Price paid: $ 650
Purchased from: Park Ave Music in Aurora
Sound — 10
The sound is monstrous, like the name implies (Washburn - "Monster Guitars!") They aint lying, brother! Even unplugged you get a little bit of "oomph" with all the twangy stuff - a product of the fifteen acres of old growth forest that had to be cut to provide the wood for one of these things. They are solid Mahogony, which makes them very friendly to high end attack, which is why the guitar is so fantastic for metal and punk and other aggressive styles. By virtue of its wonderful, ridiculous, comical size it also carries the bass extremely well and without distortion is the best replacement for an acoustic that I've ever heard. All that wood just sounds like heaven, baby! For a sample of what this thing can do, listen to "Planet Caravan" at the tail end of "Far Beyond Driven," and then listen to "Strength Beyond Strength." Enough said? Same guitar, two totally different and beautiful tones, and that just scratches the surface. There are other great guitars out there, certainly more expensive ones, but for about 700 bucks you can't beat this deal.
Overall Impression — 10
I have been playing guitar for eleven years, bass for five, drums for three and I've been trying to sing my whole life. I bought the guitar as an intermediate, but cocky, player only to find that I had quite a lot to learn about guitars. Now that I am an experienced guitarist and have a few shows and a few CDs under my belt I am very pleased that I bought this instrument. I bought it for somewhat foolish reasons because I thought it looked cool and so I could be like Dimebag Darrell or whatever and now I'm thinking it was one of the smartest purchases I have ever made, I love it. Still, I don't think I'd bring it to a jazz club just because it would probably scare the hell out of people. Either that or they'd think I was ridiculous only because, as I said, it looks like something straight out of 1983 played by a guy with really big hair and pants so tight you can almost see his...it would certainly sound good enough to play anywhere, though. I find the guitar useful most in the studio because, as I've pointed out, its appearance limits its live usage to metal - and even so, metal purists might be more critical of a new player using a signature model. In the studio, however, you can make this thing sound like any kind of guitar you want and you don't have to tell anyone what it looks like - just let them drool over the killer tone you've got and tell them to buy a CD!
Reliability & Durability — 10
This is a battle axe! I've thrown shelves at it, I've had the strap break and its crashed to the floor, I drove to a gig with the wammy bar forced upwards (tightening the strings) by the hard case and in all cases it still played OK despite my mistreatment of the instrument. It's survived a flood (I rescued it) and several run-ins with not-so-friendly club managers and to this day still looks and sounds like a brand new guitar. Part of this, of course, it because I know how to maintain it and adjust it, but it helps to have thirteen pounds of solid mahogony backing you up on stage!
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The action is totally up to you, but you have to fit this beast. I was thoroughly impressed at the adjustability of the action and the ability the thing gives you to throw on different kinds of strings, experiment with alternate tunings, whatever you want. The trouble is, though, you need experience and know-how to use this thing. I always hand it to musicians in my studio because I know it will sound better than anything else, but often they hand it right back and say "I'm not playing that f**kin' thing!" Still, though, if you know what you're doing the world is your oyster with this one. Want a rockabilly surf tone? No problem! Want the strings to ride an inch and a half above the fretboard so you can play killer slide? No problem! It's all possible, but very very difficult. This axe requires tools, a good set of ears and lots and lots of patience. If you've got all of these you will be in love.
Features — 10
As a player of metal in the early 90's (yes, like the dinosaurs, there were one or two of us still struggling to survive in the harsh environment of 1992) I wanted nothing more than to listen to, and play, the most ball crunching, face smashing, universally offensive, rude, blasphemous music I could possibly find. Then one day I heard a Slayer album and, well... Once I'd decided that the crown had been placed upon the mighty banging heads of Slayer as to who were the kings of blasphemous, blistering metal, I began a new search. That search led me to the phenomenal playing and brutal onslaught that is Pantera. Being that I am a guitarist originally, I found Dimebag Darrell's playing to be absolutely top-notch and sought, eventually, to own his axe. The Dimebag Darrell signature series is a loud, crunchy, beefy axe reminiscent more of KISS and Judas Priest than Cannibal Corpse or Dimmu Borgir with a sizeable body in excess of ten pounds (I think), a thick ass neck, which is good for a guy with huge hands like mine, and possibly coolest of all a genuine Floyd-Rose tremolo system that you can drag to the depths of hell and then break wine glasses with a hundred times over and maybe have to tweak the fine tuning a smidge. Rarely have I broken a string, and as I said I can dive all the way to hell and back and then cut the distortion and be confident that the quiet parts will still be in tune. The stock model comes equipped with very nice Washburn pickups, but I replaced my bridge with a Seymore Duncan, just to be a little more Dime-like. Over the course of my college days I tried various substances, ideas, activities and found myself expanding mind and tastes alike. Even though I can appreciate a good grind better than ever these days, I've found the inner peace which only comes from good jazz or blues played really well. Now that I play all these different styles, like funk and jazz and blues, I've discovered that the axe I bought for tearing Mother Theresa new orafices can also be used quite effectively for just about everything. VERSATILITY, friends! Sure, I still look like I should be in a Sabotage cover band with the way the thing is shaped, but hell, it sounds better and plays more accurately than anything else I know of. One negative thing I will say about the axe is that it lacks a bit of the "light touch" you might find on a nice Ibanez. If you're not opposed to having to practice a bit to catch up to everyone else (with all those thin little Ibanez guitars, playing like Yngwie Malmsteen), then you'll find that, slowly, you'll start to develop into a player more like Dimebag Darrell - more accurate and articulate than just plain fast and when it does get fast you have to hit it HARD, which sounds better anyhow. Also I find if I get really adept on my Dime and I feel really confident on that, I can pick up an Ibanez and feel unstoppable, like Steve Vai. For that reason, this is not a beginner's guitar. If you are a pretty good player and want an edge to pass up all those spandex-wearing wankers who can play fifteen arpeggios a nanosecond, pick up a Dime and practice on that exclusively. You'll find that maybe you aren't any faster than them, but you'll be more accurate, your tone will be fuller and you'll sure as hell have the stronger set of fingers! It's like lifting weights.