Words by Londa R. Marks
Elliott Dean Rubinson, owner of Dean Guitars, CEO of Armadillo Enterprises, Luna guitars and Ddrum also plays bass for Michael Schenker, Uli Jon Roth, Craig Goldy, Vinnie Moore and Michael Angelo. This is an interview with Londa R. Marks for publication with Tempi-Dispari; Rome, Italy’s source for rock music news and the arts culture.
Is there someone who has inspired you more than anyone else and has this affected your approach to music; or what exactly has been your approach to music?
Elliott Rubinson: “Growing up I was very inspired by aggressive bass players like Jack Bruce and Time Bogert. I have always taken a more ‘out front approach’ to bass playing and especially loved the high register along with very solid low end to hold the band together and give the guitarist I’m supporting a solid bed to play over. Of course McCartney and guys like Glenn Hughes were always standouts.”
Founded in 1977 and for almost 40 years the Dean brand has been synonymous with rock and metal music. What is the secret to Dean Guitar’s desirability and success?
Elliott Rubinson: “The decision to take Dean Guitars to a full line company was the start of its major success. Having entry level guitars and basses as well as high end great playing imports and then of course our USA custom shop has attracted so many players to the brand. We even have great success with bluegrass instruments. Having myself, the CEO out on the road touring with Uli Jon Roth, Vinnie Moore, Michael Schenker, Michael Angelo or Craig Goldy adds a lot of credibility to Dean Guitars.”
Musicians like Dave Mustaine, Michael Angelo Batio, Brett Michaels and Michael Schenker have had Dean Guitars create a line of music instruments for them because of the tailor-made, quality artisan construction that Dean is known.
Elliott Rubinson: “When an artist decides he wants to play Dean a lot of work goes into the “making” of his line. We work from their favorite instrument taking measurements of neck and body dimensions, pickup output, etc., not to mention specific graphics or paint that we feel will make a statement and compel a fan to go out and buy one. Having our USA custom shop has really made the difference in this process.”
Many fans associate Dean Guitars with Dimebag Darrell who played with ML models and his own original shapes or designs. Can you tell us how your collaboration went with him?
Elliott Rubinson: “Dime loved Dean from the time he was 13 or 14. He didn’t have an endorsement but just knew the ML was him. He never stopped playing our shape and the ML was his signature shape. We owe a lot to him because he never wavered. He called me in 2004 to come down to the factory and try to get another formal endorsement. He left that day and started wearing a Dean work shirt and playing a guitar we gave him. In the middle of November he signed a formal deal with us and three weeks later he was slain. What a black day for guitarists around the world. His talent, passion and creativity live on. To this day his signature guitars sell extremely well.”
As a world-class bassist who has toured with Michael Schenker, Michael Angelo Batio and Uli Jon Roth what are some of your favorite memories of playing with these musicians?
Elliott Rubinson: “I have been so fortunate to play with world class players. Each has their own style and requires something different from me. Uli Jon Roth works with no setlist and plays what he feels. We jam every night on different tunes and do it in a different way each time. I feel jamming is a lost art. Michael Schenker is also a joy to play with and has amazing vibrato, tone and melodic riffs that are instantly identifiable. He is a legend and has written many timeless rock songs. Michael Angelo is a technician and has incredible speed and precision. The intensity and passion of his playing is unreal. Vinnie Moore is another great soulful, bluesy rock player. I really enjoy playing his material and can be quite challenging. Just coming off a tour with Craig Goldy made me really appreciate what he does. His sound, vibrato and riffs were incredible and he can do Blackmore like no one else.”
I want to ask you the same thing I have asked others because it is a profound occurrence now. Why do you think the 80’s are reigniting? I mean, it is like it’s 1985 in Colombia, South America; it is happening here in Italy and it is apparent all over the world that the 80’s and even the 70’s rock styles are becoming enlivened again.
Elliott Rubinson: “I think the 80’s are reigniting because people miss this unreal time in music history. Shows were packed, records were selling, everything was extreme and it was a happy time in many people’s lives. Shows now are half full because everything is seen on Youtube and all music of course is simply downloaded. Going to a show then was incredible and I think many would love to go back 30 years to this happy time in music. It was a time of excess and even teens come to our shows wearing Zepp or Beatles shirts. Kids aren’t playing guitars as much as it takes a lot of work and we are in an age of immediate return on investment. Playing in a band is an experience I wish more people could enjoy.”