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Dean Guitars - Quality or Lack Of (my Rant)

Mudder

Member
Messages
3,721
I've had two Deans, a korean 79v and a czech Evo. The V was well made, sounded good, played awesome. The Evo was outstanding top to bottom but too heavy to be perfect.
 

mjross

Member
Messages
2,249
I've owned a couple of USA deans (Cadillac E'Lite and Hardtail) and they are great guitars. I actually just bought another Hardtail as a project. Like with most manufacturers if your experience is with the low end budget models then your opinion will be skewed towards the negative. The first Dean I ever played was an early 80's USA V, while I sat in with a band. It was an amazing player and it weighed practically nothing. I found one recently and it took all I had for me not to buy it.
I have a USA “V” Time Capsule. I love the V neck and every time I play it I think about how good it sounds. I have to agree, Dean has some low end Guitars that people confuse with there high end stuff. Believe me, there is a BIG difference.

I’m trying to find a lefty Dean USA Z. If anyone has a line on one please contact me.
 

TrickinSid

Member
Messages
2,016
Back in the 80's, I had a Dean Z.
Really light guitar and I liked how it played. Korean model.

About a year ago, I bought a Dean Strettavita...with the Z glide neck.

It's a decent guitar.
Stays in tune. I like the feel of the neck...smaller neck.
Pickups are decent sounding.

Definitely not a Les Paul.
Much lighter in weight.

https://deanzelinsky.com/
 
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modavis99

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,388
For a while in the 2000s, US Masters in Middleton, Wisconsin made the USA-made time capsule Dean guitars. Those were nice guitars
 

Gurn

Member
Messages
1,005
My son had a blue Dean Exotica jumbo cutaway a/e. Fabulous finish.
Not bad action or acoustic volume. The electronics were absolute C-R-A-P.

But that guitar on the used market? Probably a deal. Swap out the electronics & the tuners - it might be worth keeping.

 

Jedi

Member
Messages
1,514
I worked at a shop in the early 80s that was one of the first Dean and Hamer dealers. The guitars that Dean was delivering early on were very hi quality instruments that just oozed rock n roll in looks, sound and playability. Now, the current Dean Co, (Dean Zelinsky has nothing to do with the current company) unless you are looking at the Custom Shop stuff you will not be comparing apple to apples. The regular production stuff is all made overseas and to my hands and ears are simply low-cost guitars that happen to look like a Dean (some of them). IMHO I would look at either the Dean CS or if you want to save a few bucks and don't require a pristine example you can find them for considerably less money used. The early pristine examples are skyrocketing in what people are asking. YMMV.
 

gunslinger

Member
Messages
2,938
I have two 1982 made in the USA Dean babies. They're very well made guitars. They featured DiMarzio pickups and Schaller tuners and bridges. I believe they came stock with bone nuts. I think most of the new Deans are imports.
 

stratzrus

Philadelphia Jazz, Funk, and R&B
Silver Supporting Member
Messages
20,874
Unless you're buying stuff from the custom shop, it's hit or miss...
USA made Dean Guitars are fine instruments. The quality and craftsmanship is on par with any of the usual suspects. In fact, I think they sound and feel better than most.
There are some great Dean guitars, particularly those built before 1983 and from the USA Custom Shop.

I have two Custom Shop korina Deans, a V and a Z. Both are exceptionally well built guitars, among the best I've ever played. They were built to my specifications back in '06: Korina body, ebony board, graphite nut, tone pros bridge, transparent amber finish. Locking tuners, a push/push neck pickup coil tap volume knob, and Fralin pickups on the "one-of-a-kind" Z. I also have a maroon '81 Z that has the best neck I've ever held.

As I understand it, the imports are hit and miss but if you get a good one they are really a bargain. Personally, I prefer the USA models and mine, vintage and recent, are on par with the best guitars I've ever encountered.

