Hex Deluxe review by Michael Kelly

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  • Sound: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 7.2 (23 votes)
Michael Kelly: Hex Deluxe

Price paid: $ 525

Purchased from: Musician's Friend

Sound — 8
Can do a wide variety of sounds, though it arguable does metal the best. I play death metal most of the time, in the vein of The Faceless, Necrophagist, though I also play other types of metal (i.e. Mastodon, Meshuggah on occasion when I feel like not being able to play a song) as well as blues, jazzy metal (think Cynic), general clean songs (like some newer Cynic, some Buckethead, etc) and this guitar does all of them well enough. For what I bought it for, though, it excels. I dare you to find a better guitar for the price. I play through some terrible Ibanez TBX65R, though hopefully I'll replace that with a used 6505+ 112 combo soon enough, and be able to really hear what this thing can do. I don't use any affects aside from, occasionally, going into a DigiTech GNX3000 effects/amp modeler. I normally use the DualRect preset with the gain on about 50-60, the level at 79-89, 2-3 Bass, 1 mid, 8 treble, though sometimes I play -5 bass, 8 mid, 6 treble. The only effects I really use on that is the noise gate (my amp is noisy, and I'm sloppy!) and sometimes a stompbox or the whammy pedal.

Overall Impression — 9
I play a wide variety of music, from classical to metal and many places in between, and this -can- do all of them. It certainly isn't ideal for all of them, but for what I primarily play it does its job well. I've only been playing for about 1.75 years, but I like to think I'm at least fairly knowledgeable on gear itself. I didn't have the chance to play it before I bought it, but I still feel it was a solid decision, and I'm very satisfied. If it were lost/stolen, I'd certainly buy another one as soon as possible. It's just that good for the price. I love the price and the OFR, and can't really say there's anything I'm disappointed with other than the weird wiring on my volume knobs. My favorite feature is easily the neck and maybe the weight of the guitar on the whole - it's fairly light, but not too light as to sacrifice tone, and the neck is very comfortable and fast. I did compare this to a Jackson DKMG, and after playing that didn't really feel like it was exactly what I wanted, so I took a gamble with this one - I couldn't be happier in that regard, though I do wish it had a full carve, though that's purely aesthetic. A solid 9 overall, mostly due to its great price - pick one up!

Reliability & Durability — 9
I've never played Live, but it seems very sturdy and certainly sturdy enough to play as a main guitar. I don't think it's a good idea to go without a backup regardless of how the guitar seems, but for a show or two it probably wouldn't be a big deal. The finish is the perfect thickness, and I've hardly scratched it at all except for some very minor pick scratches. I haven't used a strap with it (waiting to get some strap locks), so I can't comment on the durability of the strap buttons, but they are fairly large.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I didn't get this from the factory - I got it Scratch 'n' Dent from Musician's Friend, so it was NOT set up well. The action was way too low and the FR not setup properly. I was, however, perfectly okay with this, as I'm willing to put in time to learn how to do these things myself. About an hour to change strings on my first FR, and then over the course of a few days probably 2-3 to really perfect it. I had to add another spring as I tuned down to Drop C/D Standard with 12-56s and didn't want to stretch the springs too much. I adjusted my action (very, very quick fix, all tools included) and it is now perfect. No dead frets, no buzz, but still a fast, low action. All of the hardware seems very solid so far. All of the routing is done very well, and very precisely. All of the wiring is very tidy and neat, with plenty of room for fun extras in the control cavity. The bookmatching on the top looks simply stunning, and all the controls are solid as well. The previous owner (or perhaps the shipping flaw, Who knows?) did make a very, VERY minor chip in the finish near the FR that I didn't even notice until I looked at it for an hour and a half in the right light at the right angle - and this brought the guitar down nearly $200!

Features — 10
Made in Korea, in 2009. It's got 24 medium-jumbo frets on a beautiful, smooth ebony fretboard. No sharp edges, no dead frets. 25.5" scale. Thin-ish neck, perfect for my hands, and very fast finished neck. Has a flat profile. The headstock is a reverse blade with a twist- the top part is rounded rather than straight, concave. It has great grover tuners, and an ORIGINAL Floyd Rose with locking nut. Hard to believe given its 700$ price from Musician's Friend! Mahogany body. The top is the black vapor finish on a BEAUTIFUL two-piece burl top, likely maple. The edges are beveled, with a belly carve and a forearm carve, and the top horn is carved as well. It has a wonderful white binding all the way around the guitar, and white MOP inlays in what I suppose can be described like a separated Diamond. Finish is very durable. It has active pickups, though they are very new and relatively unknown - Rockfield Black Bettys. They have amazing high gain tones, but without sacrificing the ability to do cleans well. I can get great, heavy, bassy (but not overly so) death metal tones, then simply Switch channels and maybe Switch pickups and achieve wonderful clean tones as well. It has a 3-way toggle, 2x volume, 1x tone, though for some reason the volume knobs on mine are wired backwards - that is, the one in the "rear" is for the neck pickup, and the one in the "front" is for the bridge pickup. No big deal. I got mine from Musician's Friend, and it was Scratch 'n' Dent, so no accessories included aside from what comes with the guitar (allen wrenches, extra FR spring, tremolo arm).

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    This guitar is great. The Black Betty's are like 1356408756128037456013460x better than EMGs. I am so glad I have one.
    This guitar is amazing to play, and of course it looks amazing, although I don't like the "Black Wash" finish.
    This is weird. According to the Michael Kelly website, this guitar has Rockfield Black Betty active humbuckers, but the one in my local guitar shop has active EMGs, and so do the ones in the review.
    The 2009 version has the Black Bettys (mine has them, I'm the second reviewer). They are so much better than EMGs - I'm glad they're equipped with them.