Instead of reviewing mid-level and budget musical gear as we normally do, we’re going all-in. You’re in luck if you’re looking where to spend your hard-earned money on a professional guitar. The Schecter Hellraiser C-1 is a dream made electric guitar for metal genres.
Schecter Musical Research is an American company. It needs no introduction. Despite its short years in the industry, the brand has a top-tier reputation.
Their offerings are about highly advanced circuitry that harnesses the best qualities of both pickups and electronics. They also manage to craft their SuperStrats with impressive tonewoods, sleek finishes, and superb craftsmanship.
More importantly for many, Schecter guitars and basses look aggressive and elegant at the same time.
The Schecter C-1 Hellraiser features all of these advantages while none of the disadvantages of the lower-tier Schecter instruments. It’s a no-nonsense shocking guitar that sounds exactly what it looks like: premium and aggressive.
“Schecter Hellraiser Flame Limited Edition body” by Monika Fischer / CC BY-SA 2.0. David Schecter founded the company as Schecter Guitar Research in 1976. The brand started producing guitars in 1979 as they began as a small luthier shop. At first, they were selling hand-crafted and highly expensive models, but they later transitioned to mass-production to lower prices.
The Schecter Hellraiser C-1 is a premium guitar with a premium price tag. Although it sells for less than your regular Gibson Les Paul, its price comes closer to Fender American Stratocaster guitars.
If you’re looking for a mid-level alternative, you could check for the Schecter Omen 6 instead.
Schecter Hellraiser C-1 Electric Guitar Review
Schecter Guitar Research has created the standard regarding metal music basses and guitars.
The Hellraiser C-1 is the perfect guitar for metalheads. It’s a tool to express all kinds of riffs with all of the premium features to shine. Moreover, they feature wide versatility on their advanced electronics to travel around many other musical genres.
Its price tag might not appeal, though. However, keep in mind it’s a premium guitar selling around the triple-zero price tag.
That said, some models sell for less than a grand. A quick search of the C-1 guitar yields a confusing amount of results I’d like to clarify during the article.
Bear in mind these instruments keep the same ideas. They are mahogany guitars with active pickups, fast necks, extra-jumbo frets, and mean tones.
In particular, we’re reviewing the original model, which is the Schecter Hellraiser C-1. Other options include the Hellraiser C-1 FR, which adds a Floyd Rose bridge compared to the original option.
There’s also the FR S model, packing a different set of active pickups plus a flatter neck.
I have to add the Hellraiser series is built on the SuperStrat model. SuperStrats follow the Fender Stratocaster base design and add extra features more oriented for rock genres. Humbuckers, flat neck radius, and tremolo bars are common choices.
There’s also the Hellraiser Hybrid guitars, which add some elements of the brand’s highest-tier series, the SLS model. That means maple arched tops, carbon-fiber binding, and different pickups. Additionally, some Hybrid C-1 models have Telecaster-like bodies.
Let’s keep it simple by reviewing the C-1. Then, I’ll overview the other models in the Downsides & Alternatives section.
By Schecter Guitar Research, here’s an instrument that looks awesome. It’s made of maple, mahogany, and rosewood; and it features active EMG humbucker pickups (EMG 81TW/89).
We’re looking at an instrument with premium craftsmanship and devoid of flaws, cosmetic fails, or shortcomings. The brand didn’t cut any corners to make the guitar. Instead of that, there are slightly more expensive options that feature extras you might be missing -like a Floyd Rose.
That said, the Schecter Hellraiser C-1 is a successful instrument in terms of high-output tones for cleans, metal distortion pedals, and metal amplifiers. And with the coil-split functionalities of the active humbuckers, you get more expression than you asked for.
Schecter introduced the series in 2006 and has raised its quality bar ever since, all without raising the prices.
The Hellraiser C-1 shape is a modified Stratocaster, but that’s the only thing that’s “standard” about the guitar.
A closer look at the guitar reveals a subtle arched top on its SuperStrat body, with a delicate binding all around it.
The company chose mahogany for the body, which is no surprise for a premium rock guitar. Mahogany has the properties to sustain, enhance sound projection, and handle high-output sounds.
Then, it has a quilted top maple to add more punch to both the guitar and the sound.
