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Having played a Solar for a few years, I’m used to flatter and less ‘responsive’ pickups and so, with that in mind, initially all my gear setups sounded less than spectacular. I also found the Hellraiser Hybrid a bit on the ‘chunky’ or robust side when playing rhythm, but that tightened up after adding a string muter (e.g., Gruv Gear’s FretWraps) to reduce those extra harmonics common with high gain tones. Moreover, backing off on the gain/distortion slightly and adjusting to the guitar’s playing dynamics for a few hours was required. Now, the EMG 57 bridge pickup does have a PAF quality in its tone, with good headroom, punch, note definition and presence, but as stated it is its own beast and you need to tame it with gear adjustments and playing style. This did not take long and once everything was up to snuff I began enjoying playing this quality axe. When it comes to cleans I always liked and preferred active pickups – the notes seem so full, robust and defined. The pickups on the Hellraiser Hybrid are no different. When working with driven sounds the notes are fairly tight and well defined, but they are more pronounced and full when compared to passive pickups. You will not get a thin Strat sound, which should be apparent considering the nature of this guitar and the genres of music one would play. Rhythm tones do sound bigger on this guitar than others in my studio, and this translates into exceptionally thick lead tones. The Sustaniac works well and takes a bit of getting used to (e.g., to not overdue the drive sensitivity and to know how to hold and cut off notes when required). What is cool is being able to switch from a regular sustained note, then shift into the note plus harmonic, and then just the harmonic (and back again if desired) – all at the flip of a toggle switch.
This guitar offers a lot of features for the money, coming in around $1600 Canadian (about $1150 USD). The Schecter C-1 FR S in this review is the Ultra Violet model (also available in Black Burst), made in South Korea and has a 25.5-inch (648mm) scale. Its set-neck ultra-access construction has a mahogany body with carbon fiber binding and a top contour arched top.
The three-piece maple thin-C neck has a compound 12-16” radius, viz., a smaller rounder radius as the nut and a larger flatter radius at the body joint (as the neck gets wider the fretboard gets flatter, and this helps with both speed and string bending). The neck further boasts 24 X-Jumbo frets, ebony binding, glow-in-the-dark side dots and mother of pearl offset/reverse dots with gothic cross at the 12th fret. The neck has carbon fiber reinforcement rods and a 2-way adjustable truss-rod (with 5/32-inch or 4mm Allen nut). Thickness at the 1st fret is .748” (19mm) and 7.87” (20mm) at the 12th fret. Nut width is 1.625” (41.3mm).
The neck pickup is a Sustaniac for infinite sustain of either pickup. The bridge pickup is an EMG’s 57 with brushed black chrome cover. This is an active pickup with Alnico V magnets (solderless to allow for easy change of electronics).
The controls include a volume, tone and intensity, the latter of which controls the ‘drive’ of the Sustainer. The 3-way selector switch chooses between bridge, neck and bridge + neck. There are two toggle switches, one to activate the Sustaniac and another to choose which ‘mode’ included for the Sustaniac (fundamental or regular, harmonic [viz., feedback] and mix of the two). These will be addressed in the section under Sound.Other features include a Floyd Rose 1500 bridge/nut system, Grover tuners, black chrome hardware (with knurled metal knobs and set screws) and Ernie Ball regular slinky (.010-.046) strings. The guitar does not come with a gig bag or case (case available separately).
Action/Fit/FinishThis guitar had absolutely no flaws except my fingerprints from manhandling it and checking out the details. The Ultra Violet paint is striking as it can look dark blue, dark purple, medium purple, etc., depending on lighting and angle. It is not as much of a ‘chameleon’ as other paint finishes, but is more subtle in its charm and appearance. Both pickup cavities, the bridge cavity and the countersunk knob/toggle switch routing are well finished with no rough edges or paint/finish flaws. The carbon fiber binding along the body, neck edge and headstock looks fantastic, unique and is well finished. The frets are well dressed with no rough edges; and each has well rounded crowns. The guitar has a nice belly carve and arch top for comfort and eye appeal. The set neck has great access to the upper frets. As well, the neck has a satin finish on the back, making for smooth and quick playing. Both strap pins are solid with rounded edges. String action is reasonable low and playability very good. I’ve played other guitars that were more slinky, spongy and with lower action, but the Hellraiser Hybrid still has good playability with fairly easy string bending and fretting for playing quickly.
Overall ImpressionThis has a reputation of being one of the best Metal guitars, and particularly for studio recording (its sound is very clear, defined and punchy). What sold me on the Hellraiser Hybrid is that it has a Blackjack SLS guitar neck – a compound radius and a thinner C-shape. But taking it one step further, I was further interested in the Sustaniac pickup, thus bringing me to this particular model. Overall, and for the money, this is an impressive guitar, relative to the feel of the neck and fretboard, the comfort of the guitar, the tone of the pickups and the inclusion of the Sustaniac. However, there is a learning curve with the tone and response of the pickups. I’ve played active pickups that do not seem to be any more aggressive than regular ‘hot’ humbuckers, whereas the EMG 57 bridge pickup is rather ‘strong’ and edgy/grainy (not super tight and crisp) and requires a bit dialing back of any overdrive or distortion to achieve the best sound. The Sustaniac does have a ‘drive’ knob to adjust its power and sensitivity, but after some modest tinkering it is a pretty cool feature to have on a guitar.