With a Gothic Cross inlay at the 12th fret, “Hellraiser” and “Avenger” in the name, and a Floyd Rose bridge, all the signifiers seem to say “metal.” But when you factor in the on board Sustainiac, I believe this Schecter model should be of equal interest to the experimental guitarist—metal or not.
The craftsmanship and appointments of the Hellraiser belie its reasonable price. An arched top, multi-layer binding, and recessed knobs and switches are features more often seen on instruments costing twice as much.
In addition to the quality build and features, the set up and playability of the Hellraiser was excellent right out of the box. Fast picking, blues bending, and power chording were all easy. The sound was perfectly even across all the strings, as well as up and down the shallow “C” neck.
To help the sustainer work optimally with my playing style, I needed to adjust the pickup heights and the trim pots for Sustainer Gain and Neck Pickup Volume. The included instruction sheet clearly explains how to do this, and in no time the electronics were responding perfectly to my particular touch.
It had been a while since I played an instrument with active pickups. These EMGs reminded me how nice it is to have absolute silence between even the most distorted notes, as well as the same tone at any setting of the guitar volume knob. The bridge pickup was warm and punchy, but not muddy. I was surprised at how good the Sustainiac pickup sounded as an actual neck pickup: somewhere between a Strat and a PAF.
The Schecter Experiment
The Hellraiser proved excellent for a wide range of modern and experimental guitar effects. The Floyd Rose allowed extreme whammy-created low rumble noises and whistling screams without any tuning issues when I suddenly returned to clean ambient chords.
Though the Sustainiac sounded somewhat different than an EBow, it permitted many of the same effects, while also enabling techniques difficult to impossible to achieve with an EBow, like simultaneous infinite sustain and whammy-bar manipulation, quick shifting from string-to-string, and going easily from picked notes to sustained ones.
Kicking in the Sustainiac while adding some reverb, tremolo, and wah-wah, I was easily able to conjure up the cello and synth style tones in the videos.
The unique shape of this guitar will appeal to some more than others. To me it says “modern” as much as “metal.” Still, whatever your musical style, if you are in the market for a Sustainiac-equipped instrument, whether as your main axe or as a sound design tool for the studio, the Schecter Hellraiser Hybrid Avenger FR S should be among the first places you look.
MODEL Schecter Hellraiser Hybrid Avenger FR S
Price: $1149 Case Sold Separately
NUT WIDTH 1.625” (41.3mm)
MADE South Korea
CONSTRUCTION Set-Neck w/Ultra Access
TOP CONTOUR Arched Top
BINDING: Carbon Fiber Multi-ply
NECK Maple 3-pc
NECK Ultra Thin ‘C’
INLAYS Mother of Pearl Offset Dots w/Gothic Cross at 12th Fret
SIDE DOT MARKERS Glow In The Dark
SCALE 25.5” (648mm)
FRETS 24 X-Jumbo
FRETBOARD RADIUS 12”-16” Compound Radius
NUT Floyd Rose 1500 Series
BRIDGE Floyd Rose 1500 Series
PICKUPS Bridge: EMG 57 Brushed Black Chrome Cover. Neck: Sustainiac OEM SYN EMG
CONTROLS Volume/Tone/3-Way (Pickup) Switch/2-Way On-Off Sustainiac Switch/3-Way Sustainiac Mode Switch (Fundamental-Mix-Harmonic)
Hardware Color: Black Chrome
STRINGS Ernie Ball Regular Slinky #2221 (.010-.046)