Peavey PXD Peavey Extreme Design Electrics

June 1, 2010

PEAVEY’S NEW PXD (PEAVEY EXTREME DESIGN) guitars translate the look of metal into an almost sophisticated mélange of goth black, angular bodies, and DeLorean aluminum. Only the wonky headstocks betray a nod to a Dethklok-like world of razors, tattoos, skulls, and blood. But while the PXD designs are tough, clean, and modern, the sounds that roar out of these badass thugs are as brutal as it gets. Gladiator brutal.

gp0610_gear0582Tomb II

Armed with hot-rodded active pickups (EMGs on the PXD II and III; Peavey VFLs on the basic and I models), each guitar seems destined to hammer amp front ends into uber-aggro saturation. You can certainly spin down the guitar’s volume knobs to get clean sounds—if you’re actually sissy enough to want to get all bright and sparkly—but even the lamb-pie tones possess a measure of cranked-up, gritty mids that juxtapose beauty with menace.

gp0610_gear0584

Void III

The PXD line comprises four designs. The Void group has three models (I, II, III) that street from $399 to $799; the Tragic I and II are $399 and $699, respectively; the three Tombs (Tomb, I, II) span from $299 to $699; and the Twenty-Three range (Twenty- Three, I, II, III) goes from $359 to $799. To provide an overview of what the PXDs deliver, we tested a Tomb II, a Tragic II, and a Void III with Kahler tremolo through a Blackstar Studio 20, a Vox AC15, a Mesa/Boogie Stiletto, an Orange Tiny Terror, and a Marshall JVM 210H.

 

gp0610_gear0587

Tragic II

Construction quality on all models is very good. The vampire-black hardware is snug, with no rattling pickups, no loose or off-center knobs, and no noisy switches. I found just a couple of slightly sharp-edged frets on the trio of guitars—the rest of the frets were smooth and nicely polished— and a few spots on the aluminum pickguards were cut a tad rough. The satin black finishes are flawless, but they gleefully reveal finger oils and other smudges, so Felix Unger types should keep some polish and a cloth in their gig bags. Just like the bodies on those early DeLorean sports cars, the aluminum pickguards on the PXDs “weather” very quickly—in fact, our test models already displayed some darkening around the knobs. This isn’t anything but a cosmetic issue, of course, and some players will likely dig the “distressed” look the more it wears in.

Playability is excellent overall. Each guitar balances nicely whether you’re sitting or standing, and the slim neck profiles are definitely designed for warp-speed riffing. The cutaways on the Tomb and the Void allow access to all 24 frets, but the steeper lower bout on the Tragic hangs you up at around the 20th fret (depending, of course, on how long and spidery your fingers are). I dig having two dedicated Volume controls so that I can blend pickup sounds or turn off one pickup for stutter effects, but the neck-pickup knobs are a bit out of reach for doing swells with your pinky. There are no tone controls, but I don’t use them much so that didn’t bother me. The Afterburner pull-knob kicks in 20dB of gain, and the onboard preamp is so studly that it can absolutely be employed as a solo boost, perhaps saving you the trouble of stepping on a pedal or adjusting the guitar’s Volume knobs. The only drag is that the Afterburner isn’t a switch that’s positioned for quick and easy access. You have to reach down and back, grab the knob, and pull it up. In the heat of battle, so to speak, I must admit I’m simply not that coordinated, and sweaty fingers can make speedy “knob grabs” very difficult indeed. Happily, turning off the boost is just a matter of slamming your hand down on the knob.

Sonically, it’s extremely obvious that the PXD models are a family. The tonal differences between the EMG-equipped models are subtle to the point of almost being unheard—especially at high-saturation levels during a performance. Choosing a PXD that’s right for you seems mostly a decision of whichever body style you dig, and whether you prefer a Kahler tremolo. All three models rage hard with an aggressive midrange attack and a steely high end. The low end is pretty taut—I didn’t experience any muddiness no matter which amp I used, or how I set the amp controls—but it can still deliver bombastic chugging just fine. The very articulate nature of the basic PXD tone is a boon to fretboard burners, as every note is voiced clearly—even if you dial in a massively saturated lead sound. While all three of the PXDs tested unleash sounds almost exactly as noted above, for some reason the Tragic adds a hint of airiness and acoustic zing, and the heavier Void displays a touch more resonance than its lighter, mahogany-bodied compatriot, the Tomb.

gp0610_gear0586Dig the ghoulish custom Coffin Case that’s included with the models reviewed here.

If you’re into guitars designed for metal styles, there are a lot of cool options in the $699 to $799 price range. However, the PXDs are a blast to play, they look fabulous, and the Afterburner rules. So if you’re looking for a metal machine, you’d do yourself a great disservice if you don’t include the PXD series in your quest for ultimate shred.

 

 

 


SPECIFICATIONS

CONTACT    Peavey, (601) 483-5365; peavey.com

PXD TOMB II

gp0610_gear0582aPRICE  $799 retail/$699 street (Coffin Case included)
NUTWIDTH  111/16"
NECK  Set mahogany
FRETBOARD  24.75"-scale Rosewood
FRETS  24 medium-jumbo
BODY  Mahogany
PICKUPS  Two EMG
CONTROLS  Two Volume, EMG-AB Afterburner Tone, 3-way pickup selector
BRIDGE  String-through-body
TUNERS  Peavey
FACTORYSTRINGS  D’Addario XL
WEIGHT  6.29 lbs
KUDOS  Afterburner boost. Aggro and articulate tones.
CONCERNS  Black satin finish shows smudges.

 

PXD TRAGIC II

gp0610_gear0588PRICE  $799 retail/$699 street (Coffin Case included)
NUT WIDTH 111/16"
NECK  Set mahogany
FRETBOARD  24.75"-scale Rosewood
FRETS  24 medium-jumbo
BODY  Mahogany
PICKUPS  Two EMG
CONTROLS  Two Volume, EMG-AB Afterburner Tone, 3-way pickup selector
BRIDGE  String-through-body
TUNERS  Peavey
FACTORYSTRINGS  D’Addario XL
WEIGHT  7.3 lbs
KUDOS  Afterburner boost. Aggro and articulate tones.
CONCERNS  Black satin finish shows smudges.

PXD VOID III

gp0610_gear0585PRICE  $899 retail/$799 street (Coffin Case included)
NUTWIDTH  111/16"
NECK  Set mahogany
FRETBOARD  24.75"-scale Rosewood
FRETS  24 medium-jumbo
BODY  Mahogany
PICKUPS  Two EMG
CONTROLS  Two Volume, EMG-AB Afterburner Tone, 3-way pickup selector
BRIDGE  Kahler tremolo
TUNERS  Peavey
FACTORYSTRINGS  D’Addario XL
WEIGHT  8.32 lbs
KUDOS  Afterburner boost. Aggro and articulate tones.
CONCERNS  Black satin finish shows smudges.

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