Sheldon Dingwall wanted to create an instrument using the most
gorgeous, sought after woods, top of the line hardware and
He wanted to create the ultimate in sustain, resonance,
punch, solid yet incredibly articulate tone.
He wanted to take a cost is no object approach where the
end result is an instrument to be coveted. An instrument
with so much depth and clarity, that no matter what your
present skill level, it will take you to new heights.
These are pretty lofty goals for sure, but ask anyone who
owns one, a Prima is not just a great instrument, it's an
UNDER LICENSE FROM NOVAX GUITARS®
After years of building basses mostly using the
Novax® Fanned-Fret System™, but also some with standard
parallel frets, we've come to the conclusion that the use
of this technology makes basses better - period. The
tension and tone from string to string is more even and
low note definition is greatly improved. EQing a bass
whose strings are all of a similar tonal character is so
much easier than when the low strings have a darker
quality and the higher strings have a brighter quality.
Body woods – Dual density swamp ash core, optional exotic
5-piece Laminated Quarter-Sawn Hard Rock Maple
We take neck construction very seriously due to Sheldon's
extensive experience in guitar repairs coupled with our
geographic location. During his many years in the repair
business Sheldon constantly had to deal with humidity
related problems made worse by our extreme local climate.
Many of these problems could have been minimized through
simple design changes and materials choices. Touring
musicians are constantly amazed at how stable Dingwall
instruments are. Many state that their Dingwall necks are
as stable as their Graphite necked instruments.
Here is another area where Computer Aided Design has been
a great help. An elliptical shape is the most natural
feeling, efficient shape there is. We used CAD to create
an ellipse that tapers equally down the entire length of
the neck shaft. It doesn't matter what position you are
playing anywhere on the neck, it is always extraordinarily
The Z-series necks are some of the thinnest,
most comfortable necks made. Due to the extra strong
truss-rod and carbon fiber reinforcement, they are
extremely stiff as well.
Pressure Fit, Double Expanding, Single Acting
The double expanding style is an industry standard.
However, the method of installation – taught to Dingwall by
Glenn McDougall of Fury Guitars, involves gluing the truss
rod into the neck under nearly 1000-LB of pressure. This
creates a coupling of steel to wood, minimizing dead spots
and increasing both sustain and harmonic content.
Adjustment - Hidden Plateless
The hidden, plate-less truss rod adjustment has always
been a design feature of Dingwall instruments.
The truss rod is the most commonly adjusted component on
most guitars, so access to the truss rod adjustment should
be as easy as possible.
Carbon fiber reinforcement – twin
Dingwall uses specially tapered carbon fiber spars that provide a
maximum of reinforcement near the heel joint where the
stress is highest, gradually tapering to a minimum of
reinforcement near the nut.
There is nothing wrong with the tone of a carbon fiber
neck. Dingwall just really like the tone of wood necks and feel
that the tapered spars offer the best compromise between
the tone of wood and the stability of carbon fiber.
The finish on a neck makes a big difference in the feel of
the neck. Most people prefer the smooth, natural feel of
an oil-finished neck. It has also been our experience that
an oil-finished neck is more humidity stable than a
painted neck (providing the fingerboard is not painted as
well). Even though oil provides less moisture vapor
protection than a painted finish, an oil-finished neck is
considered a balanced finish. In other words the
fingerboard side of the neck has the same finish and
therefore the same moisture protection as the back of the
neck. So the whole neck gains and loses moisture at an
equal rate. This is true of a neck that is painted both
front and back as well such as most maple necks.
See Our Quicksilver 1500G
necks, We do them the same way.
REPEAT THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT
Necks that are painted on the back of the neck but whose
fingerboards are oiled would be considered to have an
unbalanced finish where the moisture gain and loss will be
slightly more inhibited through the paint. Not much mind
you, but enough to make the neck less stable through
If you look closely at the angle of the Dingwall headstock, you
will notice that it's actually a combination of two
angles. This adds considerable complication to the
construction process but provides a perfectly linear
string path to the tuners.
The headstock features a pau ferro face veneer as standard
(maple fingerboards get a maple veneered head face) and is
also available with an optional matching veneer cut from
the same wood as the top. This is a great look and is a
very popular option.
Materials- Wenge, Pau Ferro Or Maple
Bass guitars have relatively long necks. Any mismatch
between the fingerboard and neck shaft with regard to
movement due to humidity changes will be very noticeable.
