Dean Evo XM Electric Guitar Package Review

Dean Evo XM Electric Guitar Pack Review

Dean is best known for making guitars that are ideally suited for playing heavy metal and other extremely demanding music genres. With the Dean Evo XM electric guitar pack, you get everything you need to play right out of the box, and at under $200, this is one of the least expensive beginner guitar packages that you can buy from a major manufacturer. The package includes pretty much everything you’d expect in a beginner kit like this including a gig bag, shoulder strap, 10-watt Dean amp, and a bunch of picks. There is, of course, the Evo XM guitar at the center of the package. The XM is a decent little electric guitar featuring a solid basswood body, 22-fret bolt-on maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard, sealed tuners, and a pair of humbucker pickups. It also has Dean’s patented angled neck, which makes playing it a bit easier. I reviewed this guitar by itself — you can read my full review of the guitar here — and it is definitely a solid instrument for the price. The aggressive and crazy Dean styling that you see on so many of their guitars is painfully missing on this guitar, but it is also much more versatile than most Deans in terms of genres that you can play with it. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the guitar, but I was pleased with it considering the price, and you can definitely grow with it. You won’t have to upgrade for at least a year or two.

I was disappointed with the rest of the package, however. This package definitely has one of the lower quality starter amps that I’ve encountered, and it did not produce as nice a sound as I have found in other packages from folks like Epiphone and Fender. Also, most other beginner guitar packages include some additional extras like an instructional DVD or booklet, a digital tuner, headphones, or a stand. I’ve seen conflicting information on some websites as to whether this comes with a tuner or not, but the one that I reviewed definitely did NOT. Perhaps they decided to include a tuner in a newer production run, but it is something to be aware of nonetheless.

Dean Evo XM Electric Guitar Pack Verdict

The guitar in this package is definitely a good instrument for the money, but the rest of the package left me underwhelmed. The amp isn’t too great, and it lacks some of the other extras that you typically expect to find in a beginner guitar package. If you have your heart set on a you can get this package, but I would recommend buying the guitar and the extras separately. It will cost a little more money, but it is definitely worth the extra cost in my opinion. If the amp were better, I’d be happy to recommend buying it, but it isn’t so I’m not.

Buy The Dean Evo XM Electric Guitar Package

Guitar Center: Buy for $189
Amazon: Buy for $185

Squier Affinity Strat Pack Review

Squier Affinity Strat Pack Review

As I have mentioned in many other reviews, the best way to get started with the electric guitar is to buy a beginner package that has everything you need to get started and the Squier Affinity Strat Pack is one such package. All the top manufacturers offer numerous beginner packages that pair their guitars with the peripherals that you need. This package by Squier — a brand made by Fender — combines one of their less expensive strats with a bunch of nice extras. The guitar in this package is the Squier Affinity Series Stratocaster and it is a pretty good cheap electric guitar. It has 3 single coil pickups, which gives you plenty of different tonal options. It has the classic stratocaster look, a whammy bar, and features a solid agathis body with a bolt-on maple neck that has a 21-fret rosewood fingerboard. Like almost every Fender/Squier guitar that I’ve tested, the build quality on this was very good and I really had no complaints about it. The guitar is a solid guitar through-and-through, but it is not something that is going to knock you off your feet and wow you. You’re not going to be disappointed with the sound, look, quality, or durability of the guitar, but you aren’t going to be blown away.

The rest of the package, however, is absolutely amazing. The most amazing thing about this package is definitely the amp. You’re getting a 15-watt Fender Frontman amp. This is probably the best amp that you are going to get in any starter package offered by any manufacturer. Not only are 15-watt amps uncommon in beginner guitar packages, but you are getting a top-notch 15-watt amp as opposed to a mediocre one. Long after you upgrade to a better guitar, you will still be using this amp. The rest of the package includes the standard cable, instructional dvd, digital tuner, guitar strap, headphones, and, of course, a gig bag in which to carry your guitar.

Squier Affinity Special Strat Pack Verdict

The guitar in this package is a good, solid electric guitar that is a solid B+ across the board. It isn’t spectacular in any one area, but it doesn’t really have any drawbacks either. The amp in this package, however, is hands down the best amp you’re going to find in any guitar package offered by anyone and everything else is better than most. For $250, you are getting a lot of value for your money, and the Stratocaster is a classic guitar that anyone will love. You can’t go wrong with this.

Buy The Squier Affinity Special Strat Guitar Pack

Guitar Center: Buy for $249
Amazon: Buy For $249

Dean Vendetta XMT Review

Dean Vendetta XMT Review

The Dean Vendetta XMT is a nice entry level guitar, particularly for anyone interested in playing metal. There are two different models of the XMT available — one with the tremolo bar and one without — and I highly recommend the one with the tremolo. You will normally spend between $130 and $140 for this guitar; however, guitar center IS selling this guitar for $99 in the natural satin finish (it also comes in black).

