The Blackjack SLS range includes a variety of models with similar specs but across different body shapes, hardware features and string counts; the single cutaway Solo-6, the eight-string superstrat-style C-8, the Tele-like PT, the Floyd Rose-loaded V-1 FR V… they’re all unmistakably Schecter but they each offer something slightly different to each other. What unites them is that ‘SLS’ – it stands for Slim Line Series. These guitars feature a thinner arched top body measuring 45mm deep for a lighter feel. And many players swear by the tonal qualities of lighter guitars.
[geo-out country=”Australia” note=””]Buy the Schecter Blackjack SLS C-1 from Guitar Center[/geo-out]
Schecter is breaking new musical ground with their Slim Line Series of electric guitars. Designed with an ultra-thin, lighting fast neck and a sleek contoured body, the Blackjack SLS C-1 FR Active is armed with a pair of active Seymour Duncan Blackout pickups, a Floyd Rose 1000 Series locking tremolo, and Grover tuners. Schecter Blackjack SLS C-1 FR S Sustainiac See-Thru Blue Burst. Bundle Includes: Schecter Blackjack Guitar. Extra set of Strings. TMS Polishing Cloth. BRAND NEW IN THE BOX - with Full Manufacturer's Warranty! Specs: Model Name - Blackjack SLS C-1 FR S; Item Number - 1015; Guitar Colors - See-Thru Blue Burst (STBB). The Schecter Blackjack SLS FR A packs a serious punch with active Seymour Duncan Blackout humbuckers! Playability is divine thanks to the 'Ultra Access' set neck that allows superior upper fret access and with an ultra thin C profile neck with compound radius fretboard the Blackjack SLS FR A feels lightning fast whichever end of the fretboard you're playing!
The Blackjack SLS C-1 is one of the more straight foward models in the line-up: six strings, through-body stringing. The body is made of mahogany (models with transparent finishes have a flamed maple top as well), with a three-piece maple neck, ebony fretboard, 24 Jumbo frets, black multi-ply binding and set-neck construction with Ultra Access joint carve. This is a very clever way of sculpting the neck joint area so that it looks and feels like a neck-thru (that is, a guitar where the wood that makes up the neck continues on all the way along the body, often with ‘wings’ of a different type of wood glued either side). All models feature a super-cool Mother of Pearl ‘Hell’s Gate Skull’ inlay centred on the twelfth fret, but it’s to big that it spills out onto the 11th and 13th as well. It catches the light and reflects some rainbow-like hues, which is pretty cool!
Most models in the SLS line are available in two electronics options: an active version with Seymour Duncan Blackouts humbuckers, or a passive variant with Seymour Duncan Full Shred and Jazz humbuckers with a coil split. The exceptions are the eight-string SLS C-8, which is only available with the AHB-1 eight-string Blackouts set, and the C-1 S and C-1 FR-S, which have a Full Shred in the bridge position and a Sustainiac driver in the neck slot. The review model, the SLS C-1, has the Full Shred/Jazz combo, dedicated volume pots for each pickup, and a master tone pot which doubles as a push-pull coil split for both humbuckers. Pickup selection is via a three-way switch, so you end up with a total of six different sounds.
The setup out of the box was far too high and with a considerable bow in the neck, so after taking to the guitar with a screwdriver and Allen wrench and letting it sit overnight it was ready to shred. The satin feel on the back of the neck takes a little getting used to if you’re accustomed to glossy finishes, but if you’re into the oiled wood thing you’ll feel at home. The neck shape is definitely geared towards power chords and fast soloing rather than huge bends, and the string spacing seems particularly well-suited to techniques like sweep picking and string skipping.
The choice of a Full Shred in the bridge position is a slightly surprising one, considering the huge popularity of the JB as the Duncan of choice for many guitar companies. The JB is a great all-round pickup for rock and metal styles. But the Full Shred is perfectly suited to the audience this guitar is aimed at: it has a fat and chunky low end but its double rows of Allen screw pole pieces give it a finely-tuned high end. It’s a very articulate pickup, so it’ll certainly keep up with you if your lead playing includes lots of intricate phrasing and dynamic shifts. It’s great for 80s-style rock crunch, and it totally kills for modern metal rhythm chunk. And because there’s so much musically-voiced high end, you don’t lose cut and clarity when you turn down your amp’s treble. This brings out some very expressive, creamy solo tones (and testing this guitar was part of the reason I went for a Full Shred in my Buddy Blaze 7-string – read my review of the pickup here).
