Dean Guitars

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Dean Guitars
IndustryMusical instruments
Founded1977; 43 years ago (1977)
HeadquartersTampa, Florida, United States
Area served
Key people
Evan Rubinson
(President & CEO)
OwnerArmadillo Enterprises, Inc.
Number of employees

Dean Guitars, commonly referred to simply as Dean, is an American importer and maker of stringed instruments and musical products. Its lines include solid-body electric guitars, bass guitars, and acoustic guitars such as the Dean ML, Dean V, and Dean Z—and more recently, the Dean Razorback (a guitar based on the design of Darrell Lance “Dimebag” Abbott, guitarist for Pantera), Dean Stealth, Dean Icon, Dean VMNT, Dean Zero, and Dean Mako Acoustic Guitar. Its headquarters are in Tampa, Florida. The company also distributes resonators, basses, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, amplifiers, guitar cases, accessories, and custom guitar pickups.

The company was founded in Chicago, Illinois, in 1976 by Dean Zelinsky, but came to prominence from 1978-1988, then again under Elliott Rubinson in 1997 after his company, Armadillo Enterprises, purchased the Dean name.[1] The Dean company today consists of over 100 people: guitar luthiers and techs, sales and distribution staff, customer service, office administration, and marketing personnel. Armadillo Enterprises today is a privately held organization with Evan Rubinson as Chief Executive Officer.


Dean Guitars started in 1976 and made made instruments used by bands such as Heart, Kansas, The Cars, Molly Hatchet, Triumph and ZZ Top.[2]

Dean artists Michael Schenker and Wayne Findlay with Dean owner Elliott "Dean" Rubinson

With the advent of the Superstrat and grunge music, Dean Zelinsky sold the business to Oscar Medeiros of Tropical Music, who gained ownership of the brand from 1986, and until 1995 focused on selling to Latin bands overseas. The company had all but disappeared from the American market at that point.[3][1]

Armadillo Enterprises, under the leadership of Elliott Rubinson, then purchased the Dean trade name in 1997. Rubinson, a professional musician who toured as a bass player for the Michael Schenker Group, Uli Jon Roth, and Michael Angelo Batio[4] expanded Dean's offerings to include a full line of acoustic, electric, and bass guitars; mandolins, banjos, and ukuleles with prices from less than $99 to more than $13,000.[4] Rubinson had previously built Thoroughbred Music,[5] a music retail store, music supply, and music clinic. Rubinson sold Thoroughbred to Sam Ash Music in 1999 so he could focus on Dean.[6][7]

Dean artist Dave Mustaine with his Dean signature VMNT "Rust in Peace"

After getting a number of endorser-user guitarists (including Dimebag Darrell, Michael Angelo Batio, Michael Schenker, Leslie West, Dave Mustaine, Michael Amott, and Jacky Vincent)—and music industry professionals, many of whom came from Thoroughbred,[8] Dean Guitars' popularity surged. Under Armadillo Enterprises the company outgrew its 20,000-square-foot Clearwater location and moved to a new 100,000-square-foot building that includes a custom guitar shop.[1][9] Today the company also assembles guitar pickups[10] and guitar parts made and painted in locations throughout the country and distributes them around the world.

In December 2016, Elliott Rubinson's son, Evan Rubinson, assumed the position of President and CEO at Armadillo Enterprises (which includes Dean Guitars, Luna Guitars, and ddrum).[3]

In February 2017, Elliott "Dean" Rubinson died from cancer.[11] Richard Ash, CEO of Sam Ash Music Stores, said, "Elliott was a true genius. He would have been successful in any business but he went with his passion for music and built his business around it... He was truly one of my heroes. RIP Elliott Rubinson."[12]


Various Dean guitar models

Dean has the line of electric guitars that includes the ML, V, Z, Cadillac, Splittail, Soltero, EVO, Icon, Custom Zone, Vendetta and Deceiver models.

Dean also has many signature electric guitar models. The company offers numerous Dimebag Darrell models, including some signature ML models and his own original shapes, the Razorback and Razorback V.