 
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Lonnie00

Member
Messages
1,959
As has been stated, the USA Deans from the late 70s through the 80s are quality instruments. After Zelinsky sold the company quality dropped a bit but they still had very nice instruments made in Korea, specifically the EVO series and the V, Z, and ML guitars. Once the Dime thing started they really began pushing out some bottom of the line stuff and unfortunately that's the stuff most people know these days. They killed the Korean line years ago if I remember right. I've owned probably 25 Deans but haven't had any of the recent crap ones. The latest one I did own was made in China but it was one of their DOA (Dean Owners of America) models so it was pretty nice.
 

wmachine

Member
Messages
1,215
Unless you're buying stuff from the custom shop, it's hit or miss; as it is with most manufacturers. I currently own a Cadillac and an ML, both of which are Imports. Ironically, I like these better than the two USA models that I had previously owned. The Cadillac is one of my main go to guitars.
I have a South Korean 35th “Z” that is pretty damn amazing. You would think it was a USA “Z” if it did not say made in Korea. Some of the high end Korean made Deans are very nice.
As has been stated, the USA Deans from the late 70s through the 80s are quality instruments. After Zelinsky sold the company quality dropped a bit but they still had very nice instruments made in Korea, specifically the EVO series and the V, Z, and ML guitars. Once the Dime thing started they really began pushing out some bottom of the line stuff and unfortunately that's the stuff most people know these days. They killed the Korean line years ago if I remember right. I've owned probably 25 Deans but haven't had any of the recent crap ones. The latest one I did own was made in China but it was one of their DOA (Dean Owners of America) models so it was pretty nice.
These pretty well cover it. As far as I can tell, most, if not all, MIK Deans are at least decent and some are really good. But you can pretty well forget the Chinese made ones.
So when considering getting one, the first and foremost question is "Where was it made".
And going by models doesn't work because some of the same models were made in the USA, Korea, and China.

I have a few Korean made ones that are surprisingly good. I've tried a couple Chinese ones, absoulety no thank you.
 

mikebat

Member
Messages
10,880
Considering Dean's past, I can see why someone would have nostaglia for a Dean and pick up an old one. Also, considering all the changes in production since the glory days of Dean, I can't see wanting to roll the dice on one I could pay my hands on for a good test drive before I purchase. In my mind, I group Dean with BC Rich and Kramer (until maybe recently) in the "was hot, then ownership weirdness and years of poor outsourced manufacturing" category.

Personally, there are so many more brands I would think of before Dean.
 

JosephZdyrski

Member
Messages
3,017
If you’re gonna buy guitars under a 1000$ you just gotta either play em first or better yet learn to work on them.

I am so satisfied with almost all my cheaper guitars.... out of 20 to 30 guitars owned I’ve only ever returned one. Only because it had a buzz caused by a fret that had started pulling off the fretboard and needed to be hammered down with a rubber mallet. Too much work for me. Plus they had something else I wanted so it went back but that’s the only one ever. But aside from the paint thinner thing most of your problems were set up issues easily fixable so I would strongly advise learning to do your own set ups because honestly set ups are basically maintenance. They have to be continuously done to keep your guitars playing their best. This goes for 10,000$ guitars same as it goes for 100$ guitars.
 

mjross

Member
Messages
2,249
There are some great Dean guitars, particularly those built before 1983 and from the USA Custom Shop.

I have two Custom Shop korina Deans, a V and a Z. Both are exceptionally well built guitars, among the best I've ever played. They were built to my specifications back in '06: Korina body, ebony board, graphite nut, tone pros bridge, transparent amber finish. Locking tuners, a push/push neck pickup coil tap volume knob, and Fralin pickups on the "one-of-a-kind" Z. I also have a maroon '81 Z that has the best neck I've ever held.

As I understand it, the imports are hit and miss but if you get a good one they are really a bargain. Personally, I prefer the USA models and mine, vintage and recent, are on par with the best guitars I've ever encountered.

I have several USA Deans and just love them. However, my Korean 35th Z is a very serious contender. If I did not tell you it was Korean and you know anything about Dean guitars, you would absolutely think it was USA Custom shop. There is a video review on YouTube where one of the major USA only Dean Dealers swears by them. In fact, that review is why I ended up with one. If you can find one, buy it, buy it now!
 

gunslinger

Member
Messages
2,938
I have two 1982 Dean babies. They were made in Chicago. The originals were high quality in my opinion. I'm guessing the more expensive ones that are currently made in the USA are the best quality today.
 




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