#1
So let's get to it. I have the Schecter Damien Elite. EMG 81-85 setup. A true beast of a mid-range guitar. The problem is, as my main metal guitar, it's getting kind of old. I have the crimson red finish, which is beautiful, but accented by badly done multi-ply binding and black binding that doesn't match it very well. The pick-ups are great, but a little TO hot. They get kinda muddy on high-gain. Being a major Schecter fan, I was looking at the C-1 Standard. It looks beautiful. It also comes with (to my understanding) Duncan pick-ups. I believe they are alnico, which would give me a clearer sound. Plus, it's a set neck. I play in a hardcore band, (Not really into it, but it get's my foot in the door.) so it must be able to handle high-gain, but be soft enough for my jazz noodling. I play everything. If you have another suggestion for the $400-$600 range, I'd love to listen to it. I live in Akron, OH. I play everything. I use modeling amps for the shear convenience, and my friends Jet City Half Stack for mid-gain or clean shows. My favorite style to play is bluesy rock and neoclassical.
#2
They are Duncan designed pickups, which I never quite got what that means. I own a Solo-6 custom, and it has duncans, but they are different than the ones on the c1, the only similarity being they are both passive.

I would first start out with messing with EQ, which is often the problem with that muddy problem you are experiencing. Also try dialing back the tone/volume. If you just don't like the sound at all, I would recommend trying a c1 first. I don't know if that is feasible though based on where you live.

The Duncans on my Schecter do sound a little more clear on higher distortion settings, but sometimes they lack the power for certain (metal) songs. I don't use it for metal though, I use my LTD-EC 1000. The point is, I like the variety, and you would probably like what the schecter has to offer.