Schecter C7 Hellraiser Review

Discussion in 'Guitar Reviews' started by Drew, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Ok, a slow day at work means it's time for...

    The Hellraiser Review!!!

    [​IMG]

    Construction: Fit and Finish, Cosmetics, etc.

    First off, there's no denying this guitar is total eye candy. A deep red quilted top (lighter than it looks in the above picture, sorry 'bout that), abalone body trim and fretboard inlays, dark chrome hardware... This is just a classy looking guitar.

    However, the cosmetic finishing was actually the area where this guitar came up the shortest. Nothing was really bad, per se, but there were a few little slip-ups - the black body binding at the very edge had a quarter-sized whitish spot on the inside of the upper cutaway, and the chrome "schecter" logo on the headstock seems to have had the second "c" broken off during installation, and installed at a slight angle under the clear. I'll try to update this review with pics at some point. There's a tiny bit of filler apparent at the neck joint too. Nothing here's really obvious, nothing particularly bugs me, and I'm cool with this on a well-spec'd guitar at this price, but it's not perfect. I guess also worth noting is that the "Hellraiser" engraved on the truss rod cover is a touch cheesy, and while the quilt top is beautiful, it won't quite compare to a $3k PRS or anything.

    Aside from that, though, really this guitar is impressively made and finished. The finish is smooth and even, the inlay work is clean (presumably CNC cut), and the fretwork is excellent, easily on par with any non-prestige japanese Ibanez I've played, and possibly equal to the prestiges (it's been a while since I've played one). Oh, and did I mention it was gorgeous?

    Playability: How's the Damned Thing Feel?

    Well, the first thing you notice when you pick it up, especially if your "main player" is a UVPWH, is that between the thicker profile and the extended 26.5" scale, the neck just feels BIG. It takes a little while to get used to it, but within a day or two of going back and forth between the two guitars I was completely comfortable on the Hellraiser.

    I've never really gotten the "you need a thin neck to shred" argument, and if this guitar is any indication, even with its extended scale thin-neck purists have some explaining to do. The neck profile (a roundish C near the headstock flattening to a medium D by the time you get near the body) is very comfortable under your hands, both for chording and lead work. I'm a big legato guy and even with the chunkier neck and longer scale I had NO problems opening up on this one. Strung up with 10-68's, the extra inch gives you a little extra string tension relative to a 25.5", but bending was not a problem, and a couple weeks of playing while I can still feel the difference between my UV and the C7, it doesn't throw me.

    It may be a combination of the longer scale and taller frets, and it may be the fixed bridge, but this guitar is also an alternate picker's dream - for some reason, you pick this up and it just begs for fast picked runs. Like I said, legato licks are no problem, but I tend to find myself doing faster picking on the C7 and flowing legato on the UV. Either technique works just as well on either guitar, but the C7 seems to like picking just a bit more than the UV, for some reason.

    Upper access is slightly restricted above the 22nd fret, due to the lower cutaway, but you can still get up to 24 if you're paying attention to what you're doing.

    Tones: A Hellraiser in Name...?

    This was the big surprise for me here. I love the sound of my UV, but I was kind of looking for a nice mahogany guitar to track rhythm parts on the album I'm working on, for a bit more differentiation in the mix. Additionally, I've always been a fairly low gain sort of guy, favoring passive pickups in low-gain amps. So, buying an EMG-equipped axe was basically crazy.

    However, what really surprised me here was just how well the EMG's work for moderate-gain lead work. Holy crap. I'm sure it's partly the fixed-bridge and the extended scale, but these things have the most terrific attack to them - I suspect it's because a 707 is essentially a very low gain pickup with a very high gain internal pre, but there's something almost singlecoil-like about the explosive attack, scooped low-mids, and tight, focused bass to them, and if you don't completely fire-bomb your preamp with them it's actually amazing just how much you can do with your picking hand. Sure, they're not as touch-sensitive as passives, but you can really dig in with them and get some pretty explosive results. They're just excellent lead pickups, particularly the neck 707.

    Ironically, getting a great rhythm tone is where I've had the most trouble. Again, I don't use a tremendous amount of gain for rhythm OR lead, and that wonderful attack you get while soloing translates to a lot of treble bite without the thickness of my Blaze bridge in the UV at lower preamp gain settings. I suspect most of the people who'd be buying one of these things wouldn't use nearly as little gain as I tend to, so this isn't a problem, but I'm still trying to dial up a thick but not super-saturated rhythm tone from them. I can cheat and just up the gain (and did I mention that, with the focused tone and wonderful attack of these things, these pickups LOVE gain? Both for lead and rhythm, if you up the gain towards the extremes of what my Nomad can put out, this guitar sounds noticeably more focused than the bassier, looser UV), but I'd rather tough it out and find a EQ/mic combo that gives me a nice, growly low-gain tone. Updates to follow, but I suspect if you're looking for a fairly mid-to-low gain heavy rhythm tone, like me, then a Blackjack might be a better bet.

