Dean EVO Special 7 mini-review (UPDATE: Duncans installed) - Jemsite
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-10-2002, 01:38 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
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Dean EVO Special 7 mini-review (UPDATE: Duncans installed)

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.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-10-2002, 01:05 PM
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Darren:

FYI - As you can see from Duncan's web site, you have to specifically request Duncan '59 7 string four conductor wiring - standard models are only two conductor which of course would eliminate the option to split the coils. The Jazz model (another popular neck model) comes standard with four conductor wiring.

I'm actually just about to pop in a JB-7 and a Jazz-7 into my RG2027. Pups arrived last week - just still determining exactly which 5 options I want on the five way.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-10-2002, 04:29 PM
 
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Congrats on the EVO 7 string! I aggree with the pickups, they seem to lack a bit. I'm pretty sure I'll be replacing the pickups in mine as well, probably the Jazz 7 in the neck... don't know about the brige. I've heard alot of good things about having a JB in the bridge and a Jazz in the neck.

I realy like the neck joint on the EVO as well. I don't think I was as fortunate on the fretwork though.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-10-2002, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the tip, rlintz! I was actually torn between the '59 and the Jazz neck... having standard 4-conductor wiring on the Jazz definitely makes that decision a little easier.

Let me know how the installation goes, and how you like the tones from that combo!
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-26-2002, 12:39 AM Thread Starter
 
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Two weeks later... i'm still totally loving my Seven.

I'm still getting oriented to the extra string, but i'm having loads of fun.

The extra low string has already opened up some musical possibilities with my band, and i'm using it in ways that i hadn't originally anticipated. It's awesome for chugging away on nice heavy chords, but it also adds a bit more "oomph", range and voice to clean chords. I have the bottom string tuned down to A, so barre chords are super easy and sound awesome.

I'm also doing what i call my "surf guitar/spy gutiar/Twin Peaks" kind of clean-twangy-baritone treatments with a gnarly Fender Twin patch on my GT-6. I've never liked amp tremolo or low-fi sounds, but i'm discovering a whole new palette of sonic textures with the 7. And i'm surprising myself all the time.

I just can't wait for my Duncans to come in! I ended up ordering a JB-7 and a '59-7 (both 4-conductor). I don't think the Jazz would have had enough output for my playing or my sound... i can always knock the '59 into parallel and turn down a bit to get that clean, articulate tone from the neck pickup.

I'm replacing the pots, too, because the stock ones don't have a very smooth taper... they only seem to fade in the bottom 20% of the pot rotation. So i'll be putting in a capacitor on the volume control to preserve the treble when i turn down as well (any recommendations on a value?), and also putting push-pull pots on the volume and tone controls.

My plan is to have each push-pull switch one of the pickups from series to parallel mode. Doing a complete split will sound thinner than i prefer, and i know from experience that a JB in parallel mode sounds really open and breathy, which is a sound i love.

I'm baffled as to why they didn't put dual volume and tone controls on this bad boy... it would improve its versatility by leaps and bounds. The control cavity is certainly big enough, but the stock pots are placed in such a way that adding a third or fourth control would require repositioning everything in order to get it to look and work right. I'll probably have to route out a space behind the string ferrules in the back to add a volume or blend control for a piezo setup if i go that route.

The other thing i really want to do is get a few sets of my favourite strings in a 7-string set. I was happy to see GHS makes Boomers in 7-string sets... .010 to .060!

I am still seriously considering putting the GraphTech FAAS system on it for piezo sounds. (Has anybody here heard it in action or installed one on any of your guitars?) I really miss having the piezo at my disposal with the Parker. Damn, i wish Parker would make a Seven!

