Aug 26, 2016

NGD: Schecter C1 Artist Limited Edition (Repair + pics)

Exploring pawn shops in town for the first time I came across a small shop specializing in guitars.  Among the Squiers and Epiphones I found this gem (literally, it's a Schecter "Diamond Series") with a bit of corrosion at $100.

Fast forward to an easy fix and an incredible all-purpose guitar with a neck-through build, 24 frets, custom inlays, pearl binding, JB and '59 Seymour Duncan pickups, and custom 5-way switching on top of everything.

The guitar model is a "C1 Artist" from a mid-2000's limited edition run.  The main differences from a normal C1 are cosmetic upgrades and different inlays, the Seymour Duncan pickups, and the fantastic custom wiring setup.

The condition when I got it was far from perfect, but the reason I was able to get a price so great in the first place.  The screws had rusted but still worked fine, dust and dirt all over, mild corrosion and discoloration on all metal parts (although not too bad on the pickups themselves, fortunately).

Incredibly, the original strings, which were all but pure rust at this point, still played and were mostly in tune.  No matter, I couldn't get them off fast enough!  With the rusty strings out of the way, I got to work cleaning up the body.

I used a cheap toothbrush to scrub off the bridge.  Turns out it's a Gotoh TonePros.  Not sure how much of a difference that makes with a patina of corrosion, but that was fixed easily enough and it intonates perfectly.

Now the main part: fixing these corroded frets.  I started by wiping it all down and scrubbing the fretboard to get out any dust and dirt first.

My technique for restoring the frets was a little, err, homestyle, but I'm lacking in fine tools in my dorm room.  A piece of scrap plastic with a slit cut in protected the fretboard while I worked - a Scotch Brite pad worked in place of steel wool for removing the corrosion and cleaning it intensively.

Note: if you have 0000 steel wool on hand, it should make for a finer finish than a Scotch Brite pad and your frets may thank you in the end for it.  If you do use steel wool though, absolutely tape off your pickups first because trust me, you don't want steel fibers all over those magnets.

Cleaned frets on the left, corroded on the right
This whole process took maybe 2 hours from start to finish, including restringing.  Not at all a bad bit of work to bring this to a fully playable (and excellent sounding) guitar!

I also own a "lower end" Schecter Omen 6, and having experienced both I can confidently say that Schecter builds some of the finest quality guitars I have ever handled.  For the money they are outstanding; in terms of build quality they're second to none, and the sustain in particular never fails to impress.  

The only problem I've ever noted is issues with the potentiometers and switches being noisy and sometimes unreliable.  Schecter, if you're listening, I'd check your pot dealer (heh), but hey, it could just happen to be issues with the particular guitars I've handled.

The pearl binding around the edges is gorgeous in person

The sound of the C1 plugged in is incredible for the price.  The pickups are warm but vibrant, and the sustain means the notes keep on singing.  The great pickup choice is accentuated by a rare but excellent switching setup, described as:
1 - Bridge humbucker

2 - Bridge single coil (bridge side) + Neck single coil (bridge side) in parallel
3 - Bridge single coil (neck side) + Neck single coil (neck side) in series
4 - Bridge single coil (neck side) + Neck single coil (neck side) in parallel
5 - Neck humbucker

While this omits the typical "Bridge humbucker + neck humbucker in parallel" option, it's not missed among the alternatives.  The switching layout feels very familiar to the Strat player, with 2 and 4 providing a lower output "quackier" position, yet at the same time unfamiliar, as each position has substantially more output and warmth and each position is hum-cancelling.

Despite looking like a very "metal" guitar, the Schecter C1 has surprisingly some warm and bell-like tones and can even pull a reasonable Strat approximation in positions 2 and 4.  It doesn't do the synthetic sine wave-esque metal tones of EMG pickups that many Schecters come with, but instead has a versatile setup both modern and classic, with features attractive to fans of both Fenders and Gibsons.  

Perhaps I'm still in the infatuation stage of "New Guitar Day", but this seems to me to be an excellently designed guitar built with expert care.  It's survived a decade or so of abuse and corrosion, and the worst effects now are slightly scratchy electronics, and I'm excited to hear where this guitar will take me next.  Thanks for reading, and as always, stay tuned for more!

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