Shredding on a hardtail? This Schecter will show you the light.
Gorgeous, unusual tonewoods. Versatile pickups and switching. Fast, comfortable playability.
A case or gig bag would be nice at this price.
Schecter Sun Valley Super Shredder Exotic Hardtail Black Limba
David Schecter started Schecter Guitar Research in 1976. In the beginning, the company did repairs and sold parts in their Van Nuys, California, shop (much like their contemporaries, Charvel). But Schecter quickly developed a solid reputation among SoCal players and started selling complete guitars in 1979.
Not coincidentally, Schecter Guitar’s rise to prominence aligned with the acsent of L.A.’s ’80s metal scene. And their Sun Valley Super Shredder guitars, originally released in 2017, offer a nostalgic ride back to when the super strat ruled the world. Since its inception, the Sun Valley Super Shredder product line has evolved consistently, even embracing unusual features like a Sustaniac pickup. More recently Schecter introduced the Korea-built Exotic version of the line, which is primarily distinguished by more unusual tonewoods, like zircote and black limba, with the latter featured on our review guitar. But it also introduced features like a Hipshot Ibby HM hardtail bridge. That might seem like heresy to shredders accustomed to dive bombing with a Floyd Rose, but as our review instrument revealed, the hardtail bridge, black limba tonewood, and Schecter’s excellent Sunset Strip and Pasadena humbuckers add up to a wealth of very cool tones that effortlessly span styles.
- Mic Centered 1" Away — Dirty Bridge to Neck
- Mic Centered 1" Away — Clean Bridge to Neck
- Mic Centered 1" Away at 45-Degree Angle — Clean Bridge to Neck
- Mic Centered 1" Away at 45-Degree Angle — Dirty Bridge to Neck
- Mic Right of Center 1" Away — Dirty Bridge to Dirty
- Mic Right of Center 1" Away — Clean Bridge to Neck
Picking Things Up
Guitar customization is so common these days that many guitarists rush to switch out the stock pickups on relatively affordable guitars like the Sun Valley. The Sun Valley Super Shredder Exotic Hardtail Black Limba’s pickups, which include a USA Sunset Strip in the bridge and a USA Pasadena in the neck, however, are fantastic. And unless you are looking for a very specific tonality, it’s difficult to imagine a good reason for abandoning them. The alnico 5 Pasadena measures 8.4k ohms and has a vintage PAF vibe, while the ceramic 8 Sunset Strip is hotter, at 12.6k ohms. Interestingly, the Schecter pickups sell for around $129 apiece, so they’re far from outsourced cheapo components. In fact, they’re more expensive than many Duncans or DiMarzios.
The SVSS EHBL has a simple control layout with one volume control and one tone knob. But the 5-way pickup selector switch deviates in cool ways from the traditional Stratocaster-style 5-position setup. You can select bridge humbucker, bridge and neck in split-coil configuration, bridge and neck in humbucking mode, neck humbucker with coils in parallel, and standard neck humbucker. It’s a very versatile setup that makes the most of the pickups’ already considerable potential.
Fancy Lumber and Flat Fretboards
The SVSS EHBL’s build quality is impeccable. But the guitar is also a feast for the eyes. Rather than a typical mahogany or alder body, the SVSS EHBL's black limba is an attractively grained hardwood that shares many tonal characteristics with mahogany. The neck is made from wenge (another uncommon wood in electric solidbody circles), bolstered with carbon fiber reinforcement rods and a 2-way truss rod, and shaped into a thin C profile that gets slightly thicker as you move up the neck (from 20 mm at the 1st fret to 22 mm at the 12th).
The ebony fretboard’s 12–16" compound radius is perfect for fast fretting and deep bends and features cool cosmetic touches in the form of offset aluminum circle inlays and glow-in-the-dark side dots that contrast nicely with the dark sheen of the fretboard and add a touch of subtle elegance. The guitar’s playability is further enhanced by 24 stainless steel jumbo frets and a nicely contoured heel that facilitates easy access to the highest frets. A Graph Tech XL Black Tusq nut and Schecter 18:1 locking tuners anchor the strings at the headstock.
The neck humbucker in parallel-coil configuration has a quasi-P-90 vibe.
As shipped, the Schecter’s action was a little higher than I like. The truss rod spoke wheel is situated in the space between the neck and body, and adjustments are a breeze. Having 24-frets on a super-flat fretboard is, of course, an invitation to work the upper registers with abandon. Happily, I could bend fearlessly on the highest strings at the 24th fret area without fretting out.
Super Shredding Sounds
With amps set for high gain, the Schecter’s bridge pickup has an unmistakable vintage metal vibe with an aggressive edge. It’s got a slight scoop in the mids, which, to my ear, contributes extra picking definition. It’s also very open sounding, which makes it a killer for heavy rhythm parts. The neck pickup has a very appealing warm and round tonality. And with the tone rolled back it’s beautiful for sustain-heavy solos.
The split- and parallel-coil sounds add a lot of tone and performance possibilities. The second pickup position, which combines the bridge and neck pickups as single-coils, has a very Strat-like quality without the hum, while the fourth pickup position, with the neck humbucker in parallel-coil configuration, has a quasi P-90 vibe. I loved playing semi-dirty, octave-driven, funk-rock riffs in this position.
The lower volume of the split- and parallel-coil settings can also be the catalyst for dramatic musical moments. I enjoyed starting solos in position 2 and flicking to the bridge pickup for a boost, which feels a lot more organic than stepping on a boost pedal to get that last climactic push.
In Schecter’s Sun Valley Super Shredder line, the Exotic Hardtail Black Limba model is an outlier of sorts. It eschews metal elements like Floyd Rose double-locking tremolos and EMG active pickups, which are fixtures elsewhere in the series. But these omissions actually make the SVSS EHBL more versatile in many respects, and between its inviting playability and the classy-to-raging tone range of its pickups, the Super Shredder is at home in just about any style of music.