Review: Dean Guitars Rusty Cooley 6 String Xenocide


Between recording with his band, Day of Reckoning, and being a sought-after clinician and teacher in extremely fast guitar techniques, Rusty Cooley may be one of the hardest-working super-shredders in the country.

His disciplined work ethic, talent and popularity haven’t gone unnoticed either, because Dean Guitars currently offers nine Rusty Cooley signature model guitars for aspiring fleet-fingered axe-men who wish to follow in his speedy footsteps.

While his signature guitars are primarily seven- and eight-string offerings, the Dean Guitars Rusty Cooley 6 String Xenocide is his first and only six-string model available for players who want a more traditional guitar that’s built for speed.


The Xenocide features the same super-strat design with contoured neck heel and a deeply sculpted lower cutaway as his other signature guitars, facilitating wide interval stretches and easy access to the higher fret register. The body is made of alder with a H.R. Giger–inspired “Xenocide” graphic on its top that also matches the headstock.

The bolt-on maple neck features a satin finish, 25 1/2–inch scale length, 16–inch fretboard radius, and ebony fingerboard with 24 extra jumbo frets. The double locking Floyd Rose Pro tremolo is recessed and is setup flush to the body allowing for absolute playing comfort and efficiency for your picking hand. The guitar features a single volume knob and three-way blade switch to control the sonic firepower of the direct-mount EMG active pickups (an EMG 81in the bridge and an EMG 85 in the neck).


The Xenocide is a textbook example of a guitar designed for the sole purpose in attaining maximum speed and performance for hard rock and metal styles. The combination of its alder body and maple neck with an ebony fretboard contributes to a thicker midrange for rhythm and brighter attack for soloing, all of which are the ideal elements for true metal guitar tones. Also, having the EMG active pickups directly mounted to the body intensifies the overall sound. Used with EVH 5150 III and Engl amp heads, the Xenocide didn’t disappoint in accomplishing sheer aggressive power.

The EMG 81 and 85 pickups were superb at delivering detailed clarity and complex definition in high-gain chug for metal. Playing past the 12th fret was equally fun, because the neck carve is evenly tapered to a slim “D” profile that feels comfortable without feeling wimpy. Best of all, the guitar is setup perfectly with low action and a flat radius where you can bend notes two whole steps without fretting out. Add in the recessed Floyd Rose tremolo for all the requisite whammy tricks, and the Xenocide is a beast.



THE BOTTOM LINE: The recessed Floyd Rose Pro locking tremolo system is setup flush to the body, with the fine tuners angled back, allowing a smooth and efficient playing surface for your right hand. The guitar’s slim maple neck is designed for comfort and performance, which makes it a fast-feeling neck profile for soloing and fretting complex chords.

The Bottom Line For speed and precision, the Rusty Cooley 6 String Xenocide is a flawlessly executed six-string shred machine with super-sleek contours, effortless playability and killer metal tones.

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Paul Riario

Paul Riario has been the tech/gear editor and online video presence for Guitar World for over 25 years. Paul is one of the few gear editors who has actually played and owned nearly all the original gear that most guitarists wax poetically about, and has survived this long by knowing every useless musical tidbit of classic rock, new wave, hair metal, grunge, and alternative genres. When Paul is not riding his road bike at any given moment, he remains a working musician, playing in two bands called SuperTrans Am and Radio Nashville.