The company has also worked closely with Dave Mustaine of Megadeth to offer a line of guitars: the Dave Mustaine Signature Series Dean VMNT, Dean Zero, and Dean Mako. These range in price from around $300 for imports to over $6000 for USA-built instruments. The Dean USA Dave Mustaine Signature VMNT Holy Grail [13] electric guitar, a more recent incarnation of the V introduced in 2016, is an example of the brand.

Dean also makes signature models for Bret Michaels, Michael Schenker, Leslie West, Michael Angelo Batio, Michael Amott, Rusty Cooley, and other artists.[4]

The company's bass guitar models include the ML, V, Z, Cadillac, Edge, Metal Man / Demonator, Hillsboro, Entwistle, EVO, Razorback, and Custom Zone. Dean also imports and markets other string instruments—such as resonator guitars, mandolins and banjos.

In 2017, Dean unveiled several new musical instruments[14] to commemorate the company's 40th anniversary.

In 2018 the company formed a partnership between Dean USA Custom Shop and Angel's Envy Bourbon[15] to produce the Dean Envy Series—guitars made from whiskey cask barrels.

Notable guitars[edit]

  • Cadillac or "Cadi"
  • Christian Martucci V
  • Craig Wayne Boyd Acoustic
  • Custom Series
  • Dave Mustaine Mako Acoustic
  • Dave Mustaine VMNT
  • Dave Mustaine Zero
  • Demonator Bass
  • Edge Series Bass
  • Envy Series
  • Eric Peterson Series
  • HardTail
  • Hillsboro Bass
  • Jacky Vincent Signature Guitar
  • John Entwistle Bass
  • Matt Heafy MKH
  • Michael Amott Tyrant
  • Michael Angelo Batio MAB1 Armorflame / MAB2 Aviator
  • Michael Schenker Series
  • ML
  • ML Acoustic
  • ML Ukulele
  • Razorback
  • Razorback V
  • RC Series
  • Select Series
  • Sledgehammer Bass
  • Soltero
  • SplitTail
  • Stealth
  • Uli Roth Sky Guitar
  • V
  • "Vinman" Vinnie Moore Signature Guitar
  • Dean Z
  • Dean ZX

Dean artists[edit]


Currently, notable artists from the Dean roster include:


Affiliated companies[edit]

Armadillo Enterprises, the parent company of Dean Guitars, also owns Luna Guitars and ddrum.


  1. ^ Used Dean's exclusively throughout the mid to late 1980s.
  2. ^ Impellittieri was a Dean endorsee for many years until recently signing with Charvel, and was famous for utilizing various spiderweb-like graphics on his custom guitars.
  3. ^ Ian generally used Washburn equivalents during the time Dean was owned by Washburn


  1. ^ a b c "Business: Dean gets new digs, designs". 2005-02-27. Archived from the original on 2005-02-27. Retrieved 2017-02-09.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ "A Brief History of Dean Guitars". Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  3. ^ a b "Episode 42: Elliott Rubinson, CEO of Dean Guitars, ddrum, and Luna Guitars breaks down the music biz like few can". Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  4. ^ a b c "Dean Guitars CEO Elliott Dean Rubinson Talks Gigging with Uli Jon Roth, Balancing Life As a Musician". Guitar World. 2014-06-02. Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  5. ^ "Security Check Required". Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  7. ^ "Elliott Rubinson". Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  8. ^ Jim Aardema (2013-04-08), Branding and Marketing Planning - Dean Guitars, Luna Guitars, Ddrum Drums, retrieved 2017-03-03
  9. ^ DeanGuitarsVideos (2016-09-28), Dean Guitars USA Shop, retrieved 2017-02-09
  10. ^ DeanGuitarsVideos (2009-04-29), Dean USA DMT Pickups, Live at NAMM'09, retrieved 2017-02-09
  11. ^ "Elliott Rubinson: The Man Who Made it Happen - All That Shreds!". All That Shreds!. 2017-02-13. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  12. ^ "Sam Ash Music Stores on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  13. ^ Dean USA Dave Mustaine Signature VMNT Holy Grail
  14. ^ new musical instruments
  15. ^
  16. ^ *

External links[edit]