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A Flawed Yet Intriguing Instrument
In the interest of full disclosure, I feel the need to point out two things:
- I would actually give this instrument a 3.5 rating if half-stars were available.
- I do not play hard or heavy rock.
I feel these clarifications are necessary, because if this review comes across as highly positive, please bear in mind that I was very surprised by this guitar. I acquired my SK-3 ST during the course of a trade transaction, and while it wasn't what I wanted initially, it turned out to be what I needed.
Charvel released this guitar a couple of years ago as a kind of reissue of their underrated Surfcaster from the 1990s. The Skatecaster is only peripherally related to that semi-hollowbody, single-coil-equipped instrument, however, borrowing only its shape and a few cosmetic appointments as a basis on which to build.
On first glance, the SK-3 ST is a very good-looking instrument, with a clean, modern design. The model I own has a flat black (more like charcoal) matte finish, and the light gray binding on the body and neck really stand out in a kind of classy way. The uncluttered controls contribute to the sleek feel, and although the neck and headstock are assembled from 2 separate pieces of wood that have slightly different colors, this doesn't detract from the great look. About the only complaint I have is that the pearloid inlays on the fretboard are a little on the large side, and to me they look a little "Nu-metal gone Vegas."
The second thing one notices when picking up the Skatecaster is how light it is. I'd be surprised if it even clocked in at 6 pounds. However, it still manages to feel sturdy and substantial, due to the dense feeling of the mahogany used to craft the body and neck.
Speaking of the neck, it's very flat and that took some getting used to on my part, as I'm much more used to rounded Fender and Gibson-style profiles. While I didn't care for it at first, after about 30 minutes of playing I came to realize that it might be one of the most comfortable-feeling necks I've ever had the pleasure of playing. This is due in large part to the fact that the back of the neck is not finished--it's described on Charvel's website as "oil-rubbed." Whatever the case may be, having your hand make such a direct connection with the wood of the guitar is a really interesting experience. And with its 25.5" scale length, the SK-3 ST feels different than most short-scale guitars that are designed for hard/heavy rock.
The black nickel hardware is also very nice, blending handsomely with the look and feel of the rest of the guitar. The tuners, bridge and tailpiece all feel very sturdy and solid. It might have been nice to have even basic straplocks included, but the black nickel strap buttons are very well-designed and I have yet to have a strap slip off them.
With regard to the Skatecaster's functionality, it's been described on other sites as a one-trick pony and I don't think that's quite a fair assessment. While it's true that the guitar is clearly intended for heavier types of music, I've personally had a lot of success playing other genres on it, including pop rock and post-punk/new wave type.
After owning this guitar and using it as a second instrument for several months, I do have some concerns about the SK-3 ST... Read More
Versatile & Unique
With just the right amount of aesthetic appeal and operational efficiency, the SK1-ST is a great addition to any player's collection. The coupling of neck-through design and a set of EMG 81/85 pickups make it an incredibly versatile instrument that offers a ton of sustain. The oiled neck on this guitar is unlike anything I have played before. Definitely took some getting used to at first, but now I have trouble putting this one down!