The body of this guitar is made from Paulownia, which is a south-east Asian wood with good resonant properties that is typically used in Asian stringed instruments, but it is less expensive than Mahogany. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the sound from this particular wood, but I was pleasantly surprised. The XMT also features a bolt-on maple neck with a 25-fret rosewood fingerboard. I would be lying if I didn’t mention the tremolo as one of the biggest highlights of this guitar for me. For anyone looking to play metal, the presence of a tremolo bar is almost required, and I don’t know of many guitars that cost ~$100 that come with a tremolo.

The Paulownia body is really light, so the overall weight of this guitar is incredibly low. I was shocked at how light this guitar was. The sound was comparable to other guitars that are in the $150-$250 range, and I was glad that Dean didn’t cheap out on things like the humbuckers and hardware. I feel like most of the cost savings for Dean came from using a different wood on the body, which makes this guitar quite a bargain for the price.

Dean Vendetta XMT Verdict

Overall, I was very pleased with the sound and playability of the guitar. The construction was good, the hardware was good, and the pickups were much better than I would have expected on a guitar this price. The tremolo bar is pretty standard and it is definitely an entry level guitar; however, it is easy to play, and it isn’t something that you will need to upgrade right away. This guitar is perfect for someone just starting out, for kids because of the extremely lightweight body, or for someone looking for a cheap but good practice guitar that can take a few hard knocks.

Buy The Dean Vendetta XMT

Guitar Center: Buy for $99
Amazon: Buy for $128

Epiphone Les Paul Standard Starter Pack Review

Buy The Epiphone Les Paul Standard Player Pack

Guitar Center: Buy for $649

My Review Of The Epiphone Les Paul Standard Electric Guitar Beginner Set

The Epiphone Les Paul Standard is one of the more expensive Epiphone LPs and it is one of the best guitars under $1000 without question. This guitar is definitely the star of the package, and it is what makes up the bulk of the price (the guitar itself will set you back about $550). I have done a review of this guitar in the past, which you can read here. In short, there are really no downsides to this guitar. It is absolutely stunning to look at, and the construction is top notch. The mahogany body creates a beautiful resonance and the mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard feel phenomenal. The guitar has alnico humbucker pickups which give you that classic Les Paul sound and what a sound it is!

The rest of the package is definitely very good for the additional $100, but it is basically the same extras that you get with the less expensive starter sets from Epiphone. It comes with a 15-watt amp, digital tuner, cable, and headphones; all of which are good. With that said, I almost feel like the rest of the package just does not do the guitar justice because it is that good. That is not to say that the extras that come with the package are not good and aren’t worth the money — they definitely are — but the instrument in this beginner set really outshines everything else.

The Verdict

If you’re in the market for a beginner electric guitar pack that is in the $600 to $800 range, you will not be able to find a better choice than this. The guitar is simply outstanding, and the rest of the package is very good as well. If there is a downside to this package, it is the fact that the guitar is so phenomenal that it outclasses the rest of the set.

Dean Evo XM Review

Dean Evo XM Review

The Dean Evo XM is one of the most inexpensive guitars that I have reviewed so far on this site coming in at $119 from traditional musical instrument vendors (you can get it for less on Amazon). This guitar has what would be considered a standard construction for less expensive guitars with a solid basswood body and a bolt-on maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard. This is not a bad thing; it is just a statement of fact. Down in the $100 price area, you can expect to get plywood construction with shoddy workmanship and abysmal hardware, but that is not what you get with this little guitar. The hardware is quite good for the price, and the pickups aren’t too shabby either. Eric Clapton isn’t going to be clamoring to pick one of these up for his next live performance, but it definitely offers a much better sound than what I was expecting before picking it up.

You can get the guitar in one of two finishes: transparent black and natural mahogany. Visually, the guitar is pretty ho-hum — there is no crazy Dean shape or radical body design here — but the finishes look good. While Dean is typically known for guitars designed for metalheads, this guitar is a much more versatile affair in that it can handle most musical genres pretty well. I can happily report that I could hold this guitar and play without any of the annoying problems that you will often find from really cheap electric guitars like jagged fret spacers, rough wood, and things like that. The guitar definitely played well, it was comfortable to hold, and it sounds pretty good. The guitar’s weighting was a little top heavy in my opinion, but it isn’t oppressively unbalanced. The volume controls could be a little more sensitive and the strings that come with it are pretty bad, but these are small potatoes and easily fixed.

Dean Evo XM Verdict

The Dean Evo XM is a very very good deal. It offers versatility, quality construction, a good sound, and plenty of growth potential without breaking the bank. You don’t get all the bells and whistles that you will get on a more expensive instrument and there are some small problems here and there, but I was truly shocked by this guitar. I did not believe I would play a guitar in this price range that would not feel like it was just a cheap piece of junk, but the Dean Evo XM has surprised me. If you’re looking for a very inexpensive beginner electric guitar, you’ll have trouble finding a better instrument for such a low price.

Buy The Dean Evo XM

Buy for $119
Amazon: Buy for $102