Jan 18, 2014

Schecter Omen 6 Review

          Schecter Guitar Research makes this beauty available for just $300.  Too good to be true?  It doesn't seem that way.

More after the break.

          I'll start off with my favorite part of the guitar overall.  The design of this guitar is absolutely perfect for me.  Schecter is a somewhat newer less well known name in the guitar world but they obviously put a great deal of thought into the design stage.  Props to the design team.

So what specifically is so nice about its design?  My favorite aspects include:

  • Strat-styled body isn't exciting or new but looks good and can suit anyone's tastes
  • Contoured (carved) body is really sweet and is more interesting than flat and boring
  • String through body + Tune-o-Matic bridge makes it have great sustain and low maintenence
  • 24 frets - an even two octaves - perfect :)
  • Cool looking angled headstock + good tuners + a great nut = really good tuning
  • Inlays that are cool and easier to see without being overkill
  • Thicker heavier body than a Strat but thinner and lighter than a Les Paul is just right
  • No pickguard - electronics in back for easy mods
And that's just in the design - not to mention the individual parts that all add up to one awesome axe.

          The overall build quality is outstanding for a guitar in a "beginner - intermediate" price range.  I could not find a single part not made to last.  "Rock" solid applies quite literally, if you'll forgive my puns :)

          I believe the wood used is basswood - whatever it is, it is sturdy, has good sustain, isn't too heavy, and has a cool looking grain if you get the walnut satin version.

          Speaking of which, there are three versions available of this guitar - black, white, and walnut satin (red).  IMO black is boring and white isn't my favorite, but walnut satin is awesome.  It is a dark red that allows the wood grain to show through and the finish isn't sticky gloss.  All else equal, the finish alone puts this guitar ahead of a lot in my opinion.  The only downside is the black sides scratch rather easily.

          In particular I really like the strap buttons.  They are simple but solid and hold the strap really well.
The tuners are Schecter brand but are quality.  I didn't know how bad the ones on my Squier were until I used these.  

         But then, the real difference between the two guitars is in the nut.  The Squier's is awful and gets hung up every time I tune it, compared to the Graph Tech Tusq nut on the Schecter.  It seems like a minor feature but it tunes flawlessly, and may well increase sustain.  The little details can make or break an instrument.

          The neck is fast and smooth and a good intermediate thickness, rather like a Fender.  Action from the factory was extremely low (1mm from the 12th fret), so low that while it played like butter, there was a little fret buzz on the low E string.  I swapped out the strings for D'addario 11's and it went away.

A slightly older version with different inlays
          Now on to the sound quality.  This is a metal guitar, but that doesn't mean a whole lot sound-wise.  It has moderately high output humbuckers but metal sound really comes from the amp anyway.

          Again using a Squier as a reference, the sound is much clearer - the Squier sounded a little muddy tone-wise compared to the bridge pickup.  In addition, the difference in tone between the two pickups is much greater.
          The bridge pickup is very thin and twangy without any distortion.  It's not very pleasant. That being said, with distortion it retains relative clarity but loses the twanginess and makes for some clear but still harsh metal tones.

          The neck pickup is drastically different and has a smooth rich bassy tone.  Cleans on this pickup sound great, especially with a touch of chorus.  Solo leads can also sound really good on the neck.  The neck is "standard" for rhythm, and the bridge "standard" for rhythm, but it seems to me that bridge is too thin for solo and neck too muddy for rhythm, but that's more a personal opinion.

          What could be better than bridge or neck pickup?  Why not both?  In my opinion the middle option doesn't sound as good as either of the other two - it is twangy like the bridge but not as clear - and I never use it.  But sound is subjective, and the option is there if you like it.

          The guitar has two knobs - volume and tone, just the way it should be personally.  Unfortunately, the controls are strangely not all that great.

          The build quality is awesome of course, but my problem with the volume knob is that they used a linear taper potentiometer instead of an audio taper pot.  Since hearing is logarithmic, this means the volume knob doesn't seem to change at the rate it should.  For most of the turn it does very little and at the end of the turn it shuts the volume off.  It can still achieve all levels of volume/gain but it isn't as intuitive as it should be.

          The tone knob suffers from a similar problem.  On some guitars, Squier Strat included, tone knobs do next to nothing for the tone quality.  On the Schecter, it does change the tone quite noticeably, and sounds pretty good.  The problem here is that there is no middle ground - the tone knob is a virtual on/off switch, with the options being clear or "softened", with next to no blend.

          As such, neither of the knobs get much use.  I'm not sure why Schecter didn't use an audio pot, for convenience I guess, but the tone control is just weird.  Fortunately you can just ignore them and all is well.

          One obvious positive of the tone is the great sustain.  No doubt this is owed to the thick body, string-through design, and the great tuning nut.

          Overall tone and sound quality is pretty good for a guitar in this price range.  The two pickups offer two very different sounds from the same instrument, and even though the controls offer little middle ground, the raw sound and the sheer playability make the Schecter great.

  • Relatively low price
  • Awesome build quality
  • Great tuning system
  • Perfect design
  • 24 frets
  • Great sustain
  • Good looking
  • Fast neck and low action
  • Not so great controls
  • Pickups aren't the best

          All things considered, the Schecter is a great guitar that can be an epic guitar with just a little work.  The build quality and design are flawless for a $300 guitar.  The controls and the pickups are the only imperfections and can be replaced with a little technical know-how.  Even without modifications the Omen 6 is clearly one of the best guitars available in its price range.  9 of 10 stars

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