About the Surfcaster


Kinda Surfcaster, just getting started

Records seem to suggest that the Charvel Surfcaster was conceived by Charvel in 1989 and a few prototypes from that year without serial numbers are floating around.  These first versions are close to the later production models except they have all tuners on the side, like a Tele.  In 1990 a small production of the Surfcaster was released with the tuners still all on top.  Then, in 1991 the real Surfcaster appeared as we know it today with three tuners on each side of the headstock.    I’d love to know what the thinking was on making that change, which transformed the Surfcaster from just another pointy headstock hair-band super strat to a retro classic.  But I haven’t been able to uncover anything thus far.   The models changed a little each year, with pickup configuration and colors through 1996, then in 1997, inexplicably, they became Jacksons instead of Charvels.  Design deteriorated with small but ultimately meaningful changes and eventually Quality plummeted as they changed manufacturing from Japan Fuji-Gen to India.  The post 2000s Indian Surfcasters are generic and of very poor quality.  Manufacturing in India has since improved, but unfortunately not before Jackson ceased production of the Surfcaster.   It’s interesting to note that over time they slowly ruined the Surfcaster culminating not just in design changes but in manufacturing plant changes.  As far as I have been able to research this, there is no reliable source for why they seemed to deliberately make a classic guitar worse.  First they changed the headstock from slightly angled on top to uniform with the Jackson name change.  Then they removed the sound hole.  Then they replaced the sharkfin inlays with dots and eliminated the beautiful trapeze C-tail.  Then they moved manufacturing from Japan to India.  Go Figure.  The earliest serial number is 365XXX, the latest serial number of a true Charvel Surfcaster is 388XXX.




Here’s a link to a description of the various types of Surfcasters built during the first production run 1991 through 1996:

Surfcaster General Description

  1. Paula Walsh says:

    My brother bought a 1992 surf caster when he was just 14 years old after mowing about 1,000 lawns. He cherished that guitar. Unfortunately a “friend” stole it in 1999 and pawned it for drug money. I wish I could find one for him today. They’re just impossible to find tho. Thanks for all of this info! It was very inspiring for me to keep searching!

  2. Mike Kotyk says:

    Chasing a black surfcaster 6 string, bridge humbucker and C style bridge. Pretty much only after those options. Trying to replace one I sold in the late 90’s. Been looking for years. Thanks

  3. Dakota Hall says:

    I have an early 90s Eric Clapton spec Charvel Surfcaster neck through design (no trem) Hard tail. I can’t find any information on it other than Eric Clapton has one that sold for almost 10,000 USD. I was curious if anyone could tell me more about it.

  4. Wayne Miller says:

    Anybody know the tremelo arm retaining set screw thread? Mine has fallen out and become lost. Please!!!

  5. Eric says:

    Has anyone run across a charvel surfcaster with the name logo written across the top of the headstock instead lengthwise in between the tuners? All the pics I’ve seen online are lengthwise. Thanks.

  6. Reuben Acciano says:

    Team Surfcaster, I want to upgrade the tuners on my black ’92 to locking tuners but I don’t want to ram them out anymore so I can return it to stock if necessary (already replaced the pups but kept the lipsticks, of course).

    Anyone *know* – as in 100% certain – what the tuner ream/peghole size is on these? It’s a proper MIJ w/ JT490 vibrato model, white toothpaste logo, Gumby headstock etc.

    Any info welcome.

  7. The owner of this site has given me editorial privileges. Currently, I’m still learning the intricacies of WordPress. My first effort was to trash all of the spam posted to the various pages. I’ve also added 3 new links.

    The link above is a pdf document that attempts to describe all of the Surfcaster variants manufactured during the first run 1991 through 1996. Please contact me at me@grahampearson.com if you have any suggestions for improving this document.

    The second link is on the Serial Numbers page and is a pdf table that lists over 200 Surfcaster serial numbers and a brief description of each entry in the table. Again, please contact me at me@grahampearson.com if you wish to provide any updates to this table.

    The third link is on the Variations page and is a pdf matrix that illustrates all known variants of the Surfcaster and how many of each are known.

    In the future, I hope to check each of the posts for dead links – there are many such links to expired eBay auctions for example. What should I do? Delete the post unless it provides information other than just a dead link to an old eBay auction?

    Looking forward to hearing from fellow Surfcaster enthusiasts.

  8. I know I’m going to regret this, but I’ve just put my early 90’s (serialnumber 373269) Charvel Surfcaster 12 string (black) onto EBay (UK) – item number 141817293861. Generally it’s in very good condition – great condition neck, body really good…just some tiny scratches down by the jack socket. Pickup selector switch tip needs replacing, but that’s all the downsides. The neck is unbelieveable considering the age of the guitar. I just don’t get round to using it so it’s got to go…I think :(

  9. Zac Groom says:

    hi, what kind of case did these come with? were they all the same?

  10. I have never seen a Charvel catalog with a Kahler Floyd Rose style tremolo installed on a Surfcaster nor have I heard of another one. The best way to assure that the tremolo is factory-installed is to remove it and see if the tremolo cavity is painted with the same paint as the rest of the body.

  11. Robert says:

    I have a surf green one with a Kahler Floyd Rose style term. Did Charvel ever make one like that? The routing job looks factory done. Any thoughts are welcomed.

    Thank you!

  12. Six String Richie says:

    Hey, I don’t know if you are aware of this but an awesome company called Eastwood Guitars is looking for funding to recreate Surfcasters. Eastwood makes many great retro style guitars and I would love to see them bring back the Surfcaster. They have 10 days left and are 75% done with their funding. If it doesn’t reach its goal they won’t produce it. They only need $400 more.

