-script and deck it, look at a nice StewMac shim or take it to a qualified tech that you trust.

Electronics
Blood And Skull Electronics

Down and dirty with just the one humbucker. Pretty much like Warren had it in the 80s. This one is in to the production floor version of the signature DeMartini RTM model pickup.

As I am on-record as saying, this is Warren’s ear in the late 2000s playing through a Soldano. It is not what Warren’s young and undamaged ears were hearing in the 1980s through a Marshall. I understand this is a couple of signature items put together. But I do maintain it’s not the tone of the Ratt songs we heard on the radio and watched on MTV. Just sayin’.

As far as having just a single humbucker: that was the law of the land along the Hollywood strip in 1984. You can work your volume control, you can tweak your amp’s clean channel, or you can throw in a push/pull pot. But if you’re an alpha with swagger to spare, you have other guitars for that. LOL!

Specs

Color: Skull Graphic
Clear Finish: Gloss
Body Shape: San Dimas Style 1
Body Material: Alder
Configuration: H
Bridge Pickup: Seymour Duncan RTM
Controls: Volume
Switching: None
Bridge: Floyd Rose 1000 Series
Hardware Finish: Chrome
Tuning Machines: Charvel-Branded Die-Cast
Control Knob: Dome Style

Neck Material: Quartersawn Maple
Fingerboard Material: Maple
Neck Construction: Bolt-On
Neck Finish: Hand-Rubbed Satin Urethane
Scale: 25-1/2″
Fingerboard Radius: 12″ – 16″ Compound Radius
# of Frets: 22
Fret Size: Jumbo
Nut: Floyd Rose Locking
Nut Width: 1.6875″ (R3)
Position Inlays: Black Dot
Side Dots: Black
Truss Rod: Heel-Mount Truss Adjustment Wheel
Headstock: Licensed Fender Stratocaster

Area Of Opportunity

It’s actually quite hard to find issues with this guitar. If you know what it is, you are getting what you expect and what you want. There can always be little quibbles for some players, such as strap lock buttons or an assortment of things that come down to the most personal of preference.

The one thing that would prompt me to not give this particular instrument in my hands would be the range of the truss adjust wheel. On this specific guitar, it does need to go to the absolute limit of the range to get the relief that I prefer. Upon inspection, it is that the rod could have been shifted down the slightest fraction of an inch. Meaning that the truss rod and the truss wheel are good. The placement of the truss rod installation is slightly off. However, I do consider that something that can be resolved with an industrious set of hands.

This is something I am not seeing with any of my other Charvel guitars, and I’m considering it a rare instance. To be fair, I am compelled to bring it up. But again, this single instance is not something that would deter me from other Charvel or FMIC products. Unless it happens again! LOL!

Conclusion

This is a great guitar. Even without the graphic, it plays great and it is ready to rock. I do have a USA DeMartini. And while it’s great, this Pro-Mod definitely rivals it. Outside of personal preferences such as pickup selection or hardware finish, I cannot find anything wrong with the fit or finish.

When it comes to areas of opportunity with this guitar, I’m at a bit of a loss. And it’s not from being a fan of the blood splatter paint. Which might be the only suggestion that I might have for Charvel: offer the Crossed Swords and the Bomber graphics in this Pro-Mod format.

For reference, this Charvel Warren DeMartini Signature Pro-Mod Blood And Skull evaluation was conducted with the following: Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller.  ADA MP-1 Tube Pre-Amp loaded with Tube Amp Doctor ECC83 Premium Selected tubes, using the ADA MC-1 MIDI Controller. Fryette LX II Stereo Tube Power Amplifier. Physical cabs in use are Marshall 1960BMojotone British, and Peavey 6505 cabs loaded with Celestion Classic Series Vintage 30s and Classic Series G12M Greenbacks.

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