Schecter Guitar Research: From Repairs to Renown

It’s that time again folks. Time for us to delve into the annals of history and look at how one of our manufacturers became the company they are today! This week we will be looking at Schecter, a brand predominantly known for their “metal” focussed guitars, although this is by no means the whole story.

Definitely Not Partscasters

Schecter, or Schecter Guitar Research to use their full name, were originally established in 1976 by David Schecter. The company was set up as a guitar repair shop, which also made replacement components for the big American electric guitar manufacturers of the time (I believe you know to whom I refer; rhymes with Fibson and Gender). These varied from small parts such as pots and knobs all the way through to bodies and necks. 

In 1979, it clearly occurred to someone working for Schecter that if they were to take some of the components they made and fashion them into an instrument of some sort, there might be a lucrative market for that. They did just that and produced some high end, Custom shop quality guitars which bore a striking resemblance to those being produced by Fender at the time. 

Image of strat-like Schecter from 1979

Texan Buyout

By 1983, Schecter had reached a point where they could no longer produce enough custom shop guitars to meet the demand they were now facing. David Schecter decided at this point to sell the company on, and the company subsequently moved to Dallas, Texas. It was at this point that Schecter started using parts made by a 3rd party to produce instruments, as well as continuing to manufacture their own parts. These guitars, although less respected than the original Schecter guitars, were still considered to be of a good quality when compared to the competitors.

In 1984 Schecter launched 12 new models, a mix of guitars and basses. Once again these instruments were incredibly familiar to anyone who was a fan of Fender. The Saturn in particular resembled a Telecaster Pete Townsend of The Who was known for using. From this point onwards, the series of events are a little hazy. It’s difficult to say whether or not the following are cause and effect, but what we know is that Fender sued Schecter over these similarities in 1985, and by 1987 Schecter had declared bankruptcy and closed their doors.

Image of 1984 Schecter Saturn

Hisatake Shibuya

After Schecter Guitar Research closed its doors, the name was bought by Hisatake Shibuya, who already owned ESP. Shibuya moved the company back to California from Texas, and tried to refocus the company back to their former high-end “custom shop” glory. The company also endorsed Yngwie Malmsteen and produced several custom guitars for the guitarist. They continued in this format, and in 1995 Schecter launched their “S-Series” guitar which were – you guessed it – Fender-Style instruments, and were extremely popular at the time.

Image of 1986 Schecter Yngwie Malmsteen YM-1

Michael Ciravolo

In 1996 Michael Ciravolo was appointed President of Schecter Guitar Research. Ciravolo did something revolutionary: he made some guitars which were not based on Fenders (cue gasps and fainting). Under his leadership, the Avenger, Hellcat, CT and Tempest models were introduced.

These were all still high-end, USA custom-made guitars, and due to this were only produced in relatively small numbers, but Ciravolo had some ideas about this as well. In 1998 Ciravolo decided to use factories in South Korea to produce more affordable guitars under the Schecter brand, and the Diamond Series was born.

From this point onwards, Schecter have grown exponentially, and the current range now includes over 10 different series’ of electric guitars, almost as many bass guitar lines, an acoustic guitar range, and various artist models. Notable Schecter players include Prince, Pete Townsend, Ritchie Blackmore, Synyster Gates, Lou Reed and Nikki Six, a list that would certainly not look out of place amongst more revered brands.So there you have it: from repair shop to renowned international guitar manufacturer in just over 2 decades. Schecter are still well known for putting their own spin on classic designs, as well as for their own original models, which are held in pretty high regard in their own right. If you are in the market for something really out there, or maybe just something that’s only-just-but-not-quite-all-the-way outside the box, they are definitely worth a look.

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