The history of the San Dimas Charvel pre-serialized production "Prepro" guitars begins in 1978 when Grover Jackson purchased the near-defunct and bankrupt Charvel Manufacturing from Wayne Charvel for approximately $30,000.00. Prior to this time, Wayne Charvel had been running Charvel Manufacturing as repair and modification shop, turning "ordinary" Fenders and Gibsons into high-performance tone machines. Towards the end of this tenure, Wayne agreed to form an alliance with Schecter Guitar Research and Boogie Bodies, created by International Music Corporation, or IMC. IMC was a corporation based in Fort Worth, Texas which would go on to be absorbed by AMIC (Akai Musical Instrument Corporation). Curiously, AMIC recently sold Jackson/Charvel to FMIC (Fender Musical Instrument Corporation), more readily recognized as Fender.
IMC was created to pool the resources of Charvel, Schecter, and Boogie Bodies, and in so doing grab a share of the builder's market. Grover Jackson was working with Wayne in these early days, and when Wayne decided he had had enough of the overbearing outside management of IMC as well as Grover's own (often opposing) viewpoints, he filed for bankruptcy protection. Grover was able to leverage a buyout at that point, taking over full ownership of the company. The "company" as it stood consisted of little more than some machine tools, templates, and most importantly, the connections.
Later in 1978 Grover Jackson put a deal together with DiMarzio which allowed Charvel Manufacturing to make guitar and bass bodies for DiMarzio. This filled the gap in cash flow and allowed Grover to move further forward with actual guitar building.
In January of 1979, Grover and JoAnne Jackson, along with Tim Wilson and Mike Eldred, put together several complete Charvel guitars for display at the winter NAMM show. These guitars were the true seeds of future Charvel production, and they were greeted with positive response and enthusiasm. Up until this time, "Charvel" guitars had been built either in whole or in part from pieces supplied by other manufacturers (Boogie Bodies, Schecter, DiMarzio, etc.). The NAMM show guitars showcased Charvel's own custom bodies mounted with Boogie Bodies necks. The "hotrod" Charvel guitars had a market, and Jackson/Charvel was ready to forge ahead with their first true "production" guitars.
The first Charvel necks were not built until almost two months later in March of 1979; when Grover finally got his two Onsrud pin routers outfitted with the proper bits and running. It is at this point that the first completely-Charvel guitars, those now known as the Prepro San Dimas Charvels were built. The following is a comprehensive overview of these fantastic guitars. When discussing the details of a San Dimas Charvel, it is wise to not use terms like "never" and "always"; these were hand-built custom guitars that could be created any way you wanted. The following information will attempt to establish both accurate identifying physical characteristics of genuine San Dimas Charvel "Prepro" guitars, as well as the timelines associated with those characteristics. There has traditionally been some overlap between the "final" use of one style of part, and the "initial" use of its' successor.
Keep in mind, these are trends and not drop-dead dates, in almost all circumstances. I hope this is food for thought and a useful tool for the current collector and aficionados, and also inspiration for future collectors and enthusiasts.
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