Janet Zink of the St. Petersburg Times reports that late PANTERA/DAMAGEPLAN guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott lives on with a line of guitars that Florida-based manufacturer and distributor Dean Guitars will introduce today (Jan. 20) at a music industry conference in Anaheim, Calif.
Some guitars in the new line feature a unique body shape developed by Dimebag months before he died while others showcase his graphic designs on the classic X-shape, solid body for which Dean guitars are known.
The Dimebag guitars are causing a buzz.
For the first time, Dimebag is featured on the cover of the venerable Guitar Player magazine. Its February cover includes a Dean guitar emblazoned across the top.
All 150 limited-edition guitars with Dimebag's lightning bolt graphics have been presold for $4,700 each, said Elliott Rubinson, head of Armadillo Enterprises, which owns Dean.
Dimebag's affiliation with Dean goes back to when he was 14, Rubinson said. He played them throughout PANTERA's heyday in the mid '90s. He switched to Washburn Guitars late in the decade, a time when Dean Guitars had practically disappeared from the American market.
But when Dimebag's contract with Washburn ended, he inked an endorsement deal with Dean, which Rubinson had revived. Dimebag died three weeks later at the age of 38.
In the months before that, though, he worked with Dean Zelinsky, the Chicago-based founder of Dean, to develop a guitar with a unique body shape and finger grips on the volume and tone knobs so they can be easily grasped by performers sweating on stage.
He also created four graphic designs for Dean Guitar bodies. One features stripes of lime green, Dimebag's favorite color, Rubinson said. Another simulates rusting metal.
"The guy had ideas flowing quicker than you could write them down," Zelinsky said. "He had his finger on the pulse of metal and could translate that into a guitar and knew what metal players would like."
Zelinsky said Dimebag understood what Zelinsky had in mind when he launched Dean Guitars.
"We were about putting quality instruments together that had mass stage appeal, that would become part of the rock star's costume," Zelinsky said. "A flashy-looking thing. Paint jobs that no one had seen before."
The selection of Dean by Dimebag makes the point.
"The Dime thing is a huge deal for the rock guitar world," said Art Thompson, senior editor at Guitar Player. "He could have played anything."
In October, Dean signed an endorsement deal with Michael Schenker, former SCORPIONS guitarist and now leader of the MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP.