This Woody is Hard to Beat!
Nov 29, 2000 (Updated Oct 17, 2001)
Review by madarnell
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:The tone, The Price, Did I mention the Tone?
Cons:only 20 frets
The Bottom Line: Nothing Like Sporting' a woody from Dearmond!
For many years I have wanted to get either a semi-hollowbody or full hollowbody electric guitar. Ever since a friend of mine let me play his classic Gibson 1965 ES335 I has hooked. Plus over the years my musical interest have been shifting from less rock to more Jazz & Blues. Actually I grew up on Jazz. I knew who Louis Armstrong was before I even knew of a Jimi Hendrix. So I suppose this is a natural transition with getting older to revisit the music that was with me in the beginning.
Recommend this product?
I decided that this was the year for some changes both in my guitar line-up & what I wanted to do musically. I first decided that I wanted to start playing more & more Jazz gigs. But I needed to get a good sounding guitar that would handle the Jazz sound that I have come accustomed to. Actually my classic 1970 Gibson Les Paul can produce any type of Jazzy Blues type tones ranging from B.B. King to Wes Montgomery and Joe Pass. But the Les Paul is just an awkward shaped & size guitar to use for Jazz lounge gigs. Let me explain, for me I want to be able to sit on a bar stool or chair and sit the guitar on my lap & play. With a full sized guitar this works great, but not with a small Les Paul.
So I had already made up my mind years ago I wanted a Gibson ES335. These guitars just sound wonderful for jazz and are quite versatile in many other styles of music also. So I figured I canít go wrong with that.
Well hereís where I start my problem with the ES335 issue.
They just cost too darn much for what you get. Regardless, I was determined to try them out anyway. So I went to the local dealer to try them out. Not only was I discouraged by the high prices but also I just didnít like how they sounded. I tried two new ES335s and they didnít sound anything like the Vintage 1965 ES335 I had played of my friends. I played two 335ís through the same amp that I use. So my point of reference was the same of what I was used to. I just couldnít get them to sound right. For me they weíre too muddy, with no detail at all. It didnít matter how I set the amp settings, it just didnít sound like I thought a Gibson ES335 priced at $2000.00 dollars should sound. So discouraged, I put them back on the shelf & started looking at other stuff.
Next I decided to try the Epiphone Sheraton 2. Which is a lot less money for a similar guitar like the 335. This was amazingly better. It felt better than the 335 and sounded better. It was full sounding but with more detail & tone than the Gibson model. Although I did like the Sheraton II, I still wasnít totally taken or sure if it was right. I had also tried an Epiphone Joe Pass model full-size Jazz guitar and did not like that either. Once again it was too muddy, no detail to the notes or tone.
Hereís where DeArmond comes into the picture.
A good friend of mine had just purchased a DeArmond Starfire semi-hollow body guitar. He let me try it and instantly I was smitten. Wow right off the bat I was able to get a full, Jazzy sound with plenty of clarity. Also by rolling back the tone controls I could get a fat mellow tone if needed. I forget what my friend paid for it but I was hooked. The only difference was I wanted a full sized version not the thin line like the StarFire. So I did further research and found that DeArmond made a full size model called the X-155. Looks a lot like a Guild Manhattan Jazz guitar.
So after researching the X-155 I went back to my local dealer to try one out, with cash in hand, ready to buy it on the spot if I loved it. Well I got there and found out that they sold the last one & there werenít any to try. So being bummed out again, and not wanting to waste the 40-minute trip to the dealer,I decided to try the ES335ís again just to be sure that I wasnít hearing things wrong from the first time I tried them. Sure enough, it was the same thing; I just didnít like the sound, or how they played.
Ok let me try to end this long story.
I decided to order the DeArmond X-155 from a mail order company. I wonít give the name but most of you probably get the same catalog. I couldnít believe the price they had them for sale at $449.00. That was about $250.00 cheaper than at my local dealer. I usually donít like to buy guitars without trying them first but this company has a 45-day money back satisfaction guarantee, so if figured what could I lose? If I didnít like it I would send it back. Also I reasoned to myself that if the X-155 sounded even half as good as the DeArmond Starfire, that my friend had, I would be happy.
Boy am I happy!
The DeArmond X-155 is one beautiful sounding guitar. Not only that but it plays wonderful. It has a very nice fret board with great action. Right off the bat I am able to get full, lush sounding, fat Jazz guitar tones without a lot of fuss. I can make it mellow without it getting muddy or losing detail. I also can get brighter tones with it, yet still sounding full and fat.
Some Specís & History
are the true secret weapon in this guitar. It has American made DeArmond Gold Tone Humbucker pickups. I found out that these are the legendary pickups that have been around for many years. These are the same DeArmond pickups than can be found in many expensive & vintage guitars like Gretch & Guild. In-fact Guild makes the DeArmond guitars, and Guild is owned by Fender.
Even though the guitar is assembled in Korea, the workmanship is as good or better than those over-priced ES335s that I tried. Or for that matter any-other overpriced American guitars out there. Itís hard for me to believe that a guitar in this price range can be of such a high quality.
My X-155 has the natural,woodgrain finish & itís just beautiful.
The layout is just like that of a ES335 or Les Paul. Two Humbuckers with a three-way switch, two volume controls and two tone controls. Pretty basic.
I guess the only down side would be it has a shorter neck from what Iím used to. It has only 20 frets instead of the 22 that Iím used to. But really how many times do you play up that high anyhow? Especially with a guitar like this.
Also for $449.00 I didnít get a case with it. But man, at that price who cares! I can get one latter.
Finally in closing, I canít really stress enough or use enough descriptive words to express how good this guitar sounds & plays. It is worth every penny I paid for it. In fact, if I had to pay in dollars & cents for how good this guitar sounds, I should have paid an easy $3000.00 based just on itís tonal qualities.
So if youíre in the market for a good, full-sized ďwoodyĒ the DeArmond X-155 is hard to beat!
P.S. Iím sorry, but I couldnít resist that last one.
P.P.S Go Here to see an actual picture of my guitar
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