Warren DeMartini is to 80s hard rock as a match is to fire. Catchy riffs and tasty notes that are pleasing to the radio and satisfying to fellow shredders. Warren’s weapon of choice throughout his career has been Charvel guitars. Come on, who else watches RATT videos and doesn’t think of Charvel and Jackson guitars?!
The first DeMartini signature model Charvel that I laid hands on was a USA Signature Snake, which is to say that I’ve had time with both the USA and the Pro-Mod versions. The USA played like a dream. Alas, the store also had a Jackson PC-1with the “Chlorine” finish. There was no greater pain that day than having to choose only one. LOL! As much as I wanted the DeMartini that day, the store simply made a better deal on the PC-1.
Fast forward to the past few years, when Charvel began to offer the DeMartini Signature Snake in a Pro-Mod option. You might remember that I have a Pro-Mod San Dimas that instantly won me over. Nonetheless, I’m thinking the same thing as most people. How can the Pro-Mod Snake compare when it’s about $1600 less than the USA Snake?
And then last Summer, my pal Greg Marra (Plenty Heavy, Iconoclast Music Podcast) is literally handed a Pro-Mod Snake from Warren DeMartini during the G4 Experience. Check out Greg’s video demo below.
Check out Greg’s YouTube channel for a lot more smokin’ notes where those came from. Now, Greg can put strings on a Kleenex box and make it sound good, so I interrogate him up and down about his spiffy new DeMartini Pro-Mod Snake. He lays it down (see what I did there!) and sells me on it. Someone from Charvel owe’s Greg a commission on this sale! HaHa!
Upon arrival, the DeMartini Snake needs very little tweaking. Even then, the tweaks are only to suit my preference. The neck is straight as an arrow. I immediately notice a comfortable vibe to the guitar and a very manageable weight. From there, I go over the guitar thoroughly. It’s a very solid offering. A silky taper on the volume pot. Deliberate, yet smooth action on the selector switch.
And some of the best-fitting cavity covers I’ve noticed in a long while. Inside the control cavity, the wires are dressed out more proper than a virgin on prom night. When I peek into the trem cavity, I see a little wax on the threads of the trem claw screws. It’s pleasing to me, as an indication that they actually did sweat the small stuff.
Speaking of the trem and how you might like yours. If you like super low fast action, the Floyd pretty much rests flush. However, you will be able to pull up on the Floyd if you have a fairly medium action. Maybe not the insane Via and Dime range of pullups, but I can get the full step up that I prefer without a shim.
Using my standard clean and dirty amp tones, I run the DeMartini Pro-Mod through the paces. Remembering that I have time on a USA version, I’m sort of holding my breath. Will the Pro-Mod stand toe-to-toe? Let me tell you that I am quite impressed. Looks great. Feels great. Plays great. The trifecta!
You know that I’ve already reviewed the Duncan Custom Shop RTM humbucker, so I won’t wear you out on it again here. LOL! The Duncan Quarter Pound SSL-4 in the neck is an appropriate pairing in this guitar. It’s loud enough to run with the higher output bridge pickup, yet subtle enough for the clean tones that are staples of 80s hair rock tunes. I’ll give the Quarter Pound a full evaluation in another article, so keep your eyes peeled!
The DeMartini Pro-Mod Snake is laid out to deliver a lot of tonal options from a simple configuration. As-is out of the box, it has definition and character and bite and attitude. A staple of a Charvel is the neck and the 12″-16″ compound radius on this guitar does not disappoint. The fret rocker confirms a well-done 22-fret installation from the factory.
Considering the difference between the USA and the Pro-Mod, I believe they are mostly in appearance. A slightly different hue to the snake graphic and the USA has the graphic on the headstock, where the Pro-Mod does not. The USA has black hardware and the Pro-Mod has chrome. The USA comes with Gotoh tuners and there are Charvel brand tuners on the Pro-Mod. The Pro-Mod has the Asian 1000 series Floyd Rose and I currently have no confirmation of which version is on the USA Snake.
One of the highlights for me comes in the form of the access to the truss adjustment. Instead of having to pull the neck, as on my 2010 Pro-Mod San Dimas, the DeMartini has the little wheel at the base of the neck. The locking nut wrench fit in there just right. I think this is an outstanding feature on many levels and I consider it an added value.
In all fairness, if you have the bank and just cannot live without the USA version, knock yourself out. It’s a great guitar and I know you’ll be ecstatic about it. However, if you want a reasonably comparable guitar that’s a little easier on the bank account, the DeMartini Pro-Mod is worth your valuable time.
For reference, this Charvel Warren DeMartini Pro-Mod Snake evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and Fractal MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. Real cabs are Marshall 1960B cabs loaded with Celestion G12-65s, Vintage 30s and G12M Greenbacks.
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Darth Phineas is a long time music industry insider who provides his readers with unbiased reviews on musical instrument and guitar gear. You can read more of his reviews and check out industry news on his Facebook community Darth Phineas, Twitter or his website is darthphineas.com