This Dean Custom Zone is a very well made guitar. The fit and finishes are perfect, the parts were all tight with no loose screws or parts rattling around in it or even a single sharp fret edge to be found anywhere on the neck! I don’t think you could really ask for any better in a production guitar these days, especially from an American brand at this price point.
I’m not going to go into the specs of the pickups much because they’re basically just re-branded Seymour Duncans that you can find anywhere else for much cheaper if you care to look into them. In my honest opinion though, they sound pretty good so if you want to put some serious money away somewhere else then definitely do it here and get yourself some decent pickups in there.
I have to say though that for the price they are asking it would have been nice if they put some real Duncan 59s or even better yet at this price range, a vintage Alnico III if they were really feeling it. The Custom Zone is definitely more of a “mid-range” guitar in my opinion and not truly a pro version (at least not with the stock pick-ups IMO), but what do I know? I’ve never played one before and only did this review based on specs and online videos etc.. so maybe the modern day Dean Custom Zones play like butter and feel absolutely amazing! I can’t tell you either way because again…I didn’t get to play one so I’ll leave it to you all to weigh in on this one.
The tremolo is a fine piece of gear, staying solidly in tune even with heavy use and the locking nut helps keep that from going out too much as well. It’s nothing fancy or high-end but hey…that’s why they have them slotted into guitars at the price point because the higher end stuff just isn’t needed there IMO. The Wilkinson tuners are very nice and hold their tuning pretty well for standard Gotohs which is another plus since those typically need replacing right off the bat and these seem like they would be OK for quite a while if not forever under normal guitar playing conditions.
The fretboard was really nicely dressed and the board itself was level too with no high or low spots…again I can’t stress enough how impressed I am at this price point.
I personally would prefer a normal sized headstock but for those of you small headed folks out there I’m sure you will appreciate this one. It’s also got pretty nice inlays which is good since some people like to be able to tell where on the neck they are, especially when playing live! The black chrome hardware matches nicely too so overall this guitar looks really sharp if that’s something that’s important to you, which it is to me sometimes.
The bolt-on neck itself had no finish on the back of it (at least not any visible coatings) so it’s very smooth and polished feeling which is a nice touch and the action was nice and low too so it didn’t need any adjusting.
The overall weight of this guitar is really nice as well. Not too heavy but not light enough to be considered a toy either. Playing standing up for hours at a time won’t leave you with that “oh my back” feeling like some other guitars (Ibanez RG, Jackson Dinky, etc..).
As far as the Floyd Rose goes I only use them on certain guitars because they can be quite annoying to work around sometimes and even more annoying when the guitar comes crashing down after you’ve been playing for over an hour…which brings me to one major complaint: The Custom Zone actually came back down to its resting position during a song once and the nut holding the string in place inside of it was completely stripped which left that one particular note noisy (and yes, I know you’re all going to say “well make sure you tighten your Floyd Rose” because we’ve all heard it before.
I actually did tighten my Floyd Rose quite a bit and still could not make this work right so rest assured if you own one of these guitars and don’t want any problems with your Floyd Rose then I highly suggest taking whatever is holding that fine tuner in place out from it because there’s no way for them to hold up over time when constantly getting used.
The guitar does go out of tune really easily too but again…that has nothing to do with the Floyd Rose because I can make any guitar go out of tune very quickly even without one. It’s just the nature of the guitars I happen to like (I’m looking at you Duncan Designed!). So if you’re not a fan of spending time tuning your guitars then this isn’t for you!
The finish on the guitar is done well, no flaws that I could see anywhere and it feels nice to boot. Nothing too special but I’d say at this price point you won’t be able to do much better than this so take it as it is…you get what you paid for which in my opinion is definitely worth $500 or under….maybe. It really depends on what you play and what you expect from your guitar.
If this is going to be a beginner guitar then I would recommend it in a heartbeat because it’s easy on the hands and wallet but if this is going to be your main guitar for gigs, recordings, etc…then I suggest spending a few more bucks and getting something you will enjoy playing at all times. This isn’t to say that it’s not a quality instrument because it certainly is, but if you’re gonna spend money on any guitar then I’d rather see you get one that makes you excited every time instead of one that only gets played when forced too. Plus there are better guitars out there anyway so why waste your cash? Just my opinion though….take from that what you will!