#1
I've seen numerous debates about PRS and their so-far unchallenged reign in the top spot in the luxury department in the guitar industry. I've been personally asked by a good few, rich n' poor, on the issue of finding an alternative of the 'big' names in the business, that can still provide the same spark. Indeed, I my self have been pondering frustratingly in this matter and eventually came up with not so much a direct answer, but a glimering hope perhaps.

This article is intended for those who are looking to invest in the top-tier brands in the electric guitar industry that want to stray off from the mainstream and embark in something alittle less 'commercial' (although the price tag on the PRS' and Gibsons are anything but 'commercial'). In this article, I looked in the company of Dean.
Dean cannot be considered 'unknown' by any standards, as they are supported with a solid fanbase behind, such as Dimebag, Zakk Wylde, and others related mostly to hardcore music styles. But it's hard to say if they are in the top flight in the industry just yet. Hesitation may come to mind to buyers looking into Deans. Mind you, they are a relatively young brand, but then again, so are PRS, so no excuses there. So why did I pick to write about them? You'll soon find out.

Let's first start with abit of insight. The company that is mostly associated with mediocre-priced six strings put together in the far east has gone through abit of a mini revolution recently, with the retired founder Dean Zelinsky returning to the company and revamping the production line considerably. Call it a 'renaissance' if you like, but there is one line up that is sure to creep its way up the golden ladder - The USA Hardtails.
I've looked in to the USA built Hardtails recently and I'm thoroughly impressed by Dean's capabilities of building a boutique-style, slightly conservative range of guitars, resembling the ever-respected PRS singlecuts.
The most striking feature of the USA Hardtails are the finish. The Deans weren't always much of a looker, but the finishes on these are nothing short of bliss.



Now obviously, if your associating products with words like 'boutique', the product has to be firm in it's originality and uniqueness, and Dean possesses them all without ever comprimising quality and simplicity. It's astonishing for a company that is famous for it's pointy corners and questionable finish palette, to put away all the hardcore nonsense and calm down, with a cup of tea in hand, and build such a cracker.
I have not played one my self unfortunately, as I am in the UK, am trying to get one would provide to be a long treasure hunt without the adventure, but I have witnessed one played and on display.
In the design department, Dean has nailed it in my honest opinion. Double cuts haven't always been overly popular, with Gibson double cut Les Pauls selling abysmally and PRS' lineup having dividing critics. But the Hardtail seems to take the 'ugliness' out of it somehow, and adding more of an aggressive character to it, especially with the oversized horns.
Obviously, need I go on about the finish.

I myself am looking into stepping into the Dean territory sometime soon in the future with a USA Hardtail in my collection - and I cannot wait until that day. When I do eventually get my oily hands on one, I'll be assessing it intensely and post up a detailed review.

Ask a relatively moderate guitarist in choosing either a PRS or a Dean, and you'd most likely find the latter considerably lacking votes. But then again, maybe that's a good thing.
Less publicised bands deserve as much respect than any others. I myself personally find this PRS 'wave' slightly overrated (not the guitars themselves, but the 'myths' tied behind them are ever more frustrating to listen to, especially when most of the story teller themselves have never actually came within 100 feet of one).

This article isn't intended for converting people, by all means. It's just providing a side-step, abit of fresh air if your like, to those who want to know about the hidden gems that are on offer at the moment, providing a larger palette of options.
It's wonderful to see such surprises in the guitar industry, and proves once again how vast and panoramic the whole picture is.
I hope I find more fascinating stories along the way.
And I think my next stop would be looking at home grown Japanese and Korean brands, and ofcourse, the rising industry in China.
Watch this space.
#3
Quote by ExplorerFreak
I've played the Dean, and as nice as it was, the PRS was better.


I have to agree with you there. However, I should note that the Dean was an AWESOME guitar. I'm sure if it had a name other then Dean on it, people would take it more seriously.
#4
Quote by Hemani Co


This article is intended for those who are looking to invest in the top-tier brands in the electric guitar industry that want to stray off from the mainstream and embark in something alittle less 'commercial'


One word: Alembic. Nothing better that I've tried and they'd make your typical
PRS or Gibson seem downright silly.

I don't know why you'd even bring this up about the Dean, without having even
played one....
#5
Quote by edg
One word: Alembic. Nothing better that I've tried and they'd make your typical
PRS or Gibson seem downright silly.

I don't know why you'd even bring this up about the Dean, without having even
played one....


I disagree on the latter statement to a certain degree. I have to say with a numerous Gibsons that have passed my hands, a fair amount have pricetags that are, as you put it, 'downright silly' in some cases. For what I can see, that logo on the headstock is overvalued, even with it's prestige history under it's belt.

Ofcourse, PRS' are the cream at the moment and you definitely can't go wrong with them, even something I cannot contest.

The article is supposed to light in nature and provide a generic viewpoint. Just shallow insights, nothing more.
#6
Well, I know you're only pointing out alternatives to PRS and Gibson, but a Spec
Sheet, Marketing paper and pictures are IMO pretty useless for judging how
good a guitar really is.

PRS "the cream at the moment". I don't think so. I have a PRS Custom 22, 3
Gibsons and 2 Alembics. So I play them all. The Custom 22 (Artist, no less
which was $3000 new), is nice but I'd say a cut well below the Gibsons.
Admittedly, I don't have average Gibsons. But, maybe in general what PRS
cranks out of the factory is a bit better than Gibson. But those are only 2 of
many many brands.

I thought nothing could get better than a Gibson L5S for many years, but then
I got an Alembic. It's a cut above that and then some -- might be in a different
universe. The Alembic Further might be the most perfect solidbody guitar in
existance. At least that's where it ranks with me until I play a better one and
somehow I don't think that's going to happen...
#7
also to add to what edg has said (he knows what he's talking about!), there are plenty of UK-based brands which are good value.

for gibson-esque guitars, there's gordon smith. at about half the price of gibson, and IMO, at least as nice if not nicer.

for prs style guitars, there's patrick eggle. better value than PRS IMO.

There's also JJ, though i think i like eggle more. but jj are still nice.

Probably more I've forgotten. Also consider going with a custom from someone like legra, feline, etc. Better value, and you get exactly what you want...
I'm an idiot and I accidentally clicked the "Remove all subscriptions" button. If it seems like I'm ignoring you, I'm not, I'm just no longer subscribed to the thread. If you quote me or do the @user thing at me, hopefully it'll notify me through my notifications and I'll get back to you.
Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#8
how much are these usa hardtails retaling for..and has any1 who played one no if there good for anything beside metal (i.e. blues and clasic rock)