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Dean HardTail Collector’s Edition

Grace and Nuance
 
Grace and Nuance

If you were part of the scene in the late 1970s, you may recall how two companies – Hamer and Dean – at the time carried the torch for players looking for high-quality solidbody electric guitars.

Dean Zelinsky got into building guitars by first fixing on ‘em in the early ’70s. While still in high school, and while most of his buddies were working menial jobs, Zelinksy was fixing guitars and making pretty good money doing it. After graduating, he knew he wanted to be around guitars, though he wasn’t necessarily interested in being “just” a repairman. So he tooled up a factory, and before long his V and Z models, along with his original-design ML model, were garnering major attention. Not bad for a 19-year-old.

Within a few years, though, the locking trem/”Superstrat” craze was huge. Largely driven by low-end/low-cost instruments, the atmosphere wasn’t right for Zelinsky’s hand-made axes. In an effort to survive, he began importing guitars to meet the trendy demand. By the early ’90s, however, no longer enjoying what he was doing or seeing, he decided to bow out.

But in 2000, after nine years away from the business, he was reeled back in by the prospect of helping Elliot Rubinson, the current CEO of Dean Guitars, market the line in a planned rebirth. It wasn’t long before Zelinsky had an idea for a new model – his first in more than a decade.

Ta Dah!
Three years in the making, the HardTail is a U.S./hand-made, set-neck guitar available in the Dean USA line and featuring a mahogany body, flamed maple top, one-piece mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard, Seymour Duncan pickups, Tone Pros bridge, Grover tuners, abalone fretboard inlays (with Sterling Silver at the 12th fret), and abalone headstock inlay. The upscale Collector’s Edition adds Sterling silver fingerboard inlays at every standard position, “champagne pearl-finished” hardware, a deluxe leather-appointed case, and Zelinsky’s signature and hand-numbering on the headstock. A real nice spiff is the embossed HardTail leather jacket.

HardTail, Easy Play
Fondling the HardTail Collector’s Edition instantly reveals an amazingly smooth, easy-playing feel; the fingerboard and frets are flawless. The neck has a medium thickness we found very comfortable, and it doesn’t take long to warm up to its unique (as in “Dean only”) V shape.

We tested the HardTail through our Alessandro Working Dog Boxer amp and Exotic AC booster pedal.

Set for clean tones, the Duncan ’59 neck pickup was full and sparkly, with nice note separation. The hotter-wound Duncan JB in the bridge was darker, but still very nice and full – the set is a very good match. In the middle position, the pickup selector runs the pickups out of phase, and does the sound well.

To test the guitar’s crunchy tones, we turned on the Exotic AC booster. The result was big, fat, full tones from both pickups, with the neck position retaining its notable sparkle. The bridge pickup was very fat and round, with incredible sustain.

Rock players, the HardTail may be your new champion!

Given the quality of every facet of this guitar – hand-built construction, set-neck design, great woods, beee-yuu-tiful maple top, sleek hardware, fantastic playing feel, etc., etc., etcetera, it’s not surprising that the Dean HardTail Collector’s Edition retails at $4,224. But it’s about the finer things, sometimes, isn’t it?

Dean HardTail
Features Mahogany body, flamed maple top maple, mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard, Seymour Duncan JB bridge pickup, Duncan ’59 neck pickup, Tone Pros bridge, Grover tuners, graphite nut, polished jumbo frets, abalone shell headstock inlay. Collector’s Edition adds “champagne pearl-finished” hardware, Sterling silver fretboard inlays, deluxe leather-appointed case, headstock signed and numbered by Dean Zelinsky.
Price $3,334 (retail).
Collector’s Edition $4,224 (retail).
Contact Dean Guitars, 15251 Roosevelt Boulevard, Clearwater, FL 33760, phone (727) 519-9669, deanguitars.com



Dean HardTail
Features Mahogany body, flamed maple top maple, mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard, Seymour Duncan JB bridge pickup, Duncan ’59 neck pickup, Tone Pros bridge, Grover tuners, graphite nut, polished jumbo frets, abalone shell headstock inlay. Collector’s Edition adds “champagne pearl-finished” hardware, Sterling silver fretboard inlays, deluxe leather-appointed case, headstock signed and numbered by Dean Zelinsky.
Price $3,334 (retail), Collector’s Edition $4,224 (retail)..
Contact Dean Guitars, 15251 Roosevelt Boulevard, Clearwater, FL 33760, phone (727) 519-9669, deanguitars.com



This article originally appeared in VG‘s Nov. ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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