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A visit to Sheldon Dingwall's shop

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Geoff St. Germaine, Jul 5, 2004.

  1. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Well, I finally got to visit the Dingwall shop today and meet the man himself. I'll apologize first as there are no pictures. It was a great time. I got to see how the basses were made, for the most part. Sheldon and Landon (one of his helpers) were there glueing up neck blanks and sanding some Afterburner necks.

    From speaking with Sheldon about the basses it was amazing to see how much thought is put into the design and construction of these basses. The crafting is meticulous. I realized how much detail is put into the construction, everything from the moisture content to the temperature that the wood gets to from working it are considered.

    I got to check out a low F# string on the shop string demo bass. I think that it was set to 38" scale length. It sounded huge. There was also a double thick (3" body) piezo loaded afterburner 2. It was mighty nice looking with only the piezos. It sounded really loud unplugged but Sheldon felt it still sounded very much like a solid body. Unfortunately I wasn't able to plug it in since the electronics were gutted.

    Got to see some of the great wood that goes into the basses. I saw the neck blank for FCM3's new bass. It was soft maple and was surprisingly lighter than the hard maple that Sheldon normally uses, it was also very resonant.

    I also got to see just what a CNC machine produces so far as a finished product, and I can say that all the people saying that CNCing makes a bass not hand made are completely wrong. There was still a ton of hands on work to bring the rough cut necks to the final finished state. I also got to see Sheldon inspecting a neck that Landon was working on. It made me glad to have one of his basses, knowing what the quality control is there at the shop.

    Overall, Sheldon was extremely friendly and courteous. I even got a free shirt. I probably stayed a little longer than I should have and possibly slowed up some of their work. I now have a newfound respect for the luthiers on here. It takes a lot more thought and patience to build these basses. I would never have thought that anyone would put so much thought into glueing up a neck. I'm glad there is someone that does though.

    Needless to say, I'm inspired to get Sheldon to work on a new bass.

  2. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    Cool story, now prove it happened. Pics. Now. :D

    Just kidding. I believe you. :eyebrow:

  3. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    Great write-up - thanks for taking the time.

    He willbe making my 6 string when it's time :)

    I also like the way you mistaking wrote: "There was still a tone of hands..." well, maybe not a mistake at all! ;)

  4. Kavorka


    Mar 28, 2002
    Austin, Texas
    Man, I would have loved to seen his shop. I'd also love to try one of his basses but the closest I've come so far is drooling at pictures on the net.

    Thanks for the write up!
  5. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Yeah, that's a good mistake. Maybe I meant tonne.

    Yeah, my six is outstanding. If I'm ever down your way, I'll bring it along.

  6. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    I would be honored.

  7. Hey Geoff
    Thanks for the guided tour...too bad there aren't any photos.
    Was there any other prototypes laying around or anything supercool to check out.
    I bet Sheldon is super nice in person just like he is on the phone, and its clear talking w/ him that these basses are always on his mind.
    Importantly what does the Dingwall Tee Shirt look like
    PS. you saw my neck blank-:meh:
    PSS.Get in line about having him build you another bass

    Jeff- If your ever in Houston, feel free to check out my Dingwalls
  8. i would love to have a dingwall, just to support a fellow canadian, but seeing as that i am still in school, funding is a little short. but there will be plenty of time to buy high end/custom instruments when im older. i know that after university, the second i can afford a custom, the first luthier i will be checking out is Dingwall
  9. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Hey Frank,
    There was a cool Afterburner neck that was all wenge. The grain on it was great; it looked awesome.

    There was the double thick Afterburner 2 with only piezos. The bridge on it was totally sweet, wenge with a brass plate under the strings. A really nice design too. Switching strings would be a breeze. Could slap some nylon strings on there and.... I better stop now.

    There was a blank from a the wenge/bubinga/flame maple that Sheldon now offers on the Voodoo basses. It looked awesome.

    There were some bodies lying around that I think were seconds or something was wrong with them and Sheldon just seems to have accumulated them.

    Sheldon had some gorgeous quilted bubinga there that was really nice. It gives me an idea for a fretless.

    Sheldon seems to have just settled on a headstock design for your bass. I think he called it the flaming Eagle. It was cool and very original.

    Don't worry I'll be in line soon enough. The question is slap bass or fretless first. What I'm thinking is:

    Fretless AB2 6 String
    -double thick mahogany body
    -coated wenge fretboard
    -piezos only


    Z1 or Z2 6 string
    -maple fretboard, 22 frets
    -FD3 pickups
    -some sorta crazy top... not sure what... maybe some Ziricote.
    that's all for now.

  10. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    Are you in saskatoon still? I'm living here now. You should check out Glenns shop as well.
  11. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Yep, I'm in Saskatoon until Thursday. Then I'll be back for good at the end of the month. And I'll be looking for a band. Man, I hate that part. Yes, your fury looks interesting. I like those two big exposed pole pickups. Are there any basses at Fury that I could try?

