If your exhaustive search over the dizzying plethora of modern hot-rodded "superstrats" has proven to be overwhelming, I hear you.
Once you dig deep into the multitude of electric guitars outfitted with higher-output pickups, premium double-locking tremolos and jumbo frets on a fast neck, you’ll find that the biggest deal-breaker may come down to price.
And if that’s your hangup, allow me to point you toward the streamlined superstrats in Dean Guitars MD Series, which tick all the aforementioned shred-tastic boxes without forcing you to cough up Bezos bucks.
Dean Guitars has often been pigeonholed for their axes shaped in the pointy, elongated V, Z and Razorback varieties, but don’t let that overshadow the fact that Dean also offers killer guitars in more traditional shapes, and the excellent MD24 Floyd Roasted Maple reviewed here in this eye-catching vintage orange finish confirms it’s a banging superstrat that combines knockout looks with contemporary upgrades at a price guaranteed to make you “shred” tears of joy.
If you have a sneaking suspicion this guitar looks somewhat familiar, you’d be correct, in that the MD24 shares the wider cutaways, 24 frets and wide-script headstock logo of a Dean DS90 superstrat from the early '90s. But that’s where the similarities end.
This bolt-on constructed MD24 is not a remake at all, but an inspired bare-bones model with taut refinement and tactile ergonomics.
The guitar comes in only two finishes – vintage blue or vintage orange – and features a solid basswood body with a flat top and contoured arm cut, 25 ½-inch scale, a combined roasted maple neck and fingerboard (12-inch radius) that provides stability and rigidity, 24 jumbo frets that widen to more than 2 ¼-inch at the last fret, abalone dot inlays, direct-mount Seymour Duncan TB5 and APH-1 sandblasted zebra parchment finish pickups, single volume knob and 3-way toggle switch, a recessed Floyd Rose 1000 Series tremolo system and Grover (18:1 ratio) tuners.
What’s striking is the satin-finished maple neck on the MD24 is so fire-roasted, it displays more of a nutty chocolate hue compared to the more common caramelized color of roasted necks that have been in vogue as of late.
It’s a beautiful contrast that complements the sharp look of its vintage orange finish, but beauty is only skin-deep, right? Roasted (or “torrefied”) necks have been popular for their sturdiness and brighter tone that makes notes and harmonics pop from the fretboard – and the MD24 delivers just that with explosive definition and detail. The slender C-profile neck feels relaxed because it’s smoothly carved and contoured uniformly from the 1st to the 18th fret, right where your palm meets the heel.
What’s nice is the blockish heel found on typical bolt-on guitars has been decreased to a slightly sculpted one that you can hang onto without feeling obstructed. The jumbo frets are skillfully polished and feel great under your fingers, and having 24 of them allows you to scream notes in those upper registers not found on most guitars.
The guitar’s Seymour Duncan TB5 bridge and APH-1 neck pickups are a complementary pair that telegraph the right amount of kick and punch while being firmly articulate. The TB5 has that enhanced Marshall midrange bark and top-end sparkle with a hot output that stays focused, while the APH-1 neck dishes out that classic Alnico sweetness – think Slash’s neck pickup tone in Sweet Child O’Mine.
I spent a lot of time with the MD24 Floyd Roasted Maple ripping countless notes and whammy bar dives, and can still say it’s a big sounding guitar that’s substantially well-constructed with a setup that’s prepped for one speed: fast. And considering its bold look, you’ll agree you can no longer ignore the orange guitar in the room.
- PRICE: $899 / £699
- TYPE: S-style doublecut electric guitar
- BODY: Basswood
- NECK: Roasted maple, bolt-on
- SCALE LENGTH: 25.5”
- FINGERBOARD: Roasted maple, 12”
- FRETS: 24, jumbo
- PICKUPS: Seymour Duncan APH-1 Parchment ZebraPickup (Bridge), Seymour Duncan TB5 parchment Zebra (neck)
- CONTROLS: Master volume, three-way pickup selector
- HARDWARE: Floyd Rose 1000 series double-locking vibrato, Grover 18:1 tuners
- CONTACT: Dean Guitars