SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT D ingwall Guitars founder and namesake Sheldon Dingwall says his company’s approach to product design and development follows the same basic formula that it has since they began producing bass guitars three decades ago. Speaking with Canadian Musician Trade early into his 30 th year of business, Dingwall says it’s a matter of deconstructing what’s been done in the past, staying true to proven design concepts, and constantly seeking an elegant solution for components that can be improved. “I incorporate a lot of architectural, automotive, and motorcycle design language, not directly or intentionally, but through osmosis as that’s what draws my eye and grabs my attention,” he reveals. “Then questions must be answered. Will this benefit the player? Are we adding something unique to our lineup or making it more crowded? Can this be manufactured efficiently, or will the costs outweigh the value? Will it slow down production? Will it strike a chord with our customers? Will it attract new customers? The list is long.” It was in following that formula and answering those questions that Dingwall, in the early ‘90s, first adopted the most unique, recognizable, and celebrated of its features: the fanned fret system. Originally pioneered by Ralph Novak and Novax Guitars, fanned frets are aligned in a non-parallel pattern to increase the scale length on the lower strings for a tight low end suited to heavy, rhythmic playing. The design is now nearly synonymous DINGWALL AFTERBURNER I IN GREEN & BLUE FADE PRECISELY MEASURING STRING HEIGHT 16 CANADIAN MUSIC TRADE Dingwall Guitars with the Dingwall brand – the only one other than Novax to employ fanned frets throughout its entire product range. Beyond that signature design concept, Dingwall Guitars are also known for their unique aesthetics. “We’ve always offered vivid, punchy colours,” Dingwall shares. “It’s been my belief that the guitar and bass should be visually interesting to the audience as well as the player.” Then, there’s the aspect of custom hardware and components. “I like the cohesive look you can achieve that way,” Dingwall notes. “Our knobs match the look and texture of our bridges and pickups, etc. Our bridges are also more compact, which helps us squeeze more scale length into our basses.” They also design and manufacture their own pickups, dialing in the ideal tone so that players are ready to mix without further EQ. “You can enhance the tone with EQ, but very often, our basses are recorded flat. Engineers and producers are often blown away by that.” The instruments and ideas behind them have been resonating with serious bass players of all types over the years, including big-name endorsers like Leland Sklar, whose resume boasts over 2,000 album credits, and multi-instrumentalist, producer, and former Periphery bassist Adam “Nolly” Getgood. Dingwall has also been named the Best Bass Over £2,500 by the U.K.’s Bass Guitar magazine for two years running. The company’s more recent success has also resulted in recognition from outside of the music community, as Dingwall Guitars was just named the 2018 Exporter of the Year and Business of the Year by the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce in their home city. Dingwall says the company’s growth in recent years is certainly encouraging, though comes with its share of learning curves. “Handling rapid growth while maintaining quality has been a bigger challenge than one would expect,” he admits. “Everything changes as you scale up. Weaknesses at one level break from stress at the next level. That’s life in general, though.” In large part, he attributes that growth to the work of Dingwall’s international dealer network. “Size doesn’t matter,” he begins about what makes for the ideal retail partner. “We just need a sales person who gets and believes in what we do. They need to understand their customer’s needs and how our unique solutions can enhance their playing experience. Two of our best dealers are By Andrew King SHELDON DINGWALL & LELAND SKLAR quite small shops but do huge volume with us because they know the product inside and out.” He believes that bassists have been turning more of their attention towards Dingwall and its fanned fret solutions as heavy, rhythmic music increases in popularity. He adds that a growing number of guitarists are finding their way into the bass world. “Bass has always been one of the most important instruments in a band setting,” he shares. “Now, bass players are finally starting to get some recognition for that.” Dingwall has a lot on the docket for its 30 th anniversary celebrations over the coming months, including a “hyper-expensive, cool anniversary bass” that is currently underway, as well as a five-string version of the popular D-Bird four-string model. The team is also collaborating with their friends at Helsinki, Finland effect pedal manufacturer Darkglass Electronics on a Dingwall anniversary pedal that’s expected later this year. This follows a cooperative design on a limited edition 10 th anniversary Darkglass bass that sold out at The 2018 NAMM Show in January. Dingwall says there’s more coming down the pipeline, though it’s a bit too early to disclose many details. Regardless of what might be in store, the fact that it will follow the company’s proven formula of innovation is sure to appeal to an increasing number of discerning bassists around the world, not to mention the dealers who support them. Andrew King is the Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Music Trade.