From humble beginnings on Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys, California to their spacious new facility in Sun Valley, Schecter has always been known for quality. At first for their finely-crafted replacement parts, mostly Fender-licensed fare, but seriously, unquestionably top-notch parts. And then anyone who’s a fan or old enough remembers the PT, that classic two-humbucker Tele-styled guitar that Pete Townsend rocked all through the 80s.
But in recent years their diversification in production and Custom Shop offerings have made a significant name for the brand, particularly in the Heavy community thanks to their 6, 7, and 8-string models and inventive body styling. They’re also very serious about using Seymour Duncan pickups. At last count, there were 57 (!) Schecter models that feature Duncans. That’s a lotta guitars and pickups. But it says something about a shared commitment to TONE. Their showcase at NAMM 2014 was expansive, and quite drool-worthy for any guitarist. Stacked to the ceiling with classic and innovative styles, with a variety of pickup configuration and bridge options to be had. For 2014, Schecter is pulling no punches, pickup-wise. They’re loading not just classic choices and Blackouts but some new Duncan tones in the models we’ll be concentrating on here. New flavors like the Nazgul and Sentient into the Blackjack, Banshee and (drumroll, please….) KM-7 Keith Merrow Signature models! Let’s start with the various Blackjack models, ready your drool-cups, everyone!
The Blackjack ATX
The Blackjack ATX is available in two body shapes. Choose a Mahogany/Mahogany (ABSN) or Swamp Ash/Maple (VRS) bodied/3 piece set-neck 24.75 inch scale creation with a thin neck shape, Ebony fingerboard and a Graph Tech Black TUSQ XL nut. Both come equipped with 24 XL Jumbo frets and Seymour Duncan Blackouts – an AHB-1B/AHB-1N combo. The Blackjack ATX series will also include the Blackjack ATX C-1, ATX C-1 FR, ATX C-7, ATX C-8, and the ATX Solo-II.
The Blackjack Series
The Blackjack series’ Mahogany-bodied, 25.5 inch scale Ebony fingerboard equipped Ultra-Access set-neck construction is geared for articulate aggression. It also comes in 2 body stylings, the C and the Tempest, with the Cs offering 6, 7, and 8-string versions. All have 24 X-Jumbo frets. You also have a variety of bridge options: a USA Hipshot Hardtail, a TonePros TOM on the string-thru-body Tempest, or a Floyd Rose 1000 locking tremolo bridge. Non-locking versions will sport a Graph Tech Black Tusq XL. All hardware is none-more black (of course). The models also feature Red Circle inlay on the Ebony board and glow in the dark side dot inlay, invaluable for dark stages. The electronics consist of a single volume/tone, 3-way on the A and C models, and a 2 volume/2 push-pull tone, 3-way switch arrangement on the Tempest. The six-string models, (the Blackjack C-1, C-1FR, C-1FR S, A-6, A-6 FR and A-6 FR S) are also able to make another boast: they feature 6-string version of the Nazgul and Sentient pickups!
For the uninitiated, the Nazgul is Duncan’s new large ceramic magnet high output bridge pickup tailored for the increased range of 7 and 8 string guitars, and aimed at “sonic obliteration”. It’s midrange voicing provides definition even on these down-tuned, extended range instruments dealing in drop-tuned riffage. It also retains its fluidity and articulate nature no matter how much gain you throw at it. The Sentient is its perfect neck companion, concentrating on natural warmth and articulation thanks to its A5 magnet and medium coil-wind. Purchased separately, both designs are available in passive mount with open coils, passive mount with metal covers, or active mount in soapbar covers. Schecter seems to be doing mostly open coils with a few metal covers.
The Banshee Series
The Banshee model, like so many others in the Schecter line, available in 6, 7, and 8-string versions, also has added Duncan Nazgul and Sentient pickups as an option in their passive models for 2014. This alder-bodied model sports a striking quilted maple top and a 5-ply maple/walnut neck with a 4-bolt attachment. The Ebony fingerboard has 24 X Jumbo frets, a comfortable 12-16″ radius, and is adorned with MOP offset dots. It is available with either a Hipshot or Floyd Rose Bridge. Like the rest of these Schecter offerings, those models not equipped with a locking nut will have the Graph Tech Black Tusq nut. Another plus, the guitars are also equipped with locking tuners, adding to their tuning stability and overall rock-solid reliablity.
And last but not least, what all those who like it heavy have been waiting for…
The KM-7 Keith Merrow Signature Model
Then of course, there’s the KM-7 Keith Merrow Signature model, also featuring the Nazgul and Sentient pickups. The SLS slim wrap Swamp Ash body is available in a stunning Satin Trans White finish (with 7-ply binding!) that almost has to be seen to be believed. The ultra-thin “C” shaped 3-piece Maple set-neck is reinforced with Carbon Fiber rods for rock-solid stability and zero dead notes anywhere on its Ebony fingerboard. The fingerboard also has a very interesting offset white dot pattern. It has a Hipshot 7-string hardtail bridge and locking tuners along with a Graph Tech Black Tusq nut. The electronics are very straightforward, featuring a single push-pull volume control and a 3-way toggle switch. I had a chance to check out this model (and an equally stunning black-trans version as seen below) at Seymour Duncan Headquarters in Santa Barbara shortly after NAMM and it is amazing, both visually and as a functional piece. The sound was HUGE.
That’s a pretty serious selection of body styles, pickup and bridge configurations. Something for practically every taste, but especially if your tastes lean toward the heavy, and your favorite color is black.Whether your weapon of choice is 6, 7, or 8 strings, Schecter has plenty of options.