Schecter Guitar Research, commonly known simply as Schecter, is an American guitar manufacturer. The company was founded in 1976 by David Schecter and originally produced only replacement parts for existing guitars from manufacturers such as Fender and Gibson. Today, the company mass-produces its own line of electric guitars, bass guitars, and steel-string acoustic guitars.
Custom shop days, 1976 – 1983
In 1976, David Schecter opened Schecter Guitar Research, a repair shop in Van Nuys, California. The modest repair shop manufactured replacement guitar necks and bodies, complete pickup assemblies, bridges, pickguards, tuners, knobs, potentiometers, and miscellaneous other guitar parts.
By the late 1970s Schecter offered more than 400 guitar parts, but did not offer any finished instruments.
In 1979, Schecter offered, for the first time, its own fully-assembled electric guitars. These guitars were custom shop models based on Fender designs. They were considered to be very high quality and very expensive, and were sold only by twenty retailers across the United States.
In September 1979, Alan Rogan, then guitar tech for Pete Townshend of The Who, picked up a custom shop Schecter guitar. It was a Fender Telecaster-style guitar with two humbucking pickups and a Gibson Les Paul-style pickup selector. Townshend immediately fell in love with it, and it became his main stage guitar. He later had several similar instruments built from Schecter parts and assembled by Schecter and U.K.-based guitar maker Roger Giffin.
In 1980, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits used Schecter Stratocaster-style guitars to record the band's third album, Making Movies. Mark Knopfler owned many Schecter guitars, including one finished in Candy Apple Red with a 21-fret maple neck/fretboard without dot markers, white pickguard, gold-plated hardware, master volume and tone controls. This instrument was his main guitar for live and studio use until 1987. In 2004 one of his Schecters, a Stratocaster-style guitar with a tobacco sunburst finish, was sold at an auction for over $50,000, the highest amount ever paid for a Schecter guitar.
Hisatake Shibuya and reform, 1987 – present
In 1987, the Texas investors sold the company to Hisatake Shibuya, a Japanese entrepreneur who also owned the Musicians Institute in Hollywood and ESP Guitars (To this day, Schecter Guitar Research and ESP Guitars have remained separate entities).
Shibuya moved the company back to California and returned Schecter to its custom shop roots, devoting all its efforts to manufacturing high-end, expensive custom instruments. Schecter guitars were once again only available from a few retailers, one of them being Sunset Custom Guitars located in Hollywood, which Hisatake Shibuya also owned. Sunset Custom Guitars happened to be the place where Michael Ciravolo, the future president of Schecter Guitar Research, worked. Michael Ciravolo, an experienced musician, brought to the company many well-known musicians as endorsees. These included Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots, and Jay Noel Yuenger and Sean Yseult of White Zombie. Michael Ciravolo never really liked Fender designs, so he sought to distance the company from its past Fender-style models.
Toward that end, he added the Avenger, Hellcat, and Tempest models to the Schecter catalog. He also wanted to reach out to a new generation of musicians who were ignored by most major guitar manufacturers. Yet, at this point, the company was only producing expensive, custom shop models. (Schecter's maximum output was forty guitars a month.)
At the 1998 summer NAMM show, Schecter introduced the Diamond Series, which included six affordably priced non-custom guitars. In 1999, Schecter added the seven string A-7 Avenger guitar to the Diamond Series. It also introduced the C-1, which was debuted by Jerry Horton in Papa Roach's "Last Resort" music video. Today, the company mass-produces affordable, non-custom guitars under the Diamond Series and continues to build expensive, handmade, custom models.
The Diamond Series was first introduced in 1998, and consists of all the non-custom, mass-produced Schecter models.
The Diamond Series is further divided into groups of guitars which share common design characteristics. Schecter has stated that it will not customize any Diamond Series guitar, thus any Diamond Series guitar is sold "as is". Although there are a large variety of models available in the Diamond range, many are 'mixed and matched' parts from different Schecter guitars. For example, all Omen, C, Hellraiser and Damien basses have the same body shape, although some have set necks rather than bolt on necks, different finish colors, and different woods. However, Schecter produces many different guitars from a smaller number of core parts.
This mix and match culture has the benefit of allowing guitarists to find a Schecter to fit their exact requirements, but negatively gives less of a 'core product' range as shown by Gibson Guitars who only have a small range of guitars available. Some of the best known guitars made by Schecter are the 'C Series' in various configurations such as the "Hellraiser" and "Blackjack" models. Schecter is also a leader in the seven-string guitar market. Schecters Diamond series guitars have enjoyed a growing positive reputation through the use of quality components such as TonePros locking bridge products on non-tremolo models and Original Floyd Rose double locking tremolos on many of the six and seven string models.
Many models also feature USA EMG or Seymour Duncan pick-ups and Grover tuners.