Zenyatta Custom review by Dean Zelinsky Private Label Guitars

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.2 (18 votes)
Dean Zelinsky Private Label Guitars: Zenyatta Custom

Price paid: $ 799

Purchased from: DZPL

Features — 9
This guitar has a single cutaway mahogany body with a maple cap finished with a flamed maple veneer. Mine is the tri-sunburst and is, in my opinion, absolutely beautiful. The binding is what they call a scraped binding which is basically a thick band of blond maple around the edge. If you look at a picture of one of these and notice how the burst looks almost 3D, well, it is. The top and back are deeply carved tapering from about 1.5" in the center to a 0.5" at the edge. The body is over-sized - about the size of my Sheraton II or a Gibson 335 - but the thin profile makes it hug nice and tight. The set neck is maple with the Z-Glide etching on the back with 22 medium-jumbo frets, and a 12" radius, rosewood finger board. The Z-Glide is really nice, but may take some getting used to. It's not a bad thing at first, just a different feel. To round it out, we have a rosewood veneered head stock with grover locking tuners, a tune-o-matic bridge and stop-tail. The dual HB pickups are Korean made G&B, I believe. You have one volume and one tone, and the volume is a push/pull for splitting to single coil. All in all, I love this thing: looks and feels phenomenal.

Sound — 10
I play a little bit of everything. Haven't gigged in a few years, but when I did I played classic rock to blues to country to fusion to jam band stuff. Hell, give me enough to drink and I invent genres. This guitar covers them all very well. To describe the tone of this guitar I'd have to say it strikes me as a warm, bright mid-range. Not the bright twang of a strat and not overly bassy... Somewhere in between. I used to play a '78 LP Custom and this guitar is actually warmer and slightly more ballzy, I guess. Tone is so subjective but I can say the bridge pickup is bright but not shrill and the neck is warm but not muddy. In single coil mode you get a poppy, brighter, sound with more distinction between the notes. Every HB guitar ought to have the coil splitting feature, imo, it just adds a whole tonal dimension I missed out on for years with my LP. I've run this guitar through the 3 amps I still have around: a 1979 Fender Princeton Reverb, a Dean Markley solid state 2X12 Combo and a Line 6 Amplifi 75 - the latter of which I plan a review of soon... Really impressed. With the Fender and DM I run an Ibanez multi-effects processor and through the Line 6 I just plug in. I really like these pickups. I've replaced pickups in my Epi Sheraton but will not be doing so with my Zenyatta. It's great just how it is.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I did adjust the factory set-up. It was a little high for my taste, but it certainly wasn't bad. I do fiddle-p-ss with every guitar I own and buy, so that was just me being me. I also played with the pickup height, but pretty much ended up back where I started. This guitar does have a dual direction truss rod, so any bow in the neck can be corrected. The hardware and electronics all seem in good order - no noisy pots or anything. The only "flaw" I see is a slight gap on the bass side of the nut where it doesn't quite sit flush. I checked the string height across the board and all is good. It may have been shimmed or something. It is VERY minute, and is actually a nit-picking thing on my part, but it is something to mention. As far as the finish of this guitar... It's gorgeous, not much more to say. Reminds me of why I fell in love with PRS guitars back in the '90s - lovely wood work and finish.

Reliability & Durability — 9
The Zenyatta would hold up to any live gig situation and I would be confident to walk on stage with this guitar with no backup. Solid construction and finish. I'm sure it would road wear after a time, but no sooner than any other guitar. The strap buttons are rather large and really don't require lockers to keep the strap in place. This is a well built guitar and feels like it. For the thin profile, it still has substantial mass, and can take a good beating. The hardware seems quality enough to where I wouldn't be concerned about saddle burrs or any other anomaly that might cause me hassle in the middle of a show. Again, this guitar seems to be sturdy and solid.

Overall Impression — 9
I love this guitar. I've played for 25 years and I've played Fenders and Gibsons - mostly my old trusty Les Paul, and this guitar is equal to, if not exceeding in quality and tone, and it's certainly prettier than most guitars I've owned. I would definitely replace this guitar if it were lost or stolen. If I had to compare it to other guitars on the market, it would be a good competitor to the PRS SE Korean built line. The pickups are from the same manufacturer and the fit and finish is just about the same. The DZPL guitars are excellent instruments and the price is right. My next purchase will be a Tagliare so I can add a 25.5" in scale back into my collection. I highly recommend.

