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A Music Zoo Exclusive: Charvel® San Dimas® Carbonized Natural Series


The guitar has evolved. The new high performance is not in the pickups, not in the bridge, or the strings. It's in the wood. Our Carbonized Natural Series uses a revolutionary process to stabilize the moisture content of the tonewood, significantly lightening it, making it more resonant, and stabilizing it against atmospheric changes forever. Building on the superior foundation of the Music Zoo Exclusive Charvel® San Dimas® Natural Series - stripped down, no-frills guitars originally designed for maximum tone and playability - the Carbonized Natural Series takes high performance to an exciting new level.

Kiln-drying is an age-old technique used to season wood for use in building instruments, but this new process takes kiln-drying a step further. The wood is essentially cooking in a pressurized kiln in its own moisture and gasses as they escape. Much of the hemi-cellulose is cooked out, similar to what happens as wood ages. Cooked wood resembles 100+ year old wood in this respect. Loss of hemi-cellulose lightens the wood and reduces the damping factor so that it has a crisper, longer ring time, losing more weight than stiffness so that the stiffness to weight ratio is increased. The lignin (glue) undergoes a hardening process, making the wood less flexible. The loss of hemi-cellulose and hardening of lignin collectively increase the stiffness to weight ratio by 15% to 25% depending on species. Most of the cellularly bound water is driven off or combined into larger, more stable molecules. This characteristic makes the wood significantly more stable in use, and locks the moisture content around 10 percent. This means that the wood will not take on moisture nor release moisture during its life, which keeps it from being susceptible to climate and humidity changes as the seasons change or as the guitar travels from city to city. This equals fewer neck adjustments and playing issues over the lifetime of the instrument. The release of this moisture also greatly reduces the weight of the wood, making for lightweight and ultimately more resonant necks and bodies.

After the carbonizing process, the hard and light wood mills beautifully. The builders at Charvel were extremely excited about how clean and smooth each cut was, and how that translated ultimately to the feel each neck was going to have. In addition, we all noted that the wood had a nice “smoked” aroma about it too; an added bonus. Not all woods react well to this process we are told, but luckily maple does which is of course perfect for our neck. These first bodies of the run are Abella which is from the walnut family, though closer in tone to alder which is very traditional for guitar making. Other tonewoods will be used in the future in addition to Abella. We decided to build these out with two direct mounted pickups, crown head tuners, a light oil finish and your choice of Floyd Rose or NOS tremolo. Our prototypes literally scream. The ones we’ve seen are well under 7lbs with a deep woody attack off the body and overtones for days. The stability and quality of the wood through this process are on their own ideal for building, but the functionality and sound of the end product is the part we are extremely pleased about being able to offer to our customers.