Price paid: $ 315
Sound — 8
The Dean Custom 450 comes equipped with an EMG H4 and an EMG H4A (both are passive pickups). If you use distortion these pickups pack quite a punch, and you can easily get a Metallica-sound, a more classic-rock kind of sound or a really evil black metal roar. Keep in mind that even though they are high-output the output won't be the same as the output of active EMGs. If you set your amp to clean you'll find out that these pickups aren't really made to have great cleans, they sound quite muddy on clean. I play this guitar through a Zoom Fire 30 amp but I've also heard it through a couple of other amps including a few higher end amps. In short: distortion sounds very good, clean is a compromise.
Overall Impression — 8
I play all sorts of rock music (from classic rock to metal to punk etc) and occasionally some other styles such as blues or pop. This guitar suits my playing style quite well, only I wish the cleans were a bit better. I also didn't like the licensed Floyd but as I have mentioned before I had it fixed. The Dean Custom 450 isn't really my dream guitar but it's still more than sufficient, especially for the priced I've paid for it. If it were lost or stolen I would seriously consider buying it again if I could get it at the same price I paid for it (250 euro). The Dean Custom 450 might not be a perfect guitar but it's still a very good guitar that plays very nice and only has two drawbacks: The crappy licensed Floyd and the muddy cleans. Fix the bridge and fiddle around with your amp till the cleans sound acceptable (don't expect too much) and you've got yourself a sweet, sweet guitar!
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've yet to encounter anything that makes me doubt the durability of this guitar. You might get a few scratches in the finish if you're not careful but the hardware seems very durable. The only thing I can't really judge are the strap buttons since the guitar didn't have the original strap buttons on it. The guy I bought it from replaced the original straps buttons with strap locks.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The first time I played this guitar I noticed that the action was really low. Since I got the bridge fixed the action is a little bit higher (because the bridge is fixed the individual saddle height can't be adjusted) but it's still quite low for a medium-end guitar. (I use 0.010 strings and regular tuning). The guitar was set up by a guitar tech so I don't think it's possible to lower the action even more.
Features — 8
I purchased this guitar from a friend, and he purchased it online from an Ebay-ish website, so I'm at least the third person to use this guitar. Luckily the guitar was still in very good shape when I bought it. This Dean Custom 450 (arched figured maple top) was made in Korea (not sure about the year). It's made out of mahogany wood and has a 24 fret bound rosewood neck with abalone dot inlays. The frets are quite big, even bigger than Jumbo frets, so not everyone will like the way the neck plays. Before I played electric guitar I played a lot of classical guitar and I've grown to like bigger frets. I like them a lot more than those very small hard to play frets Stratocasters have! Using your thumb on the low E strings can be quite difficult because of this if you have small hands, even though the neck is quite thin. My guitar has a beautiful 'tiger eye' paintjob which in reality is a bit darker than it looks on the pictures that Google comes up with. The Custom 450 features a licensed Floyd Rose bridge that isn't really all that good and goes out of tune quite easily if you use the whammy bar. Since I don't really need the whammy bar myself I got the bridge fixed. The headstock of this guitar doesn't have the classic Dean-shape (with the two 'horns') but looks a lot more like a Jackson headstock. The Grover tuners (non-locking, they don't need to be since this guitar has nut clamps because of the Floyd) are good and built to last forever. The pickups are: EMG h4a in the bridge and EMG h4 in the neck. I'll go into detail about them in the Sound section of this review.