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

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

Epiphone Les Paul Special II Review

Epiphone Les Paul Special II Review

Guitars for under $200 are definitely not hard to come by, there are a lot of them around. With that said, finding one that is excellent is a much more difficult proposition. One guitar that I had the pleasure of testing in this price range was the Epiphone Les Paul Special II. I am a HUGE fan of it’s bigger brother, so I had high expectations for this Les Paul. Epiphone definitely has a reputation to uphold and they certainly haven’t failed with this guitar. This guitar has a mahogany body, mahogany neck, and the standard 22-fret rosewood fretboard. One thing that I did notice about this guitar is that the sound is incredibly versatile. This is something that I hoped for but did not expect from this entry-level Epiphone.

When I first picked up the guitar I was pleased to discover that the body is actually pretty lightweight, and that was definitely a nice surprise. Because it’s lightweight, this guitar is great for younger players. The Epiphone Les Paul Special II comes in a variety of different colors, from the standard solid black to bright white and almost everything in between including both vintage sunburst and heritage cherry sunburst. Epiphone did a great job with this guitar getting it ready to play right out of the box and no adjustment is needed to start shredding. I was not concerned at all with the durability of this instrument and that isn’t something I can say for every electric guitar under 200 dollars.

The only negative that I can really complain of at this point is the fact that the jack socket can be troublesome. Personally, I didn’t have any problems with mine, but the problem has cropped up with enough people that it is something to be aware of.

Epiphone Les Paul Special II Verdict

Overall, I consider this electric guitar to be the single best overall electric guitar under 200 dollars. This guitar does just about everything well, it is extremely well built, it sounds great, it looks great, it IS great. You can pick this up for 169 dollars and you would be hard pressed to find a better guitar for the price.

Buy The Epiphone Les Paul Special II

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

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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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Squier Bullet Strat Review

Buy The Squier Bullet Stratocaster

Guitar Center: Buy for $100
Amazon: Buy for $119

My Review Of The Squier Bullet Stratocaster Electric Guitar

There are almost no guitars out there that come in under $100. Typically, if you do manage to find an electric guitar that is less than 100, you are probably going to be getting a giant piece of junk. To say that I was pleasantly surprised with this Squier Bullet Stratocaster is a massive understatement. Quite simply, I was shocked that you can get a complete electric guitar from Squier for this price. It isn’t a great electric guitar, but it is a phenomenal guitar for the price.

The first thing to know about this guitar is that it isn’t completely setup out of the box. It is an “assembled kit” so you’re going to need to make some small adjustments or take it to someone who can make those adjustments for you which will probably run you about 20 bucks. This guitar has a dual humbucker setup and this little guitar can actually put out some decent tone. The overall fit and finish on this guitar isn’t great — the neck was a bit rough and the paint seems to chip pretty easily — but you’re getting a lot for your 100 bucks. This guitar has a solid maple neck with a 21 fret rosewood fretboard. The body is a wood composite, but it gives a surprisingly nice sound. This guitar also has a tremolo bar which I found pretty surprising. One of the problems with this guitar is that tuning it is a chore. The tuning knobs that come with this guitar just aren’t that easy to manipulate and left me frustrated, but picking up some new ones are cheap.

The Verdict

This guitar is the perfect guitar for a number of people. Total beginners who are on the fence about whether they are going to play for very long will be very happy with this. It is more than adequate to start playing and if the guitar isn’t for you, you’re only out 100 bucks. This is also excellent for kids as it has a composite wood body making it much lighter than most other electric guitars. With that said, I believe you’re much better off spending an extra $40 or $50 to get a superior instrument.

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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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