Price paid: $ 499.99
Sound — 9
As far as sound goes, almost every experienced guitar player knows that it's the amp and effects that will make the biggest difference... Anyway, I play mostly metalcore but also some doom metal. The EMGs in this guitar are perfect for metalcore, but a bit too shrill for doom metal and hard rock, in my opinion. They were designed with the typical scooped mids EQ of fast-paced metal in mind, but they don't sound bad at all clean. I play this through a Crate GTD65 (solid state amp), with either a Boss DS-1 or the amp's high gain channel, which I suppose doesn't really do it justice either. This guitar is not noisy at all. The neck pickup sounds very nice for metalcore; the bridge pickup is better for hard rock and other types of metal. This guitar is obviously mostly meant for metal, but it's really just the pickups that determine most of the sound, in my opinion, so swapping those out should change this guitar's sound entirely.
Overall Impression — 10
For metal, this is one of the best guitars you can find under $750. I've been playing guitar for about four years now (electric for around a year and a half), and I have one Acoustic guitar, a 65-watt solid-state amp (I know, I know), and a Boss DS-1. I am very glad with this guitar and it fits my style perfectly. If it were stolen, I'd consider buying this again but because new guitars are constantly being produced I'd probably buy something else. The neck on this guitar is very smooth and plays great. I can't think of anything that I don't like about this guitar. It would probably have to be the fact that the pickups are active, but the battery lasts a hell of a long time, as long as you unplug after you play. For me, this truly is the perfect guitar under $750. I can't think of anything I'd rather have instead of this in that price range.
Reliability & Durability — 10
This guitar looks and feels very reliable. All of the parts look like they're high quality, and the finish seems quite thick. The strap buttons look like they'd last. I definitely feel I could use this on a gig without a backup (even though it's never a good idea).
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The set-up on this guitar was phenomenal, I didn't have to change a thing. The action was already pretty low. The pickups were at about the right height as well. The craftsmanship on the Hellraiser Deluxe is great. There's only a single thing that's wrong with it, and that's the covers covering the controls and battery cavity on the back of the guitar. They weren't exactly cut to a perfect shape. For the rest, however, I don't have anything to complain about. The guitar looks great, sounds great, and plays amazing.
Features — 8
My Hellraiser Deluxe was made in 2009. Its first appearances were sometime in 2008, when this then-"mystery" Hellraiser showed up in a few different Guitar Centers. Made in China, this particular Hellraiser is much more visually appealing (well, to me) than the "normal" Hellraiser, the Hellraiser C-1, mainly due to its lack of abalone binding and inlays, and due to the fact that the body has a crimson burst. The Hellraiser Deluxe has 24 extra-jumbo frets with a 25.5" scale, and the neck is a bolt-on. The neck is mahogany and the fretboard is made of ebony. That is, according to sites like Musician's Friend. I suggest you judge it yourself; I'm convinced, for example, that my Hellraiser Deluxe has a rosewood fretboard. All the inlays are made of mother-of-pearl. The inlays are crescent moons, and the inlay at the twelfth fret is a very elaborate design and appropriately named "Devil Eye." The Hellraiser Deluxe has Grover non-locking tuners. This guitar has a mahogany body with a laminated quilted maple top, and it's in the typical super-Strat shape, like the Hellraiser C-1. The body is finished in a beautiful crimson burst. Pictures do not do this thing justice; in fact, I'd go as far as to say they look nothing like the real thing. The bright red you see in the pictures is much darker in reality, and the back is just as beautiful as the front; the grain of the mahogany is simply amazing. The Photoshopping done on pictures on Musician's Friend is truly horrible. I suggest Googling for some real photos, or better yet, seeing it in a store. The Hellraiser Deluxe has a TonePros Tune-O-Matic bridge and string-through body. Stock, the Hellraiser Deluxe has an EMG-81/EMG-85 set, EMG-85 being in the neck position and EMG-81 in the bridge. These are active pickups, so you'll need a 9-volt battery for which there is a separate slot on the back of the guitar. This guitar uses simple master volume and master tone controls, and a Gibson-style 3-way switch.