Zakk Wylde’s latest Pantera guitar is a tribute to Dimebag Darrell’s Dean From Hell – is a new guitar line in the works?

Zakk Wylde guitarist of US heavy metal band Pantera performs on stage during the 'Knotfest Colombia 2022' at Complejo El Campin on December 09, 2022 in Bogota, Colombia.
(Image credit: Guillermo Legaria Schweizer/Getty Images)

When Zakk Wylde was first announced as the guitarist for current lineup of Pantera, it was initially mooted he would use guitars that were given to him by Darrell “Dimebag” Abbott himself – that didn’t turn out to be the case, as Wylde stuck to his own guitar company’s Wylde Audio Warhammers. But the Ozzy Osbourne guitarist is now paying tribute to his old friend in the best way possible.

Photos from the band’s recent European tour dates have showcased Wylde brandishing a new version of his faithful Warhammer with a lightning bolt graphic that recalls Dimebag’s legendary Dean From Hell design.

In an Instagram post shared prior to the tour, Wylde offered a closer look at the guitar, which even features a silhouette of Dimebag on the rear of the headstock.

Besides the guitar being a sweet homage to his drinking and guitar buddy, this new Warhammer is particularly notable because it looks like it could become a production model.

We say ‘become’, but Wylde’s personal example already appears to be a production-line guitar – it’s made in South Korea and features a serial number: WA16020375. You’re extremely unlikely to see a serial with that many digits on a custom-built guitar.

There’s currently no comment on the guitar from Wylde’s camp, which indicates further developments down the line. What more, there are no Warhammer models listed on the website of Wylde Audio parent brand Schecter at the time of writing.

While the visuals tip their hat to Dimebag, the new guitar is spec’d to Wylde’s tastes – you can spot the usual EMG 81/85 pairing, Grover tuners and Floyd Rose locking tremolo.

But that could be subject to change if the tribute design heralds the start of a new Dimebag Darrell line built under the Wylde Audio brand.

Back in 2021, Dimebag Darrell’s estate sued Dean Guitars, parting ways with the company most associated with the late Pantera guitarist. After the story broke, Wylde was asked whether Wylde Audio would ever produce Dimebag guitars – tellingly, the guitarist didn’t say no.

“I remember when that first came out, but I didn’t know the whole skinny on that," Wylde said of the lawsuit. "But I mean, Dime's always been associated with them. I mean, actually, he brought them back into business when they were out of business. He brought them back into business just because of his popularity, and him playing that guitar. 

"But, if we were to ever do something like that, you know, obviously we'd talk with [Dimebag’s longtime girlfriend and trustee of his estate] Rita [Haney] and [ask] whatever she wanted to do.”

Wylde Audio might not be the only company working on new Dimebag designs. Back in January, Dean Zelinsky – the founder of Dean Guitars and now owner of boutique electric guitar brand Dean Zelinsky Private Label – shared a photo of a new Razorback design with the caption “Working on it…”

Given Dimebag’s relationship with both Zelinsky and Wylde, we could end up with hand-crafted and production-line guitars from two separate companies – or Zelinsky’s input on the Wylde offerings.

The designer of the original Dean From Hell lightning storm motif, Buddy Webster aka Buddy Blaze, previously took Dean to court over the design, but the case was ultimately dismissed. Webster passed away in August 2021.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.