Marc Johnson for TheToneKing.com
Back in March, TheToneKing.com blasted a story about some changes that were going down at DBZ Guitars. In that story, we were a bit unsure about where DBZ was headed, and we punctuated our point by saying, “When the artisan is gone, so is the artistry.” Recently, we had a chance to speak with Jeff Diamant, President and CEO of DBZ, about the future of DBZ guitars, and he showed us how the artistry is still intact. Exclusive to TheToneKing.com, Jeff speaks out on his plans for the future of DBZ Guitars.
To start out with, Jeff pointed out something that most of us at TTK didn’t know: Jeff was hands-on with the design elements of every guitar that DBZ produced. From the custom designed pickups (which were designed by Jeff and his team at Diamond Amps) to the neck profiles and shapes of nearly every guitar built by DBZ, Jeff makes it clear that he was completely involved in every part of the design, production, and quality control of DBZ guitars.
“By the end of next week, I will have the 2013 line finalized,” Jeff mentioned to me during our recent interview. Most players will also recognize Jeff Diamant as the guy behind Diamond Amplification. In fact, Jeff is looking to his success with Diamond Amps to help coordinate his future operations at DBZ. With both companies working in the same location in Houston Texas, DBZ guitars is being streamlined to continue making quality USA and import guitars that won’t leave players scrambling for rent money.
Well, that still leaves us with the question, with everything that’s gone down, where the hell is DBZ headed?
The easiest answer: Full speed ahead.
But, probably the best place to start is to look at what’s not going to change. It looks like all of the existing models will remain at DBZ. Fan favorites like the Siberian Quilt Bolero and the Barchetta (which were, as it turns out, Jeff’s creation) will remain as staple models in the DBZ line.
Fans of DBZ may also remember the Halcyon that was pulled from their original line up. “The Halcyon is a fabulous guitar. The problem was that there were too many super-strat guitars at that price point.” The extra adornments were costing too much to be competitive against Jackson or Ibanez who were offering similar guitars in the same price point. Hell, let’s face it. They’re the bigger names. Even if DBZ offers a superior guitar at the same price, people are still going to gravitate to the bigger name.
After thinking it through, DBZ is bringing back the Halcyon in 2013. Basically, it’ll be the same guitar with a different set of pickups, a different trem, and it will no longer include a case. “Let the players change their pickups to their taste,” Jeff says as he makes the point that most players are going to yank out the pickups out of the guitar anyway.
Well, what’s going to change?
Even though the DBZ stamp will still be on the headstock, the size and design headstock itself is going to change. It’ll be a modest change. Basically, Jeff wants to make it a bit less, well…in your face. More significant will be the changes to the neck shapes to include more “customary profiles” like the Standard or the Wide-Thin instead of the controversial ‘V’ shape .
Other improvements include the variety of color and configuration. Many of the original designs emulated “the look and feel of Gibson.” The result was that DBZ ended up offering a flame-top Bolero in “five shades of brown.” Which were cool colors, but left little in the way of variety. Jeff wanted to expand DBZ’s palette. Now, all of the traditional lines – Yes! That includes import models – will be offered in a larger variety colors. “Who’s to say that someone who buys a more affordable guitar has to have a lame color? And why do more traditional guitars have to only come in shades of brown. ”
The overall look and feel of the company is going to be rooted in classic origins. Everything in the DBZ line is being streamlined to move toward a more “classic” feel while at the same time modernizing on those old-school designs to bring them into the 21st century. Classic shapes like the ‘V’ and the Single-cut are just the springboard for DBZ to create a truly unique guitar. Instead of concentrating on eccentric shapes, Jeff wants to keep the shapes classic but add intricacies that will distinguish DBZ Guitars and make them unique. DBZ is not out to reinvent the wheel; they just want to make it better.
For you bass players out there – and I know you’re listening! – In addition to the Imperial series, you will also be treated to the new Barchetta Bass Series. And, if a 4 string isn’t enough, the Barchetta Basses will also be available in 5-string models.
Finally, there will be a brand spanking new body shape that will be unveiled for 2013. Jeff was pretty hush-hush about it, but he did say that it would be “rooted in a classic design with new features.” Strat-style? SG-Style? Freaking-Rhodes ‘V’? Your guess is as good as mine. But what we do know is that it will be offered in both a 6-string and a bass model!
How about the USA lines?
One of the things that caught me off guard was Jeff’s openness about limiting customizing options in his USA amp and guitar builds. While DBZ will offer plenty finishing options in their USA guitars, the rest of the guitar profile is what it is. No ordering off menu here. You won’t get African Rosewood body with a Koa top no matter how much you beg. Instead, you’ll be getting a quality built USA guitar for a reasonable price. Citing the need to keep the quality of the instrument intact, Jeff doesn’t want to offer so many options that it compromises the integrity of the guitar. Which, I had to admit, made sense. Besides, it’s worked for Gibson, Fender, and PRS all of these years.
When Jeff Diamant spoke to TheToneKing.com, he wanted us to know that the most important thing is not to write off DBZ Guitars without first checking out where they’re headed to next. Check out a DBZ guitar, and then make your judgment. And, he’s got a point. He’s been there since the beginning, and he’s had a hand in every design that’s been stamped with the name DBZ. It’s too easy to say that DBZ will never be the same without first checking out what new gear they have to offer. Without sounding too philosophical, sometimes we concentrate so much on the road that we forget about the destination. And, if we don’t watch out, we might miss out on something really cool.
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