Charvel Signature Guitars: Jake E. Lee vs. Warren DeMartini

Updated on December 6, 2017
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Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

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Jake E. Lee Filled One of the Toughest Jobs in Music

Jake E. Lee is a fine guitarist who's been around for a long time, but lets face it, he's forever going to be known for one particular job he'd had. It had to have been one of the single toughest jobs a guitarist could have at the time. Jake E. Lee was the guy hired to replace Randy Rhoads in Ozzy Osbourne's band.

Rhoads had been a guy playing on a level to where less than a handful of others in the business could compete. He died in an aviation accident, and Ozzy Osbourne's resurrected career was on a steep upward trajectory. Jake E. Lee was hired, and he proved himself capable, but it hadn't happened without years of preparation.

Jake came from a father of Welsh extraction, and a mother of Japanese ancestry. They were both huge music fans, and they encouraged Jake to take classical piano lessons at a very young age. Jake discovered later on that he much preferred his older sister's guitar. His sister had a fine ear, and turned on Jake to all the great classic rock and early metal bands.

Using his early musical training, and the books put out by Mel Bay, Jake E. Lee would teach himself to play the guitar. Out in California he'd get his start with a band called Teaser. He'd do a short stint in the band that would later become Ratt. He'd become close to metal music royalty, however, when he'd spend a short time with the great Ronnie James Dio.

Ozzy Osbourne went to Los Angeles to seek a replacement for the loss of Randy Rhoads. The same person who had recommended Rhoads to Ozzy now recommended Jake E. Lee. He'd get the job, and provide guitar on both of the next Ozzy Osbourne albums, Bark at the Moon and The Ultimate Sin.

Sharon Osbourne informally dismissed Jake from Ozzy's band via telegram. Wealthy persons can be so callous, or even indifferent to persons, especially when they're ignorant of musicianship, as Sharon Osbourne. Well, Jake just kept on trucking, and has recorded with several bands, and recorded solo albums too.

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Warren DeMartini, Top Notch Guitar Gunslinger

Glam metal was one of the major genres of music all through the 1980s. The persons who got to be the guitarist in a major glam metal band then were minor superstars. They may or may not have been names everyone knew, but they all had legions of followers.

Like Jake E. Lee, Warren DeMartini was a mega rock star guitarist during the 1980s, and also like Jake E. Lee, he was associated with Mickey Ratt, and his band, Ratt. I'm not sure how you would describe the music of Ratt, but I have always thought of it as something like the combination of Van Halen and KISS.

Warren started messing around with guitars at a very young age. He became quite serious about it as a teenager, and he did what lots of us have to do, get a job and save to get a good instrument. DeMartini had a leg up on a lot of folks, however, he could hear songs and find them on the fingerboard. I assure you not everyone can do this, especially not when they're young.

In 1982 Warren would be hired to replace Jake E. Lee in Ratt. Warren and Jake had actually been living together. Jake being the older of the two, likely had much to teach Warren, but the influence went both directions. With DeMartini in the band, Ratt would release four platinum albums, and an EP. He'd later work in both Dokken and Whitesnake.

Warren DeMartini has always been the object of adulation for guitarists with seasoned ears. He does some things which are not common. Very fond of four note per string passages, he seems like a jazz fusion guitarist in a metal band. He's also one of the few who uses finger vibrato a lot, utilizing a finger and wrist movement across the length of a string, the way a violinist would do.

The Charvel Jake E. Lee Signature Guitar

One doesn't need to look very hard to see this guitar is based on the Fender Stratocaster design. Hey, the Strat is one sexy looking instrument, and Leo designed his guitars to be easily modified. This is another variety of such, but this guitar's body is made from poplar wood.

Poplar is going to be something we see more and more of. It is an extremely sustainable source of tonewood for guitar building because the poplar tree can go from seedling to a log in a short amount of time. Poplar bodies also look fantastic without any color paint finish, but the Jake E. Lee model is a colored guitar, and available in more than just white.

It is common that on signature model guitars, you get an uncommon pickup, or pickups, and that is certainly the case here. The bridge pickup is a humbucker, and it is one of the most well known and loved Seymour Duncan humbuckers, the JB Alnico II. This Duncan is capable of handling duties from crunch to sweet singing.

The two single coil pickups are by DiMarzio. These are the SDS-1 models in both the middle and neck position. These are hot wired, or high output single coil pickups, and in most instances, one would find one of these in use in the bridge position of a guitar. Mr. Lee likes hot wound single coils where he likes them, and if you like Jake's sound, you'll like them too. I especially liked the sound of the SDS-1 in the neck position.

Why are the single coil pickups slanted like that? It would appear the reason is very simple, Jake E. Lee wanted them just that way. Perhaps it is a nod to Hendrix, who played a Strat upside-down, and so, his bridge single coil had a reverse slant, and a unique character for it.

Is this a 'Super-Strat?' Nope. Super Strat guitars, as a rule, have locking dual action tremolo systems, like a Floyd Rose. This guitar is bare necessities,a hard-tail, plus Jake's preferred hardware.

