Price paid: $ 599.99
Purchased from: Amazon.com
Sound — 7
The main styles of music that I play are metal, hard rock, and pop punk. This guitar doesn't handle soft distortion very well. I play pop punk generally with massive amounts of gain because it sounds good to my ears. Maybe a bit of manning that genre up? I'll go with that. The guitar handles metal and hard rock very well. The Bridge MKH86 pickup is mid to high output and sound very good with a lot of distortion. It cuts through with a lot of treble for chords and single notes and thunders on the bottom end for palm muted runs. The sound could be described as articulate and classy, but with an injection of manliness. Pinch harmonics and higher frets really scream at you and it sounds great. The Bridge pickup, overall, is very good for what I intend to use it for, but would leave much to be desired if you are trying to go for a blues type distortion or a lighter sound. The neck pickup (Dean USA Nostalgia) is mediocre. On heavy distortion, I generally use it for rock solos, fast palm muted runs, tapping, and sweep picking. There is very little treble or high end clarity, so it can get very muddy with a lot of palm muting or fast lower end runs. Higher frets tend to sound muffled, and can get lost if you are not very clean with your playing. Overall, the Bridge pickup is very mediocre. The clean sound of this guitar leaves much to be desired. The Bridge pickup has far too much treble for a good clean sound, and the Bridge pickup has far too much low end. Putting the pickup selector in the middle, with both pickups activated, is the best best for a good clean sound, but even that has a lot to be desired. However, this is somewhat to be expected with a heavy metal guitar. If you want a great clean sound, don't get this guitar. I run this guitar through a Line 6 Spider III 75 watt modeling amplifier. The guitar is very quiet on high gain settings.
Overall Impression — 7
My overall impression of this guitar is that it's a great middle of the road guitar. It's not great, but it's not bad. I love it to death, as it was my first quality guitar, but I have played enough guitar to be able to see it's flaws. It plays my genre of music very well, and I will always be back to pick it up and jam out on it. I have been playing for just over 2 years. This guitar is now out of production, (I got it when it was just out of production for $599.99, I believe it's back up to $1099.99 now) and thus, I would not pay $1100 for it. There are definitely better quality guitars than this in that price range. I am a huge Trivium fan, and that is why I bought this guitar. The Floyd Rose Bridge is low near the palm so I've gotten used to playing on it, so trying to play a normal style high Bridge now is very difficult for me. Overall, this would be a great step up guitar for a beginner, but now, I'd recommend something else, because of the price point.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I have never played this guitar live, but it does seem to put up with all of the beating I've given it over the past few years, so I believe it would stand up to it very well. It is quiet and articulate, so it would make a great stage companion. The hardware (save for the Floyd Rose) seems to be great, and it would most likely stand up to anything. Unfortunately, the Floyd Rose system has given me nothing but trouble since I got it. The locking tuners don't do their job very well and the guitar falls out of tune frequently. After a year of messing with it, I finally blocked off the bridge, so as to make it a Standard bridge. This has fixed the tuning stability problem, except for the G string. It seems to never want to stay in tune. The tuning stability seems to be the biggest weakness to this guitar. I would definitely bring a backup guitar if I were to play live, because of the tuning instability.
Action, Fit & Finish — 6
The setup from the factory on this guitar was great except for the intonation and the Floyd Rose system. The intonation was slightly out, and the three springs were all attached to the middle peg, so tension was distributed very unevenly. I took it to a guitar shop to have it set up correctly, and after plunking down $40, it was ready to go. The pickups were adjusted well, though I did raise them slightly to get a little more punch out of them. The action is low with a bit of fret buzz, but I usually sacrifice some fret buzz for a lower action. The rest of the hardware seemed to be set up correctly, and the Grover tuners are fantastic. The finish is great, except for a crack on the underside of the neck heel. The finish has stood up to plenty of dinging, and it seems like a very solid finish. It doesn't affect performance, so I haven't given too much thought to it. The input jack has continually come loose, so I've had to tighten that on occasion.
Features — 8
First; Some specs. This guitar is a 2008 Korean made instrument. It has 24 extra jumbo frets. The fretboard has a slights radius to it, and the scale is 24 3/4". The neck is mahogany with a rosewood fretboard. The neck heel features a Custom cutaway. There are dots on the side denoting frets, and a Trivium logo across the 11th, 12th, and 13th fret. The body features a solid maple top with a mahogany body, in the shape of a classic Dean ML. The guitar came equipped with locking black Grover tuners, an original Floyd Rose bridge, two cream colored humbucking pickups, (an MKH86 Signature in the Bridge position and USA Dean Nostalgia in the neck position.) a three way pickup selector, and a volume knob. The guitar came with a Dean hard shell case.