Schroeder Edge Doublecut Electric Guitar Review
September 21, 2010
The Edge''s complex pickup configuration and build quality make for a versatile, beautiful instrument
|Download Example 1
Clean - Each pickup through all positions, single-coil, P-90, then humbucker. Pickup order: neck, neck/middle, neck/bridge, middle, bridge/middle, bridge.
|Download Example 2
Dirty - (rhythm) single-coil neck and middle (solo) bridge pickup, first in single-coil, then in P-90
Although he recently became a member of the Premier Builders Guild—which has no relation to this publication and also includes builders like Gene Baker, Mark Bartel, Dennis Fano, Roger Giffin, Johan Gustavsson, and Saul Koll—Schroeder continues to build custom instruments at his shop in Redding, California, in addition to the three standard models he has built at PBG under the supervision of master builder Gene Baker. “My purpose in joining PBG was to give customers the option to play some of my guitars at a dealership before they buy,” says Schroeder. PBG also enables interested buyers to avoid the wait associated with a custom guitar.
For this review, Schroeder sent us one of his custom instruments that is near and dear to his heart. As a guitarist in the band Clear Cut, he plays around 10 gigs a month, which gives him an ideal testing ground for his guitars. Clear Cut performs a wide range of music, and this requires Schroeder to deliver a variety of sounds. Tired of taking a carload of instruments to each gig, he decided to design an electronics package that could handle it all. The result became the pickup combination you see here in our review version of the Edge Doublecut.
Unpacking the Schroeder from its shipping box, I had to eschew my usual method of pulling it straight up out of the end, as the weight made it more than my decidedly un-Schwarzenegger physique could handle. Instead I placed the box lengthwise on the floor and extracted the guitar sideways. That’s when I discovered that a significant part of the hefty load stemmed from an extremely sturdy hardshell case. Removing the guitar, I discovered that, while no lightweight, it proved no heavier than many Les Pauls. Strapped on, the instrument balanced beautifully. The burden felt comfortable enough for a two-hour show—if a little heavy for a four-set club gig.
Aside from the three unusual-looking pickups (more on them in a moment), the first thing I noticed about this model was the stark contrast of the dark-brown cocobolo neck and fretboard against the body’s mattewhite finish. Matching cocobolo pickup rings, knobs, and even strap buttons are features that will appeal to exotic wood fans. Those fans might have preferred that the one-piece black limba (korina) body remained unpainted or at least coated with a translucent finish. Still, it adds up to a striking instrument. (Schroeder responds, “Visually, the pair of ridge lines running down the body get completely lost on a piece of wood like black limba that has contrasting grain. The limba was used strictly for tone.”)
Schroeder has modestly left his name off of the headstock, inlaying instead a stylized “S.” The only inlay on the fretboard is an “S” that consists of two arcs and is folded over in a manner that recalls a yin-yang.
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 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.
you want a beautifully built, great-playing, sonic Swiss Army knife.
sound-wise, you believe less is more.
Street $4300 - Jason Z Schroeder Guitars - schroederguitars.com