    Clean, again, if you think of this as a guitar with pickups voiced more like a singlecoil than a humbucker, then you can dial up some great tones. It's very crisp and sparkly, and not as dark and round as you'd expect from a humbucker. Particularly in the lower registers things get very piano-istic. Add just enough drive to your tone to get a little bit of sparkly breakup, and it's a surprisingly strat-y vibe - roll back the highs a little and drop the gain a bit and it sounds more like a traditional humbucker. Also worth noting is if you're a heavy effects user, the 707's powerful attack lends itself well to a sea-of-delay sort of clean tone.

    So, in short, I'm not sure why EMG's get the bad rap they do. Sure, they love gain, but they also kick ass for bluesier lead settings, and their clean tone is totally useable. If I could just dial in a crunch rhythm tone I liked as much as the Blaze bridge, my UV would be getting a set of these, too.

    One note on the EMG's, however - because they are quite bright, this guitar is fairly susceptable to amplifying fret buzz. On my UV I can have slight fret buzz when chording in the lower-to-mid registers and the pickups and amp will smooth it over, but on the Hellraiser you really need to keep the neck perfectly bizz free if you want to get a full, powerful tone, as that slight buzz will come right through the amp sound. So you need to run the action a touch higher than you might on a non-EMG-equipped guitar - still not very high (I'm probably in 2-3mm range, though I haven't measured), but even while soloing you can't accept a small amount of buzz and just rely on your amp to cover it up.

    Overall Impression

    Buy one. You know you want to. It's an absolutely stunningly beautiful guitar that's just FUN to play, it's very comfortable, and it's about twice as versative as i'd have expected it to be. Hellraiser or no, you can totally play blues on this, the clean tones are quite cool in a rather crystalline, sparkling way, and it's just a guitar that smokes for lead work. For the price and for the features, it's one of the better sevens on the market right now.

    Rating: :metal: :metal: :metal: :metal: :metal: out of 5 :metal: 's
     
    Rev2010 likes this.
  2. Jason

    Jason Forum MVP

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  3. Toshiro

    Toshiro .... Contributor

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    :metal:

    The Blackjack says that on the 'rod cover also. I've noticed though that the Hellraiser has a bit better 24th fret access, based on pics. If you go to my pic thread, and look at the Blackjack, you'll see that the body joins the neck at the 21st fret, and the cut-away doesn't even reach the 24th.

    Glad you like the Schecter though, they are very very nice. You will see a thread in the future with the neck on mine striped sooner or later. :lol:
     
  4. 7StringofAblicK

    7StringofAblicK Contributor

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    Very cool Drew! Glad to see you acquire another 7, especially one as righteous as the Hellraiser.
     
  5. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Nah dude, it's just a bad picture, then - looking at that (and off memory) I'm pretty sure the cutaway intersects the neck at the 21st fret, too, and that to hit 24 you do have to reach over the body a little.

    I wish the bridge pickup was a touch rounder and middier and not quite so edgy, but that's about it - the neck pickup kicks ass, and the bridge owns for soloing, too.

    7SOAB - when you consider that this guitar is basically a replacement for a RG7CST that I sold and that I'm pretty unequivically happy with it, that says sort of a lot. :metal:
     
  6. 7StringofAblicK

    7StringofAblicK Contributor

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    That's cool man!

    as for being not as round (and i'm sure you've already done this), but does messing with the Tone knob help much? I know my Nomad is SO sensitive to tone knob adjustments (especially with a strat). Since you say the feel of the pickup is very single-coil'esque, i would imagine the tone knob might react like it does on the strat. My Viper has an 81 in the bridge, and to 'fatten' it up a bit, i just roll some volume and tone back and it adds a great deal of thickness. Just some advice i'm sure you've already thought of yourself :lol:
     
  7. Sentient

    Sentient Metal Dog Contributor

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    Excellent review, Drew. You really make a man want one of those things (even more than I already did).

    Anytime you feel like swappin' your Hellraiser for my Blackjack, just remember that I'm your man. ;)
     
  8. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    :lol: Actually, I hadn't. I've heard of a lot of guys rolling the tone back a bit while recording rhythm tracks, but I've never understood that. Then again, this is probably the brightest humbucker-equipped guitar I've ever tried to record, so maybe that's what I need to do here... :lol:
     
  9. 7StringofAblicK

    7StringofAblicK Contributor

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    well, let us know how that works out. On the EMG's, rolling the volume back helps too: it allows your picking dynamics to be, well, more dynamic. lol
     
  10. D-EJ915

    D-EJ915 Forum MVP

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    Rolling back the volume really is freaking awesome with EMGs, it sucks with passives at least imo but with EMGs it rules.
     
