Depending on your opinion, you can take that in two ways. First of all, being endorsed by a legendary metal guitarist makes Dean a great rock or metal guitar. Secondly, you could ask why you don’t hear of more players using Dean guitars.
Either way, I’m not going to judge a guitar brand by who uses (or doesn’t use) them.
The ‘Vendetta’ series consists of four models. Each has a string-through-body design (similar to a Strat.), dual humbucker pickups, solid wood bodies, and bolt-on maple necks.
They also feature the famous Dean headstock design, although it has been shortened to more normal proportions!
Also, when they say “solid mahogany body” in some descriptions, they mean that it’s a solid body guitar, which (I assume) was originally mahogany. The actual wood of the body on this guitar is Paulownia, which is a wood from Asia.
Paulownia is becoming more and more popular as a substitute for Mahogany in more budget guitars. It’s a fast growing tree that comes from Japan and east Asia, and has traditionally been used for Asian string instruments.
It’s a very lightweight wood, and has a similar sound to swamp ash (if you believe the wood affects the tone at all…). This probably explains why the Dean Vendetta XM is very light, and easy to pick up and play.
Paulownia is the fastest growing hardwood in the word. It only takes about 6 years until it is big enough to be harvested.
This compares to around 35 years for mahogany.
There is some debate as to whether the wood makes a difference at all on an electric guitar. It certainly does on an acoustic.
This means the fact that they’ve opted for a less expensive wood may not be too much of a problem, sound-wise.
Built to Rock
The double-humbucker arrangement in the bridge is a classic heavy rock or metal favourite. As such, they should be able to produce a very heavy, distorted tone, when you need it.
The guitar also features a 24 fret neck, with dot inlays. These extra frets definitely come in handy when playing high-pitched, screaming metal solos!
The ‘string-though-body’ design is where the strings attach to the body by going through it. Pretty self-explanatory. This design is supposed to give the strings more contact with the body of the guitar and increase sustain.
Similar models also feature a floyd-rose style bridge, but I wouldn’t go for that if you’re a beginner.
- Paulownia body with natural finish
- Bolt-on maple neck
- 25.5-inch scale
- Rrosewood fingerboard with dot inlays
- Dual Dean humbuckers
- Volume and tone controls and three-way toggle switch
- Tune-o-Matic bridge with string-through-body design
- Dean diecast tuning pegs
- C-shaped neck profile
- D’Addario strings
What We Liked…
Due to the choice of wood (and probably a few other things) this guitar is very light. This makes it great for those longer gigs, where a Les Paul would give you back ache.
The neck is also pretty thin, and easy to fret- a definite advantage for a 24-fret guitar!
This guitar would be perfect for a beginner who doesn’t want his first guitar to be a Strat copy. It would also suit a gigging musician who wants a cheaper instrument that won’t cost too much to fix.
Other than that, this isn’t quite a studio guitar…
What We didn’t Like…
Obviously, this is just the guitar- with no accessories. If you’re a complete beginner, looking for your first electric, you might be better off with a starter pack.
Unless you want to spend the time and money to find a good amp to go with it?
Also, this guitar doesn’t have a tremolo bridge. While this is probably a bonus for beginners, it means you won’t be able to play like Dime, or many other heavy metal lead players.
The tremolo issue is just personal preference, however. Don’t be concerned if it’s not really something that you’d use (more info about whammy bar techniques can be found here).
The headstock is- although very cool- a bit of a problem. With the full-sized Dean headstock, the guitar doesn’t fit in a normal guitar case.
The Dean Vendetta XM has a slightly shorter head, but this could still be a problem for the guitar. This means possibly having to buy a special case just for this one guitar.
The workmanship and quality can also be a bit poor, although most of these issues can be fixed with a good setup. Why would you want to pay for a setup, when it’s the company’s fault in the first place?
Conclusions about the Dean Vendetta XM
I know I’ve kind of ended that on a bit of a negative note. The truth is that this guitar would be great for a beginner, as a first guitar. There have just been reports of a few duds, is all.
If you’re a complete beginner, this guitar is more metal than most ‘budget’ guitars out there. For the price, it’s a good guitar.
It would also work well for the gigging musician who wants a guitar for live shows and tours. Something that you wouldn’t mind being a bit more beaten up.
If you’re anyone else, however, I would probably give this one a miss.