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

Epiphone SG-Special Review

Buy The Epiphone SG-Special

Guitar Center: Buy for $169
Amazon: Buy for $169

My Review Of The Epiphone SG-Special Electric Guitar

Epiphone has been making some exceptional guitars in recent years. From my personal favorite, the Les Paul Custom, to others like this Epiphone SG-Special, Epiphone has been making some very solid guitars. This particular model happens to be one of the least expensive Epiphone guitars on the market at just under 170 bucks. It is definitely worth the money, especially for beginners. This guitar is well constructed and it features a rosewood fingerboard with 22 thin frets, and a three-way pickup selector. While this guitar would definitely be phenomenal for a beginner, there are some issues that are likely to bother the more experienced player.

First of all, the guitar body is laminated. It may look good — who am I kidding, it does — but it does show finger prints and scratches very easily. This can be pretty annoying as you constantly have to polish the thing to get rid of the fingerprints. When playing without an amp, the Epiphone SG Special tends to buzz… a lot. Obviously, this is not an issue when playing through an amp as you are not going to hear it, but it can be really annoying when you are just practicing without one. With that said, this guitar definitely has a number of things going for it as well.

First of all, it is lightweight in comparison to some other guitars in this price range. This is good for playing live, but it does not really matter too much if you’re sitting. It does look good, and it is different in comparison with the standard strat style guitars that are in this price range. The strings are very easy to change, which is definitely important if you are new to playing the electric guitar, because there is nothing more annoying that not being able to change the strings.

The Verdict

This guitar is definitely good value for money, but it is not as good as the Les Paul Special II. It is unlikely you will be disappointed with this guitar, and if you prefer the look of this guitar more than the Les Paul, you won’t be disappointed choosing this over the other. This isn’t my favorite guitar under 200 dollars, but it is a very solid instrument at a very reasonable price. I was very pleased with this guitar and, at $169, you will be too.

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ESP LTD EC-10 Review

Buy the ESP LTD EC-10

Guitar Center: Buy for $149
Amazon: Buy for $139

My Review of the ESP LTD EC-10 Electric Guitar

This guitar, the ESP LTD EC 10, was definitely a guitar that I enjoyed testing. There are so many good things about this guitar that it is actually really difficult to highlight any bad points. First, the features. It has a bolt on maple neck, a rosewood finger board and a basswood body. With 24 frets and chrome hardware, it is hard not to absolutely love this guitar especially when you consider the fact that this one clocks in at $149. You’re getting an awful lot of guitar for that price. The sound is fantastic, and I found that it works especially well with metal styles, although it is definitely versatile enough to accommodate for any other style that you may wish to play.

The only thing that I would probably change about this guitar is the pickups. They are not troublesome, but when it comes to pinch harmonics they can actually be a bit of a nuisance. It is definitely not a major issue because changing the pickups is easy enough, and the pinch harmonics do not actually sound that bad, but it could be improved. With that said, this is a relatively advanced technique that is not really used except by more experienced guitarists. I also really liked the appearance of this guitar at it is very eye catching and, it will definitely get you noticed if you are going to playing in front of others. It also comes in a range of different colors which is nice. The one that I was testing was the 2-tone sunburst and I loved it! I’m a big fan of sunburst and this one was definitely quite sexy.

One other thing that you do have to be choosy about is the amp that you are going to be using. If you are not using a quality amp then you are not going to get the full experience with this guitar. I tested it on several different amps and the higher end amps definitely worked better and gave a lot less feedback. If you want a guitar that is incredibly good value for money while still being reliable and versatile then this is one that you should definitely be thinking about. It is one that will definitely not disappoint.

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a good axe for metal under $200, you can buy this for $149 and you definitely won’t be disappointed. This is a very solid guitar for the price and a good choice.

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Yamaha PAC012DLX Pacifica Series HSS Deluxe Review

Buy The Yamaha PAC012DLX Pacifica HSS Deluxe

Guitar Center: Buy for $180
Amazon: Buy for $180

My Review Of The Yamaha PAC012DLX Pacifica HSS Deluxe Electric Guitar

Yamaha isn’t typically known for being a big guitar manufacturer. With that said, Yamaha has been making excellent instruments for years — pianos in particular — and they’ve really gotten into the electric guitar market as well. I have tested out a lot of different guitars, and the Yamaha PAC012DLX Pacifica Series HSS Deluxe is definitely one of the best that I have tested in the under $200 range. The build quality of this guitar is definitely top notch. It has 22 frets, 3 pickups (which make the guitar sound amazing), a rosewood fingerboard, a bolt on maple neck, and an agathis body. I can honestly say that I was so impressed with the quality of the guitar overall. The sound produced from the Yamaha PAC012DLX Pacifica Series HSS Deluxe, if I wanted a clean sound then it was easily achieved, and the same when I wanted a heavier more distorted sound. It’s not too often that I’ve found a guitar in this price range that can really cover all the bases like the Yamaha.

I was also really impressed with the general appearance of the guitar. It has white dot inlays, with a brilliant finish. If you are looking for a guitar with style and attitude then this is definitely one to consider. Another thing that was definitely impressive was the fact that it is really well built. There are a lot of guitars that I have tested in the past, and you can tell that some of them are just not built to last. This is definitely not the case with the Yamaha PAC012DLX Pacifica Series HSS Deluxe because you can tell just by looking at it that it is built to withstand a lot. One of the big downsides with this guitar is the name… it just isn’t very sexy. You’re going to have to come up with a good pet name for this one because calling it the PAC012DLX just isn’t very cool.

The Verdict

There is a lot to like about this guitar, especially considering the price. There are a lot of guitars of this caliber that are a lot more expensive, and I would be happy to pay more than what it actually costs. I really can’t fault it: it is built well, sounds fantastic and will definitely last a long time. If you are looking for a high quality guitar that offers versatility as well as strength then this is definitely a great guitar to pick up. or check out some of my many reviews of electric guitars under 200 dollars.

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B.C. Rich Warlock Review

Buy The B.C. Rich Warlock

Guitar Center: Buy for $200
Amazon: Buy For $194

My Review Of The B.C. Rich Warlock Electric Guitar

This guitar is outstanding. As with almost every B.C. Rich guitar, this thing looks wicked. With 24 frets, a maple fingerboard, a basswood body and 2 B.C. Rich B.D.S.M humbuckers; this is truly an excellent guitar for the money. Guitars under 200 dollars can be sketchy when it comes to quality of construction and the sound, but that isn’t really an issue with this guitar. The B.C. Rich Warlock has a distinct muddy sound; something that won’t appeal to the masses, but it does suit specific types of music. Then again, B.C. Rich is known for guitars that are best suited to metal and other heavy sounds. With that said, if you want a cleaner sound, there are a lot of amps that will allow you to get it, but that is not really what this guitar was meant to do.

One thing that I did find slightly disappointing was the pickup selector. Unfortunately, it does feel really flimsy. This kind of detracts from the high quality of the guitar overall, which is a little annoying. The spiky design of this guitar definitely makes it stand out from the crowd, especially with the gold tribal design printed on the body. If you want a ferocious looking guitar then this is one that you should definitely be taking a look at. If you play things like Metallica or System of A Down then this will produce the sound that you’re looking for at a price that really can’t be matched.

The Verdict

The fact that you can is truly impressive. The versatility of this guitar is just one of its most appealing factors, but the fact is that I would happily pay a lot more than what this guitar is actually going for. It is built to last and will withstand the most heavy players. Definitely a guitar worth looking at if you are searching for sound, versatility, and high quality workmanship for an extremely reasonable price. This is a definite buy if you’re looking for a cheap electric guitar that is particularly well suited to heavy metal.

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Squier SE Special Strat Pack Review

Buy The Squier SE Special Stratocaster Start Playing Set

Guitar Center:Buy For $200
Amazon:Buy For $200

My Review Of The Squier by Fender Stop Dreaming, Start Playing Set: SE Special w/ Squier by Fender SP10 Amp

Fender has always been one of my first choices when it comes to electric guitar manufacturers, and the guitar package offered by Squier — which is made by Fender — here reaffirms why I love them so much. The guitar package in question is the Fender SE Special Strat With Squier SP 10 AMP Value Pack. The guitar itself has a bolt on maple neck, a rosewood fingerboard, and an agathis body. It has a 22-fret rosewood fingerboard which boasts dot inlays. One of the things I really like about this package is the fact that you can get the guitar in either white, black, or the classic brown sunburst. All three look great, but my favorite is the sunburst. So, what is it that makes me think that this is such a good package? The first thing is the price. This package is under 200 dollars, and it is tough to find a decent guitar for under $200, let alone an entire starter package.

Packages like this are not hard to come by, but in my experience they can often be expensive. However, the sound alone from the Fender SE Special Strat included in this back With Squier SP 10 AMP definitely makes this guitar package worth it. The great thing about this guitar is that the sound is incredibly versatile. For example, if you want a clean sound then it is not hard to achieve, and the same can be said about getting a muddy, distorted sound. This is something that can be difficult to find in guitars that are around this price range. Most guitars are going to be good at one thing or another, but this is very versatile. One thing that did slightly disappoint me was the amp. It isn’t a bad amp buy any means, but typically, Squier amps are awesome and this one fell a bit short. One other thing to mention is that the guitar needs to be retuned more often than others, but this isn’t a big deal with a tuner handy.

The Verdict

This package contains everything that you will need to get started playing guitar. Overall, it is a very good package that offers great value for money, and though it has some faults, it’s definitely one of the best options you’re going to find as a starter pack in this price range.

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Ibanez IJX25 Jumpstart Package Review

Buy The Ibanez IJX25 Jumpstart Package

Guitar Center: Buy for $229

My Review Of The Ibanez IJX25 Jumpstart Package

Ibanez IJX25 Jumpstart Package is a very good choice for someone who is looking to get started playing the guitar the right way. The first thing that appealed to me about this package is that the entire package is $229, which is less than you would be paying for almost any electric guitar by itself. You get the Ibanez electric guitar which boasts a basswood body, and a rosewood neck with pearl dot inlays. Additionally, you get everything else that you need to get started including an amp, gig bag, shoulder strap, tuner, and more.

I will say that I was slightly disappointed with the overall sound quality of the guitar, as it is not as nice as some of the other guitars that are in this range like the Les Paul Special II, but it isn’t bad by any means. I have found that it is difficult to get a clean sound from the guitar, but there are many music genres for which this is a benefit and not a hindrance including metal, and hard rock. If you are not a beginner then you are probably not going to be very impressed with this package, or rather the guitar itself, but for a beginner, this package has a lot to offer.

The Verdict

Despite having a few faults, I would still recommend the Ibanez IJX25 Jumpstart Package as a decent option for beginners. The guitar is not good enough to impress people who have been playing regularly for more than a year — and those who only need the guitar — but it is definitely good enough for someone new to the instrument. The extras that come with this package are pretty good too and definitely help to push this package from “overlook it” to “consider it.” It isn’t perfect, but getting a full package for $229 is not a bad deal.

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Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Review

Buy The Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special

Guitar Center: Buy for $299
Amazon: Buy for $299

My Review Of The Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special Electric Guitar

The Jazzmaster is one of the iconic fender models along with the tele and the strat. This Jazzmaster by Squier, which is the less expensive brand made by fender, has a lot of things going for it, including the price. At $299, the Vintage Modified Jazzmaster comes in well below the price points of most guitars by Fender, which can cost upwards for $3,000, and it still maintains that classic Fender feel and sound.

The guitar that I reviewed was the “Butterscotch Blonde” and, I’m going to be honest, it is an UGLY color. This guitar also comes in a lovely sunburst — as pictured — and I would definitely suggest if you’re going to get this guitar to get it in the sunburst finish. The price is the same, and you won’t want to retch every time you look at your guitar, which is definitely important. I’m a big fan of the Jazzmaster in general, and this version does not disappoint. The solid alder body feels sturdy and the c-shaped maple neck and 21 fret fretboard feel great in your hand and beneath your fingers.

It has a top-loading hardtail bridge with adjustable string saddles, which allow you to adjust the intonation in addition to being height-adjustable. The Vintage Jazzmaster has the old-school volume/tone knobs where you have the volume knob at the center and then the tone adjustment as a ring around the outside, which is something I like a lot. The Duncan pickups, which were designed specifically for this guitar, are definitely solid. The bridge pickup is nice and bright and clean while the neck pickup produces a lovely rich sound. You’ll find this guitar produces a very nice sustain and it is definitely pleasant to play.

