Schecter’s designers make no bones about their dark leanings, giving their guitars names like Hellraiser, Damien and Omen. Sleek in hand, tricked for high-gain performance and famous for their perfect out-of-the-box playability, these guitars are favorites of budget-conscious shredders.
The Blackjack SLS is the latest addition to this brood. Available in 11 variations, it features a body of solid mahogany to create a heavy midrange and powerful lows. But to lighten the load, Schecter’s SLS bodies feature a reasonably thin depth, bulk-reducing contours and a sculpted top. As a result, they weigh no more than the average alder or ash body.
The neck is set into the body and heavily sculpted at the heel for an easy grip in the upper registers. Schecter has given the neck a brand-new profile geared for those who prefer a very thin and fast neck that delivers comfort and speed. Each is created from three strips of maple, ensuring greater overall stability and practically eliminating the possibility that it will twist or warp. The necks are topped with bright and hard ebony fretboards that feature 24 jumbo frets and the Blackjack’s mother-of-pearl “Hell’s Gate Skull” inlay at the 12th fret. For this review, I looked at the Sustainiac-loaded Blackjack SLS C-1 FR-S and the traditionally outfitted Blackjack SLS Solo-6.
BLACKJACK SLS C-1 FR-S
The C-1 FR-S is built for shredders who want a full arsenal of metal weapons at their disposal in a package that looks as fast as it is functional. The guitar’s double-locking Floyd Rose 1000 Series whammy is recessed into the body for upward or downward pitch acrobatics, and Grover’s famous Rotomatics tuners let you quickly dial in the strings before locking them down. Incidentally, the stiff, multipiece maple neck sustains notes well and helps keep them true when the whammy’s use alters string tension.
Speaking of sustain, the C-1 FR-S is loaded with an active Sustainiac system, which doubles as a neck pickup. An intensity knob and two mini toggles control the system: one toggle turns it on and off, and the other is used for selecting the pickup’s three modes: Normal, Mix and Harmonic. Normal mode infinitely sustains any note, with no coloration, while the Mix mode sustains the note and sometimes morphs the sound into the second or third harmonic. The Harmonic mode sends a sustained note into fifth or seventh harmonics, like a beautiful natural feedback. I like to keep the system in Normal mode and then slam the switch anytime I need a quick jolt of harmonic feedback. A Seymour Duncan Full Shred pickup handles the bridge-position sounds, and master volume and tone knobs control both pickups.
I wouldn’t recommend the C-1 FR-S for a Beatles revival gig, but it’s a stellar piece for nu-metal and contemporary power rock. Tones through the Full Shred pickup are impressively clear, even in drop-tuned setups. There’s superb bass extension, flat mids (ideal for extreme gain and pedal-heavy rigs) and plenty of bite. Engaging the Sustainiac opens the door to a new world of sounds and techniques, and it’s worth noting that the Sustainiac neck pickup has the low-end tightness that you want for rhythm, and a unique, howling lead voice.
BLACKJACK SLS SOLO-6
Schecter designed the SLS Solo-6 for players who have no desire to fool with tremolos and electronics but need a stable, predictable-sounding platform for unapologetic shredding. My test model included the optional flamed maple cap, which adds a small amount of extra edge to each note. The large headstock, TonePros bridge and wide body dimensions work in unison to create loads of natural sustain and thumping low mids. These tones are funneled through a pair of active Seymour Duncan Blackouts, known for their unique midrange blossom, dynamic attack and warm bass hues. There are individual volume controls for each pickup and a master tone. Schecter’s own 19:1 ratio locking tuners are some of the smoothest and most accurate that I’ve used and never slipped during heavy bending or abusive power-chord riffing.
Acoustically, the Blackjack SLS Solo-6 displays an upper-mid accent across the spectrum and the harnessed but generous lows that metal players require in a high-gain rig. The Duncan Blackouts bring out midrange details and overtones while maintaining the guitar’s naturally tight presentation. The resulting energy feels controlled and balanced, allowing players to sweep without heavy palm muting and achieve the same tones no matter how hard or soft the attack.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Schecter’s Blackjack SLS Solo-6 and SLS C-1 FR-S have everything you need, whether you want to plug in and rip or go wild with whammy tricks and active sustain circuits.