The first review of 2021 is an absolute killer guitar that is far more versatile than you may expect.
Overview & Final Score: 8.8 out of 10
New for spring of 2021, Dunable has unveiled their new affordable line of overseas instruments, the Dunable DE series. These guitars set out to take Dunable’s classic boutique and modern designs and bring them to a more accessible price point. The DE Cyclops, pictured above, is a pretty sweet design, with an almost offset meets LP meets SG-type aesthetic that is genuinely unique. The Cyclops features a Mahogany body and neck, with an Ebony fretboard that is wrapped in classy white binding. Jumbo nickel silver frets, a Graphtech Tusq nut, a 25.5″ scale length and open back tuners provide a great playability and feel. Available in two gloss finishes, Gloss Black and Tobacco Burst, the guitar turned up looking and feeling a lot more like a premium USA-made Dunable. Two Dunable Cthulhu pickups power the Cyclops, with a push-pull coil split on the tone control, and a master volume and 3-way selector rounding out the controls. When it comes to hardware, the trapeze bridge and tune-o-matic provide look and work great in tandem.
I was super impressed with the clarity and punch of these Cthulhu pickups, especially once I layered on some gain pedals and cranked my amp. Truth be told, their clean sounds were very clear but surprisingly low output. But with gain, they really come alive, while retaining a ton of clarity which makes them pretty versatile in my opinion. The pickups, especially the bridge on the DE Cyclops, have a tight focused sound that I think a lot of modern, high gain players will appreciate. On the other hand, it felt absolutely at home in the mix with Strats and Les Pauls when playing punk, classic rock, or even some atmospheric stuff that I like. It isn’t the warmest sounding, meaning that I’m sure a blues lawyer would pick it up and be disappointed, but the right kind of pedals can definitely shape this guitar to be whatever you want. Sometimes creating an instrument that is a bit of blank palette is a great thing. While this guitar is not lacking on personality as is, it is a real testament to the build quality when anyone can pickup a guitar and make it work for them! Otherwise, there’s no extraneous buzz or hum from the pickups and wiring, though it didn’t seem like the Cyclops I was sent had a coil split as the website indicates. It’s also entirely possible I was sent a prototype but pretty much everything else sonically is great on this Dunable DE Cyclops.
This Cyclops really shines when it comes to the fit and feel of the guitar. The fretwork is great, with a real premium feel that is matched by the killer looks. Playing was comfortable up and down the neck and this Dunable was a bit more lead-player friendly than I anticipated. While it certainly could serve you well for soloing and shredding, the playability is definitely set up with riffs and chugging in mind. It’s a fine lead guitar but an AMAZING rhythm guitar that had me writing some awesome riffs and chord sequences in our time together. The tuning stability was not disappointing either, with the bridge, Tusq nut, and tuners all seeming to work in concert. While the spec sheet isn’t particularly loaded with locking tuners or hardcore hardware, the attention payed to set up and intonation clearly goes a long way in creating a user friendly instrument. You should be more than impressed when you pick up a Dunable DE for the first time.
Finish & Construction: 9
The trapeze bridge is a nice touch on this guitar, giving it a classic, almost vintage, feel to an otherwise modern guitar. Plus, anytime I get to try a guitar that isn’t just another Strat, LP, Flying V derivative is a plus. Dunable is doing some great original stuff, like this Cyclops, and the build quality is really on point with what you’d expect from a $1000+ guitar. While this is the “affordable” line of Dunable guitars, it doesn’t look or feel anything like a cheap guitar. These Cthulhu pickups were well installed and the intonation and set up was highlighted by great fretwork and a smooth gloss finish over the back of the neck. Big points here for the cool looks the Cyclops packs, with amp-like control knobs, a unique pickguard and body shape, and a spotless finish. I’d definitely like to see some more finish options added to the line, but the Tobacco Sunburst shouldn’t offend anyone here.
Dunable’s USA guitars seem to generally start north of $2000, meaning you are cutting that price in half with the DE series. While I’ve never played a US-made Dunable, this DE Cyclops feels nothing short of premium and boutique, so I think this is an insane value. Quite frankly, this may be the only way for some people to get to experience Dunable and I think it will deliver on all the hopes and wishes you could ask for, except for maybe some wild finish options. The price is right up there with some of the best overseas guitars I’ve played from Howl and PRS SE and so is the quality. Overall, there is very little to complain about on this DE Cyclops from Dunable, in terms of build quality, sound, and price. I think this would be a sound investment and a reliable instrument for years to come and I’m delighted I got to start 2021 off on such a positive note.
Good for: Modern High Gain, Metal, Punk, Garage Rock, Players Looking For A High End Affordable Guitar, Overdriven Classic Rock, Fuzz Tones