I may even have to consider getting something like a 2027 in the future... though i could buy a second Evo 7 and rig it up the same way for less.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 06-26-2002, 12:52 AM
 
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off-topic sort of.. I prefer the GHS 7 set with 9s... Also Daddario makes a cool set that is sort of 9ish and 10ish... two great sets.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-28-2002, 01:26 PM
 
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i'm really enjoying my new used EVO 7 too - the sunburst finish over the quilted maple cap is beautiful, and the guitar has a great raw hard rock sound that is perfect for my new hard rock band Diesel Chief [see www.dieselchief.com for mp3s if interested]. it has that ac/dc sort of mahogany set-neck snarl that is the ideal classic sound for that type of rock.

the pickups on mine feedback a little too, so i'm loading it with zebra TZ7 and PAF7 and rewiring it with dual volume controls like an LP. if i have the guts to drill through that beautiful maple cap, i'll add a 3rd knob for a neck pickup tone control and leave the bridge pickup without a tone control, since i never use that anyway.

overall, a great axe for a lower end Korean import.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-28-2002, 08:08 PM
 
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I got my FAAS saddles the other day and I'm gettin em installed in my Ibanez AX 7 next week, I'll post up some sound samples so you can hear it then. The guy who is installing it for me said he had installed alot of the graphtech saddles before and they sounded awesome...guess I'll find out next week.

Kim
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-28-2002, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
 
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Scott: Yeah, i've been looking for a way to add a third pot as well... for the life of me, i can't figure out what their reasoning was behind their choice of control placement. That cavity is pretty huge, but the controls are placed so strangely, and adding a third pot in a convenient and aesthetically pleasing location is next to impossible without relocating the other two.

I don't mind a master volume and tone. If i add a third pot, it will probably be for an acoustic system, and i'll probably extend the control cavity up the rear of the guitar and place the pot in sort of a PRS position behind the tailpiece.

Kim: I'm really looking forward to hearing your F.A.A.S. recordings on your AX7! Let us know how you like it and how the installation went!
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-29-2002, 12:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darren wilson
Scott: Yeah, i've been looking for a way to add a third pot as well [snip]. That cavity is pretty huge, but the controls are placed so strangely, and adding a third pot in a convenient and aesthetically pleasing location is next to impossible without relocating the other two.
yeah. they could have made the cavity smaller and left a lot of wood in there. it's impossible to add a third pot symmetrically, so i'll just put it in the far upper corner as far away from the existing tone knob as i can get it. that will look much less worse than trying to relocate the existing knobs. routing more wood would be a pain, and might hurt the tone of the guitar as well.

you can buy dual concentric pots like the ones on some old Fender basses, but i don't want the look or feel of those knobs.
Scott of Actual Time is offline  
post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 09-29-2002, 11:24 PM Thread Starter
 
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I've been extremely busy for the last couple of months, so only just got around to installing the new Seymour Duncans in my Evo 7.

I just finished the wiring this afternoon, and i honestly feel like i've got a whole new guitar now. With the stock pickups, the guitar sounded really quite good, with useable tones from the neck and bridge pickups. But with the '59N-7 and the JB-7 installed, the guitar has just roared to life.

For maximum tonal versatility, i wired each pickup with a series/parallel switch wired to push/pull pots on the volume and tone controls. The '59/JB combination is extremely well-balanced. Both pickups are medium output... not weak, but not over-the-top in sheer volume, either. Balanced is the key word.

The JB in the bridge sounds awesome... very tight and focused with a nice snarl to it both clean and distorted. It has that classic set-neck-mahogany-body "bark" to it. Switching the coils to parallel mode gives it a Tele-like snap, and tames the "bark" a bit, so it's not so mid-rangey. Sweet.

The '59 has truly surprised me. It has a deep, piano-like chime to it, with clarity and definition. Rolling back the tone control just a touch gives a sweet, warm jazzy tone, while still retaining the note definition for rich, clear chords. Again, switching to parallel mode opened up a whole new sonic palette. The bass is less pronounced in parallel mode, which cleans up a bit of boominess that can occasionally come from the bottom string tuned down to A. (The brand-new GHS Boomers, .010-.060 gauge, won't be quite so peaky once they've been played in a bit more... i always find my Boomers sound more even and consistent when they've lost that brand-new sound and get slightly deadened.) The midrange "honk" is softened a bit, and a crisp high-end shimmer fills out the top end. It's got a bit of that single-coil "glassiness", but is a much more complex and rich sound with excellent, almoust acoustic-like clarity and string separation.

