Dimebag Darrell’s 1981 Dean ML “Dean from Hell”

Dimebag won this 1981 Dean ML at a guitar contest in 1981, the same day that his father bought him his first Dean – the sunburst ML. Owning a Dean guitar was a long-time dream of Dimebag’s, and as luck would have it, he got two of them on the same day.

This second Dean that he got that day, the one that would eventually be known as “Dean from Hell” at that point featured a maroon-colored body, and it was just a completely stock Dean ML – far from how the guitar ended up looking later on.

1981, young Dimebag Darrell after winning his Dean guitar, with his mother Carolyn Abbott and Dean founder Dean Zelinsky.
1981, young Dimebag Darrell after winning his Dean guitar, with his mother Carolyn Abbott and Dean founder Dean Zelinsky.

Dean from Hell sold

Sometime around 1981, when Dime was sixteen years old, he decided he wanted to buy himself a car. He got his eyes on a yellow Pontiac Firebird, but not having enough money to buy it, he was met with a choice – two Deans and no car, or sell one Dean and buy the car.

At that point in his life, he preferred the latter option, so the Dean that he won at the contest was sold, and Dime was left with the sunburst ML which he got from his father.

When I was sixteen years old, I wanted to race to hell – I wanted to buy this fuing Firebird, Formula man! And I needed 600 fuing bucks. What I did is I sold the guitar I won – ugly ass mother fuer, but I loved it. So I sold the guitar for 600 bucks, and bought the car, but I sure missed that guitar.


New owner, Dean from Hell paint job story

At first, Dime offered the guitar to his friend, Buddy Webster, better known as Buddy Blaze, who was a guitar luthier living in Arlington, Texas. Buddy apparently didn’t wanna buy it, arguing that Dime shouldn’t even be selling it in the first place.

But, Dime had already decided, and he found another buyer, a person who happened to be in the same band as Buddy Blaze. Buddy apparently found out and decided to buy the guitar from that person in secret, thinking Dime would certainly change his mind eventually, and he would keep it safe in the meantime.

Buddy’s assumption proved to be correct, so he decided to fix up the guitar, repaint it, install some new hardware in it, and present it to Dime as a surprise.

A long time coming, the guitar made a weird circle and ended up in the hands of Buddy Blaze, and I didn’t know that he got it. And what I did with the Deans back in the day, I’d get them in the pawn shop for cheap, I equipped them with Floyd rose, hot-rod pickups, and customize the paint job.

Anyway, he (Buddy Blaze) got the one I actually won, and he painted the lighting bolts on the body, threw the pickups in, threw the Floyd rose on it, and he was getting famous at that time and I asked him if he would do a Dime guitar for me. So Buddy goes yea I’ll do the guitar for you, and next thing I knew, the next day on my doorstep there was a big box. I opened it up, and I totally knew there was a Dean in there. I popped up the case, and it was the lighting bolt Dean from fu**ing hell man. Greatest guitar I ever had – will ever have in my whole life!


The new paint job featured a blue background color with white lighting strikes coming from the center of the guitar. As far as the hardware that was changed, Buddy removed the original Dean bridge and the tailpiece, and instead installed a Floyd Rose tremolo – which is something Dime often did on his guitar, as he said in the quote above.

Buddy also removed both of the original pickups and installed a Bill Lawrence XL-500 pickup in the bridge and a Seymour Duncan SH-1 ’59 in the neck.

Dean from Hell with Pantera

Dime ended up using this Dean guitar as his main guitar with Pantera, and it was featured on all of Pantera’s major releases including Cowboys from Hell and Vulgar Display of Power. By 1994 he started using Washburns as his main guitars, and at one point his Dean from Hell even went missing, so this guitar became less used as the years went by.

My main guitar is still my blue ’81 Dean with the Kiss stickers. That guitar just can’t be topped. I use that on all the songs that are in standard tuning. When we tune down to D, I use my brown tobacco-burst Dean.


Dean from Hell Stolen

This guitar was stolen, or more precisely – went missing, from Dimebag after a show in Philadelphia in August 1994. The guitar was supposed to be shipped to Washburn so they could measure all the details needed in order to produce a new guitar for Dime.

Somehow, the guitar ended up being used as a table in the dressing room, since Dime was celebrating his birthday that day. After the party was done, and everyone had left, a janitor came to clean, saw the guitar, and thought it was just a disregarded piece, brought it back to his garage, and thought nothing of it.

Very soon after realizing that the guitar was gone, Dime spread the news to MTV, who put out a newsflash that there was a missing guitar, and that there was $2500 on the line for whoever finds it. Luckily, the person who had the guitar saw it and returned the instrument to his owner.

It was his birthday and it was a show day. I brought it to the dressing room because it was going to be shipped to Washburn the next day to have them go over it and start making the Dime models.

It somehow ended up being the table for the birthday cake and I left the gig without it. I swore that I had put it in the bay of the bus. Anyways, a man cleaning up after we left found it, thought it was junk and put it in his garage. MTV put out a newsflash, and it was returned.

Dimebag day: Dime’s longtime tech Grady Champion talks guitars, amps and tone

Dime from Hell today

Dean from Hell in its current state. Photo by: Dean guitars on Facebook.
Dean from Hell in its current state. Photo by: Dean guitars on Facebook.

The guitar is now kept at Dime’s house-turned-museum in Dalworthington Gardens, Texas, among a great number of his guitars and gear. A lot of those were featured in a video published by Ola Englund on YouTube, which is a must-watch for any Dimebag fan.


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Saber Tooth Gary
Saber Tooth Gary
2 months ago

I don’t think that’s Dean Zelinsky in the 1981 photo, with Diamond Darrell and his Mama.

Last edited 2 months ago by Saber Tooth Gary
Saber Tooth Gary
Saber Tooth Gary
2 months ago

Then again… maybe it is…

11 days ago

The neck pickup is a DiMarzio Super Distortion