Seven-string players generally fall into one of two categories: those who use the low B string primarily to create crushing bass chunk, and shredders like Rusty Cooley, who deftly apply their extensive musical vocabulary and virtuoso technique to the guitar’s full, extended range. Cooley’s contributions aren’t limited to awe-inspiring musical prowess—his recent work with Dean Guitars has advanced the art of seven-string construction and resulted in some of the style’s most playable and tonally balanced instruments. Newest among these collaborative creations is the Dean Rusty Cooley signature RC7X Wraith, an import accompaniment to his USA models that offers custom graphics and inlays, high-end components, effortless playability and a street price under $1,100.
Wide, unwieldy necks are the chief deterrent for most would-be seven-string players, but the Wraith’s refined, three-piece maple neck feels completely natural and unimposing. Enhancing this comfort is one of the best out-of-the-box setups that I’ve encountered. The strings ride just a hair above the extra-jumbo frets, with no buzzy notes or dead spots anywhere on the ebony board. As a result, this guitar is ideal for sweeping and two-handed fretboard styles. Strategic contours at the neck heel and behind the lower horn allow uncompromised access to the highest frets, and whammy tricks galore are made possible via a recessed and back-routed Original Floyd Rose.
The Wraith’s design also creates proper seven-string tonal balance. Bolt-on construction combines with the ebony’s bright nature to increase the attack speed and punch, which is especially beneficial for legato and low-end definition. By eliminating the active EMG 707s’ tone pot on the Wraith, Dean has maximized output and treble presence, and the neck pickup’s slanted installation extends the high-frequency curve commensurate to the instrument’s additional bass potential.
The RC7X Wraith rings rather than rumbles through its alder body, thanks to increased mass at the headstock, neck and bridge. Chords are intensely rich, and single notes are round rather than percussive. This makes it well-suited to jazz fusion and even advanced country styles. Deep-rooted double-stops and thunderous walking bass lines add new dimensions to contemporary composition. Increasing the amp’s gain further reveals the EMGs’ harmonic potential and impressive sustain, almost begging the player to shred at maximum velocity. Tearing into this beast at full gain is a truly wild experience, and the guitar sounds balanced and defined during even the fastest Cooley-style sweeps and transitions.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The fast and affordable Dean Rusty Cooley signature RC7X Wraith is sure to fascinate shred-happy Cooley devotees or players who simply yearn for a seven-string that’s balanced and effortless to play.
LIST PRICE $1,890 (with deluxe hardshell case)
MANUFACTURER Armadillo Enterprises, Inc., deanguitars.com