I clearly have a “type” — curvy, colorful, and a little retro. Time and again I find myself drawn to guitars that are made for niche audiences, and while I appreciate a high-end guitar made in America or Japan like any true cork-sniffer, I often find the Korean and Mexican instruments are super fun at a fraction of the price. I also don’t feel too bad if I decide to customize them. Going for the guitars that others think are “weird” has made me a very happy player.
I was in the middle of packing for our big move — escaping rental and becoming homeowners — when that rascally Greg Philpott sent me a listing for a Schecter Diamond Series Hellcat on Craigslist. It didn’t matter that he was actively working on the refinish of my R-800 and had not been paid for that yet — like a six-string sommelier, he recognized this would match my tastes and knew the price was more than fair.
Truth is, I had seen a video of a customized Strat and had already been thinking,”If two mini-humbuckers makes me happy, what about three?” for some time. The Hellcat is very Fendery, with a 25.5″ scale, bolt neck, and Wilkinson VS-50 trem. Grover locking tuners and a nice metallic finish (they only made them in Ice Blue in ’02 and ’03) sweeten that deal, and I have no beef with midrange-friendly basswood. (Eddie Van Halen likes it and Ed Roman doesn’t, so that’s two ringing endorsements in my book). So I realized: Why dream about building a Strat-style triple-mini guitar if I can get one fully assembled for under $200? Again, if I want to upgrade the Duncan Designed pickups, I won’t be spoiling something sacred; Diamond Series instruments are made in Korea, in the Samick factory. There’s little wrong about this opportunity.
Well, there’s one thing. Man, I just bought a house. This deal, like others before it, arrived at exactly the wrong time, and even with a low asking price, I did think “could that money be used for something more necessary than yet another guitar?” Still, Kat — being The Coolest Wife Ever, and certainly doing more than her share to eradicate the Nagging Guitar-Hating Wife Stereotype — said “yeah, we can cover that. Looks like a good deal.”
Due to the crazy moving schedule, I met the seller in a parking lot, cash in hand, on a Saturday morning — and moved the house on Sunday. Fate never calls to see if you have the time or money to do something cool, right?
The previous owner sanded the back of the neck so it’s super-smooth, and I’ve added a few more springs to tame the tremolo (nothing wrong with it, I just like resting my hand on it). Plus I added the requisite Schaller straplocks, and now it fits right in with the rest of the gang.