So my new used Dean arrived on Thursday. I've managed to play it for a few hours and even took it to rehearsal this evening to run it through its paces... it only screwed me up a few times.
Anyway, here are my initial comments... i'll have more thorough details and photos later.
First of all, i think it's a beautiful guitar. It's like a Les Paul or PRS Singlecut, only better proportioned. Black with white binding, small synthetic abalone dot inlays, chrome hardware, strings through the body. Pretty cool. It was in pretty much brand-new condition... not a single scratch or dent on it. The binding was a bit yellowed, but i expect that would happen over time, regardless. The fretwork is smooth and even and the neck is straight and true.
Build quality is very good for a relatively inexpensive Korean guitar. There are a couple of places where the top carve isn't as smooth as it could be, but nothing major. The neck joint on these is phenomenal... somewhere between a set neck and a neck through in terms of upper-fret accessibility. Only one or two minor finish imperfections on the whole guitar. My only real complaint is that the binding on the neck is not entirely flush with the fretboard. There's a little bit of a ridge where the fretboard sits a tiny bit higher than the plastic binding. Not a major quibble. I can't feel it when i play.
I played it extensively yesterday through my GT-6 with headphones yesterday and was pleased with the range of tones from its two humbuckers. No fancy switching or coil splitting. Just straight-ahead humbucker tones. But it needs "more" all around... my Parker blows it out of the water in terms of punch, clarity and presence. I also learned this evening at rehearsal that at stage volume, the Dean's generic Korean pickups are severely microphonic. Another reason to seriously consider swapping pickups.
I'll likely drop in a Duncan JB-7 at the bridge and a '59-7 at the neck, possibly with coil splitting or series/parallel switching.
I'm getting used to the 7th string, but it's taking a while to get re-oriented. I find i get especially lost on the middle strings, where i visually rely on the bottom string for orientation. That extra string on the bottom is throwing me off.
I'm tuning it to drop-A (AEADGBE) and i'm not finding the re-orientation for playing rhythm parts that difficult at all. And i loooove the heaviness of that low A string when playing heavy chords.
Comfort-wise, it's not great, but not awful. It's a lot lighter than i had expected a mahogany and maple 7-string to be, but it's still quite a bit heftier than my Parker. (Well, what isn't
more hefty than a Parker?) It'd be nice it it had a bit of a tummy carve... i've got a sore spot on the right side of my ribcage from playing it sitting down. The neck is great for the size and shape of my hands. I find Ibanez 7-string necks to be a bit too thin and flat on the back... i get cramps when i try to play chords on them.
Those are my first impressions. It got a good workout in rehearsal tonight (didn't even bring my Parker) and it could become my main live instrument. I just have to look into installing GraphTech FAAS piezo saddles on it, and i'll be set.