    Here’s the link to their project:

    I promise these guys are awesome. Hopefully this is helpful to somebody.

  13. sawchestra says:

    I have an original in good (not perfect condition as it has been gigged but no major bangs, a little discolouration on the white bits). If anyone is interested interested let me know. kindfoz@gmail.com/Users/foz2014/Desktop/1506964_10151790490566485_104563487_n.jpg

  14. harry says:

    If anyone is selling one of these please let me know! harrymorrismusic@hotmail.co.uk

  15. Cristiano Costa says:


    I have a Desolation Skatecaster SK-1 ST, I want to ship internationally to my brother.

    I checked the information in the website about this guitar and the Mahogany neck.

    Due to the International Trade Regulations / CITES, I’d like to know what specie of Mahogany is that, just to make sure I wont have problems shipping this.



  16. Steve B says:

    Thanks Graham, info is much appreciated.

  17. Typically, black Surfcasters have an all-black body with a white Charvel logo on the headstock. Your guitar will be much more valuable if you reinstall lipstick pickups. These are occasionally available on eBay. Hopefully, when you changed out the original pickups you didn’t do any additional routing of the body.

    Your serial number indicates your guitar was probably an early one manufactured in 1991 or 1992. With lipstick pickups reinstalled, my best guess is that it’s worth between $800 and $1,000.

  18. Steve B says:

    Hi everyone. I live in Toronto and have a black Charvel Surfcaster 6 string serial 373992. I bought it new in 94-95 in Florida. Unfortunately I changed out and then lost the lipstick pickups years ago. Does anyone know what the guitar is worth ballpark?


  19. John Sutton says:

    Hi, Just purchased my first Surfcaster from Chris who notified everyone he was selling his on this site. Unfortunately at some time he changed the Chandler pickups and pick guard so I am now looking for original pickups and obviously a pick guard. If anyone has any or hears of any being sold I would be very interested or perhaps someone knows of some great alternatives? Please let me know. Regards to all other Surfcaster fans. John

  20. Chris says:

    Hi Graham – unfortunately I haven got the lipsticks anymore.
    I can be contacted via main_blick@yahoo.co.uk

    Richard, I am also based in the UK, Birmingham to be precise.

  21. Chris – where in the world are you? I could be interested, but I’m in the UK… Rich

  22. Chris: Do you have the original lipstick pickups and, if so, are they included with your sale? How do we get in touch with you – email address? The serial number suggests a manufacture date earlier than 1994 so your guitar might have been in the store for a year or two.

  23. Chris says:

    Hi there – I am looking to sell my sea foam green 6-string Surfcaster (serial no 377183) and wondered if anyone on this forum would be interested.

    The guitar has undergone some modification (all professionally done, no DIY job). The original pickups have been replaced with Seymour Duncan hot rails, which means the pick guard has also been changed. There is also what looks like a small crack next to the sound hole. It was already there when I bought the guitar (new) from a music store in 1994. I had it checked and it is not a crack in the wood but only affects the finish/lacquer.

    Overall it is in an excellent condition and plays like a dream. It comes in its original (now slightly scratched) case.

    There are some pics on Flickr http://flic.kr/p/nyBNro

    Looking forward to hearing from any interested folks.

  24. Nathan says:

    I just saw one of these earlier today at a pawn shop. I wondered what it was. I’m going back to buy it later today. I’m stoked about this…. it was only $69 but that’s because it had no input jack and not much wiring. I can’t wait to see if I can restore it properly. It looked like it was one of the early ones (with 3 pegs per side and the charvel brand name. It’s one of the orange ones) STOKED!!!

  25. Mark says:

    Drey – are you still trying to sell yours? I’m very interested!

  26. Wolfgang says:

    I’m looking for a charvel surcaster bass trussrod wrench. How to buy or what is the size ?

    Thank’s for Information.

  27. Drey says:

    Hi there,
    i’m a student in germany, and i have a Charvel Surfcaster. I got it by luck from the boyfriend of my sister. He didn’t knew what beauty this guitar is to me.
    I’m a bit in a financial crisis at the moment, so i thought about selling it somewhere. But i don’t want so sell it to people who dont recognise this wonderfull piece. So where do you think i should sell it?

    Its a black one, without tremolo and with a C-Tail. 2 lipstick pickups. Well i can spare you with other details, since u know how they look and how beautifull they are. It has the serial number 384***

    Any suggestions where i should sell it? I’m not sure putting it in ebay is the best choice, so convince me!
    I will bookmark this site and leave my email here.

  28. Although I’ve seen comments on here about Charvel’s work on this model starting in the 80’s (1989?), I was looking through a book called “1001 : Guitars to Dream of Playing Before You Die” and they’ve got it down as a 1991 start.

  29. Hi Mike: Depends on the version. I have a few that are solid mahogany (except for the slash sound hold) with a flame maple top, and they are Les Paul heavy, 9-10 lbs. And why wouldn’t they be, since that is exactly what the les paul is made of. But the Alder solid color earliest ones are in the 8.2 lb range, and I have a few of those too, and they are no more shoulder strain than a strat.

  30. Alex says:

    mine is about 3.5 kg.


  31. mike says:

    Hi, Really want a Surfcaster but could someone tell me, what do they weigh, I suffer with a back problem.