Combining the two pickups with various series/parallel permutations gives an almost endless array of extremely useable tones. I could have opted for a simpler splitting setup, but i find that switching into parallel mode gives me a warmer variant of the single coil sound that's more pleasing to my ear, and more useful, since all combinations are hum-cancelling.

Overall, i'm extremely pleased with these pickups. Definitely money well-spent to transform my Evo Special 7 from a really good guitar into a tone monster.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-02-2002, 03:00 PM
 
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did you have any feedback problems?

i put a TZ7 and a PAF7 in my Evo and had bad feedback problems, a super high squeal that won't go away when the strings are muted and/or when i hold the pickup tightly. i do run a lot of amp gain, but under identical amp conditions the TZ7 [i own 4 of them!] and PAF7 in my other guitars are perfectly quiet.

i've been through several things to try and fix it. i sent the brand new pickups back to dimarzio for repotting, i lowered the resistor value on my tone control [originally i had no tone control] to bleed off more highs, and i've packed the pickup cavities with huge blocks of foam. it has all helped a little bit, but they still feed back badly and the guitar is unusable at stage volumes with those amp settings.

my next test will be to take the TZ7 out of one of my other guitars and put it in the Evo, to make sure that differences in tone wood and any other voodoo aren't causing it. they really shouldn't be, but then again brand new dimarzios shouldn't squeal like a banshee either.

i have Duncan JB 7s in my 7620s; if i had known these dimarzios would be so much trouble, i would have gone with Duncans instead.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-02-2002, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
 
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Since it's been 100& complete, i haven't played it at full volume with an amp. But a week ago, i had the JB in and wired up, so i took it to rehearsal. Aside from some grounding problems (my own dumb wiring), it was fine... waaay better than the stock pickups, which squealed like mad. In fact, the feedback that i DID get with the JB was very musical and toneful, and very easily controlled. I could modulate it very easily by adjusting my postition and distance from the amp, and by backing off the volume ever so slightly.

Keep in mind that i also replaced both pots and most of the internal wiring as well, so probably 90% of the guts of the guitar is new.

If you're having serious microphonic problems with your TZ7 and PAF7, which you don't have with other guitars with the same pickups, i wonder if there's either something wrong with some of the internal wiring or components, or if you just have a bad couple of pickups.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-02-2002, 09:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darren wilson
waaay better than the stock pickups, which squealed like mad.
these new dimarzios i have are _more_ microphonic than the stock pickups.

Quote:
Originally Posted by darren wilson
Keep in mind that i also replaced both pots and most of the internal wiring as well, so probably 90% of the guts of the guitar is new.
so did i - i rewired it like a Les Paul, pickups into the selector switch and then dual volume controls.

Quote:
Originally Posted by darren wilson
If you're having serious microphonic problems with your TZ7 and PAF7, which you don't have with other guitars with the same pickups, i wonder if there's either something wrong with some of the internal wiring or components, or if you just have a bad couple of pickups.
there's nothing in the internal wiring or components that would cause microphonics - the physics just doesn't work that way. feedback is caused by the sound out of the amp making part of the pickup or guitar vibrate, in this case uncontrolably. that's why foam packed under the pickups, or grabbing the pickup in your fingers, often helps reduce feedback.

there are still too many different variables when comparing my Evo to my other TZ7 guitars - mahogany + maple fixed bridge in the Evo vs. agathis & fixed bridge or mahogany and Lo Pro, pickup ring mounted vs. pickguard vs. direct mounted, 500k tone control in the Evo that i may lower to 250k. that's why i'm thinking about taking the actual TZ7 out of one of my other guitars and replacing the one in the Evo, even though it'd be a pain in the butt. that would tell me for sure.

i still don't think two brand new dimarzios that have been potted twice should be bad, so i'm discounting that unless proven thoroughly otherwise.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 10-02-2002, 09:11 PM
 
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Scott, I have the identical problems you describe with my DiMarzio Super Distortion in my Squire Strat. I always assumed it was just old, and I can avoid the problems (technique adjustments). It's annoying though. Although I also don't have a tone pot on it at all (only one each for neck and middle).
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