Plugging In
Playing the Schroeder Edge Doublecut was a pleasure. The C-shaped neck fit my hand quite comfortably, and the tightness of the wood grain made it feel silky despite its lack of gloss. The high, round frets felt smooth and evenly finished. As one who primarily plays Fender instruments, I felt quite at home with the Schroeder’s 25" scale. The 1.70" nut allowed me to fret chords without cramping my fingers. The action was extremely low and even. Though the setup would work well for shredding and players who favor gain, I found the sixth and fifth strings tended to die too quickly when I played clean single notes. Loosening the strings, I turned the two large screws that anchor the wraparound bridge, raising it enough to let the bass strings ring to my liking. This particular stop tailpiece bridge offers individual string intonation, but not individual saddle height adjustment. Fortunately, the bridge arc seems to correspond perfectly to the neck’s flattish radius. Two setscrews let you move the entire bridge back and forth for gross intonation adjustment, should you radically change the string gauge.

To cover the range of sounds Schroeder needed for his gig, he decided to use three Seymour Duncan P-Rail pickups and a surprisingly intuitive switching system. The P-Rails are a unique design that fits a bladestyle single-coil and a P-90-based pickup into a humbucker-sized mounting. The single-coil and the P-90 can be used individually or combined to create a humbucker sound. The pickup-selector system uses a 6-position rotary switch, replacing what would ordinarily be the tone control. This allowed me to choose: neck, neck + middle, neck + bridge, middle, bridge + middle, or bridge. A 3-way switch selects either singlecoil, P-90, or humbucker mode for all three pickups at once.

Running the Schroeder into an Egnater Rebel 30, an Orange Tiny Terror, and an Electro-Harmonix 44 Magnum, I found plenty of usable tones. The switching seemed complicated at first, but I was amazed at how quickly it felt natural and I was soon able to grab any combination I sought with hardly any thought. That said, using three pickups like this involves a certain amount of sonic compromise. When people talk about Knopfler-style “out-of-phase” sounds, whether they know it or not, they are referring to string phasing—not electronic phasing. That sound is created by picking up string vibration at two different points along its wave and the phase cancellation that results.

The sound of each individual pickup is affected by its location between the neck and the bridge. On the Edge Doublecut’s bridge pickup, the P-90 coil is closest to the bridge, and selecting it yields an almost Telecaster-like sound. The single-coil in the bridge is farther away than one would normally place it, resulting in a darker, more hollow sound. Those two pickup options in the middle position hewed closer to traditional guitars. The neck P-90 sound was vintage, but because the single-coil was further from the fretboard than on a Strat, it delivered a brighter sound than you might expect from a neck-position pickup.

When you start combining pickups, sounds get more complex as string phasing comes into play, so I was surprised that those sounds were largely quite familiar, save for the single-coil bridge and neck combo, which proved more out-of-phase sounding than Tele-like. Creating a humbucker from two single-coils never results in an airy, PAF tone, and the Edge is no exception. These dark humbucker sounds are perfectly suitable for driving bright, high-gain amps, but for clean tones and mildly overdriven ones I would personally stick to the Edge’s other switching options.

The Verdict
The Schroeder Edge Doublecut is a beautifully constructed, highly playable instrument that’s capable of approximating a Les Paul (Standard or Junior), a Fender Stratocaster, or a Telecaster. If some of the sounds aren’t exact clones, they’re all musical. Also keep in mind that Schroeder is a custom builder. This is the guitar that suits his needs, and he is more than capable of building an instrument that fits yours.

Buy if...
you want a beautifully built, great-playing, sonic Swiss Army knife.
Skip if...
sound-wise, you believe less is more.

Street $4300 - Jason Z Schroeder Guitars -