Dean Guitars

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Dean Guitars
IndustryMusical instruments
Founded1977; 42 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 manufacturer of stringed instruments and musical products. It is known for its solid-body electric guitars, bass guitars, and acoustic guitars such as the Dean ML, the Dean V, the Dean Z, but more recently the Dean Razorback, Dean Stealth, Dean Icon, Dean VMNT, Dean Zero, and Dean Mako Acoustic Guitar. Its headquarters are in Tampa, Florida. The company also makes and/or distributes a full range of products to include 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 under Elliott Rubinson in 1997 when his company Armadillo Enterprises purchased the trade name.[1] The Dean family today consists of over 100 people: guitar luthiers and techs, distribution and sales staff, customer service providers, office admins, tech and marketing personnel, almost all of which are practicing musicians, artists, and artisans. Armadillo Enterprises today is a privately held organization with Evan Rubinson serving as the Chief Executive Officer.


Dean Guitars started in 1976 and gained worldwide recognition by being 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 this point.[3][1]

Armadillo Enterprises, under the leadership of Elliott Rubinson, then purchased the Dean trade name in 1997. Rubinson, a professional musician who has toured as a bass player for the Michael Schenker Group as well as for Uli Jon Roth and Michael Angelo Batio,[4] saw an opportunity to re-boot Dean Guitars by expanding its offerings to include a full line of acoustic, electric and bass guitars, mandolins, banjos, and ukuleles with prices ranging from less than $99 to more than $13,000.[4] Rubinson had previously built Thoroughbred Music,[5] a world-renowned music retail store, music supply, and music clinic center. A pioneer in the music retail industry, Rubinson sold Thoroughbred to Sam Ash Music in 1999 so he could focus his efforts on Dean.[6][7]

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

After steadily growing a team of respected 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 grew exponentially, outgrowing its 20,000-square-foot Clearwater location and transitioning to a new 100,000-square-foot building complete with a state-of-the-art USA 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.

As of December 2016, Elliott Rubinson's son, Evan Rubinson, has 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 the grammy-awarded frontman and guitarist of Megadeth, Dave Mustaine, to offer a line of guitars: the Dave Mustaine Signature Series Dean VMNT, Dean Zero, and Dean Mako, ranging in price from around $300 to over $6000 for the USA 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 superlative nature of the brand.

Dean also has 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 has extended its range of products to other string instruments such as resonator guitars, mandolins and banjos.

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

2018 saw a unique first for the company with a partnership between Dean USA Custom Shop and Angel's Envy Bourbon[15]. The result was the Dean Envy Series 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. ^ King was never actually "endorsed", but some photos of Slayer's very early performances show him utilizing an ML
  4. ^ 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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)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. ^

External links[edit]