By Andrew Catania
It must have been an extra special task for Jake E. Lee to replace Randy Rhoads –who died in a plane crash in 1982- as a guitarist in Ozzy Osbourne’s band.
With ripping solos and great riffs in songs such as “ Rock N’ Roll Rebel” and “Bark at the Moon,” Jake E. Lee grew rapidly to be a guitar hero for several wannabe guitarists who wanted to follow each shade of his intense vibrato and incendiary tactic.
During the performance of this and other songs, he trusted a greatly modified mid-seventies fender Stratocaster that some thought was a Charvel guitar.
Lovingly nicknamed “Whitney” the guitar initially had a tobacco sunburst finish up to a time that Lee’s roommate – who was a painter at Charvel– painted it white after shaving the headstock.
The most noticeable changes of the guitar were in the center and neck only-coil pickups, which were made to lean in reverse. The configuration was Hendrix-inspired and it gave the guitar a uniquely cool look.
Ever since his short-lived stay in Ozzy and with his own band, Badlands, Jake E. Lee has maintained a low profile. However, he lately came forth with his new band, Red Dragon Cartel.
During his inconsistent career, what has been consistent is the guitar with which he is mainly associated. Fortunately, Charvel has recognized this exceptional instrument by providing the Jake E. Lee signature model with similar amazing tones.
There are several well-known Strat-Style guitars available today, but not any can come close to the Spartan fine-tuning of the Jack E. Lee.
Contrasting several “Super Strats” in this arena, which usually have additional frets, locking tremolos and double Humbuckers, the JEL has merely the bare essentials, counting:
– 21 frets- A bridge with a hard-tail design- It has a Seymour Duncan JB Humbucker- Double reverse-slanted DiMarzio SDS-1 one-coil pickups –controlled by a single volume knob with a versatile Five-Way Switching- Slender, lightweight ash body- Rosewood fretboard- Quarter Sawn Maple Neck with Oil Finish- Medium Jumbo Frets- 12″ to 16″ Compound Radius
The Jake E. Lee is a significant instrument since it allows flying about the fretboard easily with downright. That could be the secret behind Lee’s wide-interval vibrato techniques that created the tremolo bar effect.
Without fretting out, the 12 to 16-inch compound radius permits for extraordinary 21/2 step bend. In spite of the neck having a slim profile, it is strong which makes picking or placing your thumbs on the edge of the fretboard a piece of cake.
The Seymour Duncan JB Humbucker is ideal for this guitar. It has all the middle range bite required for different musical styles without overcoming the inbuilt fine tone of its ash body.
The reverse-slanted DiMarzio SDS-1 pickups are well-balanced for clarity. They also have a good deal of zest in the reverse-slanted configuration, making the notes resonate in a big way.
Even with its simplicity the JEL produces a huge sound and feels like a top-notch custom instrument, demonstrating less is beyond doubt more.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The Charvel Jake E. Lee Signature is a stripped-down rock and metal instrument possessing fine, pure tones and the best guitarist-friendly neck.