Premium features are elsewhere as well. The guitar has a set neck, which means the whole instrument is a single piece of wood. The neck is a 3-piece mahogany, albeit it packs the somehow standard -and cheap- rosewood on the neck.
Still, rosewood is naturally oily and light, which serves to counterbalance the weight of the mahogany pieces. Also, rosewood can absorb the overtones created by maple because of its oily pores, which then creates more harmonious sounds.
Also, a 3-piece neck offers extra stability and durability. Single-piece necks or bolt-on solutions degrade as they age as a result of temperature, moisture, and tension. However, a 3-piece mahogany neck can remain good as new for many years.
Another thing I should mention is Schecter’s Ultra Access design. Right where the neck and the body meet there are pronounced curves to allow you to reach the higher frets. That gives you access to the full 24 Jumbo frets of the guitar.
Lastly, I must note it’s a 25.5’’ full-scale guitar with a Thin-C neck shape, and a 12’’ neck radius. The neck thickness is also something to talk about as it increases from 20mm to 22mm on the 12th fret. That gives you a tighter grip on the highest part of the guitar.
Finish & colors
There’re various color options for the Hellraiser series. Some of those colors are red, black, white, blue, and purple.
The most impressive finish element is the transparent abalone around the border of the body and the heads. Moreover, it has transparent abalone inlays throughout the fretboard.
Lastly, the guitar has a Grey Pearloid multi-ply finish all over.
“Schecter Hellraiser Flame Limited Edition” by Monika Fischer / CC BY-SA 2.0. The most popular color for the Hellraiser C-1 guitar is black. Black easily mixes with the genres it intends to play.
Do yourself a favor and plug the Hellraiser guitar into a good solid-state amp, or have a decent distortion pedal at hand. The clean tones are not the strength of the guitar, although it has the typical clear, mellow, and sad cleans Schecter delivers.
However, the C-1 is a metal guitar, and so metal is what you need to play. As such, it sounds refined, powerful, aggressive, and extremely clear and articulate. It’s also very expressive and capable of creating overtones, harmonies, pinches, slides, and everything you can conjure.
The sound it creates comes straight from the records of your favorite heavy metal and progressive metal bands. Mastodon, Trivium, Soen, or Gojira and some of the examples I can think about to better describe its tone.
The sound is modern, heavy, and highly responsive to anything you do or plug. There’s more to it, though. Just as much as you can dial destruction, you can tweak the sound for alternative rock, dirty blues, hard rock, and similar genres. And everything sounds authentic and premium.
Overall, the C-1 has an impressive range of sounds with a top-tier rock feel to it. Thanks to its EMG active pickups, the Hellraiser C-1 has girth, flexibility, and power. It’s a truly capable stage and studio performer.
The main selling point of the guitar is the humbuckers, which is impressive considering its construction quality.
Schecter doesn’t’ shy away from EMG products for their guitars and basses. In particular, their higher-end models tend to use the best metal-oriented pickups the brand has to offer.
In this case, there’s an EMG 81TX at the bridge plus an EMG 89R at the neck. Both are active, high-output humbuckers, and so there’s a 9V battery compartment at the back of the body.
It’s a standard metal configuration present in many professional settings. Both humbuckers interact with perfection. But there’s a twist here, which is that both humbuckers present a split-coil configuration.
See, the individual volume knobs have push/pull options. You can pull the knob to turn one of the two coils off and get a softer, smoother sound as a result.
Schecter names it “Dual-mode design.” Both can deliver the output and aggressiveness typical of humbuckers, just as much as the increased punch and clarity of single-coils.
Also, both humbuckers have Alnico V magnets and separate preamps to allow the Dual-Mode configuration. When they work as humbuckers, for example, the sound is richer, warmer, and more powerful.
Lastly, aside from the volume knobs, there’s also a master tone knob plus a 3-way pickup selector switch.
Regarding playability, the C-1 model has everything a metalhead needs for their riffs and solos. It’s 12’’ neck plus slim C-shaped neck make playing solos just as easy as chords. Moreover, the oily neck improves the player’s movement alongside the neck.
The guitar is not light, though, as it’s not small either. It’s suited for advanced, adult players. If that were the case, then you won’t have any issues with the guitar’s playability.
The hardware is simple, but it does maintain high-quality standards on playability, sustain, and tone stability.
