Price paid: € 118
Purchased from: http://www.thomann.de
Sound — 6
The pickups actually sound pretty nice. They have a good balanced tone, although the output could have been a bit higher. So I won't say it fits for metal. But it sounds quite okay for everything between pop and medium hard rock. It lacks the warmth that I'd need for jazz, so in that department it's useless. The two pickups don't sound good together, so for me it's either neck or bridge position, which pulls the overall score down quite a notch. Unfortunately the guitar is practically void of sustain because of the light body wood and badly matched neck, so you'll need a good dose of compression to make it sound like anything at all.
Overall Impression — 2
Overall it's a nice looking guitar that can't be played. I bought it basically since it was a reasonably priced Dean guitar. Dean's guitars are usually of pretty high standard compared to the price. But this one hit rock bottom. I have been playing guitar for a bit over 30 years now, and I've never had such a poorly made instrument in my hands before. I do have some high class guitars (Fenders, Gibsons etc) and also some mid/low class guitars. I'd put the Dean Vendetta XM between low class and WTF class. When I'm done with this review I'll take out the pickups and the potmeters as spare parts and throw the rest of the instrument away. I saved the cardboard box for that purpose So if you want a cheap guitar - buy something else than this atrocity of an instrument.
Reliability & Durability — 1
This guitar, unfortunately, can never be played live or in the studio in the condition it is now. There's just no way that it can handle being played without breaking, and it doesn't stay in tune for more than 5 minutes at a time. I can't even use it as a backup. I can only use it for warming up and finger practices at home. I'd probably give it a higher score if it was sold as firewood than as a guitar.
Action, Fit & Finish — 1
Here's where the guitar crashes and burns. The setup was HORRIBLE from the factory. It has a sticker on the back of the headstock that says "Inspected & adjusted in the USA by Dean Guitars." Inspected, in this case, probably means that somebody looked at it and went "Yes, it looks like a guitar." Adjusted? Well, somebody needs to get fired or, at least, put in rehab. The neck screws were lose, the jack input plate was loose (and it can't be tightened. The screw holes in the body are wider than the screws), the intonation was a mess, so I'd have to change the whole saddle in order to play above the 2nd fret, the strap button screws were loose, and the tuners keep the guitar in tune almost like a teenage girl holds a secret - which means Not At All. The frets and the fretboard were badly done as well. The wood is badly sanded and the frets are equally as badly filed. This causes a lot of dead spots on the neck and also a lot of unnecessary fret buzz (and blisters and cuts on my fingers). The g-string also buzzes like a bee when it's played open. It sounds like there's something loose somewhere in the neck. At first I thought the truss rod was broken. I haven't found any reason/solution to this, so I'll have to ask a luthier what might cause an open string to buzz like that. The soldering of the pickups, pots and switch was good enough, though, so I'll give 1 point for that. The rest was just too ridiculous - even for a 118 euro guitar.
Features — 5
The guitar was built in China quite recently (2010-ish?). The body is an extremely lightweight Pawlova, the neck is a bolt-on maple with a rosewood fretboard and it's got 24 jumbo frets. The pickups are two of Dean's own humbuckers, and there's a volume control, a tone control and a 3-way switch. It has a fixed saddle (string-thru body) and quite standard tuners. (All mechanic parts are black. The guitar otherwise is natural dark brown.) It didn't come with any extras or accessoried. It was packed and shipped in a cardboard box, so I can't give more than average on this point. I've had more use of the cardboard box than the guitar, actually. Explanation follows...