Schecter Guitar Research has solidified its elite status as one of the world’s premier guitar companies, offering electric guitars and basses, acoustic guitars, and USA Custom Shop instruments to musicians around the world in more than 150 countries. Its continually evolving and expanding line of guitars and basses appeals to a broad spectrum of players and diverse musical styles. Its core business practice offers high-quality instruments with professional components at an affordable price. One of the company’s strongest assets is its growing roster of high-profile artists, including Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, The Cure, Papa Roach, Seether, Prince, Keith Merrow, Nick Johnston, and Zakk Wylde.
Custom shop days, 1976–1983
In 1976, David Schecter opened Schecter Guitar Research, a repair shop in Van Nuys, California. The shop manufactured replacement guitar necks and bodies, complete pickup assemblies, bridges, pickguards, tuners, knobs, potentiometers, and miscellaneous other guitar parts. Eventually, Schecter began supplying parts to notable guitar manufacturers and to Robert Talbot repair shops. By the late 1970s Schecter offered more than 400 guitar parts, but did not offer any finished instruments. In 1979, Schecter offered, for the first time, its own fully assembled electric guitars. They were considered very high quality and very expensive, and were sold only by twenty retailers across the United States.Schecter guitars and parts have been used by, among others, Pete Townshend, Mark Knopfler, Ritchie Blackmore, Chris Poland, Synyster Gates, Richard Patrick, Jinxx, Jake Pitts Tommy Victor, Dan Donegan, Robin Zander, and Shaun Morgan.
Texan ownership and mass production, 1983–1987
By 1983, Schecter had reached its custom shop production limit and could no longer meet demand. That year, the company was purchased by a group of Texas investors who wanted to build upon Schecter’s reputation for quality. The investors moved the company to Dallas, Texas, where they produced above-par quality guitars using both imported parts and Schecter parts under the Schecter name for less than five years. At the 1984 winter NAMM show, Schecter introduced twelve new guitars and basses. The most popular of these guitars was a T-style guitar similar to those that Pete Townshend played. Although Townshend never endorsed this model, it was known unofficially as the “Pete Townshend model”. Eventually, the T-style guitar became known as the “Saturn”, and the company’s S-style guitar became known as the “Mercury”. All guitars have the “Lawsuit” peg heads (two small marks on back of headstocks). Schecter was still using S and T headstocks, which Fender had allowed when they were a parts company. It appears this lawsuit may have essentially led to their closing in late 1986 to early 1987. The name was purchased by the current owners in late 1987. During this period, Schecter managed to sign one notable endorsee, Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. Schecter built several custom guitars for Yngwie Malmsteen that featured scalloped necks and reverse headstocks.
Hisatake Shibuya and reform, 1987 – present
In 1987, the Texas investors sold the company to Hisatake Shibuya, a Japanese entrepreneur who also owns the Musicians Institute in Hollywood. Shibuya moved the company back to California and returned Schecter to its custom shop roots, devoting all its efforts to manufacturing high-end, expensive custom instruments. Schecter guitars were once again only available from a few retailers, one of them being Sunset Custom Guitars located in Hollywood, which Hisatake Shibuya also owned. Sunset Custom Guitars happened to be the place where Michael Ciravolo, the future president of Schecter Guitar Research, worked. In 1995, Schecter introduced the highly sought-after ‘S Series’ guitars and basses. In 1996, Hisatake Shibuya asked Michael Ciravolo to become Schecter’s president and run the company. Michael Ciravolo, an experienced musician, brought to the company many well-known musicians as endorsees. These included Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots, and Jay Noel Yuenger and Sean Yseult of White Zombie, as well as Xavier Rhone of Carbon Nation. Michael Ciravolo never really liked competitor designs, so he sought to distance the company from its past Fender-style models. Toward that end, he added the “Avenger”, “Hellcat”, and “Tempest” models to the Schecter catalog. He also wanted to reach out to a new generation of musicians who were ignored by most major guitar manufacturers. Yet, at this point, the company was only producing expensive, custom shop models. (Schecter’s maximum output was forty guitars a month.) So, to realize his vision, Ciravolo began searching for a factory that could mass-produce Schecter guitars while maintaining high quality standards. In 1997, Michael Ciravolo met with several Asian guitar manufacturers at the Tokyo Music Festival and subsequently decided on a factory located in Incheon, South Korea. (Though not known for sure, this location could be the electric guitar factory of World Musical Instrument co. Ltd.) Schecter’s guitars would be built in the South Korea factory, after which they would be shipped to the U.S. to be set up in a Schecter shop. At the 1998 summer NAMM show, Schecter introduced the Diamond Series, which included six affordably priced non-custom guitars. In 1999, Schecter added the seven string “A-7 Avenger” guitar to the ‘Diamond Series’. It also introduced the “C-1”, which was debuted by Jerry Horton in Papa Roach’s “Last Resort” music video. The Diamond Series is still in production to this day.
Expanded custom shop, return of USA production, and Schecter Amplification, 2013 – present
In 2012, it was announced that Schecter expanded their custom shop, adding 14,000 square feet to the facility. Later the same year, Schecter announced a new line of USA-built guitars that would bring the company back to its “roots”. This included the acquisition of several CNC machines from Haas Automation and a new 1,500 square feet spray booth. The new line would be called the “USA Production Series.” These guitars were officially debuted at the 2013 Winter NAMM show. Schecter also announced a new line of hand-wound electric guitar and bass pickups, that would be available on USA Production and custom shop models, and possibly will be available for purchase in 2013. Along with the announcement of the USA Production Series, Schecter announced their introduction into the amplification market. These new amps would be designed in part with well-known amplifier designer James Brown, who is most famous for designing the Peavey 5150 amplifier in part with Eddie Van Halen and his line of effect pedals under the Amptweaker name. The amps first announced were the “Hellraiser USA 100”, “Hellraiser Stage 100”, “Hellwin USA 100”, and the “Hellwin Stage 100”. The USA versions are built in Schecter’s USA custom shop, while the Stage series is built overseas. The Hellwin is the signature amp for Avenged Sevenfold guitarist Synyster Gates, who helped design the head with James Brown. Both amps make use of EL34 power tubes, an on-board noise gate, a passive and active input that compensate for the output difference by changing the circuit instead of reducing output, and a “Focus” control that adjusts the low end response. The differences between the Hellwin and the Hellraiser is the Hellwin’s use of MIDI to control the amp. The Hellwin is also a 3-channel amp, as opposed to the Hellraiser’s 2-channel design. Along with these amps, Schecter introduced a line of speaker cabinets, one featuring a 200W sub-woofer. called the “Depth Charge”, that would increase the cabinet’s bass response. These amps were debuted, along with the USA Production Line, at Winter NAMM 2013.
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