What this means is that from a design standpoint, Dingwall looks
for woods that are stable first, then from that group they
choose the best sounding woods, then from that group they
choose the best looking.
Pau ferro and wenge are very stable when
laminated to a maple neck. The two woods sound very
similar, so Dingwall uses them interchangeably depending on
quality available at the time.
Maple fingerboards of course are very stable and add a
nice snap to the high end.
Radius- Compound, 7-1/2” To 25”
The Dingwall radius starts with at 7-1/2” at the nut. This is a very
comfortable and familiar feeling radius. Then using
Computer Aided Design, Dingwall adjusted the radius to match the
increasing width of the fingerboard while maintaining the
exact same thickness under each string. The latter point
is critical to achieving a low action. A side benefit is
that the flatter radius at the bridge makes right hand
work easier and keeps the strings a more consistent
distance from the pickups for more even response.
These are among the smoothest most reliable tuners made.
Hipshot Drop A Or D Tuner Option
You haven't lived until you've heard the E string dropped
down to a D or the B string dropped down to an A! Adding a
Hipshot is one of our most popular options. When you
consider how much music is written in the key of D and A
it makes a lot of sense. Once you've tried a great
sounding low A, you'll be hooked!
Banjo Size - 24, Fanned
Leland Sklar turned Dingwall on to small frets. They use a size
that is normally used on banjos. The small frets intonate
very precisely, feel sleek and have a warmer, woodier
For the player with finesse, who is looking for the
ultimate in playability, Dingwall also offers Mandolin frets.
Necks fretted with mando frets sound even more woody and
natural. Fret noise is almost non-existent. Playability
takes the term “effortless” to a new level. Players with a
light to medium touch can expect 5-10 years before
replacement is necessary. (The photo to the left shows a
banjo fret on the top and a mando fret on the bottom.
3mm Pearl Face And Side Dots
Leland also designed the standard dot pattern of 3 mm
pearl dots spaced halfway between the 1st and 2nd strings.
Abalone dots are an option.
The optional bar design has evolved from the inlay design
Sheldon used on the very first necks he built. Bars are
available in either pearl or abalone.
More elaborate inlays can be made available, just ask.
Phenolic is long wearing and very consistent.
Neck Mounting Bolts
Large Head Machine Screws
In published tests, “Lee Valley Tools” showed the pullout
resistance of various wood screws compared to machine
screws properly installed in wood. The results were hands
down in favor of the machine screws and tapped threads.
(Ed Roman DCK System)
Dingwall also uses machine screws with special large heads designed to
distribute the pressure in soft materials like wood. This
system is a little more costly and labor intensive to use
but results in an extremely strong neck joint.
BODY – DUAL DENSITY CORE, EXOTIC TOP AND BACK
Core wood – Dual density – walnut/alder blend
Experience with the Fanned-Fret™ system
has opened up a whole new way of thinking about an
instrument. Instead of blending woods of different
densities and tonal responses in a sandwich array
affecting the tone of each string equally. Dingwall has turned
traditional thinking on its side by laminating across the
width of the body. This allows them to use a higher density
wood such as walnut for the bass side to accentuate the
highs and give power to the lows without affecting the
treble strings. They use a lower density wood (alder)
for the treble side to bring out the resonance and warm up
the treble strings without making the bass strings sound
muddy. For such a simple idea, the results are pretty
dramatic – warm, punchy treble strings with solid snappy
The total body thickness including top
and back is only 38mm (1.5”). This keeps the weight of the
bass down, while increasing the plate (face area) to
thickness ratio for a more responsive, resonant tone.
Due to the small headstock design, the
balance is perfect.
Top and Back Woods
Top of the line exotic
Dingwall re-saws their top and back woods themselves, labeling and
storing them in sequence so that the back of the
instrument is a perfect match to the top.
