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Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Sheldon Dingwall



Z 3x 5 bleached dyed Natural to Indigo burlburst body

Z 3x 5 bleached dyed Natural to Indigo burlburst body

Bass Musician Magazine’s Year of the Luthier – Sheldon Dingwall…

How did you get your start in music?

I came from a musical household. I started baritone ukulele at 4, piano lessons at 5, drum lessons at 9, guitar lessons at 12 and bass lessons at about 16. I taught drums and guitar from 16 to 20.

Are you still an active player?

No time right now but when my kids get older, I may look for a local gig.

ABI 3x Charcoal burst over Maple Burl body

ABI 3x Charcoal burst over Maple Burl body

How did you get started as a Luthier?

My uncle Alfred Wilson built acoustic guitars as a hobby. I coaxed him into teaching me. I started by designing and building a locking tremolo bridge then moved on to necks and bodies.

When did you build your first bass? 

I’d built custom bass necks and bodies for local musicians in the late 80s and early 90s. The first complete bass I built was the prototype for the original Voodoo Bass that evolved into our current Z-series. That was completed at 7:30 AM on January 13th 1993.

Sheldon Dingwall - ABII 5 Camphor burl top e

How did you learn the art of woodworking/Luthier?

My uncle taught me the basics of woodworking, metalworking and finishing. I don’t know why but several of the local woodworking elite took me under their wing and guided me in the early days. I did a ton of reading and was thoroughly obsessed with the subject.

Woodworking is something that comes pretty naturally to me so I caught on fast. I started a repair business to create a job and to learn from the mistakes of other manufacturers. The repair business took off and I learned a lot about building and built up a customer base.

Who would you consider a Mentor? 

My uncle for sure, Glenn McDougall from Fury Guitar has been my most important mentor. He’s shared a ton of his knowledge and even had a hand in helping me rebuild after the fire that wiped out my shop. Tom Anderson’s been a good friend and mentor too.

Sheldon Dingwall - NG2 FR tail view e

How do you select the woods you choose to build with?

I have a guy on staff to takes care of all that now. His name is Joey Lorer. He’s a brilliant guy and a real wood nerd. We have trusted suppliers that we’ve worked with for over 20 years. They know what we want and we always get the top quality.

How about pickups?

We’ve been making our own pickups since 2000. We used to supply other builders but we pretty much handed that business over to Nordstrand. I’m the type that needs to focus on one thing at a time. Running a bass business and a pickup business stretched our resources too thin.

What pickups did you use in the past?

We worked with Bartolini from 1993 to 2000. They’ve always made great pickups and electronics. It was not an easy decision to go out on our own but it was something I felt we needed to do to grow.

What electronics do you use right now? 

We use custom modified pre-amps from Glockenklang and also work closely with Darkglass with their Tone Capsule.

Who were some of the first well-known musicians who started playing your basses? 

Lee Sklar was the first big name endorser. He’s as well known as you can get in the bass world. Other A-list players in the early days were Mike Brignardello, Michael Rhodes and Jason Newstead.

Sheldon Dingwall - Lee Sklar Dark Candy Green e

Lee Sklar Dark Candy Green

How do you develop a signature or custom bass for an artist?

We only have two signature models. The Lee Sklar model and the Adam Nolly Getgood NG2. With Lee, we sent him the latest version of the bass he was playing at the time. We asked him for his input and added the features he wanted like mandolin frets, easier access to the control cavity and a specially wired switch.

Adam owned 3 of our basses and wanted to create something new by combining a hot rodded version of our Combustion bass and a custom pre-amp from Darkglass. Adam, Doug from Darkglass and I sat around the breakfast and supper table and pounded out ideas until the concept of the Tone Capsule evolved. Adam liked the race car inspired finishes we were doing and wanted to take his sig model in a more European exotic direction with a carbon fibre pick guard.

SP5 pj Faded Bluejean Matte Black PG maple wenge black hardware

SP5 pj Faded Bluejean Matte Black PG maple wenge black hardware

What are a few things that you are proud about your instruments and that you would consider unique in your instruments?

I like companies and designers that innovate so I’m most proud of the innovations and in-house designed parts. We didn’t invent Fanned-frets, that was Ralph Novak. But we were the first company other than Ralph to base our entire company on them. We were pioneers in using Neodymium magnets in pickups, we innovated the magnetic battery compartment and innovated the dual-density body construction. We designed our bridges, pickups and control knobs.

Which one of the basses that you build is your favorite one?

They are all like children. They are all favourites for different reasons.

Sheldon Dingwall - Super J slide photo

Can you give us a word of advice to young Luthiers who are just starting out?

Be patient, any career in the arts will take a long time to make a living at and a longer time to master. Be fearless.

What advice would you give a young musician trying to find his perfect bass?

Play as many as you can. Ask a seasoned repair tech to check them over. Make sure you’re buying something that’s solid and reliable.

What is biggest success for you and for your company? 

Almost every day we get an email or are tagged in a Facebook post from a happy customer that is thrilled with their new bass. That’s our biggest success. Being able to affect people with our work. That’s what every artist strives for.

Sheldon Dingwall - PA5 quilt body side view 2 e

PA5 quilt body

Are you preparing something new, some new model or new design?

We recently released a prototype of a Thunderbird. We took a different approach and it seems to have struck a nerve. The response has been incredible. We’ll be brining out a 6-string version of the NG2 next year. The rest of our developments are too far out in the future to discuss at this point.