  12. quallabone


    Aug 2, 2003
    There are 5 in stock. One is a lefty. one is a fretless. One is a bound bass #3 of 4 and the other 2 are just standard fretted. He'll make you wear gloves but there should be no problem playing them. Be warned that you'll be playing through a peavey musician and a 215 cab. Still sounds great but you have to use your imagination a bit.
  13. Hey Geoff:
    Thanks for more drooling, Im having a great time visualizing that 3 wood combo (wenge/bubinga/flame), trying to picture it on my next bass. So that double thick bass was its the new style body w/ the curved out lower horn?
    Funny i pictured Sheldons shop to be full of prototypes (or at least prototype pieces) and workhorse basses. I can't believe they make these huge strides w/o alot of testing.

    So you got to see the drafting of my soon-to-be magic bass. Whadda think?
    You like the headstock, the screaming eagle design, great name. I was talking w/ Sheldon about it and i said it looked like an upsidedown eagles beak, and he added w/ a flame in the middle (hence the flaming eagle). What I liked is that it will help the E and A string, since this will be a shorter scaled instrument. Believe me its been a little more than a year in the making, so i'm really looking forward to it.
    I too have my next Dingwall picked out. Not too custom (so to speak) but utilitarian and punchy. Hopefully something like this
    AB1- resonant Swamp ash body
    Highmass bridge
    aggie OB-1 pre
    FD-1's (not FD-3)
    maple fretboard
    Whats the weather like in Saskatoon this time of the year?
  14. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    There was some rain this weekend, but it's been sunny for the past few days, probably around 20C.

    I like the look of the bass. I think that Sheldon isn't happy with some component of it still and is still working on that.

    I think that there's quite a bit of prototyping done. The shop bass with the low F# was the ultimate shop bass. It had a wood wedge on the headstock that was acting as the nut on the string so that it was a 38" scale. It was on a nice fretless board. I do think that the hollow AB2 had the flipped out lower horn. It was massive, but not too heavy. The 3" thick body just looks gigantic.

  15. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D.

    Oct 3, 2001
    Geoff, thanks for stopping by. It was great to meet you and hang out for a bit. Sounds like you're in for a fascinating time at the U of S.

    Frank, we don't have a lot of prototypes laying around for a couple of reasons. Mostly because we approach them as we would a custom bass and put a lot of time and effort into working out the bugs before we ever cut wood. These we will usually sell off.

    If we have a concept that's too experimental to commit a lot of resources to, we'll do a quick and dirty prototype to test the concept and then that prototype will spend the rest of it's days hidden in a corner or under a bench.

    We have lots of Afterburner bodies made out of 2x4s hidden away, test bodies made out of square planks, pickup test beds that look like swiss cheese, etc. Maybe someday I'll photograph them and put them up on the web for a laugh - I think they are funny although a bit embarrassing.

    Quallabone, I agree. I think everyone who comes anywhere near town should check out Glenn's shop (Fury Guitars). It makes ours look like a sandbox. Glenn's a genius.
  16. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Bronx, NY
    Sheldon, pleeeaaassse get a dealer in or around Boston!!!! I'm dying to try one of your basses, especially now that I know you'll do a 3" thick hollowed bass.
  17. Sheldon D.

    Sheldon D.

    Oct 3, 2001
    Any suggestions for a compatible dealer in the Boston area?
  18. Geoff St. Germaine

    Geoff St. Germaine Commercial User

    Rock City Guitars is the only one that I know of in Boston.


    Emjazz probably knows some others.

  19. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Bronx, NY
    Yeah, Corey and Justin at Rockcity are the best! I love those guys and really, they're the only good place to go in or around Boston for bass gear. For a town with so many bass players (Berklee and all) there really is a lack of product here. Not sure if those guys would be interested in Dingwall but give 'em a call. They're cool as hell and you'd enjoy talking to them anyway. It all depends if they feel that there's a market for your basses or not. I don't know enough about it to be able to guess. I sure would love to see your product here though. Your basses look great Sheldon!
  20. Juneau


    Jul 15, 2004
    Dallas, TX.
    Thanks for the read, wish Canada wasnt so far away, id love to go to the shop :)

    Just got an AB2 a couple months ago, and I cant tell you how nice it is. I was worried at first because there isnt a dingwall dealer within driving distance from my house in Dallas. I ordered this bass from a guy in El Paso and had it shipped to me. Kinda scary spending $1500 on something you have never seen or heard in person. I wasn't dissapointed even a little. In fact I couldn't have done better for the money in my opinion (and the opinion of every bass player Ive let play it hehe).

    Thanks Sheldon for your wonderfull work!