Dean Guitars has announced a signature model in honour of the late Mountain guitarist Leslie West. The brand worked on the limited-edition model with West before his passing last year.
Only 50 pieces will be available, each one bearing West’s “LW” insignia on the back of their headstock. Each has also been given a distressed finish by ex-Fender Custom Shop Master Builder John Cruz.
Construction consists of a mahogany body bearing a flame maple arched top, with a set C-shaped three-piece mahogany neck. This is topped with a 12-inch radius ebony fretboard, and 22 jumbo frets and pearl block markers.
Hardware includes Grover 18:1 tuning machines, and a hardtail Tune-O-Matic bridge and tailpiece. Electronics consist of a set of USA DMT humbuckers: West’s signature Mountain Of Tone in the bridge, and a Nostalgia in the neck. Both bear a distressed finish to match the nitrocellulose finish.
Leslie West’s widow, Jenni West, said of his reaction to the instrument: “I remember the first time he saw it, I opened the box and pulled it out, (and) laid it on the island of the kitchen. He lit up like a fat kid at a chocolate factory. He laughed out loud in that big booming voice, ‘That’s fucking perfect! Looks torn and tattered like me!’ He plugged it into his practice amp, cranked up the volume and played a few bars of Blood Of The Sun. That guitar made him smile! He said it made his balls rattle. That’s how he judged a guitar; if the bottom end didn’t boom, it just didn’t make the cut. He was so proud of this model. I am too!”
Dean’s vice president of products, Eric Stewart, added: “We are honoured and humbled to have called Leslie ‘friend’. While ‘labour of love’ is overused, I can’t think of a better phrase to describe how everyone at Dean feels about this project.”
The hand-signed editions list for $9,999; non-hand-signed are available for $5,460. Find out more here.
The contribution of John Cruz towards this guitar marks the second project he has undertaken since being dismissed from the Fender Custom Shop, the other being the launch of his own brand of guitars last year.
His dismissal was seemingly connected to a controversial Facebook post Cruz was accused of making. Unverified screenshots of a joke Cruz made about running over Black Lives Matter protesters circled guitar forums in June 2020, originating from a Facebook post made by bassist Gregor Fris. The post is now deleted, but GearNews reports that Fris had left a comment explaining how he had a phone call with Fender, who told him that Cruz had been dismissed, seemingly in connection to the post Fris had shared.