Schecter USA Production Hollywood Classic
Schecter's Hollywood Classic clearly sits in the PRS-style camp, a set-neck mahogany/ figured maple guitar that packs a high specification with limited options, but comes in slightly lower in price, especially on the street.
This double-cut 'LP' recipe of course pre-dates PRS's classic Custom - Pensa-Suhr and Hamer can lay claim to that - but modern comparisons are inevitable.
Well, on first impressions while this Schecter might not have quite so many bespoke proprietary parts as the modern, nearly 30-year-old PRS, in terms of build it's just as sharp.
It's also based more on the classic Fender Stratocaster outline, although the thinner, extended horns move it into the modern virtuoso bracket - even though the finely flamed maple top, with its slightly flat centre and violin arched outer flanks, not to mention natural edge faux binding, are very PRS-like.
At approximately 50mm deep in its centre, with a 40mm rim depth, it sits bang in-between the PRS Custom's 49mm depth and the McCarty's 52mm thickness. It's a good weight for a mahogany/maple guitar, too: substantial but not overly weighty.
The rear rib/ belly cut isn't over-deep, but along with the carved top is extremely comfortable played seated or strapped on; those spacious cutaways allow easy top-fret access, and the classic Gibson- style heel is updated with an angled offset and efficient chamfer on the body back. All very functional.
The neck is equally well thought through, from its deep C section neck profile (21mm at the 1st fret, 23mm at the 12th) through to the slightly flatter- than-Gibson 356mm (14-inch) fingerboard radius and highly polished, mirror-smooth big frets: it not only feels great but is stupidly easy to play.
Even the three-a-side back-angled headstock, with its straight string lines from the friction-reducing nut to the rear-lock tuners, is elegant and quite classic-looking, unlike some more modern, smaller headstocks - which can easily look out of proportion with the body. The abalone cross inlays add some individual style, but don't detract at all from the modern classic appearance.
The large-poled ceramic SuperRock humbuckers are original Schecter staples, although here the neck humbucker's top E string pole nearly misses the top E string, while the locking Tone Pros tune-o-matic-style bridge, with rear anchor through-body stringing, is a more modern hardtail setup.
Controls are standard and simplistic, with a toggle pickup selector and two knurled knob controls, master volume and tone, the latter with a pull-switch which simultaneously splits both pickups, voicing the outer- facing single coils of each 'bucker. The output jack is mounted on a metal 'football' plate. Hard to find fault here.
The Hollywood has a classic Schecter family resemblance that comes primarily with these pickups, which, while slightly hotter, seem to have a percussive clout and character that unpins any sound. Straight into our rock amp, there's more power and midrange snarl: just what you'd expect from a guitar like this.
There are plenty of sounds to draw on. The neck pickup combines the clarity of a Schecter PT with more fullness and push; pull down the volume and/or switch to single-coil mode and there's a much bluesier, jazzier, velveteen voice, that with the tone control up has contemporary clarity, or backed off becomes older and smokier.
For those who hear with their eyes, this will just be a Gibbo-light modern rock guitar. Sure, that's probably how it'll be mostly used but there are plenty more tones on tap, and this would make a seriously good studio or function band guitar.
If you want a new top-notch USA guitar, let's face it there are plenty of choices. But part of the validity of this guitar is the, albeit fairly limited, option choice. Not all USA guitars come with options, especially pickups.
We all have different rigs and different perceptions of 'great tone'; the pickup choices, therefore, are really welcome. You could tailor the Hollywood Classic, for example, for harder rock with a classic EMG pairing or the lower-output vintage-vibed SuperRocks.