The new Schecter Reaper Elite Series is something that was a long time coming for Schecter. This is a brand new take on an already successful series, so let’s dive in!
Schecter Reaper Elite Series: 3 Models, 2 Colors, And New Design!
The Schecter Reaper Elite Series is a brand new take on a familiar older model. In fact, it is based on a model that I don’t think got enough attention when it was released! The original Reaper Series was an interesting design, and a sign that Schecter was moving away from the “edgier” side of aesthetics.
That isn’t to say that the original Reaper wasn’t striking in appearance, because it most certainly drew some attention! But gone was all of the Abalone binding and things that made Schecter as a brand the subject of sometimes…harsh criticism (I LIKE the fun designs, personally). The Reaper was a new design, but it was also pretty unique in a sea of “Burl top guitars” in 2018.
The original Reaper featured a double cutaway body, and a Burl top with a cutaway to bare wood for the forearm slope. The back of the guitar was unfinished wood, with a 5 piece neck thru construction. It had the Sustainiac option, Floyd Rose, and even a multi-scale 7 string. The Reaper offered a lot of high end features for what was a reasonably “mid-range priced” guitar.
Last week I said in my Solo II Supreme review, that I wish Schecter would take some of the other popular models and give them the “supreme” treatment. This means amazing Flame Maple tops, with beautiful finishes. But those Solo II models also had every upgrade imaginable, making them a great choice for any professional guitarist.
Well, it seems like Schecter is doing exactly what I had hoped! The new Schecter Reaper Elite Series offers a metric TON of features for the money. On paper, it looks like USA Custom Shop guitar with all of the features it has to offer! But we all know that you can put a million upgrades on a guitar, and it can still be an objectively bad guitar.
Luckily, I got to try out the Schecter Reaper Elite Series this past week. I don’t want to spoil the review for you, but this might be one of the best production guitars that I have come across. Like I said, there are a lot of design elements taken directly from the USA Custom Shop, and South Korea definitely knows how to build a guitar.
We had a very special opportunity to check out some of the new Schecter Reaper Elite Series guitars, as they are currently only for pre-order! I got a call to check them out, and bet that I took up the offer. These should be shipping within the next 2 weeks, as I have heard the second week of January.
So let’s dive into the new Schecter Reaper Elite Series, and check out what all 3 version have to offer!
Schecter Reaper Elite Series: Features And Specs
All 3 of the new Schecter Reaper Elite Series Models share the same basic features. So it will be easy to list the things they all have in common, rather than doing a separate article for each individual model. I feel like I would be doing a lot of “repeating myself” if we went over each model in a different article. With that being said, let’s talk about these beasts!
The Schecter Reaper Elite Series took everything that made the mid-level version of this guitar, and amplified it by 100! The familiar Reaper shape and neck carve are all still present, but every other aspect has been upgraded across the board. If the original Reaper was a reliable Toyota that will never let you down, then this new version is the high performance Ferrari!
Features (All Models)
- African Mahogany Body
- Wenge Neck With Carbon Fiber Reinforcement
- Ebony Fretboard
- Ultra Thin C Neck Carve
- 12”-16” Compound Radius (20” For The 7 String)
- Reverse Headstock
- TUSQ XL Nut/ Floyd Rose R3 Nut
- Neck-Thru Construction With Ultra Access Carve
- Quilted Maple Top
- Reaper Forearm Cutaway
- Black Binding
- Pearloid Line Inlays
- 24 Extra Jumbo Stainless Steel Frets
- Volume/Tone (Push-Pull)/3-Way Switch
- San Andreas Pickups (With Sustainiac Option)
- Hipshot Grip-Lock Tuners (Grover For Floyd Versions)
- Bridges: Floyd Rose 1500, Hipshot Fixed, Hipshot 7-String Multiscale Fixed Bridge
Everything about the Schecter Reaper Elite Series screams quality. The components are all what you expect to find in a professional-level instrument. All 3 models may offer different things, but there are no weak links here with any of the components. We have almost all name brand hardware and components, and that is awesome!
