Price paid: £ 500
Purchased from: a collector
Sound — 9
I play a lot of metal primarily melodic death metal and black metal and this guitar totally slays for melodeath, thrash, power, folk, gothic or just straight up death, the only thing it doesn't really impress me personally for as far as metal goes is black metal. It looks like a weapon and the ribcage graphic of my thoracic is very much in keeping with the music. This guitar having active pick ups, 24 frets and a Floyd Rose Original bridge points to metal players, the Venom was initially designed to be part of DBZ's now discontinued "nightside series" which was aimed entirely at metal guitarists and with a construction like this it's not a surprise. I'm currently using it with an overdrive (Boss OD-2) for general riffing and with delay and reverb for melodic lead lines. For other forms of metal I tend to use it through a Metalzone (MT-2). These guitars handle these effects fantastically and the ability and range of this guitar should not be underestimated. Before buying this guitar I have never really been a fan of EMG preferring my Seymour Duncan pick ups and I wouldn't say I'm miraculously convinced but I'm really enjoying the pick ups so far, I had an idea to switch them out for some Seymours but I won't bother because they've exceeded what I wanted out of my guitar tone leaps and bounds and if it ain't broken it doesn't need fixing. It's not even remotely noisy, the EMG's have a noise reduction feature that is wonderfully helpful for tonal clarity although this makes them far too clinical for some sounds but for most sounds they are exceptional.
Overall Impression — 10
I play mostly metal and this guitar is a brilliant choice for this. I've been playing for 6 years and own a Dean Razorback, Epiphone Les Paul and an ESP LTD EX-104 bass, not to mention my collection of pedals and recording gear. There's not really a lot I wanted to know before buying this product that I couldn't find out elsewhere with a degree of research. If I lost or stole it I wouldn't buy it again and would buy a DBZ Bird Of Prey instead... This is not because it's a bad guitar, it's possibly the best guitar I've played to date but DBZ were stupid enough to discontinue them and I doubt I'd realistically be able to easily find one again (unless it gets stolen or lost within the next few weeks that is as I can find maybe 5 online right now). The BoP is virtually the same guitar with just the slight difference of an extra prong to turn it into a more curved Razorback-esque model. I love the fact it balances fantastically, sounds fantastic, is remarkably well built and looks incredible. However I'd probably say the fact that the EMG's don't really seem to handle fast paced solos or scales too well (tending to become quieter and more murky sounding) was a minus point. I compared it to the Dean razorback a couple times and frankly it is a better guitar in every respect but it's the closest comparison I could make. I do wish it had an Ebony fretboard then it'd be perfect for me but hey, it's as flawless as a guitar is likely to get for me.
Reliability & Durability — 10
I see no reason this guitar would not withstand playing live but it's a long instrument with prongs and a pronged crown shaped headstock that are magnets for being knocked against stuff. I don't see how it is possible for the hardware to not last considering it is all made of metal and rust proofed but I'll go ahead and say that yes I believe it will almost certainly last as long as the hardware on any other guitar. Although the 9 volt battery in the EMG's may eventually run out but that's about as much as I expect to fade on this guitar. The strap buttons I got it with have a separate dome thing with a metal spring loaded rod that locks straps on securely I don't know if that was standard issue or not but talking purely of my own guitar they're as sound as strap buttons get. I can depend on this guitar 100% although if a string snapped whilst playing, attempting to restring a Floyd Rose on stage because I didn't bring a backup is pretty much my idea of hell so I wouldn't ever bring this guitar without a back up but if I was less paranoid I have no doubts I would trust it, as I have no reason to believe it would fail to handle the task. The finish is good enough to last providing you can avoid smacking it into stuff.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The action on this guitar is ridiculously low which I really love, that was how it has been since when I got it but I couldn't say how it was set up when it came out of the factory. Pick ups were in the perfect position. The bridge was perfectly set up and the top was perfect too. There are really no flaws I have found in this guitar although I've tried but I've come up with no ideas. Everything was perfectly set up from the moment I got it but there is the possibility that it was corrected at a later date.
Features — 9
The DBZ Venom I bought cost me 500 and a trip from Cornwall to Birmingham, it was made in 2010 in the DBZ leased factory in Korea, most of DBZ's guitars come from there and mine has superior build quality and value for money than most other guitars I've played including guitars from Japan and the USA. The guitar has 24 frets which is practically standard issue for most metal lead guitarists, the fretboard has a 25.5" scale with an ebonized rosewood fretboard (not entirely sure what that means beyond "black rosewood") if I'm honest I would have preferred a real ebony fingerboard but this is the next best thing as far as I'm concerned. The inlays on this guitar barely exist, there's a trio of diamonds on the 12th fret and that's about it, the rest of the frets are blank although the fret dots on the top and bottom of the frets are as standard. The body and neck are both mahogany with a set neck construction that features a contoured profile on the joint to allow a better access to the highest frets, although I shouldn't give too much of an illusion on this one, you still have to reposition to access the frets. The neck feels fairly similar to the Dean Razorbacks with a slight V shape to them but it feels more comfortable than the Dean Razorbacks. The shape of this guitar is a very sinister looking V shape with a crown shaped headstock, unlike other V's I've played this guitar balances perfectly, whatever angle you tilt it at you can leave it at. The guitar during the machining process had a lot of wood cut away to reduce the weight hence the bevels have bevels and those bevels also have bevels. The bridge used in this guitar is a Floyd Rose Original which frankly I prefer to the licensed or other tremolo systems with the possible exception of the Ibanez ZR bridges. Due to the Floyd Rose Original bridge it is also double locking at the nut and the tuning remains remarkably stable despite use of the bridge. The tuners used are (as with just about every guitar Dean Zelinsky has produced worth over 400, grover tuners. And I should not have to point out the considerable quality of those). This guitar has active pick ups in the form of EMG 81 in the bridge position and an EMG 85 in the neck position. This guitar has 2 volume knobs and a 3 way selector. Beyond the guitar itself it came in a hard case lined with some silky feeling furry lining. Tools were included in the form of some Allen keys as standard for Floyd Rose guitars.