They have a wide choice of exotic top and back woods to
choose from for a number of budgets and tastes. The dual
density core woods contribute so much to the tone that the
top and back woods have a minimal affect. This is a good
thing as it allows them complete freedom to choose the most
amazing looking woods available without fear of
Through years of experience, Dingwall has come up with
blend of polyester and polyurethane paints that offer
great protection, great colors, and great tone. The bodies
almost look like they've been dipped in glass, yet the
finish is extremely thin allowing it to be acoustically
Strap Pin and Neck Bolt
Rock maple plugs
Strap pin screws commonly loosen over time leading to
stripped wood. You can imagine the damage that could
happen if a strap pin let go. Part of the problem is most
tone woods used for bodies are relatively soft. Secondly
the screws are mounted in end-grain, which doesn't hold
screws well. Z-series bodies receive edge
grain hard maple reinforcement plugs. You will never see
the improvement as it's hidden under the strap pin washer,
but it's there, protecting your investment.
In softer woods like alder and low-density swamp ash theu
install similar maple reinforcement plugs under the neck
mounting bolts. These provide a firm seating for the neck
bolts beefing up this high stress area.
Dunlop - Standard
Of the many strap lock designs, these are the easiest to
use. As a plus the button design they use also functions
as a regular strap pin.
Dingwall Designed Individual Saddles With Sub Plate System
Featuring a unique pin system that anchors the string by
utilizing the hole in the ball. This eliminates any stress
points on the string where it wraps around the ball.
Designed to be “set & forget” simple. Once the string
height and intonation are set, the saddle is locked down
to the sub plate for perfect coupling. This also
guarantees that the saddle never goes out of adjustment
Aircraft aluminum is used for the saddles and sub plate as
it is lightweight and has a wonderful ring (Aluminum is
the material of choice for xylophone bars).
The riser screws are made from 18-8 stainless steel. These
screws will virtually last forever.
Matching control Knobs
For those that crave the “wood look”
offer matching wood control knobs. The knobs are cut from
the actual body blank and are unique to the instrument.
They feature a brass insert with a set-screw and are
finished to match the top.
Custom Bartolini Soapbars
Sheldon has worked closely with Bartolini through the years to
develop a set of pickups that provide a silky smooth tone
with great balance and an uncanny ability to “sit” in the
Custom Designed And Manufactured By Dingwall Guitars And
Recently, Dingwall teamed up with Fury Guitars to
co-produce the FD-1 pickups. These pickups feature a
vintage influenced tone with a lot of “grind” and “bark”
that gives the sound an aggressive edge. The pickups have
high output yet are extremely noise and feedback free.
These pickups have great definition and clarity and are
able to cut through the densest of mixes.
|“I also have a soft spot for
good-sounding passive basses, perhaps from having
owned and played some great ´60s Fender Jazz and
Precision basses. The passive electronics on the
Afterburner are just great, hum-free with very nice
sounding pickup combinations. I think the slap sound
in parallel mode is one of the best I ever heard. I
did not miss the blending pot.”
Mats Gronberg, Skarplinge, Swede
The Prima model comes stock with a 9 volt 2-band eq.
A popular option is the NTMB-18 volt 3-band eq. This
pre-amp is incredibly transparent sounding. The bass and
treble contours have a gentle natural sounding slope and
the mid range is switch able between three pre-set
frequencies. Both pre-amps feature a push/pull switch on
the volume control to completely bypass the pre-amp for
Aguilar 2 or 3-Band Eq
The new kid on the block is the Aguilar OBP-3 pre-amp. We
really like this pre-amp and for thunderous bottom end and
crystal clarity, it can't be beat.
Both systems come stock with the Dingwall 4-position
rotary switch for better highs and the ability to combine
the pickups in series. A blend is available as an option.
The Z1 features a unique
shielding system that features a CNC machined brass pan
with an integral ground buss near the output jack. All
ground wires are soldered to the buss (star grounding)
eliminating potential ground loops. The cavity walls are
lined with heavy aluminum foil and the cavity cover is
coated with high-grade conductive paint.
Separate, Dingwall Exclusive Design
The battery compartment is unique. The batteries are held
tightly in a foam-lined recess. The cover plate is held in
place by two strong rare earth magnets. The battery leads
are the best quality available with plated contacts for
long trouble free life.
Optional Passive Mid-Contour Circuit (With The FD-1
The bluEQube, when switched in, softens the upper mids,
giving the tone a smooth acoustic quality. This is great
for when the music calls for a sweeter, less aggressive
tone. The BluEQube circuit also provides a great slap
tone. Some use it as a pre-set slap contour. The cool
thing is, that it is 100% passive, so is available in
either active or passive mode.
The Neutrik locking jack is one of the best ever made.
Rugged and beefy,