Baritone guitars are definitely underrated among present-day musicians.
And that’s a bit surprising, because lower tunings are quite popular.
But for some reason, people prefer to simply detune their strings on a regular guitar, until they feel like rubber.
A baritone guitar, like the Dean Icon Black Satin reviewed here, can make your life so much easier.
It allows you to drop your tuning much lower than a regular guitar, while still keeping the strings taut enough to play.
And in the case of this model, it looks amazing too. Let’s take a closer look to see what it offers and find out if it is the right choice for you. It’s pretty specific, so it may not be.
Table of Contents
Dean Icon Review: Overview And Features
A quick glance will tell you the Dean Icon Black Satin is meant for metal music. And it’s not just the look. Sonically, it was designed for metal guitarists, as well.
Is that a bad thing?
Not if you play metal or hard rock. But if you play other genres, this may not be the right baritone guitar for you.
That said, it is an excellent guitar that sells for a great price. Moreover, it is one of the most beautiful guitars out there. The primary drawback is simply that it is not very versatile.
If you need a guitar for metal only, this is a great choice. It does an amazing job for these heavy down-tuned territories. If you’d like to play in other genres as well, choose a more versatile instrument, like the one we compare it with below.
- Classic Dean design with an arched top
- Black satin finish
- Mahogany body and mahogany neck
- Set-neck construction
- 27-inch scale length
- Single-ply cream binding on body and neck
- Pearl Icon inlays
- Glow-in-the-dark side dots
- Tune-o-matic bridge
- Two volume and two tone pots, along with a 3-way pickup switch
- EMG 81 and 85 active pickups
- 24 frets
Design And Construction
The first thing you notice is Dean’s classic double-cutaway shape, that you see on many of their other guitar models. But you’ll also notice some important differences and unique traits.
The most obvious one is the overall design. The Icon Black Satin has – as you might expect, given the name – a very stylish black satin finish. This whole aesthetic is rounded off with a great-looking arched top and single-ply cream binding for a sleek and professional look.
Of course, we’re looking at more than just aesthetics. It’s just that the look is one of the most noticeable features. But the performance is just as mean and edgy as the look.
The Dean Icon has the standard baritone scale length of 27 inches (686 mm). This elongated neck is made of mahogany and forms the classic set-neck construction with the body, which is quite popular among baritone guitars, especially of this price level. The body is also mahogany, which gives the instrument a great basis for those darker and mellower baritone tones.
The overall body and neck construction make this guitar fairly comfortable to play. The heel on the backside is done in such a way to ensure comfortable access to higher frets. Combine it with the very comfortable “C”-profile neck, and you’ve got yourself a baritone shred machine for many different metal subgenres.
The powerhouse of the Dean Icon Black Satin model is its set of EMG pickups. These are the classic active EMG 81 and 85 that we often see on metal-oriented instruments.
The guitar has two volume and two tone pots, which give it a bit more versatility, but overall, this configuration is metal through and through. Grover tuners and a tune-o-matic hardtail bridge round out the hardware.
Advantages And Disadvantages
- Stylish design, along with great build quality
- Really comfortable to play
- Smooth heel design and set-neck construction allow easy access to higher frets
- Amazing tone, especially useful for contemporary metal music
- Two volume and two tone pot configuration allows great tone-shaping features
- Quality Grover tuning machines provide great tuning stability
- It’s primarily meant for metal, so its not very versatile
Dean Icon Black Satin Vs ESP LTD SCT-607
Baritone guitars form a small world of their own within the larger realm of guitars. With a limited number of them, it’s hard not to compare two different models that fall into the category.
With this in mind, we want to take a look at the ESP LTD SCT-607 and see how it compares to the Dean Icon Black Satin.
Although both are considered baritone guitars (a somewhat loose category if you ask us), there are significant differences. Both are worth considering if you want a great instrument for those lower tunings, but let’s see what makes a better choice for your particular case.
LTD is a subsidiary of ESP and they are well-known for their amazing guitars. The SCT-607 is no exception. This is a pro-level instrument and a signature model of axeman Stephen Carpenter from the band Deftones.
To put it simply: the guitar is as weird and as innovative as his music. While we have the classic Telecaster shape with some other vintage-oriented features, the guitar adds some important modern features.
The sparkling green finish probably jumps out at you first. But it’s not just the aesthetics that are innovative. It’s the entire design. For instance, the heel on the backside where the body meets the neck has a very subtle, yet effective, design feature that allows more comfortable access to higher frets.
Of course, another important “elephant in the room” is the fact that this is a 7-string guitar. But it does have the standard baritone scale length of 27 inches. The neck, despite being wider, provides a lot of comfort with its “Thin U” contour and fretboard radius of 350 mm.
One of the most important traits is the construction. The LTD SCT-607 has an alder body, a 3-piece maple neck, and a neck-through construction. This particular combination gives you a slightly brighter tone, as well as a very pronounced sustain. Not to mention that the entire design makes it more comfortable and stable.
The pickups are where this guitar gets really exciting. It comes with a pair of active Fishman Fluence SRC Signature pickups. It’s their positioning that makes this guitar especially interesting.
Instead of the standard bridge and neck positions, we have a very unusual bridge and middle setup. While the configuration might seem a little weird, it further adds to the guitar’s crunchy tone.
In addition to this, it even has controls for pickup voicings. Each pickup comes with two types of tones, so you can have four different pickup voicing combinations when you select both pickups at the same time.
When we compare them side-by-side, it’s pretty clear that the Dean Icon Black Satin is not even close to the SCT-607. But both have their uses, so we can’t exactly say which one is better or worse.
The Icon is a better choice for those who prefer darker tones, like the “classic” nu metal from the 1990s and early 2000s. The LTD has a more pronounced brighter side and can deliver some really crunchy tones with a noticeable boost to sustain.
That said, it’s pretty clear that the LTD is far more versatile than the Dean. Of course, it also comes with a bigger price tag. At the end of the day, the choice is up to you.
These are both great instruments in their own unique ways. If you have a limited budget or want the specific metal tones of the Icon, go with that. Otherwise, go with the SCT-607. Despite the higher price, it is the better value. That’s why we chose it as the top baritone guitar on the market.
Learn more in our full review of the ESP LTD SCT-607.
Dean Icon Black Satin: Conclusion And Rating
Dean has been around for many decades and we’re always amazed by their innovative and fresh approach to guitar design. And that approach is very evident in the Dean Icon Black Satin baritone guitar.
While the basic design evokes some old school vibes, the unique matte finish and the now very famous EMG 81 and 85 pickups give it a modern edge.
While the pickups put the Icon firmly in metal territory, it does have some options to dial in a cleaner and smoother tone using the detailed controls. That said, the combination of these pickups and the mahogany body and neck will never give you those bright crunchier tones that you get with Fishman Fluence pickups, for instance.
Dean Icon guitars are slightly more expensive, but they still fall into the category of mid-priced instruments. And don’t worry, this guitar is more than worth its price.
It comes with mean looks, mean tone, and some very comfortable ergonomic features. What more could you possibly need as a devoted metal musician?
While it does not have anything like a tremolo bridge (it comes with a fixed tune-o-matic), this guitar is still capable of delivering if you’re a lead player.
If you’re a metal musician, this is a great weapon of choice. All you need to do is plug this bad boy into your amp, crank it up, and you’re good to go.
But it is not ideal for other genres and it is that lack of versatility that results is a slightly lower (but still great) Musicaroo rating of 4.5 out of 5.