6 comments sorted by best / new / date

    The StrettaVita is an insanely good guitar for the money. Don´t know another brand which delivers this quality on guitars below 300 euro´s. Z-Glide kind of feels a bit gimmicky, but it´s fun little extra.
    i played the z-glide at te shop in highland park. i was really impressed with the feel. the h-s-h that he had with the beeter humbuckers really sounded great- i've been toiling over buying one of these for several months. i can attest, a very nice guitar and bang for buck. now that i've seen their version of the tele i am inclined to get one. the price range is pretty good. the z-glide was very comfy and took no time to get used to. they seem to be paying attention to details, fit, and finish.
    I don't buy some of these negative reviews, and some of the chaps are full of BS and not accurate in the guitars construction which aids in their being full of it. I think from the reviews and testing done by so many if the guitar is as bad as they say there would be lot of press everywhere and there isn't.
    I am a sometimes pro musician, oftentimes pro guitar repairman; have played since the early 1970s, and have owned almost every brand instrument. I acquired a Zenyatta Standard one year ago: terrible customer service (took over 7 months to get the case!--no warning about the backorder situation), but a terrific axe nonetheless. The workmanship and woods are pretty good, and of course, the design is neat-o as it gets. I would note that the stock pickups are lame (grindy, harsh, and microphonic), BUT I always change pickups in any guitar, anyway. I also switched all the hardware to gold Gotoh parts (the original parts were okay, but the Gotoh stuff is a step up in sounds and looks). With these upgrades this is a serious piece! Have since picked up a used Zenyatta Custom, blonde, and changed it's pickups and not much else. Both are well-build axes that, with a little effort, play and sound terrific, are lightweight, and gorgeous. They are my main instruments,now.
    Well I'm late here to the party but thought I'd chime in regardless. I purchased a DZ Tagliare ZGlide Custom 3-4 years back & was surprised by the SIZE of the frets, medium jumbo they claimed, I'd say Jumbo alonge with a couple others who played it but other than a loose neck, cheap electronics I thought it was beautiful & I really liked the neck shape and figured I'd get use to the frets. Nope, now to late to return I had the frets replaced w old style Fender mediums and found it to be a more manageable playing chords at the first 3 frets which was a chore before, for me, im not a Jumbo fret guy. Now I've got this beautiful guitar that feels fantastic but sounds dark & muddy no matter what I do, I know its capable of more but I'll be damned if I can find the tone im looking for. So now I've picked thei beauty back up after a long while & have decided to change out the pickups with SD ssl-5 & two ssl-1 along with some top of the line USA pots,switchs & rewire it removing a tone knob & moving the volume down away from the strings, its to close for me & why not? After all this is complete I'll chime in and let you know what I think. In the future it may just be easier to spend more for a guitar I like to play, instead of buying online like I did here. As far as customer service from D.Z.staff it was second to none. This was all my doing and im hoping for and believe ill have a Real player when im done..
    I ordered a guitar from DZPL. I ordered several modifications be done to it, including the inscribed Z-glide, strap locks, E.T.C... When the guitar arrived, which by the way cost $900 Canadian, in total, I was sorely disappointed. The locking tuners which were supposed to be STANDARD on the model I purchased, (Tagliare Z-glide Custom) Were not present, the schaler strap locks which were suposed to be installed, were simply layed in the case, still in the packaging, and worst of all, the case I ordered for it was flaking right out of the box it shipped in. These guitars are trash, and I will never recommend this company to another, nor will I ever dare purchase more garbage there-from. If you choose to take the risk with these awful guitars, good luck to you; it took me 2 months to get my money back. (P.S: I ordered the guitar in early September, and due to the item being on back-order, it was expected that it should arrive about 3 months later, at the end of November. It arrived ONE month later, in early October, which I found suspicious indeed.) (P.P.S: Don't bother ordering a case, if you dare to order one of these trash guitars at all, as the key they send with the locks won't fit. Not as though the case will come locked, but it won't lock, and the hinge and handle are both very weak.)