Mention Schecter to the average player, and they immediately think “metal guitars”—and with good cause: Since the turn of the century, the company’s artist roster has gotten increasingly aggro. Guys like Avenged Sevenfold’s Zacky Vengeance and Synyster Gates, Arch Enemy’s Jeff Loomis, and Gwar’s Balsac the Jaws of Death. But the Sun Valley, California, company actually started out making classic S- and T-style replacement parts before moving on to build boutique interpretations of those classic designs in the late ’70s.
But for the last several years Schecter has also diversified its line with guitars that marry retro tones and aesthetics with modern improvements—often with unmatched aplomb. The Ultra III boasts a look and sound that’s unique despite incorporating elements reminiscent of a Firebird, Gretsch, and Teisco, and the T S/H-12 Classic puts a unique spin on Rickenbacker- and Danelectro-esque appointments. And now the PT Fastback II B takes a Telecaster Deluxe-like formula and outfits it with a bunch of extras.
At first glance, the South Korea-made Fastback might strike jaded players as more of a throwback: The shape of the single-cut body and pickguard are familiar, the Diamond SuperRock Custom Alnico pickups resemble 1970s Fender Wide Range humbuckers, and the dual-volume, dual-tone control complement is what you’d expect. Or is it? When you look closer, you see that dismissing the II B as a gussied-up copycat is both unfair and rash.
To players looking for a hot-rodded T-style, the Fastback is noteworthy in a number of ways. For starters, there’s the sheer wow factor: The elegant metallic red finish is something you rarely see in this price range, and it’s nearly perfect (there’s some tiny jaggedness along the seam where the neck meets the super-tight pocket). The matching headstock looks killer, too. What’s more, if you lament the dearth of affordable, Bigsby-equipped T-styles on the market, you’ll love that the Fastback’s roller saddles and Grover tuners help it stay in tune as well as competitors at any price point. And then there’s the fact that the pickups can be tapped via dedicated push-pull tone controls. Lastly, the Fastback’s setup and playability are stellar: The frets are impeccably rounded and polished, with no jagged ends, and the bound neck is incredibly comfy—both in terms of its moderate “thin C” profile and its smooth, inviting texture.
Given the Fastback’s price and features, I admit I was prepared to be underwhelmed by its pickups—that’s often where guitars with humbler price tags skimp. But, tested through a British-voiced Jaguar HC50 combo and a more American-sounding Goodsell Valpreaux 21, the II B delivered an impressive variety of sounds.
Despite their appearance, the Diamond SuperRocks aim for a mainstream tonal palette, not the brash midrange of the Fender Wide Range units their exposed pole screws recall. The bridge humbucker sounds toothy, powerful, and respectably articulate whether you play clean or with heaping servings of distortion—though you won’t find the sorts of sparkle and detail you’d associate with, say, a painstaking PAF replica.
And if you’re the type of player who likes to go from whisper quiet to loud and nasty simply by varying attack from feather-light to brutal, the bridge pickup can occasionally sound brash when you get mean. But otherwise it’s very adaptable. Tap its coil, and you lose a little volume but gain a glassy tone that works well for funky, faux-Strat sounds or spunky Tele-ish flavors. Meanwhile the neck humbucker has a warm, plush bass response that’s well suited to beautiful jazz or blues work, and tapping it yields the same sort of versatility as the bridge unit.
The most rewarding part of playing the Fastback is the multitude of tones you discover when you get creative with the controls—like, say, tapping one pickup and varying the volume of one pickup or the other. For instance, with a clean sound and lush repeats from an Ibanez Echo Shifter, I got completely absorbed in the gorgeous tones of the bridge humbucker mixed with the tapped neck pickup at two-thirds volume. Simply put, there are exponentially more shades available than there are with a one-volume axe.
Schecter’s PT Fastback II B is a remarkable buy. If you’re a T-style aficionado who has traditionally turned up your nose at this brand over genre stereotypes or lingering prejudices about import guitars, you owe it to yourself to set those kneejerk reactions aside and try the Fastback. It offers construction, playability, features, and attention to detail on par with some custom shop instruments—but at a fraction of the price. Admittedly, a good portion of buyers will likely opt to replace the PT’s pickups with more specialized boutique units, but that’s often the case with guitars in every price range. Even so, the SuperRocks hold their own with solid performance in many styles. Again, what’s extraordinary here is the bang-for-buck factor: Even considering the Fastback’s minuscule finish anomaly and the fact that one volume knob was seated a fraction of an inch higher than the others, this guitar’s setup and execution rivals many instruments costing literally thousands more.
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