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Instruments currently produced in Tampa, FL, Korea, Japan, and China. Distributed by Armadillo Enterprises of Tampa, FL. Previously produced in Evanston, IL 1977-1986, Plant City, FL 1990-94, and Clearwater, FL 1995-2005. Instruments have been produced in Tampa, FL since 2005 and overseas since 1985.
The original Evanston, Illinois-based company was founded by Dean Zelinsky in 1977. Zelinsky, fond of classic Gibson designs, began building high quality electric solid body instruments and eventually started developing his own designs. Originally, there were three models: The V (similar to the Flying V), the Z (Explorer body shape), and the ML (sort of a cross between the V and an Explorer - and named after the initials of Matt Lynn, Zelinsky's best friend growing up). As the company's guitars gained popularity, production facilities were moved to Chicago in 1980.
Zelinsky originally got into the guitar building business to fill a void he felt the larger companies had: a high-quality, set-neck, eye-catching stage guitar. Though new designs continued to be developed, manufacturing of these instruments was shifted more and more to overseas builders. In 1986, Dean closed the USA Shop, leaving all construction to be completed overseas. The U.S. market had shifted towards the then-popular bolt neck super-strat design, and Zelinsky's personal taste leaned in the opposite direction. Zelinsky has estimated that between 6,000 and 7,000 (possibly 8,000) guitars were built in the U.S. between 1977 and 1986. It has been estimated by various Dean collectors that the Japanese Dean models were built by the ESP Guitar company in Japan (circa 1986 to 1989). Zelinsky sold Dean Guitars in 1990 to Oscar Medros, founder and owner of Tropical Music (based in Miami, Florida). The Dean Guitars facility in Plant City, Florida was run by Tracy Hoeft and Jon Hill, and new guitars were distributed to markets in the U.S., Japan, Korea, and Europe. In 1995, Armadillo Enterprises or Clearwater, FL bought Dean from Tropical Music. In 2000, Zelinsky came back to work for Dean. In 2005, Armadillo Enterprises moved to large facilities in Tampa, FL. In summer 2008, Zelinsky resigned from Dean for a second time. They currently produce several lines of guitars overseas and they also have a high-end custom shop that builds several original models. For more information, contact Dean directly or visit their website.

From Blue Book Publications:

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