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As a musician, I have a house full of instruments and many guitars. Despite the fact that I have some expensive and more "sought after" guitars than this one, I would say that this would be in my all time top 5. The Dean performer is a semi-acoustic guitar with interesting cutaway and visual appeal. Mine is "Trans-purple" which is actually more of a maroon purple but it still looks fantastic. The performer model comes in a variety of colours and exotic finishes including tigers eye, quilt ash and probably the prettiest -the very beautiful Koa wood.
I must admit that one of the reasons that I got this guitar was the colour, I am a sucker for purple and I am also a guitar tart so this appealed on both levels. I also like cutaway guitars rather than jumbo style as I just find the jumbo too big to get my fingers around the high frets. I bought mine from the States and had it sent over (surprisingly not that expensive) as the cost of the guitar when it came out over in the UK was prohibitive. I paid $350 for mine when new.
This beauty has a wealth of features for the price and all of them are good quality. You have the abalone which brings a bit of bling to the sound-hole, a thick cream binding and the Dean performer tribal style inlay in the headstock. The rosewood bridge is also sculpted to match the general curviness of the guitar and the feature pointy cutaway which further enhances its good looks.
The Dean performer has an A grade spruce top with a nice grain pattern that shows through the translucent cellulose finish. The body is mahogany with the stunning cutaway feature. This is a semi-acoustic guitar so has a 4 band EQ and volume meter with pre-amp and integrated tuner.
This is classed as a "mini-jumbo" guitar, ie you get all of the full and rounded sound of a jumbo in a smaller body that is much more comfortable to play, on a fingerboard that is much easier to access.
The neck is also mahogany and "c" shaped with a rosewood fingerboard which is well finished and easy to move across. The fret wire is finished nicely with no jagged edges and there are of course the standard dot markers in mother of pearl. The Grover style tuners are solid and die cast, they stay in place and are easy to turn. The tuning stays true over long periods of time and the intonation is great too.
AMPLIFICATION AND TONE:
For anybody who does not know what an electro-acoustic guitar is, this is two guitars in one. An acoustic guitar that can also be amplified via the inbuilt pick-up and jack plug at the bottom. This guitar features a black cased Dean three-way EQ system tucked tidily into the guitar which is accessed via the side of the body at the top. The guitar more than holds its own acoustically but there is a lot of fun to be had playing this through an amplifier.
With any new guitar, I always check the action and nut before replacing the strings with strings of my choice. I tend to go for Martin strings because they have a depth of tone and build quality that suits my style of playing. Surprisingly the action on the Performer was decent straight out of the box, not too high and not too low. The strings bent easily, the intonation stayed true right up the frets and it was easy to play.
This guitar not only looks beautiful but it sounds it too. It has a real richness to the tone and is much louder than you would expect from a smaller bodied guitar. The sound projects well and the tones are ringing and sweet. I was very pleased with how it sounded acoustically and actually surprised that this sounded as good as it did for the money. When plugged into an amp (I generally use a 30w Marshall with a tiny bit of reverb) with a good quality cable it really sings and fills the room.
Being an acoustic bodied guitar, this is a great guitar for fingerstyle and picking as well as strumming, the notes when playing fingerstyle are clean and have a good sustain on them. The guitar sounds great played either way and I love the versatility of a good quality electro-acoustic. The design of the body of course means that it is easy to reach the higher parts of the frets so there is a real bonus to the special cutaway as well as it being aesthetically pleasing.
Like all good musical instruments, the guitar tone will develop as you play it and it adjusts to your playing style and humidity in your house. I have found it get richer and deeper as time goes by as the wood ages and settles. There is no upkeep involved in owning this guitar, just the odd dry dusting. I have not lemon oiled the fingerboard either as it has not needed it. I have used this guitar for busking, playing socially with other instruments and recording and it has excelled at all of these. It is bright enough in sound to hold its own when jamming without needing the amplification.
The finish is flawless and the front has an incredible mirror shine to it. The cream binding is well fitted and contrasts with the guitar body. The rosewood fingerboard is of excellent quality and has a deep rich colour and nice tight grain. It is not pitted like some of the cheaper rosewood on the market and it does not look dull or dried out. The machine heads are Grover style, chromed and semi-closed with button cover which is fiddly to get off but possible should you wish to change tuners. Unfortunately one of mine snapped under heavy handling from a friend and I had to do just that. The guitar neck is formed from a one piece mahogony chunk in an easy to manage standard "c" shape. The neck is slim enough to be easy to play.
Never use a polish on a guitar! EVER. If the rosewood fingerboard becomes dry it is likely that it is not being played enough but you could oil it with a special lemon oil made for this task. Keep it protected in a case and out of sunlight and away from radiators. I change the strings each time I record with it (not often) or every 6 months but then I can tell the difference in tone however slight of older strings, they have a dullness to them. You may not care about this so change them as and when, there is no rule about this. Obviously do not get the guitar damp or try to hold your fag in the machine heads ala Keith Richards....