  32. Alex says:


    I bought the guitar, it has arrived last week. It’s indeed the Jackson Stars model, and for a 13 years old guitar, it looks amazing – it’s near mint. I removed the plastic foil from the pick-guard myself. Probably it has slept for years in somebody’s closet.

    The color is red, but not really dark at all. It’s “fiesta red”- like. The neck is very comfortable, thin, it has a whitish satin back and the fingerboard is quite flat – I reckon 14″ ? It has jumbo frets, and nice low action – I have adjusted the truss rod a bit, the action now is around 3/64. The FB is a dark rosewood, with the nice shark fins, not the dots.

    For the pickups – the HB and the lipstick combo is quite decent (again, I am more used to my strats and teles single coils), but as I see, they are Duncan designs – not sure if it’s the same as the Seymour Duncan pups, or some spin-off.

    The worst things on the guitar is the nut (not sure if it’s original, but whoever cut it was not up for the job…).

    As for the chambered body, it is just at the armrest level, on the upper side.

    The price was about 800 EUR.

    Here are some pics:

  33. Alex-

    The serial number and configuration match up with the Surfcasters re-issued for the Japanese market under the ‘Jackson Stars’ brand- same factory, generally the same specs as the originals, and by all accounts they are great guitars. (never played one myself to compare- just read happy reviews of people who did get their hands on them)

    There are a few differences that set them apart from the original run- obviously the serial number follows a different format, but the neckplate itself will also be a flat-stamped or etched chrome one rather than the cast dimensional plates found on the original surf. The catalogs from this time period also have the body wood listed as alder, and the finish options limited to 3 solid colors: Surf Green (SFG), Black (BLK), and Dark Red (DR). Dark Red being the interesting one, because it was never a factory finish during the original runs.

    If the price is right, I’d say pick it up! I’d love to see some pics and hear your opinion on it. It’s still a rare find outside of Japan, so it would likely hold its value pretty well.

    Good luck!

    A link to the catalog scan for the 2005 appearance- all the way at the bottom of the page:

  34. Alex says:

    Hello guys,

    thanks a lot for putting up all the available information in this happy corner!
    I recently have seen a Red Charvel Surfcaster guitar – never heard of these before, but the moment I saw in on that website…wow. Nice guitars!

    Anyway, it is advertised as a MIJ Charvel, but the serial number is 05126045. Which is not really inline with the info available here. They also say it’s a 2000 model – did they resume the Japan production in 2000? The name is Charvel Surfcaster SC-90.

    Otherwise, the specs seem fine:

    – chambered body, f-hole, C stop-tail, coiled-tapped HB in the bridge, lipstick in the neck, perloid PG
    – fretboard with the shark fin, matching headstock (red) angled, Kluson-like machines
    – Charvel logo in white on the headstock, truss rod cover in perloid too


  35. Welcome to the fold, Mike- and congratulations on your rather spectacular entry to the club! 3 surfs at once is quite a haul! I’ve been itching to get a surf-bass into the hands of my bass player for years, and I can’t say anything bad about the 12-string- you’ll love it! (and if you don’t, I’ll be here to love it for you)

    As far as the site is concerned, there’s mild activity & discussion here in the comments sections, but not much activity up top- I’ve attempted to contact Don several times to offer my help, but haven’t heard anything back.

    Frequent poster Graham Pearson and I both maintain serial number lists off-site, and compare notes from time to time. Currently we’ve got about 150 instruments logged, and we’d love to see if yours can be added or updated in the lists. Feel free to contact me at “john at TheElemental dot com” if you’d like a copy of my list, etc…

  36. Mike DuClos says:

    Anybody here anymore? Hi, I just, finally, got the Surfcaster(s) I’ve always wanted…..since first seeing them at a NAMM show back in ’92/’93. I just got two basses (still waiting on one: Cherry Red) and an orange trans 12 string (just bought today and waiting). The bass I do have (a black ’91) is just killer. I threw some LaBella Quarter Wounds on it and the sound is rather amazing. I’ll post photos and serial numbers next week. Would love to know more about this elusive monster.

  37. Nice score Doug, and welcome! That greenburst Surfy is gorgeous- I’ve lusted after that color for years. We’re all still trying to figure out the production numbers on these- but I think it’s pretty safe to say you’ve got one of the rarest variants of an already scarce guitar. It’s definitely a tail-end example of the ‘true’ surfcaster line- the greenburst finish only became available near the end of the production spectrum on these.

  38. Doug Meacham says:

    Adding to the database. S/N: 387582. Any idea how many of these were produced? I’ve heard it wasn’t many, but no details. Searched for this exact model for nearly a year after seeing David Lowery of Cracker playing one. http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougmeacham/8452492384/

  39. rob abramson says:

    looking for a surfcaster to buy – rla9@yahoo.com

  40. Thijs Mol says:

    Hi there, i’m Thijs from holland. I am planning on building my 3th guitar soon. I want it to be a semi-hollow, and since the surfcaster is one of the few semi-hollows that i like, it’s gonna be a surfcaster.
    But now i was wondering how hollow the surfcaster is. Is it only the upper side of the body or is it the whole body and only a solid piece of wood under the pickups and bridge (like prs hollows).

  41. Where can I leave a picture of my Surfcaster Bass?

  42. Scott says:

    Hi, all–I just now found this site. SignoftheDragon might remember me from OSG.

    I had a magenta Surfcaster many years ago It had been modified with a new pickguard and (I think) it had been carved out to convert from the bridge lipstick pickup, which was replaced with a Bill Lawrence humbucker. At some point I lost my mind and traded it for a Danelectro 12-string and some cash. But it really wasn’t in the greatest shape, and I wasn’t set up to do repairs or restorations then.

