I'm noob, but have a couple of Deans. A 2002 time capsule ML and a 2007 import limited run (Dark Knight) MLF. Very nice guitars. Are you considering the US models or the import runs? Those Leslie West solteros looks killer.
Also, have a look at this awesome deal on the Dean trading forum (not sure if you have to be registered to view it):
It's the Czech evo, which reportedly is on par with the USA models quality wise, and they only produced them for a short while. $400 is a steal. I can't vouch for the seller, though (and I'm obviously not affiliated with him in any way). Seems to be a freshman over there.
Dean Stylist - Hollowbody w/ 2 black humbuckers, All flat black guitar only the wood bridge piece being brown. Looks real cool and plays great but pickups seem a little cheap sounding. Will try some black Gibson PAF's.
Dean Custom(?) - Just like a Jackson Soloist w/ neck-thru. Has a neat curved top, kinda like a archtop. Come with EMG-HZ pickups and sounds perfect for classic rock. Replaced cheapo Trem with a Schaller Floyd Rose, now a fantastic guitar!
Dean Palomino - Hollowbody w/ 3 P90's on a 5-way switch (all useable). Reto Orange color with a AWESOME feeling neck but again cheap bridge. I will be getting a replacement bridge someday, it's intonation is so bad I can't stand to play it. No matter what I do, even moving the wood bridge around on the guitars top, the G string wont intonate with the other strings. Frustrating!
I have a Dean Hardtail. It's an outstanding guitar. Finish, fit, fretwork and playability are all of high quality. The guitar is very well balanced. The stock pups actually sound very similar to a JB and a 59. It has a very nice Les Paulish sound. I don't have pictures but it's the blue flamed model and it's flawless. A great guitar for the money.
I'd love to try a Hardtail but unfortunately Deans are pretty scarce here in Finland. I used to have a Dean EVO DN76 doubleneck. Great tone, fantastic 6-string neck..but unfortunately huge size and massive weight. Excellent rock guitar, I still hope to find something that sounds as good with distortion.
How are the Korean made Hardtails? I don't think I could afford the US made ones.
Some of the best-sounding (to me) inexpensive bass guitars I've tried have been Deans. Their electric upright basses were ok but a little disappointing to me (what is the point of making an upright bass and not having a curved bridge and fingerboard so one could bow it if one had a bow, anyway? It wouldn't be more to make but would totally blow away any competitor for price/value)
I don't have enough experience on their guitars to comment on them -- the few I've tried were average IMO but so have been the majority of inexpensive models by other manufacturers.
My first guitar was a used korean made Dean Icon PZ. I still have it and it's one of the best 80's metal guitars I've ever heard and i'll always own it. don't know what it is about humbuckers with piezo bridge pickups, but I'm only really interested in those types of guitars now. Sounds like a harp with an overdrive pedal. I do like the hardtail and the 79 ML's, but i'd seriously consider the floating bridge pickup if i were to purchase one. Great construction and fast necks. I'd be a bit leary of some of the Deans i've seen under $600, but get to the price point above that and I haven't seen any that aren't really nice.