Charvel Jake E. Lee Signature Guitar features:

  • Body shape: Double cutaway
  • Body type: Solid body
  • Body material: Solid wood
  • Body wood: Poplar
  • Body finish: Gloss Polyester
  • Orientation: Right handed
  • Neck shape: Signature
  • Neck wood: 1-piece quartersawn Maple
  • Joint: Bolt-on
  • Scale length: 25.5 in.
  • Truss rod: Standard
  • Neck finish: Hand-rubbed Urethane
  • Material: Rosewood
  • Nut Material: Genuine Bone
  • Radius: Compound, 12-16"
  • Fret size: Dunlop 6130 medium jumbo
  • Number of frets: 22
  • Inlays: Dot
  • Nut width: 1.58 in. (40.1 mm)
  • Configuration: HSS
  • Neck: SDS-1 Single-Coil
  • Middle: SDS-1 Single-Coil
  • Bridge: Seymour Duncan JB Alnico II
  • Active or passive pickups: Passive
  • Series or parallel: Series
  • Control layout: Master volume
  • Pickup switch: 5-way
  • Bridge type: Fixed
  • Bridge design: 6-saddle
  • Tailpiece: Not applicable
  • Black Color Tuning machines: Gotoh
  • Special features: Signature model
  • Case: Hardshell case
  • Country of origin: United States

The Charvel Warren DeMartini San Dimas Signature Guitar

There are three major varieties of Charvel Warren DeMartini signature guitars. For our purposes here we're discussing the swords guitar, and it should be understood the swords guitar is essentially the same guitar as the skulls guitar, as the only real difference is the paint job. Both paint jobs being very very flashy. The snake guitar is a different beast altogether.

The band Ratt had been competing very directly in terms of style, with Van Halen. So it isn't so hard to understand why DeMartini would be playing an instrument similar in its properties to the infamous EVH Frankenstein guitar. That is just what this guitar is, a proper super Strat from the glam metal era of the 1980s. This is a top notch, USA production one too.

This is an alder body guitar, and alder has long been one of the favorite woods to use for the bodies of Fender and Fender style guitars, like Charvel produces. Alder bodies are often used for the spectacular or flashy sorts of finishes folks sometimes go for. The wood isn't ugly with a clear coat finish, it simply isn't special looking that way.

Compared to something like mahogany, alder is an inexpensive wood. It is well known to provide a very balanced 'jack of all trades' tonal character. Leo Fender loved it for these reasons, and most everyone else does too. I played one of these at a Guitar Center, through high gain, and felt DeMartini's tone was available to me, were I only to have his technique!

Again, for the sake of clarity, this is a super Strat of the first order. It has classic Stratocaster construction, but is also modified with the two major things which make something a super Strat, and those things are the use of a humbucker pickup, usually in the bridge position, and the use of a double action whammy bar, and locking nut. This guitar has the all out classic Floyd Rose original whammy or tremolo assembly.

Charvel Warren DeMartini San Dimas Signature Guitar features:

  • Body shape: Double cutaway
  • Body type: Solid body
  • Body material: Solid wood
  • Body wood: Alder
  • Body finish: Gloss Polyester
  • Orientation: Right handed
  • Neck shape: Signature
  • Neck wood: 1-piece quartersawn Maple
  • Joint: Bolt-on
  • Scale length: 25.5 in.
  • Truss rod: Standard
  • Neck finish: Hand-rubbed Urethane
  • Material: Maple
  • Radius: Compound
  • Fret size: Jumbo
  • Number of frets: 22
  • Inlays: Dot
  • Nut width: 1.69 in. (43 mm)
  • Bridge: Custom Design Warren DeMartini
  • Brand: Seymour Duncan
  • Active or passive pickups: Passive
  • Series or parallel: Series
  • Control layout: Master volume
  • Bridge type: Tremolo/Vibrato
  • Bridge design: Floyd Rose original
  • Black Color Tuning machines: Gotoh
  • Special features: Signature model
  • Case: Hardshell case
  • Country of origin: United States

Choosing Between These Two Iconic Chavel Signature Guitars

Jake E. Lee and Warren DeMartini were two of my favorite big shot guitar gunslingers from the 1980s metal scene. I was a child at the time, but I was heavily into listening to all that rebellious, good times music. I still listen to that music, it's gotten to where that era is now classic rock.

Neither of these guitars is even a little bit inexpensive. They are both selling for right around twenty four hundred dollars. They're both going to be great players, but being USA production out in California, and done to the exact specifics of the two icons, and the guitars themselves being very recognizable, it's one certainly purchases for affection, and to show off a bit.

These are both classic Stratocaster builds. They both have a Seymour Duncan humbucker at the bridge. The Jake E. Lee guitar has one of the SD's more well known pickups, and the DeMartini has Warren's signature Seymour Duncan pickup.

The Lee guitar is a hard-tail, no tremolo. The DeMartini has an original Floyd Rose and the locking nut which always comes with such a device. This is the sort of thing which will either make or break a deal for lots of persons. If you're literally going to be playing Ratt or Van Halen songs, then you simply must have a true whammy bar.

What matters the most here to me is the additional two single coil, Dimarzio pickups the Lee guitar has. Just like a Floyd Rose, any pickups on a guitar which aren't much or ever used, don't really have much value. For myself, however, the neck single coil pickup on a Strat, that's one of my favorite places to play from. I always want a neck pickup on whatever electric guitar I have.

Then the Lee guitar goes two cool and useful factors further. It has a middle pickup as well, and the two single coils are slanted. Off the top of my head, I can not think of another guitar with slanted single coil pickups in the middle and neck positions. The slanting will absolutely cause the guitar to have a different character from the straight single coils in a Fender Stratocaster.

So to be clear, I do not say the Jake E. Lee guitar is a better guitar than the DeMartini. For me personally, the Jake E. Lee would be preferable because of the two additional pickups. Either instrument would be an awesome thing to have for the fans of 1980s guitar heroes. Thanks for reading.

© 2017 Wesman Todd Shaw

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