A Brief History of Dean Guitars

By: depotgang
In terms of guitars, Dean Guitars are relatively new on the scene. They had their beginnings in 1976 when the teenaged Dean Zelinsky decided he wanted to create a different kind of guitar design than what was present in the market. His first guitars were v-shaped and pointed which was both a function of design and helped enhance the guitars tone.

It was this shape that both made their name and was also the cause of the company being somewhat slow to catch on. At the time, they were not considered main stream. However, once people learned about them and started testing them in shops, they started to get a following.

After nearly ten years of production, Zelinsky decided that he no longer wanted to manufacture guitars and sold the company. Oscar Medeiros had ownership of the brand name and trademark until the mid 90s. The guitars Medeiros created under the Dean name were also considered quality instruments.

Medeiros stopped manufacturing Dean Guitars in the mid 1990s or so when Armadillo Enterprises purchased the company and began making them. It was not long before they contacted Zelinsky. He now works for the company as an executive and creative assistant. The presence of Zelinsky at the company lends an authenticity to the brand.

You cannot mention modern Dean Guitars without talking about Dimebag Darrel Abbot, the former guitar player for Pantera. He was one of their main celebrity endorsees until his murder by a crazed fan. Before his death, Abbot worked with Zelinsky and the Dean design team. The end result of this collaboration became known as the Razorback.

Besides Dimebag Darrel, Dean also boasts a list of famous artists who play their guitars. One artist was the late Randy Rhodes who played with Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osborne. Other musicians include Rudolf Schenker of the Scorpions, Michael Schenker with UFO and MSG, Kerry Livgren and Billy Greer of Kansas, Sammy Hagar, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, and Billy Gibbons and Rusty Hill of ZZ Top.

In terms of guitar styles, Dean has a few classic models and some newer models. Classic models include the Z, which is a copy of the Gibson Explorer and the V, which is a copy of Gibsons Flying V. Newer styles include the Razorback and the Razorback V, the Vendetta, and the EVO.

Here is what one person has said about the Dean Flame V (source Harmony Central):

The Sound:

Sound is great, typical of this style Dean guitar. Nice crunch when amp is overdriven, sweet when not. I use Fender tube amps exclusively. These pickups dont scoop the mids so much as people think, they have (IMHO) a very nice balance and the guitar is as good for blues as it is for most everything else, short of a super clean "country" sound.

The Durability:

The guitar is typical USA Dean and is very well built. Once the pots are replaced it will be a great player and I'd have no second thoughts about its longevity and ability to withstand live playing.
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