That's What Friends Are For

That's What Friends Are For

This is my favorite guitar story. Period.

It’s about loyalty and honor. Loyalty is my #1 core value. I have my top 10 core values written down and also as a note on my phone. It was a very long exercise (weeks) and I thank subscriber Steve Marks for helping me through that self-awareness process nearly two years ago.

Here is my personal definition of Loyalty and associated emotion:

Definition- faithful to people and commitments. It makes me feel appreciated.

From disassembling electronics to repairing and flipping busted guitars Dean Zelinsky was employed by his local music store as a guitar “repairman” at the age of 16. 

Before he graduated high school Dean had a legit storefront repair shop, Doubleneck Dean Custom Guitars in Northbrook, IL.  

By the time he was 19, Dean Guitars unveiled their first three models at the 1977 winter NAMM show. 

Those models were the V, Z, and ML.  

The V and Z were Dean’s versions of a Gibson Flying V and Explorer. 


The ML was Dean’s original design, a blend of the V and Z. Dean literally laid his V and Z on top of each other and traced a marriage of the two. 


 The model name is a tribute to Dean’s best childhood friend, Matt Lynn (ML), whom he watched die of cancer when they were both 17. 

That’s loyalty.

Dean Guitars went onto be a very successful and highly sought after brand of guitars through the 1980s. The Dean ML was the company’s best seller and the most notable endorser was Dimebag Darrell of Pantera.


Dean Guitars Image


Custom Dean ML’s were covered in fur and used by ZZ Top in their 1984 “Legs” video. 

ZZ Top guitars

 In 1986 Dean Zelinsky sold the business and it has had a few different ownership group, all of which have maintained the company’s success. However, the real Dean continues as a custom guitar builder in his shop based in Highland Park, IL.

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