Price paid: £ 208
Purchased from: www.gak.co.uk
Sound — 9
Although this is my first guitar, I've been playing bass for several years and play everything from jazz, blues, R&B and rock right through to death metal, doom, grindcore etc. Nonetheless, I didn't expect a great degree of versatility from this guitar, Dean are known as a rock and metal company. It sounds surprisingly good for the price in these genres, crafting a fat, high-gain sound when I tune down for some doom metal riffing. It also holds a more clean, 70s rock tone well, with the notes ringing out fairly clearly. Obviously it isn't the best at cleaner styles but to be frank I've heard a lot worse. Basically, it's at least decent in all genres but pretty damn good in the heavier departments.
Overall Impression — 9
Well as mentioned before, I play a bit of everything but I bought this for one of my main musical avenues which is melancholic doom metal (a la My Dying Bride). It handles that kind of heavy, chugging style, alternating with melodic lines, very well and is also great for when you just want to thrash along to some AC/DC. Hell, I've even attempted some Billy Bragg and this guitar and it sounds fine. I've been playing bass (currently using an Ibanez SR model) for 7 years (this is my first punt at guitar though) so I have enough experience with instruments to know that this is a wee bargain. Yes it has faults but unless you can significantly bump up your budget, small faults are the price you have to pay for an otherwise excellent bit of gear.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar is a fairly chunky old girl and I wouldn't worry too uch about damaging her. Apart from the selector switch and tuners (which can be fixed), all other hardware seems pretty tough and durable. The strap buttons, though maybe a little awkwardly placed for some, are on there good and solid so nothing to worry about there. The finish seems pretty resilient too, I've knoced this thing off of doors, TVs, PC desks, amps, you name it and there's not a scratch. I'd certainly feel no trepidation in using this as a gigging axe.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Wehn I got the guitar out the box it was freaking *coated* in moisture but that's not the manufacturer's fault, that's just the risk you take living in bonny Scotland. Still, after wiping it down and inspecting it everything seemed to be okay (note, "okay", not "good"). The action was pretty high but, as mentioned, the bridge allows for easy adjustment and the truss rod didn't need any adjustment. Parts of the string-through bridge weren't quite flush but otherwise solid. However, both the selector switch and tuners were pretty damn loose. In the case of the switch, that's forgivable as long as it still works but without adjustment, those tuners will have this thing knocked out of tune after jamming your average couple of rock songs.
Features — 8
This particular Dean was made in China and comes with a pretty standard list of features. It came in a trans-brazilia burst finish which looks nice but was *not* the much lighter finish advertised on the site. The guitar has a basswood body, maple neck and rosewood finger board and has a tune-o-matic, string through bridge which is nice as it makes for easy action adjustment. The passive Dean humbuckers are good for the price and it has a standard volume, b pickup, n pickup control set-up with a 3-way selector switch. All-in-all, decent features that you'd expect at this price.