Where the Zero and Vengeance models were your archetypal pointy affairs, the Exile offers a classily toned-down, ‘less is more’ Strat-style aesthetic that works wonders for it. Crucially, it also continues the luthier’s trend of loading its new guitars with modern-minded specs.
The Exile Select Floyd Neck-Thru Archtop SBB features an Eastern mahogany body and an arched quilt maple top in a black burst. It also offers a high-access neck-through heel joint for its five-piece maple/walnut neck construction. Its black burst finish, meanwhile, offers a muted yet nuanced visual appeal.
In contrast to the Evertune-stocked Zero and Vengeance models, the Exile marks the return of the Floyd Rose tremolo. It’s a key move from a brand synonymous with the screams and squeals of the late Dimebag Darrell.
As such, there’s a Floyd Rose 1000 bridge accompanied by a Floyd Rose R3, 16-inch width nut and Grover 18:1 tuners for tuning stability. That means players should be able to dump its whammy bar to their heart’s content.
Underneath the strings, however, it gets a little more interesting, with a double act of Fishman pickups. There’s a Fluence Modern in the bridge and a Fluence Classic in the neck, as opposed to the twin Moderns setup of its two predecessors. That combination typifies the old-meets-new ethos of these new Dean builds as it looks to recapture what it made its name doing, while bringing its builds up to date for the modern player.
The pickups offer a three-voice system, one of Fishman’s major calling cards. Between them, they provide the round and boosted high outputs of modern Alnico pickups, a “clear, airy chime for unreal highs”, and your classic single-coil twang. They’re augmented by a single volume knob, a push/pull tone knob and a three-way blade selector switch.
Once more, the guitar is priced at a reasonable $1,499. That makes it a competitively priced guitar for a mahogany, Floyd Rose and Fishman-loaded six-string.
Says Dean Guitars: “This guitar is not designed to stay in just one lane. Eye-catching and tonally versatile, the Exile Select Floyd Neck-Thru Archtop SBB is a guitar that will inspire players of a range of styles to explore new sonic territory while making the most of every note.”
Dean Guitars producer Armadillo Distribution Enterprises, Inc. has faced a difficult time in the past couple of years, facing foreclosure action from its lenders, as well as a lawsuit involving previous CEO, Evan Rubinson.
Those difficulties follow Gibson winning a court ruling in 2022 to force the brand into ceasing production of all Z and V and Gran Sport guitars. Regardless of the ruling, which Gibson called a victory for fans, Dean has ploughed on and sparked something of a resurgence.
The Exile arrives at an extremely interesting time for Dean, but clearly signals that the guitar manufacturer doesn’t plan on going anywhere anytime soon.
For more information, head to Dean Guitars.