    These days, I can’t afford a “real” Surfcaster, but I still love that shape. A couple of years ago I found the body of one of the much-maligned India-built Surfcasters on eBay. After a lot of thinking it over, I decided to assemble it with a Strat-ish maple neck and, since it was a hardtail (why?!?), I put a Bigsby B-50 on it.

    I know that the Indian Surfcasters have a reputation for being junk (and I agree that their necks are dull and ugly), but to be honest I like this Surfcaster more than my old Charvel. Sure, I wish it had the “soundhole,” but it plays well and sounds good, and cost me maybe $300 altogether. So it might be a junker, but I’m happy! :-)

    Here’s a picture from just before I finished it:


  43. Richard- Welcome to the board! Glad to have you!

    The doubleneck you posted a link to is indeed a rare find- only the fifth one I have ever seen evidence of. I found some old posts in my searches that claim that there were only 20 made, and that 5 of them were black like the one in your link. You can see a dark green sparkle finished one on the ‘Surfcaster Gatherings’ page on this site. I have also seen pictures of doubleneck Surfys in light green sparkle, and the Rick-like transparent Star-Glo.

    Your black 12er is definitely one of the basswood-bodied versions, originally offered at $100.00 less than the transparent-finished maple/mahogany models. Don’t let that fool you though- I’ve found the differences between the two options to be minimal as far as playability and tone are concerned. These guitars are rare enough that finish options will only affect value slightly. Black is definitely the most common color out there, but even so it will hold its value well.

    Congrats on an amazing find!

  44. Richard Murrell says:

    Hi Graham – thanks for the welcome! No I didn’t get a hard-case and the back of the body is black rather than mahogany. Also looking through the f-hole the wood looks too light colored to be mahogany. It’s a cool guitar regardless of it’s value relative to variants – I’m pleased with it. It’d love to find a 6 string and a bass to keep it company!

  45. Richard Murrell says:

    Hey you Surfcaster collectors, anyone seen a Charvel Surfcaster double-neck like this 6/12 for sale here: http://www.chandlerguitars.co.uk/view_item.php?ItemID=2466

  46. Graham Pearson says:

    Richard, congratulations on joining our family of Surfcaster enthusiasts. Unfortunately, it seems Charvel didn’t follow a strict chronological scheme for serial numbers. However, I can say with some certainty that your guitar was made in either 1991 or 1992 because it’s a relatively early serial number. The earliest serial number I’m aware of is 366XXX and the latest is 38799X.

    Your guitar was made in Japan at the Chushin Gakki factory, not the Fuji-Gen Gakki factory as some folks believe. Guitars like yours have been fetching about $1,000 on eBay lately (Feb 2012).

    A couple of questions for you that affect the value of your guitar. Is the back of the body painted black or does it appear to be mahogany? Also, did your guitar come with its original hard-shell case?

    Again, welcome to our tight little band of Surfcaster enthusiasts.

  47. Richard Murrell says:


    I’ve just joined the family with my purchase of a Charvel Surfcaster 12 string (black, large white Charvel logo, sharky inlays, f-hole, 2 lipstick pickups, pearloid scratchplate).

    The serial number is 373269.

    Can anyone tell me when and where it would have been made?



  48. ^^ That one is super sexy- and the highest (e.g. most recent) serial number of any ‘real’ surfcaster that we’ve got recorded so far at 3877xx.

    The brown-ish burst finish definitely isn’t out of the norm for these later surfcasters- but it is quite a difference from the original rick-like “star-glo” finish- both in color and technique. Even though there is quite a different look to them, the catalogs still list them all under the ‘SGL’ finish option.

    Someone pick it up!

  49. Silversurfer says:

    Check this out…


    Quilted maple top (vs. flamed), “violin” finish (vs. cherry sunburst or star-glo), white Charvel logo (vs. black). Humbucker/hardtail model which probably pegs this as a ’94/’95 or so??? Can we get some pictures of this up on this site before the listing times out? Better yet, somebody buy this!

  50. Nick Randall says:

    I am guessing that the serial numbers on these would have been part of the overall Charvel production sequence, not limited to the Surfcasters. Does anyone know how many of the original Charvel Surfcasters were made, and/or by type?

  51. Nick Randall says:

    Just as a followup:
    I did finally find a good one – details are on the serial number page.
    Curious about the WordPress issues – hope this is not terminal!

  52. Nick Randall says:

    I’ll post there.

  53. Graham Pearson says:


    There’s a recent discussion of these solid-body MIJ Surfcasters under the “Variations” thread on this site.

  54. Nick randall says:

    Any one know of more recent japanese made surfcasters MIJ in solid body with dot inlay necks?

    Ebay item 110748876138 – claims it is MIJ but I cannot find any evidence of these anywhere outside India by this time?

    I will buy it if it is any good – it all seems a bit strange, also the bolt-on neck.
    Thanks in advance!

  55. ross dootson says:

    seems like a fair price considering they are becoming quite collectable ,,well done

  56. Mike Collinson says:

    Hi new to the site just stumbled across it in my efforts to find out more about the surfcaster. I have just acquired a 91/92 not entirely sure which Surfcaster in Mint condition and just wondered if i have paid the right price, i got it for just shy of £750 pound stirling. it a great guitar and i cant wait to get gigging with it cheers. Mike

  57. ross dootson says:

    brass scratchplate on ebay surfcaster 27/ july/ 2011 or contact rossdootson@yahoo.co.uk

  58. Lynchy says:

    Hello there, great site!