  11. Toshiro

    Toshiro .... Contributor

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    No, I mean going by others photos.

    Like, okay...

    Hellraiser(borrowed from another thread):
    [​IMG]

    Cut-away joins the body between the 22nd and 23rd frets, depth is halfway through the 23rd.

    Blackjack(quick craptastic photo):
    [​IMG]

    Cut-away joins the body at the 21st fret, depth is halfway through the 22nd.

    It's a small thing, but it makes the 24th fret unplayable from a normal position without making my hand go all twisted. :lol:
     
  12. Michael

    Michael Forum MVP

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    That Hellraiser is hella sexy! :yum:

    Good job on the reveiw, too. I really want to play a Hellraiser one day. I played a sixstring Hellraiser, and it was sweet. But a sevenstring one would be superb. :yesway:
     
  13. Naren

    Naren OldschoolGhettostyle

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    On a similar note, one thing I've always wondered was why most acoustics don't have cutaways. I used to have an acoustic with 19 frets (I think), but because of how the body was, it was very difficult to play above the 14th fret. And, since I play up to the 24th fret on my Ibby, that made 10 frets on each string that I couldn't play if I wanted to play the same song on my acoustic (I don't really have to mention that it also made a whole string I couldn't play since it was a 6-string acoustic). I wonder if that's just because most average people and folk singers only play mostly open chords up to the 4th fret. Then, there are those guys who will play up to the 12th fret but no higher... Always irritated me.
     
  14. Toshiro

    Toshiro .... Contributor

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    Yeah, though acoustic makers seem to be even more 'traditional' than electric builders. IIRC Acoustics are a shorter scale, which might make the 24th fret a bitch to play no matter the access, plus there's the soundhole to worry about.

    Maybe get a Stratacoustic and a 24 fret warmoth neck for it? :lol:

    It's rather annoying when you have frets you can't get to. :wallbash:
     
  15. Shaman

    Shaman SS.org Regular

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    The Hellraiser has a great access to the highest frets. There is no problems going to 24. It's, in my opinion, easier than it was on my RG1527, since the Hellraiser doesen't have a bolt on neck.

    So a conclusion: the access to the high frets is phenomenal, it really is. I have noticed that I have used the highest frets a lot more than I did with my Ibanez RG1527. It just feels natural to go up there with this guitar.

    Of course, it's a matter of taste, but my point is, that there's no problems playing the highest frets.

    I will post my review one of these days.
     
  16. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Hmm. Your hands must be smaller than mine, Tomi, the back of my hand always intersects the lower bout when I go up to the 24th. It's not bad, just not perfect. And I doubt it's the bolt-on that's a factor, unless we use RADICALLY different hand positioning, as my PWH with the old-style neck joint offers slightly better access than the C7, I feel.

    Interesting, Toshiro. I'll have to take another look at the Hellraiser tonight and compare. For acoustics, it depends on the maker - 25.5" is common, but Gibson also builds most of their acoustics at 24 3/4 I believe (and makes some phenominal sounding instruments too, might I add).

    I gather (way off topic) that a cutaway does impact the tone of an acoustic guitar. For me, the tradeoff for the ability to play voicings/melodies above the 14th fret is more than worth it, but for your average strummer/fingerpicker, it's probably not. I suspect this has a lot to do with it.
     
  17. Naren

    Naren OldschoolGhettostyle

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    I see. I personally would much much rather be able to play above the 14th fret and sacrifice whatever minor sacrifices in sounds are necessary. Aren't classical guitar's pretty small scale?
     
  18. Shaman

    Shaman SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, it's just a matter of taste.

    I loved the AANJ on my RG1527, but I just like the Hellraiser more. But I can't really say which one is better really. I just prefer the Hellraiser's neck and the access.

    I have medium sized fingers, so I don't think it has to do with that either, but like I said, it's just a matter of taste really.

    Oh and btw, nice guitar you got there ;)
     
  19. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Thanks, ditto to you. ;)

    It's probably hand posture- my fingers have no problem, but it's the side of my hand I have to watch out for when I'm playing right up at the top of the neck. Either way, since I spend most of my time between the 3rd and the 15th, it's really kind of a non-point for me.
     
  20. Toshiro

    Toshiro .... Contributor

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    Well there's a definite difference between the cut aways, I still love my Blackjack, but 24th fret access is not that good at all. I have zero trouble grabbing the 24th with my pinky on my old heel RGs, also. The Schecter I have to use my ring to reach it, and that throws off the fingerings I normally use.

    Oh well, I'll treat it like my 22 fret S, and just bend up to that high note instead. :lol:
     

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