Price paid: $ 239
Purchased from: www.guitarfetish.com
Sound — 9
The GFS Crunchy Pat Zebra Humbuckers are really awesome pickups. These GFS pickups are passive and medium to high output that have a real growl in their natural voice. I am impressed to no end by these pickups, coming in what is essentially a budget guitar, these pickups sound phenomenal. The mahogany body and set neck provide unreal sustain as you would expect from an LP style guitar. I played the Xaviere XV-599 through a Blackheart Little Giant, a Vox Pathfinder 15R, a Toneport UX2 with Gearbox, a Vox Tonelab ST , a Behringer V-Amp 2, and a Maestro by Gibson 4w Mini Amp. I ran the XV-599 through a Artec Duo Drive Blender, an Ibanez Tone-lok DE7, and a Dunlop Original Crybaby. The Xaviere really sounded great through everything, but especially through the Little Giant and the Pathfinder. These Xaviere guitars go a long way in the argument against high end brand name snobbery. The tone produced by the Xaviere is very thick and really has some punch to it. With a little tube distortion it really screams. I play mainly overdriven blues, hard rock and early thrash metal and the Xaviere XV-599 did a great job with each genre. I would say the ideal genre to match this guitar would be modern rock and hard rock. I do have to say, playing some Gary Moore licks through the XV-599, they sounded friggin awesome. I give the Xaviere XV-599 a rating of a 9 for sound and I stand behind that 100%. I expect comments about giving this low end guitar such a high rating in this category, but until you play one of these you just don't understand this guitar sounds awesome. The Xaviere XV-599 may not compete with a Gibson Les Paul in every category but I absolutely believe it competes with tone, punch and sustain.
Overall Impression — 7
The Xaviere XV-599 really gives some bang for your buck. After the initial set up I'm getting awesome tone and the feel of the guitar is really nice. Judging this guitar before a set up is very misleading. For more than what I paid for the Xaviere I could have gotten a low end Epiphone Les Paul that could not have compared in tone, because I have played a few of these Epiphone LP's and they do not compare with the stock pickups. Even after any cost related to getting a set up, etc., I still feel like you are coming out of it with a better guitar for less money. For overall impression I would rate this as a 7, because this is a beautiful guitar with awesome tone but it is still annoying to have to work on a new guitar, even if the price is super low. I am, however, very happy with this purchase today.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I have been playing the Xaviere XV-599 for a little over two weeks now. The Xaviere XV-599 is a very heavy and solid guitar. The wiring was checked out, and all the soldering was well done. The strap buttons are fine, no problems there. The finish seems like it would take abuse well. The Xaviere XV-599 really looks like it is designed to be a hard rock workhorse as well as being a gorgeous guitar. I would trust the Xaviere XV-599 no less than any other guitar for gigging, but I would never gig without a backup unless I had no other choice. The Xaviere XV-599 seems to hold its tuning very well, very solid and heavy guitar not a lot to say about reliability and durability. I would rate this as an 8.
Action, Fit & Finish — 5
This is where the Xaviere XV-599 loses some points. The neck was slightly back-bowed on arrival which caused some fret buzzing. This was very annoying and the truss rod had to be adjusted (loosened almost a full turn). The intonation also required quite a bit of correction. The neck pickup was raised a little too much and the Bridge pickup was too low. I corrected the height of the pickups, etc. I carried the guitar to a luthier because I was still getting a little buzz from the 2nd and 3rd strings in certain positions and they stated that the nut slots were too deep on these strings. I personally could not see this with my eyes, but a new nut fixed this. As an aside, despite the buzz I was getting on these strings acoustically, the guitar sounded fine through an amp, but any fret buzz drives me up the wall. The finish on this guitar was immaculate and the set in neck is tight in the pocket. The Abalone purfing and the maple binding are beautiful. I could find no flaws whatsoever in the finish. The fret edges are smooth, which was a surprise at this price. The neck is comfortably chunky. Not so thick that it is uncomfortable, but not so thin as an Ibanez or a Stratocaster about what you would expect on an LP style guitar. The back of the neck has a very satin-y almost sanded feel. After the set up there is no fret buzzing, action very low, neck is nice. My rating, based off of the condition this arrived, would be a 5. I do have to say that it isn't uncommon to receive a new from the factory guitar in any price range that requires some set up. After set up I would say this would rate at least a 7, and probably more like a healthy 8, but in good conscience I have to rate it in the condition I received it new from the manufacturer, and so it is a 5.
Features — 8
The Xaviere XV-599 has a solid Mahogany body with a solid Maple top with a Quilted Maple Veneer. The neck is Mahogany with a Rosewood fretboard. The binding is maple and the purfing is hand cut Abalone. The neck radius is 12, which compared to the 9 radius I am used to is very flat. This has a Standard HH configuration with a pair of GFS Crunchy Pat Zebra Humbuckers. There are 2 volume knobs, 2 tone knobs and a 3 way pickup selector. Mine is the Aged Lemondrop finish, which is really stunning, and is very gently antiqued with a transparent matte finish. The volume and tone knobs even have a nice antiqued look to them. The tuning keys are sealed non-locking with a 14:1 ratio. They work well for non-locking tuners and I have no complaints. The fret markers are kind of a classic looking Diamond shape that I'm not explaining very well, which look much nicer in person than on the stock pictures from the website. The Aged Lemondrop finish darkens to almost Orange around the edges and is really stunning, with the wood grain showing through the finish. This guitar came with some maintenance tools and an instrument cable. I opted for this guitar to be shipped in a deluxe hardshell case for an additional $54. The black hardshell case supplied is very solid, no glue smell and looks nice. The Xaviere XV-599 has everything you would expect in an LP style guitar and is well executed in design. This is a very aesthetically pleasing guitar, and feels very balanced when worn standing with a good strap. I give this category a rating of an 8. Locking tuning keys, and the option to coil tap to single coils would have brought this up to a 9 or 10, but you can't expect those types of options at this price.