The Verdict

The Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special by Squier is a very good electric guitar under 300 dollars. The guitar is well built, it has a very pleasant sound that is both versatile and vibrant. It is definitely worthy of consideration, especially if you’re a fan of the Jazzmaster shape. I can’t say this would be a perennial favorite in my guitar collection, but I would have no problem shelling out $300 for this guitar, and I would consider it money well spent.

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Epiphone Dot Studio Review

Buy The Epiphone Dot Studio Semi-Hollow

Guitar Center: Buy for $269
Amazon: Buy for 269

My Review Of The Epiphone Dot Studio Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar

A semi-hollow body electric guitar for $269? Yes. You can get the Epiphone Dot Studio — in the worn brown — for the bargain price of $269. This Epiphone hearkens back to the days of the legendary Epiphone archtops like the Sheraton and Emperor. When I first picked this up, I was very surprised that the instrument that I was holding only cost $269. The one that I was reviewing was the vintage sunburst and that one costs $499. Why Epiphone is charging double for the exact same guitar with a different paint job is beyond me but, whatever.

This guitar feels great in the hands. It’s light and you can tell that it is well made. Epiphones used to have a stigma attached to them because the foreign manufactured ones were terrible, but I have not played a truly inferior Epiphone guitar in many many years. Most of this guitar is made from mahogany, which is known for its resonant qualities, and it does not disappoint here.

This guitar produces a really solid sound. The stock humbuckers are very good, and you will have no trouble playing jazz, blues, or rock on this guitar. It can have an extremely warm, clean sound or it can be really dirty with very little adjustment. Overall, the fit and finish on this guitar is great… with a few exceptions. The nuts are pretty weak plastic and should definitely be replaced with something more substantial. Additionally, most people have not played on guitars without inlays on the fretboard and this lacks inlays. The dots are on top of the neck and this could take some getting used to for people who have never played on a guitar with a blank fretboard.

The Verdict

This is not a Gibson ES-335, but it is an excellent semi-hollow guitar for an extremely reasonable price… provided you don’t go for the absurd markup on the sunburst. This guitar is phenomenal for anyone who is planning to play any genre where a hollow body guitar is better like jazz, folk, folk rock, and blues. For $269, you are going to have difficulty finding a hollow or semi-hollow guitar better than the Epiphone Dot Studio.

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Peavey JF-1 Hollowbody Review

Buy The Peavey JF-1 Hollowbody

Guitar Center:Buy for $299
Amazon: Buy for $349

My Review Of The Peavey JF-1 Hollowbody Electric Guitar

It isn’t often that you find a hollowbody electric guitar for under $300, but the Peavey JF-1 hollowbody clocks in right at $300 (from a number of prominent retailers). Peavey is probably best well known for their excellent amps, but this hollow body electric guitar does not disappoint. When I picked this guitar up, I felt like I was holding a much more expensive guitar. The maple body feels well crafted and it looks absolutely stunning. The one that I tested was the candy red, but it also comes in a traditional sunburst as well as solid black.

One thing that I really like about this guitar is the fact that the neck is connected to the body at a slight angle, which gives you easier access to the upper register of the fretboard. This is something that is quite helpful if you are playing jazz or fusion, which happen to be the types of music that this guitar is designed for among a few others like blues. The stock humbuckers definitely provide a smooth, rich sound, which resonates extremely well through the body of this guitar. The knobs are well placed, feel solid, and they give you 2 volume controls, 2 tone knobs, and a 3-way toggle-switch pickup selector so you’ve got plenty of ability to control your sound.

If there is one downside that I found with this guitar, it is the fact that I felt like it was a touch on the fragile side. Obviously, hollow body guitars are not going to have the same durability as a solid body, so I’d definitely recommend a hard case if you’re thinking about picking up this — or almost any other — hollow body electric guitar.

The Verdict

You probably won’t see BB King picking up one of these, but if you’re looking to get a solid hollow body electric guitar for under 300 dollars, you should definitely be looking at the Peavey JF-1 Hollowbody. This is definitely a worthy competitor for the slightly less expensive Epiphone Dot Studio, and unlike the Epiphone, there isn’t a $250 markup for the sunburst finish.

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