Price paid: £ 749
Purchased from: www.GAK.co.uk
Sound — 10
In one word - amazing. I bought this guitar on a whim, after starting a band starting out with a couple of Megadeth covers off the Rust in Peace album. For that music, this is (of course) the ultimate guitar. Played clean, the active pups provide a little overdrive to the amp, and when distorted the sound is very rich, with no hum. The pickups really hear each individual string, even when heavily distorted you get a clear sound of every note. This will guitar will never be suitable for the lighter end of rock or pop music, but for its intended market its a beast. I play through a Marshall AVT150 amp, with Boss MT-2, CE-2 and ME-70 effects providing the bulk of my sound.
Overall Impression — 10
Perfect for any metal player. Would work for the heavier end of punk/hardcore etc too. After 16 years of playing, this is the best guitar I've had, including a 1980 Gibson SG. This one is as light as an SG, but with the benefit of good balancing - it sits comfortably on the strap. It took some getting used to the shape, which forces your hands to the left of where they'd be on most other guitars, but I have found this a far more comfortable, natural playing position for myself. It gives you a lot more control over your right hand for picking. For those who don't want the bold statement of the album ART on this particular model, there are other graphic options, as well as plain black or silver versions.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar was MADE for live playing - why would you not want everyone to see it!? Everything is solid. The Dunlop Straplok system is fantastic, although it was quite tricky fitting the component to the strap itself. Once its on, the strap simply fits into the recess in the guitar's body and won't come out for love nor money. The only concern about live playing is the active circuitry, but there's a simple solution - carry spare batteries! This is my first active guitar, but I've read the batteries last months anyway. The finish is fairly tough, though not as tough as my other guitars. The horns are especially prone to chips, given the thin shape of them, but thats just something to live with on such a shape of instrument.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The guitar was set up at the UK distribution centre, not the factory, and came with a little tag saying so. The setup was fantastic, the action lower than I've ever successfully made any of mine. When I emailed the distributor to thank them, they advised me they used Mustaine signature 10-52 strings by GHS. The top 3 strings are Standard 10, 13 and 17, but the bottom 3 are a heavier 30, 44 and 52, which makes for an increased tonal response, as well as the strings feeling more solid under fast picking. There are a couple of flaws in the finish. On a couple of corners, the Rust in Peace graphic doesn't quite match up, showing a tiny amount of bare wood under the clear lacquer. The nut is also badly fitted, although it is even and well glued in place, its not going anywhere! The neck joint also shows beneath the black lacquer. Other than those minor gripes, the guitar is otherwise well finished and well put together.
Features — 10
2009 Korean built Dean Mustaine VMNT Rust in Peace model. 24 jumbo frets. Mustaine-spec D-profiled neck. Mahogany throughout. Ebony fingerboard. Mustaine-spec inlays (sharkfin plus dot). V-shaped body. Tune-O-Matic bridge and solid stop. Mustaine signature Seymour Duncan active pickups - 2x humbucker. Two volume, one tone control. Grover tuners. Dunlop flush-mount straplocks. Came with a custom Dean hard case and a truss-rod sized allen key.