Price paid: € 315
Purchased from: Soitin Laine
Features: My Dead On '67 Baritone was made in Korea (2009). It contains 24 jumbo-sized frets, a long scale of 749 mm (29.96"), basswood body, bolt-on maple neck, rosewood fretboard, double action truss rod, passive Lipstick single coil pickups (neck & bridge), a whammy bar, 2 volume- & 2 tone control knobs and a 3-way toggle switch. No included accessories and the tuners are non-locking. The guitar has a low B-tuning by default.
My Baritone is the BLK model (black). The style of the Bridge and tuners is quite interesting - it's like they're straight from the 50's. Nothing to complain though. The Bridge in fact gives the guitar possibly a better sound due to the wooden block placed under the strings. // 8
Sound: While the stock Lipstick single coil pickups give the true "baritone sound" and are excellent on their own, they are NOT suitable for heavy distortion or metal. Note that if you want a metal guitar for a low tuning like B, this is great guitar for that but ONLY when you change at least one pickup. The Lipstick pickups are noisy and get very, very loud if you add distortion (which doesn't work very well with them anyway).
I had the Bridge pickup changed to the DiMarzio Tone Zone humbucker. The neck pickup was left untouched, since I also wanted to keep the traditional Baritone sound that this guitar provides.
Changing a pickup to this guitar requires much more work than would seem. First of all, none of the single coil-sized humbucker are the same size as the Lipsticks (Lipsticks are longer). This means you need to find a way to attach the humbuckers to the guitar somehow and preferably without leaving gaping holes in the body. Basically this means you need to have a whole new plexi created. Second of all, the lipstick electronics need some mods to work together with other humbuckers. But it can be done (and was done, for my guitar!).
Now, getting all these modifications done may not be as hard or as expensive as you might think - I only paid about 160 euros for the new pickup, new plexi, new strings, some electronics changed and everything pre-installed for me in the store. Everything was professionally made and I could also choose the color of the new plexi. I chose white and the guitar actually looks now better than it did when I first got it! When you consider that out of the 160 euros, the new pickup cost about 95 euros and the new strings about 10 euros, I can say I got a real bargain from the technician!
And the end result? When I switched to the Bridge pickup (the newly installed DiMarzio Tone Zone) for the first time and played the first few power chords from the default B-tuning - whoa! The long, almost 30" scale sounds awesome with heavy distortion! I can play all the downtuned stuff from B, drop-A#, drop-A and also tune up to C without any of that strings-too-sloppy-and-sounding-lazy feel of Standard guitars. I have guitars with a 26.5" scale and I can tell you: no matter which strings I put on them, none of them sound as good from C-tuning as this Beast does! Not to even mention going below C (and B is the Standard tuning for this baritone!). If you play regularly from C-tuning, you might want to put in a bit lighter strings though. // 9
Action, Fit & Finish: The guitar was well set-up in its factory configuration but as said, I had the Bridge pickup switched almost as soon as I got it. No complaints about the finish either. During all the modifications the whammy bar was also removed from my request. I can't recommend using it - it quickly drops the guitar out of tune. But that is usually the case with cheaper guitars such as this. // 9
Reliability & Durability: While the wooden block used for the Bridge may raise some questions about its durability (will the strings sink into the wood after some years?) and the whammy bar not only feels cheap but also brings the guitar out of tune, this guitar is very solid and the finish excellent. I have no doubts about its durability for live playing although baritones are more often seen in studios than on stage. I had the strap buttons changed to Schallers strap locks, so I can't really comment on the originals. // 9
Impression: The only thing I wished I had asked before buying this Baritone was about the pickups with distortion. The Lipsticks are not suitable for metal but that doesn't mean the guitar doesn't sound great for other music styles. However, getting my DeadOn '67 modded was definitely worth it. Now I have a great metal guitar for that low, downtuned doom/death stuff and the strings have a tight feel (and sound!) even as low as drop-A.
If my Danelectro was stolen or lost, I'd get it again since there isn't much choice around here. Honestly - how many other guitars with a near-30" scale do you see when you look at the selection of a music store? Thus, I couldn't really compare it with any other guitars - this model is almost in a league of its own. // 8