Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dingwall Super J Bass Review

This is the story of a bass that I loved, but let go of anyway with no regrets.

Dingwall Super J model basses are relatively rare, and I have never seen another one finished in Burgundy Mist. Well, Dingwall calls it Burgundy Mist, but in person it looks nothing like the Fender custom color.

The most distinctive feature of these basses is the use of Novax system fanned frets. The idea is to provide optimal string tension by using a different scale length for each string. You would think that it would take some major re-adjustment of technique to get used to the fret layout, but it is not so bad. I have known a few other owners of the basses and they agree that after about 15 minutes of playing, it feels very normal.

The body shape is similar to that of a traditional Fender Jazz Bass. There are a few design innovations on these basses, however. The headstock has quite a bit of material removed from the front, and combined with the lightweight Hipshot tuners, means that there is no neck dive. The battery cover for the active electronics is held in place with magnets, so access is much easier, and there are no little screws to lose or strip out.

The electronics package is first-rate. This bass shipped with Dingwall hum-cancelling pickups and an Aguilar OBP-1 pre-amp. It has no unusual noises, and sounds flawless and very smooth.

Dingwall basses are handmade in Canada, and the craftsmanship on this one is first rate. The neck pocket fit is super-tight, and I could not find a finish flaw anywhere on it.

My decision to part with this bass came down to one thing: the sound. I had a hard time getting an aggressive sound out of it, and one of my friends put it best when he said it sounded “too polite”. Well put, sir. It found a happy home with a local college kid who was a performing arts major (smooth jazz, baby) who still loves it and checks in with me every now and then to herald its virtues.


  1. Nicely put, indeed. That bass deserves to be out gigging. That is one of the finest-constructed necks I have ever encountered on a Fender-derived instrument.

  2. Er, write the sentence good! The above should read "...that neck has some of the finest construction details...."


  3. Er, write the sentense WELL.
    Iif you're going to correct someone's grammar, it's best to use it correctly yourself.

    Good is an adjective.
    Well is an adverb. In this case, "good" was used to modify the verb "to write," hence the use of the adverg "well" would have been correct.

  4. Ah, Mr. Skibum, don't worry about Corey, as he is quite literate and was just joking around with me. He's an old friend of mine, and I actually bought this Dingwall from him.

    Happy motoring!


  5. "Er, write the sentense WELL.
    Iif you're going to correct someone's grammar, it's best to use it correctly yourself. "

    Wow, the grammar police do cold-case work now...

    I can't miss the opportunity to stink up R's blog a little by pointing out that "sentence" (at least in common American English usage) uses an s and a c.

    Rex, is your neighbor still gigging this beauty?

  6. "Ah the French... Champagne!" - Orson Welles