Thursday, April 30, 2015

DiPinto Guitars And The Fender-Gibson Hegemony

DiPinto Galaxie 2s

When I saw my first DiPinto guitar I thought...this is the guitar the Jetsons would play.  A guitar with a really funky design with graceful curves and rounded horns.  The oversized headstock added to a cartoon look and I don’t mean that in a bad way.  Just cool and different.  I then started searching the Net looking for everything I could find on DiPinto guitars.  The model I first saw and would later buy, was the DiPinto Galaxie 2s in green sparkle finish.

The DiPinto story is an interesting one based on typical American ingenuity and innovation.  A young guitar player, Chris DiPinto, is a lefty and had a hard time getting left handed instruments.  He also had a love of offbeat guitar design. The kind of guitars found pawn shops with obscure names, odd designs, and more knobs and switches than they should have had.  The solution?  Make your own.  Soon others starting seeing his guitars in performance and wanted one too.  As Chris said in an interview, all he wanted to do was make guitars and own a guitar factory.  His dream came true.

Galaxie 2s signature headstock.

Overall, quite good for an Asian made guitar.  Really, we need to stop looking down our noses at guitars built over there.  My Squire 50’s Classic Vibe Telecaster is built in Fender’s facility in China and it’s the best Telly I’ve ever owned.  DiPinto guitars are built in South Korea and with Chris and his American luthiers doing the final set-up.  Each guitar is checked out by Chris and an inspection card comes in the box with guitar.

The glossy green sparkle finish is condensed with only close inspection revealing it.  The maple neck is finished in satin, my personal preference for necks.  Nice and smooth, thin and fast.  

Another of my preferences is smooth fret ends and Galaxie 2s has fret ends are properly tapered and dressed.  You won’t get scraped up traveling up and down the neck playing this guitar.  On the green Galaxie model, the body is mahogany with a dark rosewood fretboard.  The guitar itself has some heft but not boat anchor heavy.  The action was good right out of the box. 

The parts are all nicely finished of quality materials especially the tremolo assembly.  I did notice that the bridge pickup is not sitting level with a light tilt up towards the treble side.  The neck pickup sets level.  Since these guitars are examined and set up before shipping to dealers I found this to be a bit peculiar but I’ve left it alone for now.  There seems to be no lasting effect in regards to tone.  It may have gotten out of whack in the shopping.  It was shipped in a thin cardboard box, which the dealer didn’t seem fit to double box.  (I always do in selling a used guitar, without a case, and they always arrive safely.)

Close up of Galaxie body shape.

The Sound
My first thoughts after plugging it in was how reminiscent the sound was of a Telecaster. But not really.  Using two DiPinto branded single coil pickups, its sound is not as bright as a Tele and there is no twang.  The pickup selections are similar to a Telecaster with a neck, bridge, and then both selected.  So far, my favorite selections are the neck, or the bridge, selected separately, with the neck being my favorite of the two.  For some reason, the neck pickup sounds louder.  On the other hand, the bridge pickup features some nice spank, only to my ear, cleaner without being rawboned.  Both pickups together sound a bit too diffused.
Overall, just simple, clean bright tone designed for surf music but I think it can find a home with many different music styles.  I like older stuff like Bluebell and Mr. Sandman and the Galaxie sounds perfect on those tunes.  I’m not a surf music guy but with the clean tones, I’m already getting ideas for all kinds of musical exploration.  

For me, the Galaxie 2s is real keeper and a pleasant surprise in feel, playability and great tone.  Would love to add another DiPinto in the future if they are going to be this nice.  I hope someday to see a Galaxie 2s in red.  Currently, they are in cream and sunburst finish. 

And if the Galaxie 2s is not your thing, their site offers a dozen different guitars with at least three basses and note that DiPinto guitars are very lefty friendly.  

Maybe to some people DiPinto guitars are deemed to niche instruments.  As with Taylor, all they need is some well known musicians (or soon to be well known) to play these instruments and off they will go.  I do like the fact that it’s a small company that produces these instruments and takes a great deal of care to make sure their guitars go out set up correctly.

Overall, DiPinto guitars offer a great alternative to the Fender/Gibson nexus in regards to affordability, style, and sound.  I hope they can break on thru and be the next great American electric guitar.


The Site

Interview with Chris DiPinto at NAMM 2010.

2013 interview with Chris DiPinto.

Latest interview 2015