- WE'RE GOING TO NAMM -
So it’s late 1976, I’m 19 years old, diligently working day and night tooling up a guitar factory. Zan Skolnick, my marketing director, is now in place and the game is starting to change; things are ramping up. We are going to the NAMM show in January and the already voluminous task I had taken on just got super-sized. Working to get this monster going was on my schedule, but suddenly I had a drop-dead date to launch this Guitar Company – January 21st, 1977.
- SETTING UP THE DEAN GUITAR FACTORY -
FROM REPAIRMAN TO FACTORY OWNER
It was 1976. Most of my peers were either in college or working in the trades—many were busy improving their drug and alcohol skills. None of that felt right for me, and at the age of 19 I somehow thought I was ready to go into the guitar manufacturing business.
- MY FORMAL TRAINING -
A TRIP TO THE GIBSON FACTORY
While I had been in the repair business for a while, the entrepreneur in me had sights set on a bigger prize; becoming a guitar manufacturer and going up against the “Big Fish” - Gibson. They were making terrible guitars in the mid-70s…owned by Norlin Industries, which was so diverse they even harvested nuts in South America. The Norlin brain-trust seemed to not have a clue as to what a guitar was supposed to look like, feel like or even sound like. In my repair business, I made the most money shaving 70s Gibson necks and refinishing them. That is where I perfected my Soft-V profile…the feel that helped put the original Dean Guitars on the map.
As long as I can remember, I couldn’t deal with school. I really started going off the rails in 5th grade. I spent most of that school year in the coat closet because I was so disruptive to the class... While middle school was no party, in high school I could somewhat create my own schedule which helped to mitigate the pain. However, I still look back at that period as the worst 4 years of my life.
Around the age of fourteen or fifteen I was playing a lot of guitar, however, tinkering on guitars quickly became a new fascination. Buying and working on guitars was going to become my new playground...
There was a local music store, called The Village School of Folk Music, and my mother signed me up for lessons. The more advanced students went to a guy named Gary Gand, a 16-year-old local, hotshot guitar player who just happened to be the storeowner’s son. The less advanced students got signed up with Gary’s band mate…are you sitting down…a guy named Paul Hamer. Yes, little known fact but Paul Hamer of Hamer Guitar fame was my first guitar teacher.