Or maybe some new gear amps, etc.

We’re working on new pickups and new models. Other than the D-bird and NG2 6-string though, I can’t release any details.

What are your future plans?

Continue growing the company. Continue bringing out innovative designs and refining the existing ones.

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser



Interview With Bassist Ciara Moser

Bassist Ciara Moser…

Ciara and I sat down for this interview a few months after the launch of her debut album, “Blind. So what?”

Blind since birth, she is a powerhouse of talent; she is not only a professional bassist, but also composes music, and is a producer and educator. I am just blown away by her talent and perseverance.

Join me as we hear about Ciara’s musical journey, the details of her album, how she gets her sound, and her plans for the future.

Visit online: 
IG @ moserciara
FB @ ciara.moser

Photos by Manuela Haeussler

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Gear News

New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar



New Gear: Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar

Black Ice Boost and Distort, Battery-Free Modules for Bass and Guitar…

Black Ice Enterprises introduces Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort, small, battery-free devices that can be easily installed in a bass or guitar.

Black Ice Boost offers two selectable stages of up to 7 dB of boost, broadly concentrated in the midrange frequencies to add humbucker-like qualities to Strat®, Tele® and other types of single-coil pickups. Black Ice Distort is an overdrive module that can be configured to offer anything from slight overdrive to distortion. Both models are compatible with all passive guitar pickups and electronics (they’re not compatible with battery-powered active pickups).

Black Ice Boost (SRP: $119.95; MAP, $79.95) can be installed using several wiring options, including a simple “stealth” install that utilizes a single push-pull pot, and a dual-switch option that allows users to select between two different levels of boost. For those using the boost along with Black Ice Distort, a second push-pull pot or switch can be used to select a clean or distorted boost.

The Black Ice Boost module is approximately 2/3 the size of a 9-volt battery, and can be easily installed in most instruments with no routing or permanent modifications required. The tone of the instrument remains completely unaffected when the boost is bypassed.

In addition to use with popular single-coil pickups, Black Ice Boost can also be used with other pickup types. Use it to fatten up a P-90 style pickup, or add girth to a low-wind humbucker. Jazz Bass® players can use the additional midrange content provided by Black Ice Boost to produce a sound that’s reminiscent of a P-Bass® or soapbar-type pickup. Black Ice Boost is not recommended for use with high-output humbuckers and other dark-sounding pickups.

Black Ice Distort (SRP: $27.95; MAP, $21.95) is an overdrive module that can be configured for just a touch of grit, or a more aggressive grind, all the way to a 1960’s-flavored fuzz. While its battery-free circuit will never replace the more refined sound of a well-designed pedal, it provides handy, there-when-you-need-it access to a variety of fun old-school flavors, and is a great way to add additional textures to an already overdriven amp or pedal. Bass players will especially dig its raw dirty grind.

Like Black Ice Boost, the sugar-cube-sized Black Ice Distort provides a lifetime of tone with no maintenance or power source required. A variety of wiring options are included that let you activate the Distort via a switch or push-pull pot, or by easily converting your guitar’s tone control into a control for the Black Ice Distort circuit. It can be used in conjunction with the Black Ice Boost for a wide variety of useful tones.

Black Ice Boost and Black Ice Distort are now shipping.

Visit online at

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This Week’s Top 10 Basses on Instagram



TOP 10 Basses of the week

Check out our top 10 favorite basses on Instagram this week…

Click to follow Bass Musician on Instagram @bassmusicianmag

FEATURED @loritabassworks @meridian_guitars @alpherinstruments @phdbassguitars @mgbassguitars @mauriziouberbasses @utreraguitars @sugi_guitars @branco_luthier @blasiusguitars

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Gear News

New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak



New Gear:  D’Addario’s New Humidipak

D’Addario’s New Humidipak Absorb Protects Instruments Against Excess Moisture…

Utilizing two-way humidity control technology, D’Addario’s new Humidipak Absorb protects against damage to wooden instruments in environments with too much humidity. 

Humidipak Absorb allows players to safely return an instrument and case to the ideal relative humidity level. Using Boveda’s patented two-way humidity control technology, Absorb automatically soaks up excess moisture at a safe rate, re-establishing the right humidity level and eliminating the guesswork of revitalizing your instrument. 

Like all the Humidipaks before, using Humidipak Absorb is easy—there’s no dripping sponges or manual adjustments. All players need to do is put the humidification packets in the included pouches and place them in the instrument case, close the lid, and relax. The instrument and case will remain at the optimal 45-50% relative humidity level for 2-6 months. 

D’Addario’s other Humidipaks, Restore and Maintain, are still available for those who need to increase and sustain the humidity around their instrument. 

To learn more about Humidipak Absorb, visit 

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Bass Videos

Interview With Bassist Travis Book



Interview With Bassist Travis Book

Interview With Bassist Travis Book…

Bluegrass music has had a very solid following over many years and I am always happy to hear from one of the pioneers in that genre.

Travis Book plays bass for the Grammy award-winning band “The Infamous Stringdusters” and has recently released his first solo album “Love and Other Strange Emotions”. As if he wasn’t busy enough, Travis also hosts a podcast, Plays a Jerry Garcia music show with Guitarist Andy Falco, and is constantly gigging locally in his neck of the woods.

Photo, Seyl Park

Visit Online:
FB @ TheTravisBook
IG @ travisbook

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