Peavey PXD Electric Guitar
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Hands-On Review: Peavey PXD Series Electric Guitars

Posted on .

Extreme design for hard rock and metal

By Dan Day
Musician’s Friend Staff Writer

Right after the first electric guitars were created, the first guitar amps were built for them. Here we have the story of what may be the first guitar built expressly for an amplifier. It starts with Peavey’s 6505 amplifier, formerly the 5150, designed for Eddie Van Halen. The 6505 continues to get rave reviews from metal and hard rock guitarists who praise its ability to produce massive midrange crunch and brutal, near insane, six-gain-stage saturated distortion night after punishing night. Guitarists snatched them up so quickly that Peavey couldn’t build them fast enough to meet demand by name players.

Matchmaker

Being one of a handful of music instrument companies that make both a line of guitars and amplifiers, the folks at Peavey couldn’t figure out why guitarists were not playing Peavey guitars through the 6505. It struck them that the 6505 needed a guitar designed especially for it. Peavey product manager Tony Pasko checked out the guitars that were being used with the 6505 and took note of the features that players value most—a Kahler tremolo, EMG pickups, Coffin cases, D’Addario strings, the neck profile, and the overall look of the guitar. Peavey asked the guitarists, “If we build a guitar with these features to match up with the 6505 will you buy it?” They told Pasko “yes” and he put these features into a series of electric guitars with a whole new look and feel, the PXD—Peavey Extreme Design. PXD is, as Tony puts it, “the guitar line the 6505 asked for.”

Peavey PXD Void II Electric Guitar

Extremis maximus

Tony says Peavey didn’t just put other manufacturers’ features on PXD, they involved Kahler and EMG directly in the design process. Peavey sent them the list of proposed features and received valuable input. Kahler came up with a new tremolo. EMG suggested using their AB Afterburner circuit that boosts the guitar’s gain up to 20dB for the extreme saturation that the 6505 eats for lunch. The four models in the PXD line all have doom-and-gloom names: Tomb, Tragic, Twenty-Three, and Void. The name Twenty-Three was inspired by the movie The Number 23, a thriller starring Jim Carrey as a man who becomes obsessed by what he believes are the magical, life-controlling properties of the number 23 (just divide 2 by 3 and you’ll see what he means). The body shapes are based on the futuristic late-’50s designs favored by guitarists but with a distinctively extreme twist. Explore the picture of the Void to see what I mean.

Preflight check

The sample I received was the Void III, the top-end model. The Coffin case it came in was adorned with the stylized PXD logo that reminded me of a diagram of a traffic interchange. Upon exhuming the Void from its case I noticed that the aged aluminum pickguard and truss rod cover mirror the faceplate of the 6505. The mahogany body plays host to a set mahogany neck with a rosewood fretboard. Strung with D’Addario 9-42 nickel-plated strings, the neck is designed for fast action and severe note bending with its shorter 24-3/4" scale, 24 medium 6130 frets, and a flat radius of 15". The new design hybrid Kahler locking tremolo enables extreme dive-bombing, and, in the opposite direction, what I call thrust climbing. Even after the strings have been transformed into limp spaghetti, the tremolo returns to zero position with dead-on tuning.

The entry-level PXD models are equipped with VFL active ceramic pickups. The PXD VFL guitar pickups are actually a reintroduction of the active guitar pickups Peavey introduced in the late ’80s. They use the same Virtual Flux Load winding technique, but Peavey had not branded them that way until now. Like the EMGs, the VFL ceramics are high-output active pickups, but have more midrange and are a little spongier.

Flame on!

I arranged for a blind date between the PXD Void III and a 6505 amp to see if sparks would fly. The mahogany body and neck of the PXD Void III provided a platform of resonance and sustain powered by an active EMG-81 in the bridge position for slicing leads and an EMG-60 in the neck position for buckets of clear, midrange crunch—perfect for a vigorous workout of Michael Shencker’s UFO classic, “Rock Bottom.” When I pulled up the tone knob, the Afterburner kicked in. Whoosh! I should have donned my asbestos suit to withstand the heat. This baby burns, burns, burns, like a ring of fire. If running the PXD Void’s high-output EMGs into the 6505 amp is borderline insane, adding the Afterburner is totally nuts. Notes danced like fire maidens from my fingertips as I peeled off incendiary riffage from bending, singing upper register notes that were bright without getting harsh to muted, percussive power chords that were tight and responsive. My advice is close your Coffin case before striking and keep the extinguisher handy.

Bring it on home

With an array of the most in-demand features, the Peavey PXD line of guitars gives hard rock and metal players the smooth playability, menacing looks, and searing tones they desire at a range of prices any axe-wielder can afford.

Features & Specs

All PXD models:

  • 24-3/4" scale
  • Rosewood fretboard
  • 24 frets
  • String-thru-body bridge (Kahler tremolo on Twenty-Three III and Void III)
  • Precision tuners
  • Aged aluminum pickguard and truss rod cover
  • Black hardware
ModelBody WoodNeck WoodPickupsAfterBurner CircuitCase/Bag

Tomb

Basswood

Maple/ Bolt-On

1 VFL

 

Coffin Case Gig Bag

Tomb I

Basswood

Maple

2 VFL

 

Coffin Case Gig Bag

Tomb II

Mahogany

Mahogany

2 EMG (81/60)

Yes

Coffin Hardcase

Tragic I

Basswood

Maple

2 VFL

 

Coffin Case Gig Bag

Tragic II

Mahogany

Mahogany

2 EMG (81/60)

Yes

Coffin Hardcase

Twenty-three I

Basswood

Maple

2 VFL

 

Coffin Case Gig Bag

Twenty-three II

Mahogany

Mahogany

2 EMG#9c9c8b (81/60)

Yes

Coffin Hardcase

Twenty-three III

Mahogany

Mahogany

2 EMG (81/60)

Yes

Coffin case

Void I

Basswood

Maple

2 VFL

 

Coffin Case Gig Bag

Void II

Mahogany

Mahogany

2 EMG (81/60)

Yes

Coffin Hardcase

Void III

Mahogany

Mahogany

2 EMG (81/60)

Yes

Coffin case

Tags: Electric Guitars Peavey

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