    I feel that maybe you have led me to a sad conclusion about my Surfcaster though. It looks like I may have one of the ‘Japan Stars’ re-makes referenced by silversurfer at the start of this thread. It looks IDENTICAL to this – http://www.guitarjapan.com/charvel/spec/sc-90.html – see pics below. I purchased mine from ebay (UK) in late 2008 well before a fantastic resource such as this website was available, otherwise I may have thought twice. Reason for suspicion #1 – The ‘Duncan Designed’ humbucker. Reason for suspicion #2 – A very plain Charvel neckplate with an 8 digit serial number 05120088. Reason for suspicion #3 – A seemingly lighter than normal SFG finish. There also seems to be evidence of bad craftsmanship as the angle of the fretboard does not marry straight with the angle cut into the scratchplate. HOWEVER, reason for happiness #1 – This guitar plays beautifully (unknown if it plays as well as a 90’s one though). Reason for happiness #2 – The ‘Duncan Designed’ humbucker sounds awesome. I paid 700GBP so I don’t feel horribly ripped off as it’s clearly an excellent guitar, I just feel a bit silly as I thought I was getting a 90’s model. Problem is now I really WANT an original 90’s model……..! In fact, when WAS this thing made?

  59. oldiebutgoodie says:

    Well, happy to have found this site for us Charvel Surfcaster lovers. I purchased mine new in early ’94, but it had been on the guitar shop’s wall for quite a while, so could be a ’93? Serial No. 377xxx. It’s a Cherry Burst body and headstock, highly figured maple top and head stock, black “Charvel” logo, beautiful detailed mahogany back, tremolo, roller nut, twin lipstick tube pickups, pearloid pickguard.

    To keep this short, I was former dealer/collector in high end vintage guitars and amps. I have since sold all my goods except…my Charvel Surfcaster and my all original ’64 Fender Princeton Reverb. Ever play your Surfcaster through a vintage Fender vibrato/reverb tube amp? SWEET!

    The ’90’s Charvel Surfcaster is arguably one of the best all-round guitars I ever owned. Plays like butter (very forgiving), 2 octaves, never frets out or buzzes anywhere up the scale, accurate fret positioning, and that beautiful and unique lipstick tube sound. Reminds me of my days playing my old lipstick tube pickup “Silvertone Amp-in-Case” when I was a pup. Of course, the Charvel is far superior. It’s one of few tremolo guitars I ever played/owned that never went out of tune when working the bar. Neck is still as straight today as when I bought it.

    The early models, like mine, never got the notariety or attention they deserved. But they are quietly becoming something to collect and behold. Mine is still a fat 9.8 condition with original case. I’d take it to my grave, but cremation is not a fitting end for this fine guitar :-).

  60. Charlie Dont Surf says:

    SignoftheDragon, Thanks for the comments. Well I do have one if Starglo is another name for Sunburst? All original with original case as well. I would be happy to send you some pictures. I work in a machine shop so after I got the backs off I can see that I should be able to repair the broken tuners with no problem. My email is charlie-dont-surf@comcast.net If you wish to shoot me a quick email I will be happy to send ya some photos. Thanks….

  61. Charlie-

    Thank you for posting this- I’ve never seen ANY evidence that a starglo/burst finish 12 string ever made it out of the factory! (just the catalog option and my dreams) I’d LOVE to see some pictures. I’ve been searching for a burst 12 for 8+ years!

    I’ve owned all 5 other finishes that were offered on the 12, (currently own 4) and have always aspired to own all 6.

    Sorry I can’t be of any help with the parts hunt- I’ve never even looked into it. If you’ve got the original bad tuners, you might be able to frankenstein them with the new ones you bought to at least get it playing. Are they cross-compatible with the parts from the new set?

  62. Hello, Great site man! I could use some help if you could or from anyone else who reads this? I have a 1993 Starglo 12 String in excellent condition except 5 tuners are bad. They are the mains and the shafts are about 1/8 of an inch longer than the octave tuners. I ordered the standard Kluson no name type thinking they would work but they are to short. Has anyone ever seen the Kluson type needed with a slightly longer shaft? I have owned over a dozen Surfcasters (all 6 string) and have never had one tuner go bad. I might have to try to rebuild these things? This is the first 12 string I have owned and It looks like Charvel routed the headstock slots, then said hey we screwed up, looks like we need some custom tuners?
    Any help would be appricated. Also what would be cool on this site would be detailed photos of all the parts for these things.

  63. Hi Chris: Thanks for contributing. Send us a Pic and we’ll put it in the serial number database. Thanks.

  64. Chris says:

    Rule number 7—-

    I have an orange, tremolo, 2 lipstick surfcaster that has white logo. Signed by Frank Black of the Pixies, he didn’t play one, I just met him and got him to sign it. Bought it brand new at Rhythm City in Atlanta GA. in April 1991 Serial # 369xxx

  65. Graham Pearson says:

    Which Factory manufactured the Charvel Surfcaster?

    Needless to say, I have not heard from Mr. Itaru Kanno in Japan. I’m sure Mr. Kanno has more important things on his mind during this time of such crisis – earthquake, tsunami, potential nuclear reactor meltdown. I’ll let y’all know if I ever hear from him.

  66. Wow Silver, great find, I wish I’d known before the auction was over, although I don’t know if I could have brought myself to pay that much, I’d love to have Clapton surf. Who would have thought claption would have a surf?

