The GibsonThunderbird is a raunchily-voiced classic bass from the 1960s, even though its design isn’t really the most ergonomic. The “reverse” body and the resulting long neck sends the T’Bird nosediving the second you let go of its neck.
Schecter’s R&D-team set about to design a bass, which would offer all the sound of said Gibson-classic, but would also feature a much better strapped-on balance. Following this brief they came up with a beauty, called the Schecter Ultra Bass.
The Schecter Ultra Bass (current street price in Finland: 865 €), which is part of the company’s mid-priced Diamond-range, is a long-scale bass equipped with passive electronics.
The Ultra is by no means a straight T’Bird-copy, blending successfully the body’s Gibson-type treble side to a Telecaster-style bass side. The end result pleases the eye, sits comfortably in the lap, and balances rather nicely strapped-on, because the…
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These days Schecter seems to have a fairly Hard Rock-, Metal- and Widdlemeister-image, especially over here in Finland. It’s true that many of the company’s better-known models are fast Rock-machines equipped with active pickups, but there has always been a more classic side to Schecter, too. The first production models, for example, were Pete Townshend’s Tele-style guitars, and Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) also played a few Strato-type Schecters.
One of the current guitars, which follow classic lines, is the Solo-6 Custom.
The Schecter Solo-6 Custom (current price in Finland: 915 €) is by no means a straight copy, still, it clearly draws some influences from Gibson’s Les Paul Custom: the mahogany neck – made of three long stripes in the Schecter’s case – is glued to a mahogany body with a maple top.
The “Custom” in the name points to this model’s multiply binding and ebony fretboard.
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Schecter probably aren’t known so much as manufacturers of acoustic guitars, but they do carry a few acoustic-electric models in their current line-up. We picked up a new model from Schecter’s Hellraiser range for a review – the Hellraiser Studio Acoustic.
The Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic (current street price in Finland approx. 600 €) is a stunning looker with a Grand Auditorium -sized, full-depth body.
The whole body – top, rims and back – is crafted from beautiful, laminated quilted maple. Our review sample sports a fetching see-through-black gloss finish.
The glued-in neck, which is finished in solid gloss black, is made from mahogany.
Judging by its headstock shape, Schecter seems to be aiming the Hellraiser Studio squarely at the Rock and Metal crowd. The headstock features intricate binding in luscious grey pearloid framed by black and white strips of plastic.
The sealed Grover-tuners sport a cool and moody black chrome finish.
The bound rosewood fretboard comes equipped with 20 jumbo-sized frets, giving the guitar an effortless modern playing feel.
The Hellraiser Studio’s ‘board is adorned with cleanly executed gothic-style cross inlays, made from grey pearloid.
The stylish dark pearloid theme is carried over onto the soundbox – seen here in the back’s centre line.
Schecter’s Hellraiser Studio comes factory-equipped with a second strap button.
The guitar’s flowing lines are a thing of beauty.
The test sample’s bracings and kerfed linings look well made, even if there are a couple of glue specks in places.
The gothic theme continues in the rosewood rosette’s inlays.
A very dark finish is a double-edged sword for any manufacturer, because any tiny imperfection shows up more clearly. On the review instrument a tiny amount of white glue can be seen seeping out from under the bridge – the only small slip-up on this nicely-finished guitar.
The bridge is an interesting design, made from a composite material based on wood and black resin. The octave-compensated bridge saddle is Graph Tech’s man-made alternative to ivory, called Tusq.
The under-saddle-transducer is a Fishmanin Sonicore piezo pickup.
The UST’s signal is sent to a Fishman PreSys+ preamp featuring four-band EQ – bass, middle, treble and brilliance – a notch filter (to combat feedback or annoying stage resonances), a phase reverse switch (also for feedback removal), as well as a chromatic tuner, which also works without the guitar lead plugged in.
The PreSys+ makes battery changes a doddle.
Even though the Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic is aimed at Rock musicians, Schecter haven’t chosen an overtly “electric” neck profile for this steel-string – which is good in my opinion. The guitar’s well-rounded, medium D-profile feels great, giving you ample flesh to hold on to.
Sadly, our review sample suffers from some minor fretting issues, which lead to the high-e string buzzing at the first and 14. frets. Otherwise the set-up is good and the guitar plays well.
Nowadays it seems that many manufacturers have found out how to put together a good-sounding acoustic guitar using a laminated body. The Schecter Hellriser Studio is a good example of this. Even though you cannot find the out-and-out volume and punch of an all-solid shouter in a laminated steel-string, this Schecter really manages to hold its own, and do so with panache.
The all-maple body gives you a lively tone with a tight, sinewy bottom end, a clear mid-range (typical of maple-bodied steel-strings), as well as a nicely rounded top end. I see the Hellraiser Studio as a great choice for accompanying vocals, as the guitar’s clarity leaves ample space in the frequency spectrum for the singer.
The Fishman Sonicore/PreSys+ is a high-quality combination that sounds great right off the bat, without even touching the EQ. Fishman have managed to filter out most of the infamous nasal quack and attack click, so often found on lesser piezo systems. Thanks to this the Hellraiser’s EQ is freed up to fine-tune your (already great) basic tone, instead of having to combat any annoying tonal problems inherent in the original signal.
I recorded the following examples both acoustically (using an AKG C3000) and direct (with the Fishman’s EQ flat):
The review guitar’s fretting (or neck?) problem really is a shame, because overall this Schecter is an extremely nice acoustic-electric. Schecter are known for their stringent quality control, so maybe this here was the one guitar that slipped through.
Schecter’s Hellraiser Studio Acoustic is a beautiful instrument, offering easy playability and a great sound. The guitar’s clear voice records very well – regardless of whether you’re using a microphone or the fantastic on-board Fishman-system. I can only recommend a test run!
Schecter Hellraiser Studio Acoustic
Current street price in Finland approx. 600 €
Finnish distributor: Soundtools
+ beautiful design
+ overall workmanship
+ acoustic tone
+ pro-quality Fishman-electronics
– some fretting issues on review sample
– some glue visible at bridge