Price paid: $ 800
Purchased from: Musik Produktiv Niederlenz
Features: - Made in Korea, set up in the us
- Mahogany body with quilt maple top
- Maple neck with rosewood fretboard and 24 jumbo frets
- EMG 81/85, these are obviously active
- Individual volume pots, one master tone, 3-way blade switch
- Creme multi-ply binding (way better looking than the cheeesy abalone on the regular hellraiser if you ask me)
- TOM bridge, string thru tailpiece, Schecter tuners
I don't like the pickups used in here, but these can be changed, and that's matter of taste. If I made a custom shop order everything would be identical spec-ed, it has all I need. A coilsplit would be nice though, but that's impossible with the normal 81/85 combination. I'll put one in when I change the pickups to passives since I have to change the pots anyway. Another mod I will do to it is disabling one of the volume pots, I can't work with dedicated volumes. I ALWAYS use the wrong one, and swells with the neck pickup are practically impossible cause the neck pu's volume is out of my pinky's reach. It didn't come with any bag or case, just with the allen key to adjust the trussrod. Everything except for the (changeable) electronics perfect, for the price payed this is a top notch spec! // 9
Sound: I play a mix of progressive, black, death and melodic death metal, and that's what it's designed for. Well, actually you can play anything with this wood combination and appropriate pickups, the combination is an evergreen used in pretty much every stile. My gear is a Engl E650 Ritchie Blackmore signature amp, a Peavey Xxx cabinet and a TC Electronic Flashback.
Sadly I have to rate this category with the stock EMG's, it's unplugged sound deserves a 12! Loud, brilliant, sustain for ages, dead-fast response... I sometimes sit in front of the TV with this guitar and do legato and tapping exercises without any amp. You'll hear every single note (if your technique is decent)! I haven't played too many guitars coming up to this level, and those who did cost double the price! There's a huge lot of sound potential in here, but... EMG's. You can like their sound or not, that's not part of the discussion. But with those pickups, this guitar simply sounds like a guitar with EMG's. I know that this is going to sound rather like a review of the pickups, but that's sadly what it is. I hear the pickups, not the guitar. I didn't find any of the awesome unplugged characteristics in the amplified sound. There's still sustain, you can still do tapping acrobatics, but all this brilliance and warmth disappeared into this EMG-high-midrange hammer!
It's great if you're using an amp that's naturally on the muddier side or if you're a mid scooper, but with an amp as naturally tight and mid-heavy as my Engl all I get is honk.
The output is a two-edged sword: while it's pretty HOT if you're picking regularly, there's a limit if you're a heavy picker where you wont get any more gain out of it. I developed a very hard picking, and my other guitar is a Jackson JS32T Kelly with Seymour Duncan full shreds. While picking regularly the EMGs have way more gain, but when I pick like I usually do when playing metal I get way more output out of the full shreds. I can roll back the amps gain by 1/10 when using the kelly, decreasing noise and fizz aswell. All in all there's a lack of dynamic headroom on the EMG's, and there's way less variation possible by varying your picking than with passives.
In one point I have to compliment the EMGs though, they are dead quiet! Congrats there as well to the guy who did the shielding! But like I said, there's huge potential in this guitar, and when I put in Duncans or DiMarzios this is gonna be one dream of a guitar. Not looking at the electronics this is a monstrous basic for all modder! If you plan on changing the pickups anyway or if you like EMGs, please ignore the number below and take this as a 10! // 6
Action, Fit & Finish: Set up was amazing. I don't like.10 strings for riffing (I slam them all over the guitar when riffing, I'm used to .10-.52 sets), but that doesn't matter for now. Action was low as hell, but still no buzz. Intonation was perfect over all 24 frets on all strings except for the low e on frets 22-24, but noone plays the 24th fret on the low e anyways. Pickups were adjusted flawlessly, finish was perfect. About the top I have to say that the wood quality and the grain surprised me in this price league. Really holographic looking, a beautiful piece of quilt. The tuners are very unobtrusive, they do their job well and I have no reason to change them. Nut was sawed perfectly too. Really good job, anyone who thinks that Koreans can't compete with us quality should take a closer look at this guitar and compare it to the average Gibson. Congrats to the set up guys at Schecter USA and the world factory. There's only one complaint about the playability of this guitar, and that's the gloss finished neck. Matter of taste, it's not too bad, but I still prefer unfinished or satin neck. I'll probably just sand off the gloss and then I'm fine. // 9
Reliability & Durability: Sturdy, built like a tank, already danged the guitar against the edge of a metal oven and the finish didn't give a f--k. wouldn't do a gig without backup still cause there can always be incidents with strings, electronics and whatnot. Nothing to complain about here, they did an awesome job. // 10
Overall Impression: If you're a metal guitarist and if you either like EMG pickups or know how to change them I see nothing speaking against this guitar. This can be my guitar for life without any problems, and I feel like I can't really objectively upgrade anymore. If it were lost or stolen I'd definitely consider it again, although I'm not sure if I'd actually buy it again. Before I decided to buy this guitar, I was stuck between this, the c1 custom and the c1 standard, and I feel like I couldn't have gone wrong with either of those. I would be in the same situation again (btw, I have no idea why I actually decided to buy the special c1. If I had more money to spend at that time for some reason I'd probably go with the Hellraiser Extreme, or if for some reason a 24-fretted reissue of the Hellraiser Limited Flame appeared I'd surely go with that one. Sexiest guitar I've ever seen!
The only complaint I have are the pickups, but I think I already made that overly clear. Since I already knew that I'll change them before I even bought the guitar I wont let those influence my overall rating too much and give it a 9! // 9