Purchased from: Welch Music Twin Falls
Features — 9
This was a new, off-the-shelf purchase in 2008. A maple neck with 24 jumbo frets is fastened with 6 bolts to the basswood body. Active EMG HZ pickups provide the sound, and a Schecter custom bridge and standard tuners keep the strings anchored. The hardware is gloss black, a highlight in the matte finish, and the rosewood fretboard is adorned with little mother-of-pearl bats. Which is freakin sweet. 4 knobs to dial in the sound: volume, pickup, and 2 EQ. Pretty well loaded with features and the inlays are a nice touch.
Sound — 8
I play a lot of rock and a fair bit of metal from varying genres. The Damien sounded as dark and sinister as its paint job. I was playing through a Kustom 310C at the time, no effects, and it produced a mean, almost growling tone. This was great for some of our original stuff and the rock and grunge covers we did, but uh... our guitarist liked to play this cover of "Sweet Caroline" and this guitar's tone just DID NOT FIT. Neither did I, but hey, when you get handed a Benny at the end of the night, you can gut out one stupid cover to get the baby boomers dancing.
The B-string was especially evil-sounding, and managed to produce a frequency through the Kustom that rattled the light fixtures throughout my house. The guitar sounds awesome, sure... but it does not have a wide range. I do like to jam along with Iron Maiden often, and this bass struggled to fit into that mix, as well. It deserves to be lauded for what it does well, but it really only does that one thing. I guess you could call it a "specialist."
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
I don't know who was responsible for setup at the store where I bought it by this time. They did a bad job. I had to noodle with the bridge a bit for action and intonation (action was all over the place). Pups were fine, and the rest of the hardware was good. Maybe I'm irrational for thinking a guitar on display, one intended to be demoed, should be set up well. The B-string saddle was also too narrow for the Bass Boomers I was using at the time. I filed it out a bit, and did not seem to suffer for it. But they were medium-lights. It's not like I was getting real creative or anything.
The paint and the hardware were showroom perfect on delivery, so nothing to complain about there, and everything worked well. It did tend to run though batteries kind of fast, however. Not as fast as the Yamaha RBX374 it replaced, but faster than the Peavey Fury IV (that's not mine but lives with me) I used as my backup.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I gigged with this guitar for 2 years, and it was my primary on-stage guitar. The matte finish was easily cleaned with a damp cloth, but man, did it show every fingerprint and every bit of dust or dandruff or sweat/snot/spit droplet that might land on it. And it was heavy. My Stiletto Elite is heavier, but after gigging with the Peavey and the Yamaha I had, this thing felt like an anchor. I never had any issues with this guitar. Strap buttons were adequate (as in, it never met the floor), and as long as I remembered to put a fresh battery in it, it'd get me through every gig, every time.
Overall Impression — 8
This was a fun, cool-looking guitar... but I feel like it was a one-trick pony. That one trick though... man, was it a good trick. People would actually ask me about it during shows because of the bat inlays and the flat finish, which was not as common at the time. Nice conversation piece. I enjoyed owning it... but I wouldn't get another. It was not a well-informed purchase, and I think if I hadn't been sucked in by the aesthetics, I probably would've waiting a bit and shopped around some.
It's a good guitar that's good at the one thing it does well: look and sound mean. But I like a little more flexibility.