* Select Spruce Top
* Mahogany Body
* 25-1/4" Scale
* 1-5/8" Nut
* Set Mahogany C Neck
* Rosewood Fingerboard
* Pearl Dot Inlays
* Sealed Die Cast Tuners
* Celluloid Binding
* Abalone Rosette
* Dean DMT I2NR 4 Band EQ w/ Tuner
* Finishes: Classic Black, Gloss Natural, Trans Power Purple, Blueburst, Trans Red and luxury finishes available in the "E" models.
The price varies. They are available new from the states and in some UK stores plus are likely to come up on Ebay. Prices range from £280-£500 according to the finish choice.
GAK currently have a black version for just £208:
This guitar is excellent value for money. It has the looks, the sound and the build quality which means that it will last and last. It is a low maintenance guitar that needs very little care to keep it playing well and the tone and features are excellent. This is a very decent guitar for the money and I give it 10/10.
~Dean guitars are top 'Performer's~
Although many people rightly associate the range of Dean Guitars with the signature 'Dimebag' Darell (ex Pantera guitarist) Abbott series of electric guitars which are still selling like hot cakes many years after the very sad demise of the man himself, Dean also produce some very nice electro acoustics that have a wonderful bright light tone to them which makes them very versatile in use. I found out just how good the range of Dean acoustics are when wanting to purchase a new electro acoustic model, which ultimately ended up with me having the chance to try out this model whilst waiting for another from the same series. The Performer series of guitars encapsulates a number of guitars that have slightly differing body shapes and finishes, which also have subtle differences to the cut aways, giving some models a little more presence than others.
The body size of this guitar is rather good with it being a mid sized instrument that may be suited for use by an older child or adult player with a degree of experience under their belt. I feel that due to the price and finish this model is not a budget buy guitar and as such has been built with the needs of an already experienced guitarist in mind, as it offers enough finesse to allow for a good variety of playing styles and abilities that will hold your interest for years to come. All the finishes are well executed with the working parts of the model being well formed and easy to use when needed, the action when set at factory settings should enable the guitar to be played straight from the box and the intonation is again something that I found needed no adjustment making this model very easy to feel comfortable with from the very outset.
~Why choose a Florintine spalt maple guitar?~
This particular 'Florintine' model having a shark fin cut away to the body that sets it apart from some of the standard Performer series models, is something I feel makes it look extremely stylish, whilst never getting in the way when the guitar is in use showing how much thought was put into making this model. When I suggested this guitar as a review subject here on Dooyoo I had a Dean Florintine Performer in a spalt maple finish (as shown here) on loan whilst awaiting the arrival of my current Dean Performer acoustic, which ended up having to be ordered in a different option in the end due to Dean having issues with sourcing the wood used to make the model I wanted. Whilst I had this spalt maple finished Performer I found it to be a very nice guitar ,with a well finished look to it as well as a lovely bright sound that could be set to give light twinkling sounds when played finger style, or adjusted and run via an effects pedal and used with a plectrum to produce all kinds of effects that you might not normally associate with an electro acoustic model.
If you are thinking of buying a versatile electro acoustic guitar with a medium body shape then you could do far worse than choosing a Dean model such as this one, as I have found that these guitars are surprisingly good when in use with plenty to offer in terms of range and playability. As part of the available models in the Dean Performer range at the moment this guitar sits at the mid to higher end in terms of its price, yet I feel for the superb look and tone offered the price is not overly expensive, as you really are getting a wonderful instrument for the money. Had it not been for the fact that I had another Dean guitar with a slightly upgraded audio/ EQ system coming my way I would most certainly have wanted to keep this guitar as it really does have a wonderful tone with a smooth and easy action. I found this model to be a joy to play as well as being fantastic to look at and handle and I feel it is the type of instrument that will most certainly improve its fresh bright tone in years to come, giving greater depth to the range of tones it is able to produce.
~A quick tour of the guitar~
The model reviewed here being a 'Florentine' spalt maple version from the Performer series, is one that comes with a Florentine style single cutaway and THE most amazing finish to the body of the guitar, which is down to the amazing patterns produced on the spalted maple Dean have used used to make the guitar from. Both the front and back sides of this guitar model have the most gloriously patterned wood to the outer face which gives a stand out look to each and every model, with each guitar being subtly different from the next due to the fact that no 2 pieces of wood have the same pattern. The term spalted maple used to describe the finish of the guitar relates to the wood used to make it, that has been created by the ingress of various natural fungi that set to work on the wood resulting in the amazing patterned effects, black lines and shapes in the wood. The wood is then used to create a uniquely patterned version of the spalt maple Performer model making each and every one of these produced truly unique.
The inlays on this model are once again truly lovely with there being abalone inlays on the fret board as well as around the centre of the guitar, plus a series of 3 way black detail strips set around the outer edge of the body of the guitar to give it a little extra presence. I feel that the black tone used for the strips sets off the cream bindings used on the guitar to good effect and the gold machine heads on this model (which are placed at the headstock) create a sumptuous look that works as well as any other combination I have seen used on a medium bodied electro acoustic. The tail piece of the guitar has been modelled to form a shark fin shape that works rather well with the shark fin cut out to the body of the guitar, which I feel gives a well thought out, stylized yet not overly fussy look. The Dean signature logo is set into the headstock which I feel gives a very nice finish that along with the Dean 'wings' logo gives a very classy over all look to this stunning spalt maple model.