So these guitars all have every upgrade you can possibly imagine. You even have USA Custom Shop pickups across the different models. But none of that matters, if the guitar doesn’t play well right? It also doesn’t matter if the guitar feel great.
So like everything else, we are doing a straight out of the box test with the Schecter Reaper Elite Series. Let’s take a look, and go over each model with a hyper-critical lens!
Schecter Reaper Elite Series: Out Of The Box Impressions
Right Out Of The Box: The 6 Strings
We got to check out a Blood Burst Fixed Bridge, and Deep Ocean Blue Floyd Rose. I know this is a famous complaint when it comes to Schecter Guitars, but if you are paying $1500 for a guitar…maybe throw in a gig bag? I know a hard case is a lot to ask for in this economy, but a nice gig bag would be better than a cardboard box. Just a small thing!
The Blood Burst Fixed Bridge was flawless out of the box, and actually being close to tuned up! I couldn’t find any bad spots with the binding, and everything was perfect when it comes to construction. There were no high frets, or sharp fret edges. In fact, this is some of the best fret work I have seen from Schecter, and far above most other production guitars.
The Flame Maple top is better on the red than on the blue, but that is just the luck of the draw. Every top is going to be different. The red one just happened to have more figuring, especially between the pickups. I had an almost 3D look to it, and the fade from dark to light looks incredible.
The Deep Ocean Blue Floyd Rose was also visually flawless. There was one slightly questionable part of the binding next to the bottom strap button, but it was barely noticeable (a rough patch). Now with a Floyd Rose, you usually have to set it up the way YOU like it. But the Floyd was set up to be playable, and just needed a tune up. If it were my guitar, I would lower the Floyd slightly. The fretwork again, is impeccable.
It has been very cold in the United States, so I was scared that the fretwork on the Schecter Reaper Elite Series might have been affected. I expected maybe some minimal amount of fret sprout, but they were both fine. Both guitars absolutely needed a tweak of the truss rod right out of the box. This happens with just about any guitar that you get right out of the box.
The important part, is that both were ready to play right out of the box after you tuned them up. Schecter is usually really good about setting up the Floyd Rose before shipping guitars out. Both guitars were intonated well, which is also a big deal. Floyd Rose bridges are tough when it comes to intonation!
The pickups were all set a little low in my opinion (especially the Sustainiac), but that is just a quick turn of the screwdriver. Overall, this is the quality that you absolutely expect from higher-end Schecter guitars. The South Korean instruments are always built well, even being called “The New Japan”, and Indonesia is definitely catching up!
Right Out Of The Box: 7 String
We got the Blood Burst version of the 7 string, and we ran into a couple of issues with this one right out of the box. Nothing that cannot be fixed, but there were a few issues. I hold Schecter to a much higher standard than most other brands, and I am especially critical of the Korean-made instruments when it comes to the Diamond Series.
The Schecter Reaper Elite Series would not be complete without a 7 string variant, and this is a really COOL guitar. Out of the box, there were no finish issues and the binding was fantastic. The frets were also great and each one was perfectly level. However, we did have some fret sprout on the bass side on the neck. This does not affect playability at all, and I blame our recent weather. The neck seemed rather dry, so that might be an easy fix!
We tuned it up, and the intonation was almost spot on. The problem was the low B string, and it needed to be adjusted quite a bit to get it intonated properly (Extremely sharp). Luckily, the Hipshot bridge is dead easy to make adjustments on. The string action was also a little high, and if this were my guitar, I would do a full setup.
Overall, we have a great experience “right out of the box” with all 3 guitars from the Schecter Reaper Elite Series. The Wenge necks are absolutely beautiful and have such a light satin coat, that you can see the pores in the wood. These look great, and feel great in the hands. But how do they play?
Schecter Reaper Elite Series: Review
We will get into the details and features, and this is a very “tired” saying when it comes to guitar reviews… but these feel like much more expensive guitars. If you told me these were from the USA Custom Shop in Van Nuys? I might actually believe you. The honestly play that well, and “feel” like quality. With that out of the way:
The Schecter Reaper Elite Series literally took the original Reaper models, and made them “better” with upgrades you would do yourself. The neck on both of the 6 string variants feels almost exactly the same as the original Reaper. So other than the aesthetic choices, what has really changed? We will start with the 6 string models first, and then talk about the 7 string.
