Dean ML Guitar : The Name Behind The ML

The Dean ML is an electric guitar made by Dean Guitars in 1977 along with its counterparts, the Dean V, Dean Cadillac and Dean Z. The Dean ML guitar was one of the most iconic designs by Dean Zelinsky during his time at Dean Guitars. It has an unusual design, with a V-shaped headstock and V-shaped tailpiece. Many have described as the bottom half of a Gibson Flying V and the top half of a Gibson Explorer and a headstock shape that resembled the Gibson Futura, a model that Gibson designed in 1957 and was the precursor to the Explorer, even though Gibson never produced them, aside from a handful of prototypes, until 1996.An already legendary guitar, it was popularized by the guitarist Dimebag Darrell of Pantera.

Dean Zelinsky, the founder of Dean guitars, created the ML in 1977, striving for improved sustain and tone. Higher string angles and string length, due to the size of the headstock, contribute to the overall resonance. Dean has made the ML available to other manufacturers by licensing arrangement. But what does the ML stand for? While the legacy of the ML is undeniable, many have speculated what the ‘ML’ stands for. Because of the guitar’s popularity among those in the metal genre, some have assumed it was an abbreviation for ‘METAL”.

As it turns out, the true story has a much more personal story to it. “M.L.” were the initials of Dean Zelinsky’s childhood best friend, Matt Lynn. Matt and Dean bonded over a mutual love of music and playing guitar. The two lived only two blocks apart. Matt passed away from cancer at the tragically young age of 17. The death of his best friend weighed heavily on Dean as he began building guitars just two years later – his first original body shape was a guitar that would become the ‘ML’ in honor of his dearly departed childhood friend.

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