  67. Graham Pearson says:

    After some googling, it seems Mikey Wright worked for Jackson in the R&D department in the late 80’s and designed the Jackson Warrior (a 5-pointy design aimed at metal-heads). The guitar was a flop and Mikey got the pointy boot. It looks like Mikey now works for TrueTone Music.

    I don’t find any on-line references that connect Mikey with the design of the Surfcaster. After browsing the Warrior, I doubt Mikey had sufficient taste to design the Surfcaster.

  68. Silversurfer says:

    Okay… who’s Mikey Wright and how do you know this? Sorry, just looking for a little more info…

  69. tarrega says:

    I know who designed the Surfcaster. Mikey Wright

  70. Silversurfer says:

    Check this out…


    Talk about overpriced surfs!

  71. Graham Pearson says:

    With regard to the amazing quilt on the “C” tail 6-string with the filled-in holes, yes it used to have a Bigsby fitted. it is currently for sale on http://www.gbase.com. Pity about the damage to that beautiful top.

  72. Wow- I LOVE the figure on that burst! That’s the look I want, only in a 12-string.

    Anyone else notice the filled holes? Looks like it was home to a Bigsby at one time or another.

  73. I’ver never seent his before, and it looks like the sunburst body is not right to me. Something seems wrong with this picture. Where is the flame and quilt?

  74. Man, that’s a sweet collection SOD. I’ll add it to the gatherings. Thanks for submitting the links.

  75. I think the weird pale green one in Norway is from the Japanese only issues of ’07 and ’08, and not exportable, probably because of some weird Fender rule.

  76. This is in reference to Silversurfers cherry with white logo. Sorry, I’m way behind. Anyway, it is truly amazing how many variations and colors there are for a relatively small production insturment. I’ll start a new tab with all of the variations that we can find. Thanks everyone for all of the link submissions. I’ll start using them for the variations database.

  77. Hmmm. I never thought I’d see that. And it looks kind of off too. I’ll have to start a tab/database of all of the possible variations. Thanks for the submission.

  78. Graham Pearson says:

    Which Factory manufactured the Charvel Surfcaster?

    After a fair amount of googling, I determined that one gentleman, Mr. Itaru Kanno, was involved with the manufacture of Charvel Surfcasters and he is presently running a Japanese company called Caparison:

    I have emailed Mr. Kanno requesting information about the manufacture of our beloved Surfcasters and any other material or photos he may be able to provide us, such as correlating serial numbers and pot codes with dates of manufacture.

    I’ll post any replies I receive from Mr. Kanno. Keep yer fingers crossed!

  79. Graham Pearson says:

    Silversurfer, the link in your previous message is for a Surfcaster that is currently for sale on GBASE:

    The seller is Bruce Diamond and he and I have been exchanging emails about this guitar. A prior owner installed a Bigsby tremolo (see pictures on GBASE) but Bruce has restored the original “C” tail. It’s the most beautiful flame I have seen on a Surfcatser.

  80. Silversurfer says:

    Sorry Graham, I can’t help you with the date coding of the pots; import pots may not even have a date coding system like US CTS pots.

    I thought Jackson1s post was really interesting – how DO we know that Surfcasters were made in Fuji Gen Gakki? Just because Wiki and a few eBay postings say so?

    How do we get more information? I did get a response from Wayne Guitars: Wayne Charvel wasn’t really involved with Charvel when Surfcasters were being developed. Another dead end.

    In the meantime, check out the crazy flame in this photo found (not my guitar):

    I’ve never seen anything like it…

  81. Graham Pearson says:

    The pots in my Surfcaster are stamped “58 DI RZ10 250K”. Obviously, 250K is the resistance, but does anyone know how to interpret the remainder of the code?

  82. jackson1 says:

    I don’t have specific info that proves they were built by Chushin Gakki. Surfcasters are not my expertise, but I just assume every J/C guitar is built by them. So, when I read your notes about FujiGen I got interested. And I did a quick Google search and everybody refers to FujiGen as the builders and I thought “My God, how did I miss this info” :-)

    So, as usual, I am only seeking furhther verification or confirmation that it is the case. I will be very surprised if it’s true, as I don’t recall it mentioned on JCF. But again, it may have slipped under my radar, since I haven’t been focusing on the series.


  83. meh- I’ve just been reading ‘Fuji-Gen’ at every turn for years, so just assumed it so. (when I cared to think about it at all)

    I will defer to your expertise, Henrik- but can you provide links to enlightening info?

    I guess I could dig through your JCF posts, but if you’ve got it handy to post here…

  84. jackson1 says:

    Allow me to ask how you know that the Surfcasters were made by the FujiGen Gakki manufacturer? To my knowledge, Chushin Gakki made all the Japanese Jackson and Charvel guitars.

  85. Re: the letter- I doubt you’ll get any info from Wayne Guitars- I don’t think that he was involved much at that point in Charvel’s history.

