Price paid: $ 649
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
I enjoy playing progressive, melodic death metal with jazz and classic rock influences. My favorite band is easily Opeth, and this guitar has definitely helped me achieve their sound through my rig. I use a Peavey VK100 amp head, Marshall MG412 cab, a giant library of Boss pedals among other things. I would eventually like to add a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier and a 5150 to the mix, but for now the VK100 suits my needs wonderfully (see other reviews). The C1 Hellraiser FR works well with the VK100 to produce that warm, tube-driven metal crunch that can make your blood boil with heavy licks and sweeps as easily as draw tears with beautiful jazzy tube-screaming solos. I have absolutely no issues with noise due to this guitar. There is a slight amount of amp hum/buzz but you can easily isolate the source and take corrective action to fix the problem. My PC causes a great deal of noise. My noise gates help kill it, but if I am playing at my PC to view tabulature programs there is almost always a slight hum. The pickups in this guitar allow for great versatility. I am able to get perfect clean signals, gut-wrenching driven tones, and almost everything in between. My only issue is that I am constantly changing out 9v batteries. Always remember to pull the cable once you are done playing or they will drain quickly. I practice for a solid 4 hours per day, so one 9v lasts about a week. I can always tell when the battery is starting to get low because the tone dies first.
Overall Impression — 10
I have been playing for 12 years. In that time, I have tried out and owned many guitars. This is by far my favorite. Comparatively, the next step up is an American-made PRS. I own several other Schecter guitars and they are all excellent quality- this model just happens to be my favorite. I actually purchased this guitar without playing it first. I don't normally recommend doing that, but I refuse to play anything in public. This wouldn't get lost or stolen because it doesn't leave my room, and I sleep next to a few high-caliber rifles. Nobody is getting in. If they ever did, I'd hunt them down and beat them to death with the C1 Hellraiser FR. Hell, the thing is so heavy and solid it'd do the job well and probably not even need a single adjustment (just another testament to the reliability and build quality). This is an excellent guitar and certainly my favorite thus far. I would eventually like to get a custom-built PRS, but until then this guitar along with the rest of the guitars I own will keep me happy. The ONLY thing I wish this guitar had was a "Made in the USA" sticker/plaque. 9.5 rounds to 10. Excellent work Schecter!
Reliability & Durability — 10
I do not play live, though I am certain that this guitar could withstand quite a bit of abuse. Don't tell mine that though- it might think I'm planning on hurting it. Seriously though, if you pick up one of these guitars, you'll immediately feel how solid it is and realize how durable it is. The hardware seems like it will last a very long time. I have had other guitars with which the hardware rusted out from normal playing. Oils from our hand and fingers are terribly caustic to almost everything we touch. If you do not set aside time to properly maintain this guitar, it, like anything else, will show signs of wear. You NEED to purchase a good cleaning kit that has lemon oil spray for the fretboard. Wear caused by a lack of preventative maintenance is nobody's fault but your own. I don't normally use a strap while playing; I almost always sit. For some reason, I cannot play while standing because it causes great pain in my wrist (arthritis). The strap buttons feel very solid though- just make sure that your strap isn't worn because this guitar is heavier than most. The finish is excellent. As I stated earlier, maintain it. Use a good wax to keep the shell beautiful and safe. I also recommend using some metal polish and sealant for the FR components- those are the only areas that show any signs of wear on my guitar, and it's minimal at that.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
From the factory, the action was satisfactory for my liking. This is really a matter of preference because every player enjoys a different action. Many variables change between the factory and the store. When I picked up the C1 Hellraiser FR, there was no fret buzz and the action was set moderately high. Personally, I am a perfectionist when it comes to action- I need it as low as possible, with the longest sustain possible, and absolutely no fret buzz. Ideal. It took me quite a while to achieve that perfect height, and it involved a lot of work. First, I use this guitar for Standard E only while I leave the other tunings to my other guitars. I tore out the factory 010-046s. They are way too thin to get the "perfect action." After trying out many other string combinations, I finally settled with 10-52 Skinny Top Heavy Bottom EB strings. These allowed me to get that perfect action, though intonation and FR fine-tunings were time consuming but VERY well worth it. I did not have to adjust the pickups at all. The entire guitar looks seamless (even though we all know it isn't). It really looks like it was carved out of a single piece of wood, as if somewhere there was a mahogany/maple/rosewood splice. Maybe I'm reaching too far with this analogy, but my point is that it looks like custom-shop quality in a mass-volume guitar. There were no cosmetic defects at all. I am giving this section a 9/10 rating solely because I feel that Schecter should be setting these up with 10-52s from the factory. The 25.5" scale length cries for thicker strings.
Features — 10
I purchased my Schecter C1 Hellraiser FR on 2/14/10, so I am assuming it was a 2009 model. It is made in South Korea but set up in the USA. The 24 fret neck has jumbo compound-radius frets on a Rosewood fretboard. The abalone inlays are of excellent quality and extend around the entire front body contours as well as the gothic cross inlays on the fretboard. The super-strat style body is mahogany with a quilted maple top. The guitar itself is very solid and heavy. I personally love the look and feel of this guitar. Mine was, and still is in immaculate condition. The only signs of wear are on the Floyd Rose string vices from where I do palm muting. Overall, the look is stunning and I receive compliments on it all the time. The pickups in this model are EMG 81s and 89s active pickups. This is different than prior configurations of 81s and 85s. The volume pots also allow the user to split the pickups to get that wiry single-coil sound. There is very little noise when using the pickup selector, and the selector Switch has a nice solid feel as well. All three pots (volume 1, 2, and tone) have a very smooth feel. I can change them accurately with my pinkie finger while playing. The tuners are Grover brand, and I love them. I am able to quickly dial in my tuning (which I will explain shortly) and with great precision. There is also a locking nut which helps keep the guitar in tune. If the locks are overtightened, they may add tension to the strings, so only tighten them slightly and they'll be fine. The Floyd Rose tremolo has both lovers and haters. Personally, I love working with the FR- setting everything except for intonation is rather easy. Tuning can be a bit tricky at times, and this is where people get themselves into trouble. The FR works by spring counterforce- the Bridge is supported by three springs that pull in the opposite direction as the strings. The equilibrium point determines the angle at which the FR sits. Ideally, the FR should lay parallel with the body and at a height conducive for quick-action without fret buzz. Many people do not realize that the FR must be "recalibrated" with every different tuning. It is forgiving to minor changes, such as E to Drop D. However, if there is a measurable difference in cumulative string tension, the FR will sit at a different angle and this will greatly affect playability. Keep this in mind. If you purchase this guitar, I recommend having it set up for your favorite tuning and then leaving it alone or only making minor changes. Overall, the FR is an excellent tremolo. 10/10 there. No accessories came with the guitar per-say, though the manager of the store hooked me up with picks, strings, and other goodies. This depends on which store you go to and if any promotions are happening. The Guitar Center I go to is in Milbury, MA and the staff there are excellent. I had a 15% off coupon and the guitar had $50 knocked off the price due to a weekend-only sale. Normally, this one runs for $899. I was VERY happy to walk out with such a wonderful guitar at a very low price. On a side note, I am extremely critical of everything I own. I am very reluctant to ever give a 10/10 in any category, but this guitar is simply incredible.