The Blackjack SLS range includes a variety of models with similar specs but across different body shapes, hardware features and string counts; the single cutaway Solo-6, the eight-string superstrat-style C-8, the Tele-like PT, the Floyd Rose-loaded V-1 FR V… they’re all unmistakably Schecter but they each offer something slightly different to each other. What unites them is that ‘SLS’ – it stands for Slim Line Series. These guitars feature a thinner arched top body measuring 45mm deep for a lighter feel. And many players swear by the tonal qualities of lighter guitars.
The Blackjack SLS C-1 is one of the more straight foward models in the line-up: six strings, through-body stringing. The body is made of mahogany (models with transparent finishes have a flamed maple top as well), with a three-piece maple neck, ebony fretboard, 24 Jumbo frets, black multi-ply binding and set-neck construction with Ultra Access joint carve. This is a very clever way of sculpting the neck joint area so that it looks and feels like a neck-thru (that is, a guitar where the wood that makes up the neck continues on all the way along the body, often with ‘wings’ of a different type of wood glued either side). All models feature a super-cool Mother of Pearl ‘Hell’s Gate Skull’ inlay centred on the twelfth fret, but it’s to big that it spills out onto the 11th and 13th as well. It catches the light and reflects some rainbow-like hues, which is pretty cool!
Most models in the SLS line are available in two electronics options: an active version with Seymour Duncan Blackouts humbuckers, or a passive variant with Seymour Duncan Full Shred and Jazz humbuckers with a coil split. The exceptions are the eight-string SLS C-8, which is only available with the AHB-1 eight-string Blackouts set, and the C-1 S and C-1 FR-S, which have a Full Shred in the bridge position and a Sustainiac driver in the neck slot. The review model, the SLS C-1, has the Full Shred/Jazz combo, dedicated volume pots for each pickup, and a master tone pot which doubles as a push-pull coil split for both humbuckers. Pickup selection is via a three-way switch, so you end up with a total of six different sounds.
The setup out of the box was far too high and with a considerable bow in the neck, so after taking to the guitar with a screwdriver and Allen wrench and letting it sit overnight it was ready to shred. The satin feel on the back of the neck takes a little getting used to if you’re accustomed to glossy finishes, but if you’re into the oiled wood thing you’ll feel at home. The neck shape is definitely geared towards power chords and fast soloing rather than huge bends, and the string spacing seems particularly well-suited to techniques like sweep picking and string skipping.
The choice of a Full Shred in the bridge position is a slightly surprising one, considering the huge popularity of the JB as the Duncan of choice for many guitar companies. The JB is a great all-round pickup for rock and metal styles. But the Full Shred is perfectly suited to the audience this guitar is aimed at: it has a fat and chunky low end but its double rows of Allen screw pole pieces give it a finely-tuned high end. It’s a very articulate pickup, so it’ll certainly keep up with you if your lead playing includes lots of intricate phrasing and dynamic shifts. It’s great for 80s-style rock crunch, and it totally kills for modern metal rhythm chunk. And because there’s so much musically-voiced high end, you don’t lose cut and clarity when you turn down your amp’s treble. This brings out some very expressive, creamy solo tones (and testing this guitar was part of the reason I went for a Full Shred in my Buddy Blaze 7-string – read my review of the pickup here).
The Jazz in the neck position is a very ‘noodly’ pickup with an almost vocal quality and emphasised pick attack: kind of the best of both worlds. It really sings when you sustain or bend notes, but it has almost a ‘honk’ overtone when you play fast, and this really helps to maintain the definition and character of all-out shreddage. The coil split is a lot of fun and the sounds are perfectly usable, especially for sparkly cleans or ringing semi-dirty open chords – the Jazz is particularly nice in single coil mode – but if this was my personal guitar I’d probably take to it with a soldering iron and install individual coil splits on each pickup’s volume control to get even more flexibility out of it.
Other than wishing for dual coil splits, there really isn’t anything I’d change about the SLS C-1. It’s well-balanced, it plays very well (especially if your technique is skewed to the metal/shred side of things), and it has a deceptively wide dynamic range for a genre of guitar that you might expect to squish everything down a little. And it’s a much more versatile guitar than you might think on first glance.Buy the Schecter Blackjack SLS C-1 from Guitar Center