    I’ve been able to scrap out some info in my 17+ years of surfcaster devotion, but I can tell you that real evidence is pretty hard to come by. Here’s what I’ve gleaned, applied to your specific questions:
    -The inspiration behind the surfcaster was to combine the play(shred)ability of Charvel’s mainstay guitars and the tonal & aesthetic aspects of vintage guitars. They wanted to offer a vintage vibe, but a modern feel. ‘Best of both worlds’ kind of stuff is all over the literature.
    -The lipsticks were a major part of the ‘vintage’ thrust- they have a very distinct tonal character. Vintage-vibe guitars like Danelectro and Mosrite were part of the consideration, and they all sported lipsticks.
    -The scarf joint neck was Charvel/Jackson’s mainstay- If they didn’t develop it, they pioneered and perfected it. They wanted the best and most modern appointments on their new horse.
    -The phase inverter was added to increase the tonal range/options. An attempt to keep the surfy from being a one-trick pony.
    -FujiGen was chosen because of the good cost/quality ratio at the time.
    -Records? NO. All reports indicate that even serial numbers weren’t a good indication of manufacture date- they just had big buckets of pre-stamped neckplates that they grabbed out of to finish off the assembly. No order or consistency at all, even among guitars that were made on the same day. Two guitars finished at the same time could have been neck-plated from different buckets.
    -The finish options weren’t anything out of the ordinary for a guitar at the $1000 pricepoint- three solid colors on basswood, and 3 transparent finishes on maple/mahogany for a $100 upgrade. You’re forgetting that this was just at the tail end of the hair-rock dominance in popular music, when many great guitar innovations were started- to be picked up and refined later by other companies like PRS.

    Well, there’s my .02- hope it helps! I’ve been looking for info ever since I bought my first one (as well as trying to collect more!) but have only in the last few years found anything worth knowing/quoting.

    Re: the herd- Yes, the solid color 3 are basswood, and the orange one is Mahog/maple. I have also owned a trans red one and another blackie. (sold one to fund the surf green one, the other to appease my wife & finances)

  86. Silversurfer says:

    FYI… I sent this email to Wayne Guitars (Wayne Charvel and his son’s current guitar company) recently. I’m waiting for a response.


    Hey there,

    I know Wayne Guitars isn’t the same company as Charvel Guitars anymore, but I was wondering if you had any information regarding the original Charvel Surfcaster. There are a few of us that still own Surfcasters and to this day, it remains one of the most original guitar designs of the last 2 decades. As I’m sure you know, they’ve become very sought after, often commanding prices higher than their original list prices. Pretty incredible for an “import” guitar.

    But there isn’t very much historical information out there, and I’d love to get some background from the creator of these fine instruments.

    – What was the inspiration behind them? Retro wasn’t exactly “in” when the Surfcaster was introduced in 1992.
    – Why lipstick pickups and what’s the Chandler connection?
    – Why a scarf joint neck?
    – Why a phase reversal “push-push” switch?
    – The Fuji-Gen Gakki factory in Japan is now known for producing some great guitars for many other manufacturers. Back in the early nineties this wasn’t the case. Why was this factory chosen and how involved was Charvel in overseeing the production of Surfcasters?
    – Are there ANY records of production runs, serial number records? ANYTHING?
    – Charvel offered a LOT of different finishes in the early 90’s, It’s a little unusual for a guitar upon it’s introduction, to be available in different materials (i.e. Basswood body, vs. Mahogany w/figured or flame Maple top body), let alone different pickup configurations, basses, even doublenecks. What was the thought behind this for the Surfcaster?

    I’m the proud owner of 2 Surfcasters, an early model Cherry Sunburst tremolo model and a Sea green HT model with a humbucker in the bridge. They’re both great guitars!

    I’d be grateful for any information you could provide.

    Thanks in advance.

  87. Graham Pearson says:

    Regarding the pic of your 12-string collection, great looking family. According to the catalog you provided the link to in your earlier post, the only figured top of these four is the Trans-Orange and the other three are basswood. Is this true?

  88. Silversurfer says:

    Here’s a gallery of the ONLY Violet one I’ve ever seen evidence of in the HT model:


    Although I have seen a STD model in that color in-the-flesh.

    Wow. That thing is insane. Where is it now?

  89. The one I’m REALLY searching for is a 12-string burst. Anyone ever seen one? I’ve owned all of the other colors, (still own 4) but am GASing for a starglo one.

    Here’s my 12-string herd:

    The one in front is a MAG- basically a metallic burgundy. My 1st lady bought new in ’94.

  90. Here’s a gallery of the ONLY Violet one I’ve ever seen evidence of in the HT model:


    Although I have seen a STD model in that color in-the-flesh.

  91. Here’s a gallery of the ONLY Violet one I’ve ever seen evidence of in the HT model:


    Although I have seen a STD model in that color in-the-flesh.

    The one I’m REALLY searching for is a 12-string burst. Anyone ever seen one? I’ve owned all of the other colors, (still own 4) but am GASing for a starglo one.

    Here’s my 12-string herd:

    The one in front is a MAG- basically a metallic burgundy. My 1st lady bought new in ’94.

  92. Graham Pearson says:

    Hey, thanks Silversurfer and SignoftheDragon for joining in (I wish I had a cool name like that). SignoftheDragon, your link to the ’94 Catalog page is interesting if you read the fine print description of the Surfcaster HT. Look at the body colors:

    For mahogany bodies with figured tops:
    TR = Trans Red, TO = Trans Orange, SGL = Star-Glow (all familiar colors)

    For basswood bodies:
    BLK = Black, TRQ = Turqoise (familiar ground so far), DMV = Deep Metallic Violet (whoa!), and MAG = Magenta (a kind of red?).

    So has anyone ever seen a Surfcaster with a basswood body in Deep Metallic Violet?

  93. Point taken- but he did say ’91-95. The 1st gen parameter would restrict it to only lipstick models, and only 6 color choices. Greenburst, etc. didn’t come along until the ’94-95 revision that eliminated the trem models and added humbuckers as an option.

    I’d love to get a timeline put together with pics & everything illustrating the Surfy’s evolution- from the first ‘pointy’ prototypes through the ‘good’ ones and into the jacksons.