~What music styles will this suit?~
This model will work well when played either hooked up to an amplifier or when played au natural, as it has all the refinements of a standard acoustic model with the extra benefits of being an electric version, thus giving a wide range of playing styles from just one guitar no matter how you choose to play it. For the budding James Taylors out there who like the wonderful finger picking style guitar effects that the man himself uses in many of his songs, this guitar would be a good instrument on which to experiment with the techniques required as it has a nice action combined with a sweet bright tone that is very suited to those types of music styles. Using a plectrum with this guitar will bring out a wider array of stronger deeper tones that can be harnessed to good effect when the guitar is plugged into an amp and run through an effects pedal, giving this guitar a good amount of versatility to suit many playing styles.
~Main features of the model~
The guitar body is classed as being a mini jumbo type of body that is not as large and hefty as many large bodied acoustics yet is not as small as some of the blues style guitars you can buy. This makes the guitar easy to hold and handle and I found it sat well when I played the guitar in a seated position with no slipping or sliding of the guitar when in use.
The body of this guitar as mentioned has a spalted maple top, sides and back giving a very individual effect. I feel that the natural wood finish to this guitar is one of the most beautiful finishes I have ever seen and the light natural lacquer enhances it rather than hides it making it stand out even more.
The width of the guitar body is neither too thin or too thick and this is something that gives the guitar a good tone with it never feeling too bulky to handle when in use.
The lacquer finish used on this model has a slightly glossy clear toned effect that works really well with the wood used and I found it was easy to give the lacquer a quick clean with a soft polishing cloth to keep it looking smear and mark free.
The guitar neck is formed in an easy to grip c shape from a mahogany base, having a well laid out rosewood fingerboard. I felt when I had this guitar that the neck was well sized and easy to get used to, being well proportioned yet not overly chunky allowing for ease of movement when holding down the strings.
There are abalone dots and inlays along the neck of the guitar and additional abalone details placed around the centre and on the headstock of the guitar. All these subtle details give this guitar a fantastic look when seen altogether as they add some subtle yet effective style to the model.
The guitar has gold sealed die cast machine heads, that look amazing against the spalt maple body with its light natural lacquer finish. I feel that the machine heads work very well when in use and I found that they were easy to adjust when I needed to retune the guitar, with the guitar holding its tuning well once set up and only occasional adjustments being needed to the tuning from time to time when in use, which is what I was hoping for from the guitar.
There is a Dean 3 way EQ system fitted to the guitar that sits at the top side of the body, being easy to reach and equally easy to set as needed, although I do slightly prefer the 5 way system fitted to the guitar I have now, (which is another Dean Performer model) I found the system easy to use as needed and I liked the placement of it, as it never got in the way of my movements when playing the guitar.
Having had this guitar for a number of weeks prior to receiving my replacement slightly upgraded model, I feel that it was a very nice guitar that offered a neat playing style with a range of nice light bright tones that I am certain would improve over time. As with any relatively recently produced model that has a solid wooden body, the general tone and depth of sound produced will improve over a number of years, as long as the guitar is stored safely and not subjected to extremes of temperature. It is my feeling that over time the bright tones that come from this model would soften and deepen slightly giving greater versatility to the range of music styles you can play on it.
Due to the beautiful spalt maple wood used to make the model I would most certainly advise that the guitar is not left out in direct sunlight between uses as it will effect the depth of colours in the wood fading it over time, so a storage case is highly recommended. I bought a large sized storage case which I used with this guitar as well as with the guitar I have now that replaced this one and I found that storing the guitar in a solid bodied case was the safest way to ensure it stayed in prime condition. To clean this model I just gave it a light wipe over with some Fender Polish and a soft cloth and left everything else alone and I found the lacquer finish came up well with very little effort.
When I had this guitar model I found it easy to tune with it holding its tone well and having a nice action that needed no adjustment at all. The intonation of the guitar was also fine and I felt that the guitar played well with it only requiring the minimum of care in order to keep everything in good condition. I had no cause to change the strings on the guitar when I had it although as I now have another Dean Performer model that shares many features with this one, I can say that I have had no problems when changing the strings on that and would think that this model would be equally easy to handle. Over all I feel that this guitar is very well made with many nice features that make it a lovely looking guitar that also benefits from having a nice tone to match its stunning looks.
~Price and rating~
The cost of this guitar is something that I feel is very good at the moment as when I first saw this guitar in store it was on sale for £289, which I feel is a fair price for the quality the instrument provides. Having looked at online prices I can see that you can buy this model at the moment for £249 which I feel is incredible value. The finish of this model is very good and the feel of the guitar when you sit down to play it is relaxed and easy to get used to. The shark fin cut away allows the guitar body to show off a good degree of style, yet never catches on your leg when sitting down to play this guitar. The over all shape of the medium sized body allows the guitar to sit really comfortably across your body when in use if you prefer to play sitting down rather than standing up making this ideal for playing more relaxed music styles. In summary I feel that this guitar is a truly stunning model from the Dean Performer range that plays well and is fully deserving of a 5 star product rating.