The Neck is the same as the original Reaper, and the “Ultra Thin C” translates well over to the Wenge neck. This is probably as close to an Ibanez neck that you will ever get from Schecter, but it is still very comfortable. The shoulders are not very pronounced, so it “feels” fast when moving up and down. But without being so thin that your hand cramps up.
I have tried Wenge necks before, with the Nick Johnston models, and I loved the feel. The Schecter Reaper Elite Series might be my favorite new neck! I liked the Original Reaper neck a lot, but the feel of Wenge is absolutely amazing in you hands. You cannot really feel the grain or pores, but you can see them. This is a satin finish that may get slippery over time as you play it, which is an easy fix (Some steel wool will fix it).
Stainless steel frets are becoming more of the norm in higher-end guitars, and this is a welcome change for me! These will not need to be polished every other string change, and they just feel smoother when you go for big bends. They feel almost slippery, and once you try them it is hard to go back! But the appeal to me is the low maintenance! Stainless steel frets will probably outlive YOU!
The reverse headstock is a matter of taste, but I think it looks great on these models. The original Reaper had a wood reveal on the headstock, and these are the same with Wenge. It looks super classy with the newer silver Schecter logo. Again Schecter, why not use the classy cursive logo on these high-end guitars?
These will definitely go fast, shipping Mid January!
The Body balances well with the neck, and there is zero neck dive with either model. The Floyd Rose variant is heavier of course, and this is one negative I have with the Schecter Reaper Elite Series. Schecter is known for using heavier Mahogany, and the Floyd version is almost 8 LBS. The fixed bridge is lighter, but as usual, Schecter guitars can be a little on the heavy side.
The forearm contour is the same as the original Reaper series, and I love this. But all of the Schecter Reaper Elite Series also has the Ultra Access neck, which means no heel joint at all. This is made even better since the lower horn has a cutaway as well. So if you have big hands, you will have no problem getting up to the higher frets!
The Specs on both models are the best of the best. The fixed bridge option has the high mass Hipshot bridge, with matching Hipshot locking tuners. I have put these tuners on my Demon 7 and I love how accurate these are when tuning up. The Floyd version gets Grover, and I wish it had locking tuners as well. I put locking tuners on my Floyd Rose guitars, and maybe that makes me weird?
Hipshot bridges are very low profile, and I have become a big fan over the years. Even with low action, you don’t have tiny screws digging into your palm. The fixed bridge option should never have any tuning issues, since you have a TUSQ nut and locking tuners.
The Floyd Rose 1500 is your usual 1000 series, but the screws (bridge and nut) have been upgraded to Stainless. This is something that is unique to guitars that come from WMI in Korea, and specifically Schecter that started this trend. I think the 1500 is every bit as good as an Original Floyd Rose, and all of my 1000 bridges have held up well over years. Yes, the Schecter Reaper Elite Series uses the “pop in” arm, not the collar.
Luminlay should be a standard on all modern guitars as well. These side dots look great on their own, but they really come in handy on a dark stage. Clearly, these guitars are meant for the more professional side of guitarists with the specs and features. These are absolutely made for the stage and studio! It really is the little things that count!
Schecter Reaper Elite Series: 7 String Model
The 7 string shares all of the same features and specs with the 6 string guitar, with the difference being the neck, so I won’t go over everything again. The build quality is exactly the same. It has all of the Hipshot hardware and tuners, as well as the TUSQ nut. So the feel is the same as everything I have said above. So this is totally high-end, and multi-scale seems to be the way to go these days with extended range guitars.
I agree, actually. But Schecter does Multi-scale a little different than other companies. The radius is a nice, with a flat 20” across the board. The big difference with the Schecter Reaper Elite Series, as opposed to the original Reaper 7 string is the fan fret position. This makes a huge difference, that I have come to appreciate.
The Rob Scallon Signature was the first Schecter model that I played with this new feature. The “fan” is totally different, and easier to play. This is because the “zero fret’ is on the 7th fret, instead of being higher up. Most companies use the 12th fret as the zero fret, or the “straight” fret. By using the 7th fret, it makes the fan of the frets less “dramatic” across the neck.
