Price paid: $ 700
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
My setup: Marshall 30 Watt, DigiTech RP500, Morpheus Drop Tune. I outfitted my 160QM guitar with DiMarzio D-Activators . . . the comparisons below are made with that in mind. I bought this guitar to satisfy my desire for a high quality, fixed bridge, high output guitar. This is definitely a metal guitar, but I can't see why this wouldn't play well in jazz or anything else with a proper set (amp, board, tweaking). Acoustically, the sound is full and strong - you could easily practice with this guitar unamplified. Amplified - After reading so many negative things about EMGs (sterile, one dimensional, over-used) I was completely blown away by their versatility. The 89 (bridge) is extremely dark in tone and may surprise some who are used to/want a more bright sound. The 81TW (neck) is bright, aggressive and open sounding. I have a lot of fun using my RP500 and the split coils of the EMGs. I feel that they are versatile and would satisfy most players of rock, metal, and pop. Overall, this section gets a 9 because the pickups sound great and are versatile.
Overall Impression — 8
The Hellraiser perfectly matches my tastes in music - rock and metal. The split coil pickups allow for another level of versatility and I bet that any style of sound can be achieved with the right amp and settings. Before purchasing, I played this guitar and various ESPs. I decided on the Schecter because of the value I saw in the guitar over the ESPs. The one major flaw with this purchase - no case offered. And when I researched to find the right case it was out of stock for two weeks. Not a huge deal, but I'm guessing most guitar players consider a case a necessary piece of equipment and would like it paired with a purchase. The proper case for this guitar is: Schecter SGR-9SC. I purchased this from amazon.com.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar is heavy and seemingly durable. I would get strap locks, but other than that this guitar should stand up to any type of wear and tear. Cosmetically, the white with abalone binding is pure beauty and the dark hardware really adds a nice accent. I really like the headstock of the guitar because of the continued abalone border and the cool fleur de lis graphic. There is a lot of nice detail in this guitar, making this feel like a bargain for the price. Overall, this section gets a 9 for its durability and reliability. It does not receive a 10 because obvious stains will show and my guitar string was able to create a visible scratch.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
When I opened the box I was very impressed by the look of the guitar. There weren't any obvious scratches, blemishes or other cosmetic defects. The one flaw was on the back of the guitar. The compartment cover for the tone pots had a misaligned screw. The left-most screw completely missed the wood panel inside the compartment (guess that is partly why the hand crafted guitars cost so much). Action was perfect for my tastes. I could see someone with different tastes lowering the action a touch more, but overall, a really good setup. I did Switch out the strings after one week and I like the sound much better with my DRs (10 gauge). Overall, this section gets an 8 mainly because of the misaligned screw on the back panel.
Features — 9
This is my first Schecter guitar and my third guitar overall. The other two guitars are Ibanez (SA 160QM and S7420). Made in Indonesia the Les Paul-esque Hellraiser body is made of mahagony and is abalone bound. I ordered mine in white . . . the binding with dark chrome hardware make this a very sexy guitar. The neck is 24-frets and feels sleek and thin (comparable to my Ibanez guitars). Pickup combo is EMG 81TW and 89. Each has a dedicated volume knob that can split each humbucker to single coil. The locking tuners were a nice touch. They may not be considered the best (Schecter's own brand) but they work and are useful. For the price, this guitar would be hard to beat. The look is classic, the tone versatile, and the neck fast. I must say the positioning of the hardware is excellent. The knobs never get in the way of my playing, which I can't say the same for my Ibanez 160QM. Overall, this section gets a 9 because I love all of the features. A locking nut, strap locks, and an included case would have gotten this section a 10.