Before anyone gets bent out of shape about this review, let me give you a little background. I have been collecting electric guitars for the past 25 years. Yes, I was a huge Kramer collector but, I also collected Charvel/Jackson guitars. I have at one point or another owned approximately 30 Charvel/Jackson made in USA guitars including 15 Strathead early 80’s model Charvels. I am a huge fan of the 80’s heavy metal guitars and I still own various Kramer, Charvel, Jackson, Ibanez, Peavey, Musicman, etc. guitar models. For the purpose of this review, I used my own Kramer 1984 guitar as well as my black/yellow and white/black Charvel EVH Art Series guitars that I purchased a couple of months ago.
put one other matter aside right away. As far as the “collectible”
factor is concerned, one can not compare these guitars. Just by virtue
of the authorized EVH paint job, the EVH name being associated with
the guitar, and the limited production, the Charvel EVH Art Series is
by far a more collectible guitar. That’s why I have personally
purchased the black/yellow and white/black model and am waiting for
the next run of the red/white/black model to purchase one.
Both the Kramer 1984 and the Charvel EVH series feature original Floyd Rose units made by Schaller and both feature threaded posts that are seated in the body via inserts.
Both the Kramer 1984 and the Charvel EVH series feature Schaller tuners but, I can only get so excited about tuners. The Floyd nut really makes them a non-issue once the nut is locked in place.
Both the Kramer 1984 and the Charvel EVH have pickups that are directly mounted to the body of the guitar ala EVH. The pickup in the Charvel is custom made by Fender and the pickup in the Kramer is custom made by Gibson (wow, can you imagine even saying that 10-15 years ago!!!! Gibson owning Kramer and Fender owning Charvel, man, times have changed!!!). As far as I am concerned, both pickups are exceptional and have lots of output. Overall, I prefer the tone of the Kramer 1984 pickup by a slight margin just because it has a little more edge to it than that of the Charvel EVH series.
As far as playability, both guitars weigh approximately the same and both are extremely well balanced guitars. Both guitars also have hard maple necks with a light oil finish on them. The neck on the Charvel EVH basically feels like a standard Fender Strat neck. If you’re looking to get that old Charvel vibe and feel, believe me, these necks don’t have it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great neck and offers great playability, but these guitars are not duplicates of the late 70’s early 80’s Charvels. For my taste, the Charvel EVH neck is much more of a “C” shaped neck than the Kramer 1984 model. The Kramer neck feels more comfortable as it is not as rounded in the back and appears to have a flatter radius fingerboard.
The headstock design of the guitars really is a non-issue for me because of the fact that EVH has played on various headstock design guitars. Obviously, the Kramer 1984 is a copy of the 1984 and 5150 guitars played by EVH during the early to mid 80s so it features the headstock that was used on those particular guitars.
In my opinion, the graphics are what really sets these guitars apart. The Charvel EVH Art Series obviously is licensed and commissioned by the artist to include his original guitar artwork. The finish is professionally done and, as I mentioned earlier, true to the artist’s original guitar graphics. Now is this graphic worth over $2,000 more than the Kramer 1984? Well, this gets back to the “collectible” issue again. If it’s stripes you want, all you need to do is get a couple of cans of spray paint for $10-$15 and stripe up your Kramer 1984 and you can have an almost exact replica of the 1984 and 5150 guitars.
So what this boils down to is pricing. The Kramer 1984 is just as good a guitar as the Charvel EVH Art series. In my opinion, as far as tone and playability are concerned, the Kramer 1984 even has a slight edge. They both have virtually identical hardware and features and are made of the same high quality woods. The Kramer 1984 retails for $699 including a hardshell case. The Charvel EVH Art Series retails for $3299 including a hardshell case but, I’ve seen most retailers selling them for around $2600.
I said earlier, I personally own two of the Charvel EVH guitars and
am planning on purchasing a third for the long-term “collectible”
investment factor. Unless you are looking for pure “collectible”
factor or for an investment, the Kramer 1984 is a much better deal than
the Charvel EVH Art Series. With the Kramer 1984, you’re basically
getting virtually the same features, materials, and quality for 25%
of the cost of the Charvel EVH. Even if you already own a Charvel EVH,
I would recommend picking up one of the Kramer 1984 guitars and checking
it out. There’s not too many guitars out there that you can purchase
for $699 that will give you what the Kramer 1984 will. It’s actually
a guitar that you won’t be afraid to pull out of the case and
play because you’re worried that it may effect the value of it!!!!