Charvel Desolation DS-1 ST

by | Jul 9, 2012 | Best Electric Guitars


Pros: Classic shape, modern tones and playability.

Cons: Minor finishing flaw at neck/body joint.

Price: $749

Charvel brought the “superstrat” to the masses back in the 1980s. Their new DS-1 ST brings a modern feel to another classic shape – this time the Les Paul-style single cutaway.

Our test guitar came in a very classy white finish with abalone binding on the mahogany body and headstock. Abalone inlays sit nicely in the rosewood fingerboard, which is hosted on a mahogany neck. The natural finish, compound radius and 25.5” scale are not usually found on a neck-thru single cutaway guitar, but work great together. The fit and finish were excellent, with one notable exception: a less than perfect tape line between the oil finished neck and the painted body. No playability issues, just an aesthetic flaw in the finishing process. The tailpiece and bridge are the standard two-piece design, tried and true – but one added benefit is that the bridge is compensated for the compound neck. Beefy Grover tuners round things out on the headstock. The metal hardware is plated in a new tinted chrome finish, adding a nice bit of class. A cavity in the back allows easy access to the 9v battery required for the Seymour Duncan Blackouts. Two volume and two tone knobs plus a 3-way switch give plenty of control. 

For most modern music, this guitar excels, especially hard rock and metal. Distorted, the pickups have plenty of clarity and punch, and the clean tones are perfect. With heavy overdrive, the tone controls don’t have a lot of range, but when cleaner tones are used, it’s much more noticeable. Vintage tones reside in here, too; rolling down the tone controls reveals warm, jazzy sounds. Active pickups tend to work very well with digital systems and signal processing, and it’s nice to play an instrument that has this ability right out of the case. The modern-playing neck felt fantastic, with a very natural contour and a great setup out of the box. Bends were smooth, and the neck joint gives plenty of upper fret access.

This isn’t your Daddy’s singlecut. It’s for the modern player who wants a classic look with contemporary playability and tones.


Neck Shape: Through-Body Fast Neck with Tilt-Back Scarf Joint Head Stock

Fretboard Radius: 12” to 16” Compound Radius

Scale Length: 25.5″ (64.8 cm)

Fretboard: Rosewood

Pickups: Seymour Duncan AHB-1B (Bridge), Seymour Duncan AHB-1N (Neck)

Hardware: Black Nickel

Bridge: Compound Radius Compensated Bridge