This means that playing lower on the neck feels just as natural as it does to play higher up the neck. You could even call this a “slight” fan if you wanted. But it totally works, and this has made me change my opinion entirely about multi-scale guitars. The transition from the 27” to 25.5” scale does not feel weird or uneven at all.
This also means that you can do some really low tunings, all the way down to F or F#, without losing the ability to play bends on the treble strings. But it feels so natural no matter what position you are playing on the neck. I am not sure if other companies do this, but most multi-scale guitars have left a bad impression on me. Schecter absolutely nails it with this new design. Maybe it was Rob Scallon that originally suggested it?
The Schecter Reaper Elite Series 7 String will probably be my next 7 string guitar purchase. I enjoy the ones that I already have, but they stay in standard tuning since they are not fan fret. This Reaper will take the place of my 8 string, since it can get that low, easily.
Schecter Reaper Elite Series: San Andreas Pickups
Tom Anderson used to work for Schecter back in the day, and his legacy has stuck with the company even after he left. Tom is of course known for making the “Super Rock” pickups, that were made for high gain and have outstanding clarity. The San Andreas Set takes some cues from the Super Rock, and they have been tweaked over the years and evolved.
The entire Schecter Reaper Elite Series features the San Andreas pickups, and these rival the Lundgren Black Heaven sets I checked out last week. The San Andreas Pickups are based on a triple folded, ceramic magnet design that are then overwound for high output. But the clarity is insane, and complex chords sound huge.
These sound great in the two six string models, which are in standard tuning. But the 7 string I tuned down to drop A, which is where I think you start to get muddy with most pickups. It sounded crystal clear, even with lower ranged chords. You could easily tune lower, and never lose that punch and clarity.
Schecter was an early adopter and innovator when it comes to coil-splitting (Schecter kind of STARTED it, actually). I am usually rather underwhelmed with coil splits, but since these are so CLEAR, it gives you a very convincing single coil tone. Again, this is another reason I will be buying the 7 string from the Reaper Elite Series. There is a volume drop, but it is very slight compared to most coil split.
The Schecter USA Custom Shop has been making some quality pickups for decades at this point. But these are really next level and rival most other aftermarket pickups. I like that Schecter is using branded pickups in high-end guitars instead of just the usual EMGs. Schecter should be PROUD of the pickups that are being made in Van Nuys!
Schecter Reaper Elite Series: Final Thoughts
I think it is a little ironic that I was just saying that Schecter should give the “premium treatment” to some of the other models, like what was done this year with the Solo II models. It looks like this is exactly what Schecter is doing. I cannot wait to see the next model that gets this treatment!
You can still buy the mid-range Reaper models, and I think those are fantastic guitars. But if you are a professional musician, and you want something a little more “fancy”? The Schecter Reaper Elite Series has everything that you could possibly want. These have all of the upgrades, and quality components. They LOOK stunning, and the Wenge neck will definitely stand out in a crowd.
The Schecter Reaper Elite Series is really putting the brand on the map as a serious choice for Metal guitarists. Gone are the more “edgy” designs that often draw harsh criticism to Schecter. Personally, I like the flying bats on my Damien. But I understand that not every guitarist would want something that gaudy and silly. Schecter has been taking notes.
But while Schecter has been taking notes, it has also been blazing a trail. The regular aesthetics of the C1 will probably never be phased out, but Schecter is giving you MANY more options these days. The Schecter Reaper Elite Series is marketed to the serious guitarist, the professional. The other big brands should take notice, because guitarists definitely notice when something is punching above its weight class.
These will probably go fast!
Christoper HortonChristopher has been playing guitar, bass, and piano for 28 years. He has been active in the professional music industry for over two decades. Chris has toured for years with several bands and music projects across the United States. He worked in Los Angeles as a studio musician and engineer working with many genres, but mainly Pop, Rock, and Metal. In between giving private lessons, he is usually recording under his various projects at home in Georgia. Christopher plays Schecter Guitars, BOSS Amplifiers, and uses STL Tones in the studio.
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