Price paid: $ 899
Purchased from: www.americanmusical.com
Sound — 8
Even unplugged, this thing has a full, rich sound. Plugged in, the Blackout pickups do a really good job of conveying the entire range of this guitar while maintaining clarity. I'm normally not a fan of active pickups, but the Blackouts have a much more organic tone than most actives, but have the definition and clarity of other actives. I've played other 7 and 8 strings with passive pickups and have never been able to get a balanced sound between the low and high registers. Unless you want to spend the money on high-end passive pickups, actives seem to be the way to go with these types of guitars. I've played it through a Peavey 6505+, Peavey Vypyr, and Orange TH30. The lack or a real EQ on the Orange's dirty channel makes the low strings a bit muddy, but both of the peaveys seem to respond well, although the Orange sounds way better clean. This guitar does two things very well: very heavy and very clean, "dirty" tones don't seem to suit it well. But I think that's in the pickups. But I doubt that you're looking at this guitar to play Skynyrd covers on. The low F# gets a little "flubby" below the 3rd fret, but I think that this can be rectified with a heavier Sting.
Overall Impression — 9
I bought this to do Animals As Leaders type of stuff, as well as Chapman stick-style two handed tapping things. If is amazing for that, and I think the pickups play a large part in that. I've been playing for over 15 years. I took a big gamble ordering this, but no stores around here have any style of 7 or 8 string guitar in stock. It paid off, though. I am extremely happy with this. After playing 6 strings for so long, this feels almost like a completely different instrument, but it forces me out of relying on the same bag-of-tricks I always pulled on a normal 6 string. I doubt my 6's will ever go away and I doubt that I'll buy another 7 or 8 string, but this really brings out a lot of new things for me.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The whole thing seems very solid (and heavy!). The hardware is quality stuff, and the switches and pots seems to be of good quality. I'm not easy on my guitars, but I don't abuse them, either. The only thing I would be concerned about are the electronics, but that's just because switches and pots that come from Korea aren't usually as good as what you get on an American made guitar. Most of the hardware is top-quality stuff. The addition of a pop-out battery box would be nice, just to save the hassle of finding a screwdriver to replace the battery.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
It was set up fairly well, but I think that the factory set it up to 6 string standards. The action is pretty much right where I like it. When I received it, there was no relief in the neck and the action on the lowest 2 strings was a bit too low and I was getting some fret buzz. I did have to adjust the truss rod just a bit and raise the lower strings up some to remove the buzz. This was a mail-order guitar, so it could have been set up perfectly from the factory, but changed a bit in transit. The intonation was spot-on, though. Aesthetically, the guitar is beautiful; the binding is well done and I've found no flaws in the finish. It was totally playable out of the box, but it wasn't as good as it became after a few small tweaks. The nut seems to have been cut slightly too long, It stick out above the top of the neck, just a tiny bit (probably less than 1/32", but enough to feel if you run your finger over it). I found out before I bought this guitar that Schecter does all of their set-ups and final inspections in the U.S. Which is a big plus.
Features — 8
The model I received was made in 2011 in South Korea, but all Schecter guitars receive a final set-up in the U.S. It had a mahogany body and neck. It is a set-neck construction, but the neck heel looks and feels like a neck-though. It sport an actually ebony fretboard (not just dyed rosewood, which seems to be prevalent in import guitars listed as being ebony) with a 26.5" scale. It has 2 active Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups, with a vol/vol/tone control scheme and a 3 way pickup selector. It has Schecter-branded locking tuners. It also has a Graphtech Tusq nut, which is a nice break form the cheap plastic nuts that most import guitars have. It also has a Hipshot Custom bridge. Mine has the aged white finish with binding, the headstock is even bound, which is a nice touch. It also came with two allen wrenches (you can never have enough of those). The only faults I have are that it did not come with a case and that the lowest string should be a bit thicker to maintain tension. From what I understand, the tuners won't fit a much thicker string without modification. I feel that 8_string manufactures should use tuners and bridges that will fit bass stings on the lowest two strings. Also, the battery compartment requires a screwdriver to get into. Not a big deal, but the EMG equipped ones have a pop-out battery cover. Honestly, though, you don't find this many high-quality parts on import guitars, so it gets an 8.