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Starting off with materials, the first thing to notice about the Dean Icon Select is the blue and green tinted arched maple top with 5-ply binding, which is quite stunning. The back is mahogany, which is very dark, almost black in appearance. With 22 jumbo frets, the 24.75” scale length feels great, and balances well. Rosewood and mahogany comprise the neck construction, and the pearloid neck markers fit in with the design nicely. It’s a neck-through design, with super easy access to the upper registers. The back area of the neck that gets the most use is done in satin finish and is silky smooth, the remaining areas are done in gloss. To top off the headstock, the Dean logo sits over a blue burst finish with black Grover tuners. Add in more well-done binding on the neck and headstock for a very classy touch. At the other end? A beefy tailpiece and ABR-1-style bridge finished in black.
The electronics look simple, but the Seymour Duncan APH1’s Alnico magnet neck pickup, combined with the SH5 Custom in the bridge position are anything but “standard” — with their exposed zebra coils. A 3-way selector, along with a master volume and tone round things out.▼ Article continues below ▼
At first grab, the neck is super comfortable, and all up and down the fretboard it played beautifully. It came strung with D’Addario 9’s, which were very slinky, but they held tune nicely.
Going through a variety of guitar amp (and pedal) situations, as well as plug-ins in a DAW, this is a refined beast that loves getting aggressive. Cowboy chords certainly feel big and open like an arena rock dream. Get into chunky power chords, and it’s straight and responsive. Leads sit very nicely. It’s not so sweet, it’s got that extra edge to let you know where it is in the mix.
Even with higher gain settings, the volume pot has a lot of range, dialing it down gave a really nice and chimney sound, and with a quick roll of a pinky, it went into roaring in a snap; it’s fantastic to have that tactile ability. Even though it’s certainly slanted to go for a modern, harder sound, being able to lighten things up without changing patches or presets is a nice feature.
The neck pickup is a tad dark, but not in a bad way — with some dirt on it, this characteristic is very noticeable, but in cleaner settings, it balances out nicely, on its own, and doesn’t overpower the bridge pickup with the selector in the middle position.
A lot of players might look at a sub-$1000 guitar and immediately think, it’ll need at the least a good setup, and more than likely, I’ll have to swap out the pickups and upgrade some hardware to get it to play and sound good. Right here, out of the box, it’s done, ready to gig, no need to tweak, so get that out of your head.
For a player who wants a great feeling guitar, with a modern and aggressive approach, this nails it. No need for mods or anything, just throw on a strap and get to the gig [or livestream, or whatever the hell it is we’re doing in 2020]!
Great neck, awesome finish, premium pickups and hardware