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This article was originally published in issue #16
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Winding back the clock to the 2011 winter NAMM show, US manufacturer Dean guitars unveiled a brand new 'Dean Custom Run' series of instruments, which is now Dean's flagship limited edition series. The idea behind this new product line was to offer sophisticated, well-appointed guitars that not only had visual impact but also, thanks to some nice additional touches, were unique guitars which would become collectors items. Essentially, every three months the company would release a new instrument, which would be one of a limited run of 100, and would be marked as such on the instrument itself. Fast-forward two years to the winter 2013 NAMM show and Dean unveiled its newest addition to the series and the subject of this review, the Dean DCR Cadillac Floyd guitar.
There are custom order, US-built, Dean models in this series (Steve Stevens, interviewed in this issue has one - Ed) which are costly (and very collectible) versions, but also the more affordable Korean-built models (also rare and limited) such as the model we were loaned for review.
The design of this guitar is in the unmistakable style that Dean has become well know for and everything about it screams 'look at me'! OK, so let's take a closer look to see what this new instrument has to offer.
At the core of the Caddy lies a solid piece of mahogany, on top of which you'll find a piece of flame maple. The actual flame effect in the wood chosen for this specific instrument looked very subtle, which I quite liked. Attached to the body by the way of a traditional glued joint is the mahogany set neck. On this fine mahogany 'V' shape neck is an ebony fingerboard, complete with pearl block inlays from the first fret continuing right up to the 21st fret. The headstock is the classic Dean 'V' shape, which in this instance has a rather attractive flame maple veneer giving a much more unified aesthetic to the instrument. On the rear of the headstock you'll find the 'DCR' stamp along with the run number out of 100, which adds to the authenticity.
Firmly attached to the rather striking headstock are the Grover tuners (three on each side).
Continuing with the hardware, the Cadillac comes fully equipped with a Floyd Rose tremolo system and locking nut, finished in a very classy black chrome. Pickups come in the form of active EMG 81 and 85s, each having its own, independent volume and tone control. There are two colour options for this model, gloss natural and the finish we had on our sample, which was a very attractive trans black finish. Incidentally, each colour option will have a run of 100, too!
Opening up the supplied DCR hardshell case revealed the DCR Cadillac guitar, accompanied by the certificate of authenticity and after some light unamplified strumming and lead work, first impressions were good. It resonated very nicely indeed, with clarity and great quality of tone. Once hooked up and ready to rock, the Cadillac really started to show what it was capable of! Never being one to shy away from the gain, I jumped straight in at the deep end and the Caddy was ready to handle anything I threw at it. The sustain on this guitar was very impressive indeed, perhaps aided by that set-neck. The Floyd Rose, too, proved itself to handle some real abuse and never strayed out of tune.
I can't quite put my finger on why, but this guitar was an awful lot of fun to play. The set-up was impressive and the playability was fantastic with a nice, low action and without any discernible fret-buzz. It produced some lovely clean tones too with a surprising warmth to the tone, showing that high output active pickups are not always 'clinical' as some would have us believe.
Dean has produced a fantastic instrument in the Cadillac and it is most certainly a great addition to the current DCR series. Although it is aimed at die-hard Dean fans and collectors, it is a very impressive sounding guitar, which is a great deal of fun to play. It's also extremely well made, not to mention coming well set-up (assuming our sample was representative) and is surprisingly well priced for such a fine, collectible, guitar. Even if Dean hasn't been on your radar previously, check this one out of you can!