Tested By Art Thompson
Henry Ford used to joke that you could have a Model T in any color, as long as it was black. Okay, Ford was about as funny as a flat tire, but there’s no arguing with his choice of color. Black never goes out of style, it matches anything you wear, and it always looks cool. Schecter obviously took these truths into consideration when developing its new Blackjack series, but it’s not like these sleek axes needed more in common—all feature mahogany bodies, glued-in maple necks, TonePros bridges, and Duncan humbuckers. In fact, apart from the seventh string on the C-7, the 24e"-scale neck on the PT, and the 22 frets and 3-way pickup switching on the S-1, the Blackjacks differ primarily in shape.
These Korean-made guitars feature nicely rendered, multi-ply cream bindings on their tops, necks, and headstocks, flawless gloss finishes, and top-notch hardware. Each setup is uniformly excellent, and the weight and balance of each model are remarkably similar. Based on our test models, you could walk into a store blindfolded, grab a Blackjack off the rack, take it immediately to a gig, and probably be completely satisfied with it. Schecter’s emphasis on consistency is a real boon for consumers who shop online, or who don’t want the hassle of trying out every guitar in the store to find the best one.
The Blackjacks feel light and compact, and they play amazingly well—thanks to their slim necks, smoothly finished jumbo frets, low actions, and streamlined heels. With the fret ends terminating just slightly inboard of the binding, your left hand glides along with no sense of prickliness, and the deep cutaways make it very easy to grab the highest notes. The identical pickup configurations produce remarkably consistent sounds, delivering a spectrum of tones that ranges from meaty humbucker chunk to crisp single-coil textures. Tested through a variety of amps—including a mid-‘70s 50-watt Marshall, a 50-watt Komet, a ’64 Fender Super Reverb, and a DR. Z Mazerati—the Blackjacks demonstrated a uniform ability to dish out everything from angelic clean tones to demonic grind. These guitars also have excellent sustain, a quality that’s due to several factors: the set-neck design, the rock-solid TonePros bridge, and through-body stringing. The Blackjacks are a blast to play, and determining which is the coolest really comes down to what you’re looking for in a dual-humbucker guitar. Aside from the C-7, the differences between them are fairly subtle, yet there are a few things that could steer you one way or another. Here are some observations about each guitar.
If you’re having a hard time deciding which Blackjack to buy, you can’t go wrong with the C-1. This sharp-looking guitar sounds thick and strong, and shredders will love its fast-playing 24-fret neck. The pickups offer a great balance of power and complexity, which makes them ideal for everything from blues to hard rock to metal, and the split positions provide enough sparkle and spank for county, pop, and fusion. The C-1 maintains its clarity when you turn down the volume (as do all the Blackjacks), and though the Tone control is muddy sounding at very low settings, the guitar’s well-balanced voice means you’ll rarely need to touch it to get happening sounds.
The C-7’s wide neck will take some getting used to if you don’t normally play a 7-string, but if you’re looking for heavy low-end, the B to E tuning delivers the goods. The bridge pickup tones are bright and balanced with plenty of midrange burnish, and the neck pickup’s PAF-level output yields good clarity when riffing with a lot of distortion. But even if you’re not trying to summon Satan with gut-shaking grind, the 7-string format is ideal for anyone interested in extended range. The rumbling textures obtainable from this ax are amazing—especially with feedback—and the shimmering clang of the split-coil settings makes the C-7 alluring even when played through very clean amps.
Take the C-1 and dock its horns a bit, and you’ve got the 006. The sonic differences between the two guitars are negligible, so the only thing that matters is which one looks cooler to you.
The biggest thing about the PT is its 24e"-scale neck, which provides for a slightly looser feel while still offering the extended range afforded by 24 frets. This guitar sounds ever-so-slightly more open than the others, and it’s a lot of fun to play. The traditional body shape gives the PT a bit of retro flair, but, tonally, it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing with the same broad spectrum of sounds and superb playability that are hallmarks of the Blackjack series. Bottom line: If you like the feel of a Les Paul, but want to be able to reach higher up the neck, the PT is an alternative worth considering. True, it doesn’t have a maple top, but it sustains so well you may never even notice.
The S-1 is my fave for several reasons. First, its 22-fret configuration provides for sweeter and more focused neck-pickup tones. The science behind this phenomenon isn’t entirely clear, but locating the front pickup in the area normally occupied by the 24th fret is definitely an advantage for players who rely heavily on that pickup setting. Then there’s the S-1’s 25w"-scale, which mildly increases the string tension (over a 24e" scale) for slightly tighter bass and brighter treble—welcome attributes with humbuckers—and the dual Volume controls, which allow for dual-pickup colors that you can’t get from the other Blackjacks. The S-1 also has all the tonal versatility of coil-split options, so this baby has everything it takes to snag an Editors’ Pick Award.