Schecter only produce metal guitars right? Wrong! In this Schecter PT Special review we’ll introduce you to a Telecaster alternative. With a wide and dynamic tonal range how does this compare to a Mexican made Fender Player Telecaster? Read on to find out.
Overview of Schecter PT Special
The PT Special’s body is made from Swamp Ash, which provides for good resonance and also accentuates twangy tones that are important to Telecaster style guitars. The grain of Swamp Ash is also quite broad, which when combined with the satin finish shows the grain beautifully.
Swamp Ash is also reasonably light, so the guitar is more manageable. The PT Special has some 3-ply creme binding to the body, which enhances the vintage styling.
The neck, which is bolted on to the body, is made from maple with a satin finish. That’s a big plus for being able to move around the fingerboard easily. A maple fingerboard sits atop the neck. The nut is made from GraphTech XL Ivory Tusq, a man made ivory alternative. It’s labelled as self-lubricating. I can’t really complain about the choice of materials for a guitar in this price range.
The bridge is vintage ashtray with staggered brass saddles. These have screws either side making fine intonation adjustment really easy. The saddles look really vintage but also do a great job of holding everything in place.
The PT Special is made in South Korea, but the quality checking is quite impressive. For example the fret work is smooth and uniform all the way up the fingerboard. The joint work is also great, with no gaps or weaknesses.
I really like the setup on this guitar. It’s full scale at 25.5″. The body has contour cuts for the forearm of your strumming hand and at the heel of the neck joint to make it easier to play. The belly cut is also slightly accentuated, which enhances the comfort even more. You don’t get the comfort contour cuts on Fender’s until you get to the top end, such as the American Ultra Series Telecaster. That’ll cost you the thick end of $1800 too!
There neck has a “C” shaped profile. It’s the most common neck type on modern guitars, being reasonably slim by design. Restringing is achieved by passing the strings through the body of the guitar, but the holes on the back of the PT Special are receded so that nothing catches when you’re playing.
There are 22 jumbo frets on the PT Special, making fretting and string bending much easier. The key frets are marked out by simple black dot inlays, commonly found on most guitars with maple fingerboards. The fingerboard radius is 12″, making it nice a flat at the higher frets for lead work.
The truss rod can be adjusted if you want to make alterations to the action of the PT Special, a pretty standard feature. Tuning is handled by a set of Grover Vintage machines, which keep the PT Special in tune really well. Overall tuning stability is very good on this guitar. They look pretty cool too!
The PT Special comes pre-loaded with a set of Ernie Ball Slinky .010 strings. Not bad at all for stock strings, but you might want to swap them out for your favored brand and gauge.
The PT Special has two pickups. The bridge pickup is a Schecter Diamond VT-1 Telecaster style single coil pickup, whilst the neck pickup is a Schecter Diamond V-90 pickup. The V-90 is basically a P90, but made by Schecter.
There’s a three way pickup selector switch that departs from the traditional Telecaster design, looking more like a switch from a Gibson. In any case you can select either the bridge, the neck or a combination of both at the middle position.
The PT Special has tone and volume control knobs but as an added tonal option the tone control has push and pull functionality. When the tone knob is in the standard “push” position the pickups work in parallel, meaning they work in accordance with the pickup selector switch.
Pull the tone control knob and the pickups work in series. When in series the pickup selector becomes redundant. Playing with the pickups in series uses both pickups at the same time, offering a very different tone.
Now that we’ve covered the pickup configuration we can move onto talk a little more about tone. When in parallel mode (with the switch pushed in) the bridge pickup produces the twang you’d expect from a Telecaster. I’d say it provides twang and then some. It’s quite capable of producing dirty tones even without any distortion.
Add some distortion and the bridge pickup is more than capable of handling modern rock styles. It’s possibly a little more dirty than a traditional Telecaster bridge pickup, but that’s Schecter for you! The middle position is possibly my favorite position for clean tones. It still has a little twang, but the sound is fuller thanks to more bottom end provided by the P90.
The middle position is great for clean playing and would suit funk guitarists well. Add some distortion and you get a classic rock, warm sound that still has some bite to it. The neck is where we find the P90 pickup. It’s extremely warm, perhaps a bit too warm for me. It’s not quite muddy, but it’s getting there. It’s great for blues styles.
When you switch to series configuration (pull the tone control knob out) you get a much thicker tone. It’s good for rockier styles because you still get the bite of the bridge but also the fullness for the P90. The only problem I found with series is you get some hum from the pickups when playing a higher volumes.
Another thing to mention is the sustain. The PT Special has outstanding natural sustain. I’m not sure if this is produced by the construction, swamp ash, the pickups or a combination of the three, but it’s definitely noticeable.
PT Special vs Fender Player Telecaster
So how does the PT Special compare to the Mexican made Fender Player Telecaster? Well for a start the PT Special is $100 cheaper than the Fender. I think the PT Special has a much nicer finish than the Fender, with the satin really bringing out the grain of the wood.
The Fender has coil splitting capabilities, but it doesn’t have the ability to run in series like the PT Special. The PT Special also benefits from a P90 pickup, whereas the Fender uses a standard Alnico single coil at the neck position. Some people might think a P90 at the neck makes the tone too muddy, but that’s personal preference.
Perhaps the most striking difference is in the body design. The PT Special has sympathetic body contours on the lower horn, neck joint and body that make it much easier to play. If you want that on a Fender you need to go for the American Ultra Series, which starts at $1,800. Even then you still don’t get the contour for your strumming arm on the front of the guitar.
An argument against the PT Special might be where it’s made. Clearly a factor affecting the price is that it’s produced in South Korea. But honestly, the quality assurance is really good on the PT Special. I don’t think it’s country of manufacture can be used as an argument against the PT Special.
All-in-all, the PT Special is much better value and a more comfortable playing experience.
Schecter is often synonymous with metal and heavier styles. However they’ve briefly changed direction with the PT Special. It looks like a Telecaster, and sounds like a Telecaster. At least at the bridge pickup. The variety of tones available with the inclusion of the P90 at the neck and the ability to select the pickups is series is something completely different.
Although to some ears the P90 can sound a bit muddy, it’s still good for bluesy styles. One slight criticism is that when the pickups are in series there’s a hum at higher volumes. That’s fairly common unless you have noiseless pickups, which usually only come on top end guitars.
I really like the body design of the PT Special. It’s a Telecaster, but they’ve added features to improve comfort and playability that are only found in Fenders that cost three times the price of the PT Special. The belly cut, forearm contour and contours at the neck joint and lower horn all make playing a much nicer experience. The open grain nature of the finish is really striking too.
If you want to make a comparison between the PT Special and the Fender Player Telecaster yourself, you can read more about the Player Telecaster here. Want to find out more about the PT Special? Click the link below.
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