Sound — 8
It sounds great. I haven't played guitar in 30+ years, and blues music is the direction I'm headed in. I feel there's is a real noticeable deference between the bridge pickup, both, and neck pickup. I play it through a Crate GTD-15, 15 watt amp with an 8 inch speaker. The bridge pickup is suited for lead, the middle selection (both pickups) has a great tone for both chords and lead, and the neck pickup for chords. It has unique angular neck joint, which gives great sustain and action.
Overall Impression — 8
If your looking for an entry level guitar you should consider the EVO as many guitar reviews I've read have many of the same issues.
Reliability & Durability — 8
It looks to be very reliable and durable guitar for the money. I'm the only one playing and we don't have any children to knock it around. With the improvements it should play well and last a long time.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
As I said the action is great due to the angular neck joint, the guitar looks great. The black hardware against the mahogany finish (which is beautiful) really stands out. Here's some problems you may encounter. The output jack nut was loose, the G string in particular seemed to always be out of tune and the tuners seemed to rotate at the slightest touch. The pickups were way to high and the neck pickup was adjusted at quite an angle. Could not adjust intonation as I ran out of adjustment on the bridge, and some of the string guides were loose on the adjustment screws. Don't get discouraged yet the remedies I found add little to the price of the guitar, and is worth the time and money. I used a small pair of needle nose pliers to hold the output jack while gently tighten the nut (holding the output jack insures that you don't twist or break wires). With this information I adjusted the pickup height. For $22.99 I bought a set of new 45 degree Wilkinson 3+3 Guitar Tuning Keys EZ Lok system on Ebay that fit perfectly other than you need to use your screws. Also from Ebay I bought a new BLACK Tune-O-Matic roller bridge for Gibson LP (L5) for $12.99 and all I had to do is loosen my strings, pull out my bridge and slip the roller bridge on my studs and tighten back the strings and tune. How easy is that. Advantage of roller bridges is almost no string breakage and strings that set in a roller, helping strings stay in tune (so I've read). So for about $35.00 plus shipping these improvements make my EVO play great! I've read reviews where there were no complaints at all with the setup. It's nice to be able to say I upgraded my guitar myself.
Features — 8
I bought my EVO XM in December of 2007. This is my second Dean, an acoustic-electric, tradition exotic in birds eye maple that is amazing so I thought I would try the EVO. It has a neck that is bolt-on construction, basswood body with mahogany finish, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, dual humbuckers, sealed tuners, Tone-O-Matic bridge, volume, tone and a 3-way switch.