Thank you to Adam from Schecter.com for making this review possible, I have been obsessed with trying out this guitar for months!
Overview & Final Score: 9.4
There is quite a bit to break down when it comes to the Schecter Ultra-III thanks to its three pickup design. Three Duncan Designed FG-101 pickups grace the front, giving it a truly unique triple mini Filter’Tron look. You also get a simple tone and volume control knob but that’s where simplicity ends. So below the neck pickup you’ll notice three slider controls. These each move to three positions, allowing you to turn the pickup on-pickup off-coil split engaged. That allows for a crazy amount of tonal variations, in fact if my math is right it’s 3x3x3 options meaning 27 in total?? (someone check that please).
The offset body kind of reminds me of a larger Telecaster, and is made of Mahogany with a 3 piece Mahogany neck set into the body. A Rosewood fretboard holds 22 jumbo frets with block inlays. Grover tuners, ivory 1-play binding, a Bigsby paired to a roller bridge, and a stunning vintage blue finish round out the premium features on the Ultra-III.
There aren’t enough words for me to describe the different tonal combinations you can get from all those switches. The Ultra-III is truly one of the most tonally impressive and diverse guitars I’ve ever played. It will take you awhile to get the switching and combinations down to where you can quickly flick them around on stage with no second guessing. BUT, everyone of them sounds so good.
These Duncan Designed pickups are bright, chimey, and get a really nasty snarl when fuzz is layered on top. The coil split is a really nice touch and is well done, adding more of a percussive, snappy response to each position that feels ideal for rhythm playing that I would normally reach for a Strat to get.
The most impressive tone was just the three pickups straight on, all at once. The guitar howled, barked, and responded to each pick stroke beautifully when plugged into my Vox AC15 Top Boost. The body feels so heavy and you can hear that weight in the tone thanks to the natural sustain and huge, bass heavy output. One of the best ways to judge an electric guitar’s tone is to play unplugged. If the unplugged sound is still loud, rich, and sustaining, it definitely will sound good plugged in. The Schecter Ultra-III did not disappoint and this may be one of my favorite guitars to ever review, better than the Chapman, better than the Jetstar, I love this thing.
The Ultra-III is ultra comfortable, thanks to the beefy neck (that they call thin) and jumbo frets. They claim the neck is a thin C on their website, but it feels bulky in the best possible way to me. In a lot of ways, it’s almost like a round Tele neck meets a vintage Gibson baseball bat. The full size 25.5″ scale length makes it more Fender-friendly though than the looks may indicate. I love the feel of jumbo frets as well so that’s always a huge plus.
The tuning stability has been awesome so far, that roller bridge really makes a difference with the Bigsby. I can go far further with this Bigsby than I can with the one on my Les Paul and still keep excellent tuning. The back of the neck feels silky smooth and glossy, which always wins me over. It really feels like this guitar was made to my specs so I’m probably extremely biased, sorry!
Finish & Construction: 10
I could write a thousand words about the design, construction, and look of this guitar. Or, you could just stare at this gorgeous guitar. The finish is spotless on the Ultra-III I was sent and every piece of hardware is properly and securely fit to the body. Even the top carve around the face of the guitar is beautiful and well done. This Ultra-III feels and looks like some custom shop monster that would cost well over $1000. I can see why they originally retailed for closer to that, but the recent price drop should have you running to get one. Nothing else to complain about here, the Ultra-III is perfectly built in my opinion.
Had this guitar stayed at its original $1000 price tag I may have to knock this down to the 7-8 range. Now coming in closer to $700, I think the Ultra-III is hard to pass up. While the looks and tones may seem outlandish to some, this guitar is loaded with premium, brand-name features from the Grover tuners to the Bigsby trem arm. The sheer volume of tonal possibilities, killer looks, and smooth neck make this guitar so much fun to play. I’m really a huge fan of the Ultra-III, plain and simple. All that gushing aside, you may notice that it still doesn’t get the highest rated score out of all the guitars I’ve reviewed. Truth be told, I think the better value of the cheaper Jetstar and the more market-friendly dual toaster top pickups give it a slight edge in overall scoring. However, I’m placing this Ultra-III right next to it on my guitar rack so we can check back in a few months about which one I end up picking up more.
Good For: Garage Rock, Classic Rock, Rockabilly, Country, Players Who Want To Stick Out, Filter’Tron Fans
Demo clips for the Ultra-III, Painted Lady, and PG-14 will all probably have to wait until early next week as I’m swamped with articles, mod projects, and a Bigsby installation video right now! But you can expect the Ultimate-Guitar.com review up any day now! I suppose it’s a good problem that I’m so busy with these reviews…