The guitar has a TonePros TOM bridge (tune-O-Matic bridge) with a string-thru-body design. As such, the bridge delivers superb intonation retention and plenty of sustain. That means the bridge and tailpiece lock down the strings to eliminate wiggles of any kind, even if you adjust the tension.
At the other end, it has Schecter locking tuners that may sustain down-tunes and long playing sessions. If you were expecting higher-end Grover tuners, you may find them on other C-1 models like the FR version.
Still, the Schecter in-house solution is just as good. They feature a locking screw pin that locks the string into place for tuning stability. The tuners also have a 19:1 gear ratio for precise adjustments
Lastly, the neck has a 2-way adjustable rod with a 4mm Allen nut. That allows you to adjust the height of the strings. By the way, the guitar packs Ernie Ball Regular Slinky strings right out of the box.
“Schecter Hellraiser Flame Limited Edition back” by Monika Fischer / CC BY-SA 2.0. All Hellraiser models have the same body, but not the same neck design as the neck and nut radius might differ.
Downside & Alternatives
Needless to say, the guitar has no flaws. That means there’s nothing you could tweak from the guitar to make it significantly better.
Sure, you could change the stock pickups for, say, the James Hetfield active EMG set but, then again, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
Because of that, we’re jumping towards the various models you could find. As I said in the beginning, there’re various Hellraiser C-1 models you could buy right now.
First off, I should mention the Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR model. It has two key differences over the model we just saw: the presence of Grover tuners, and its Floyd Rose 1000 Series bridge:
There’s also a special edition of the FR model which Schecter no longer lists on their official page. The limited model comes in see-thru black color plus Seymour Duncan’s Blackout pickups for an extra-dark sound.
An interesting model of the series is the Schecter Hellraiser C-1 FR S. Aside from the Grover tuners and the Floyd Rose, it trades the pickup pair for an EMG 81 / Schecter Sustainiac couple.
The Sustainiac deserves a separate review, though. It’s an advanced humbucker that does what the name suggests: it increases sustain ad infinitum.
Moreover, the guitar has two switches to change how the Sustainiac pickup works. One of the switches turns the sustain feature on and off, the other swaps modes between basics, mix, and harmonics.
Now, I could’t find the C-1 FR S on Amazon, so I’m sharing the Hellraiser Hybrid FR S. It trades the tonewoods for poplar (body and neck) and ebony (rosewood). It also has carbon fiber biding. Otherwise, it’s mostly the same:
I also want to mention a classic take on the series, which is the Hellraiser Hybrid 1936. It sports a Telecaster body plus an EMG 57/66 pair for a vintage rock sound:
There’re many Hellraiser models, and the C-1 is not the only alternative. There’re also C-6, C-7, C-8, and C-9 listings.
There’re only two more models I will discuss, though. One of those models is the Hellraiser C-7 FR, which is a 7-string guitar with the same configuration as the original C-1 FR.
Bear in mind the Hellraiser series has 7, 8, and even 9 string guitars. You can find these options with the appropriate “C” listing.
Lastly, there’s also a budget option, which is the C-6 lineup. For example, the Hellraiser C-6 has a basswood body with ebony at the back and the top, maple neck, and rosewood fret. The sound comes from the brand’s trusty Diamond Plus Pickups:
Schecter Hellraiser C-1 specs
- Design: SuperStrat with double cutaway
- Body tonewood: mahogany body with maple top
- Neck: C-shaped neck with Ultra Access
- Neck joint: set-in 3-piece neck
- Neck tonewood: maple
- Scale: 25.6’’
- Fingerboard tonewood: rosewood
- Fingerboard radius: 12’’
- Pickups: EMG 81TW humbucker at the bridge & EMG 89R humbucker at the neck
- Controls: two individual volume knobs with push/pull, master tone & 3-way pickup switch
- Tuners: Schecter locking tuners
- Bridge: tune-O-Matic bridge & set-thru tailpiece
You can go to the official page to check the full specs.
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Why do I like the Schecter Hellraiser C-1?
The Schecter Hellraiser C-1 is the kind of guitar that does everything incredibly well. It can keep up with the highest professional settings, musicians, and gears. And it can only play the meanest, loudest riffs you try.
Even the base model wins as the most valuable metal guitar you can buy for less than a grand.
If you’re looking for a premium and mean ax, the days of searching aimlessly are over. Put down your money where it’s worth, and go for the C-1 model.