Charvel knobs are an interesting study. The idea of the milled brass knobs were already standard on Fender’s Telecasters, Precision Basses and steel guitars. Charvel initially sold them as 1952 Fender Telecaster replacements. They also offered them in brass finish, which was very trendy at this time
in the mid 1970’s.
Charvel MFG sourced these knobs from Gary Kahler’s “Brass Factory”. Later this became American Precision Metalworks, makers of the famous Kahler tremolo systems. Gary offered these knobs with semi flat and domed tops as well as tall and short versions. Charvels typically used tall knobs with a domed top, but many semi flat topped knobs were used as production at Charvel grew.
Gary changed tooling a few times over the years he manufactured these, so there are changes. However one must keep in mind after knobs were made, they were dumped into bins at the Brass Factory, and again at Charvel MFG. Each time old stock was buried and some old stock at the bottom could take a while to be used up.
Starting from the left moving right.

#1- First generation Brass Factory knob with flat top. Charvel typically used these with a domed top, but flat style are used on some guitars. These are identifiable by their central set screw, and tall profile.

#2- Early prepro Charvel knob. Gary revised the tooling when Fender began buying brass components for their “Brass Works” in 1979. These knobs are domed top, feature the lower set screw positioning, and have a distinct “lip” between the knurl on the side to the dome on the top. The reasoning behind the set screw position change was so one jig could position the screws on both tall and short knobs. These took a while to get used up and can be found on occasion well into 1982.

#3- Domed top with no lip. The lip was smoothed out in 1981. These are the “typical” San Dimas Charvel knob. This is what you would find on most pre-1985 models, with varying domes to the top and in different platings. Early black knobs are painted with a black finish. By 1984 they are plated black.

#4- Flat top “smooth knurl”. These knobs are fairly unusual in Charveland, but they do exist. Gary machined up a large batch in of these smooth knurled knobs for one of his larger customers in 1983. They are the standard knob, but an extra process was used to evenly take the tops off the pyramids. He over ran the batches and the excess was sold to Charvel MFG. They appear in brass, chrome and black platings.

#5- Flat top “smooth knurl” in chrome.

#6- Gotoh made knob. These become the standard part in the spring of 1985.
A black “smooth knurl” knob from a 1984 San Dimas Jackson Soloist.
Top and bottom of the “lip” style knobs.
A 1984 black knob beside a 1985 Gotoh manufactured knob.
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