  94. Silversurfer says:

    I’m pretty sure Graham’s rules were intended for “1st gen” Surfs, MIJ, 1992-1994 i.e. soundhole, sharkfin inlays, large Charvel logo, top/neck binding, 2 pickups, etc., but yeah, you’re right, later surfs had 3 pickups, came with white pickguards, had dots instead of sharkfin inlays.

  95. My first comment shows ‘Awaiting Moderation’ so I’m not sure if anyone can see it.

    I was just pointing out that Graham’s rules amy not always apply- in the case of #s 1 & 3, the Surfcaster STD has 3 lipsticks and a solid white pickguard.

  96. silversurfer says:

    I know – that’s why I was surprised to see this cherry sunburst with the white logo. I guess given that Charvel was still a (relatively) small company at the time, there were some anomalies. Case in point, this humbucker with trem picture is the ONLY evidence I’ve ever seen of this configuration. http://www.flickr.com/photos/surfcasterguitars/5333838723/in/photostream/ Looks like it’s stock, but who knows? And what’s with the weird pale green surf on the far right in this picture? http://www.flickr.com/photos/surfcasterguitars/5301185066/sizes/l/in/photostream/ I’ve NEVER seen that before. The dot fretboard inlays and humbucker lead me to believe that this is a later model (maybe made in Korea or India?), but it’s still got a sound hole. Weird.

    Assuming that all Emerald Bursts have a humbucker, I’d think that it’s safe to assume that all Emerald Bursts had a “C” hard tail. This is actually a funny thread, but hopefully, it will inform folks in the future. We’re slowly documenting the history of the Surfcaster! Now if only we could match serial numbers with dates, know more about production runs of models and colors, etc…

  97. Graham Pearson says:


    The above link sure looks like a cherry-burst with a white logo. This contradicts your assertion in your post on the “Serial Numbers” page of December 28, 2010. So let’s update “Truth #7”:
    7. Orange Surfcasters always have black Charvel logos.

    Regarding your “Truth #8”, do all Emerald bursts have the “C” hard-tail?

    Onward through the fog.

  98. SignoftheDragon here- glad to find this site! Looks great so far.

    I’m a member of both the JCF and OSG forums, but always feel like ‘that surfcaster guy’ as they only fit in as a side note on either of those forums.

    I play surfcaster 12s almost exclusively, and have owned 6 so far. (4 are in my current stable) I am trying to collect all 6 colors that they were originally issued in. Here’s a couple pics of the current ‘family’:

    There are definitely exceptions to a few of the rules mentioned above:
    #s 1 & 3- there were some surfcasters released in ’94-’95 in a 3-lipstick configuration with a plain white pickguard. I believe they were designated ‘Surfcaster STD’

  99. silversurfer says:

    7. Orange and “cherry-burst” Surfcasters always have black Charvel logos

    Hmmm… is this not a cherry burst with a white logo?

    And here’s one more “rule”:

    8. All Emerald bursts have quilted tops and have 1 lipstick pickup and 1 bridge humbucker

  100. Whoa: OK, let’s see: Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes. All true I think. You know your surfcasters.

  101. Graham Pearson says:

    Truths About the 1991-1995 Charvel Surfcaster

    Please let me know if any of these are not true:

    1. All Surfcasters have “pearloid” pickguards
    2. No sea-foam green Surfcasters have figured tops
    3. They have either 2 lipstick pickups or 1 neck lipstick and 1 bridge humbucker
    4. If a 6-string has a tremolo, it also has a roller nut
    5. If a 6-string does not have a tremolo, it has a “C” hard-tail
    6. Black, sea-foam green, and “star-glow” Surfcasters always have white Charvel logos
    7. Orange and “cherry-burst” Surfcasters always have black Charvel logos

  102. Yes, Yes, please do send the pictures. Send me a picture of all of your surfs with the serial numbers and I’ll add it to the database and serial numbers tab. Particularly, send a group photo for the “Surfcaster Gatherings” tab. Thanks.

  103. silversurfer says:

    So this is interesting… http://www.guitarjapan.com/charvel/charvel.html

    “Jackson Stars” was the company that was selling Japanese-made Charvel models including the Surfcaster (in Red, Black and Seafoam Green), up until fairly recently (2009?) for a relatively reasonable price + shipping from Japan. Guitar Japan appears to be some sort of broker/retailer. They list Surfcaster SC-90’s as “discontinued” so you can’t buy them from here anymore. But what I found interesting were the specs; Alder body? Duncan pickup? The original non-transparent finish Surfcaster models were Basswood, according to the Charvel catalog. You can also identify these Jackson Stars made Surfcasters by the chrome pickup ring, Duncan Designed humbucker and the lighter Seafoam green and Red colors (originals were darker). So how close to the original early 90’s models are they? Anyone have one? There’s one up on eBay now: http://cgi.ebay.com/CHARVEL-SURFCASTER-GREEN-MINT-COND-BEAUTIIFUL-GUITAR-/290529949334?pt=Guitar&hash=item43a4ef3696

  104. Thank you for establishing this site. The surfys are fantastic instruments. I have a small collection and have been playing them for 10 years or so. I play in an up and coming indy band (Trinity’s Tattoo) and used a surfy on most of the songs recorded on our recently released debut CD “Blunt”. The versatility and unique sound of these guitars can be heard on this CD. Check it out on the web site.

    Could I forward you a photo for you to post in the surfcaster players section?

    Anyway thanks again. Blaine

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