The Jazz in the neck position is a very ‘noodly’ pickup with an almost vocal quality and emphasised pick attack: kind of the best of both worlds. It really sings when you sustain or bend notes, but it has almost a ‘honk’ overtone when you play fast, and this really helps to maintain the definition and character of all-out shreddage. The coil split is a lot of fun and the sounds are perfectly usable, especially for sparkly cleans or ringing semi-dirty open chords – the Jazz is particularly nice in single coil mode – but if this was my personal guitar I’d probably take to it with a soldering iron and install individual coil splits on each pickup’s volume control to get even more flexibility out of it.
Other than wishing for dual coil splits, there really isn’t anything I’d change about the SLS C-1. It’s well-balanced, it plays very well (especially if your technique is skewed to the metal/shred side of things), and it has a deceptively wide dynamic range for a genre of guitar that you might expect to squish everything down a little. And it’s a much more versatile guitar than you might think on first glance.
[geo-out country=”Australia” note=””]Buy the Schecter Blackjack SLS C-1 from Guitar Center[/geo-out]
Although Schecter was initially known for slightly more traditional guitars, they’ve really hit their stride in the past decade-plus as purveyors of fine high-performance axes aimed at the metal market. They still cater to the traditionalists – especially with the new USA Production Series unveiled at NAMM in January), but the SLS Blackjack C-1 FR-S is a great example of how Schecter unifies a whole stack of shred-friendly features that are unashamedly pitched at those who dwell on the dark side.
[geo-out country=”Australia” note=””]Click here to buy one from Musician’s Friend[/geo-out]
The SLS has a mahogany body with your choice of Crimson Red Burst or Satin Black finish. The latter is the model on review here: the finish seems particularly well applie, and nicely offset by multi-ply binding. The neck is made of three-piece maple for enhanced stability, and there are 24 Jumbo frets on the ebony fretboard. The headstock is a bound three-tuner-per-side variant featuring Grover Rotomatic tuners with an 18:1 gear ratio for smoother tuning and a higher degree of backlash elimination. The only inlay on the fretboard face of the Satin Black version is a ‘Hell’s Gate Skull’ which looks pretty bitchen’, and definitely positions this as a metal guitar. Personally I think it’d do fine without it, as on the Crimson Red Burst model which has offset dots instead, but it’s not a deal breaker. The set neck is carved into Schecter’s Ultra Access shape, which mimics a neck-thru instrument, and the profile is the Ultra Thin spec, which is 19mm at the first fret and 20mm at the 12th.
The ‘FR-S’ in the model designation refers to the Floyd Rose tremolo bridge (a Floyd Rose 1000 Series, although a version is also available with a TonePros TOM bridge with through-body stringing) and the Sustainiac driver, an ingenious device which provides infinite sustain and the option of various overtones as well. The Floyd is floating with a back rout, and perfectly set up right out of the box. The bridge pickup is a Seymour Duncan Full Shred, a model which was originally developed with Buddy Blaze and Vivian Campbell for the Kramer Nightswan. Electronics include a master volume, a master tone and a three-way pickup selector toggle switch, as well as on/off and three-way mode switches for the Sustainiac. These modes are Normal – infinite sustain of the original note; Mix Mode, where some frets will yield fundamental notes while others will quickly transition to harmonics; and Harmonic Mode, where sustained notes will morph into a high fifth or seventh harmonic vibration. Let’s stress that this is a physical, rather than artificially generated harmonic, and you can hear it happening even if you turn your amp off. The Sustainer driver actually manipulates the vibration of the string itself to bring about the sustain or harmonic overtone.
Schecter Blackjack Sls C-1 Fr Blue Guitar
The Full Shred is a fat-sounding pickup with rich overtones in the midrange, great for transitioning from thick chording to expressive solo work. Harmonics jump right off the fretboard, and there are some really nice shifting transients when you apply techniques like bending and slides. It’s great for progressive rock or more aggressive metal styles.
When the Sustainiac is used as a pickup instead of a driver, it’s a bit muffled and not necessarily a good match for the Full Shred – it could use a little more clarity and definition – but it becomes a superstar when it’s used in sustain mode (where it keeps itself busy vibrating the string while the bridge pickup handles the sound). The sustain function is addictive whether you leave it in normal mode or explore the various harmonic options, and it makes the guitar feel literally alive – you can feel the whole damn thing vibrating differently with each note you play, and it opens up a world of expressive possibilities whether you’re using a clean or dirty tone, and whether you’re playing single notes or chords. If everyone spent three hours a day playing a guitar with a Sustainiac, there’d be no more wars or sadness. It’s that much fun.
The evil skull inlay might put a few prospective buyers off, but don’t let yourself be one of them – you can always go for the Crimson Red version if you like the specs but not the skull. This is an addictively playable guitar that gears itself toward helping you to play your best, express your innermost feelings and perhaps sear off a few faces. It’d be a crushing axe even without the Sustainiac (and you can indeed buy it with a Seymour Duncan Jazz hum bucker in the neck position instead), but the Sustainiac really kicks it up a notch.