Dingwall ABZ 5 Natural, Wenge neck, S/P toggles Dingwall Bass Guitars  five string bass, Ash/Maple :: Custom hand made basses, exclusively at Bassdirect, London, Manchester, Birmingham, UK, eu, USA


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Dingwall ABZ 5 Natural, Wenge neck, S/P toggles, Luminlay


  1. Export price £2666 - Please contact us for international shipping rates

  2. Please call or email if you wish to pay by Bank Transfer or finance.

  3. Another stunning example of these very popular basses - this bass has amazing clarity and balance across the strings with an unbeatable B string that also features: optional wenge neck, 3 pickups, 3 x series/parallel toggles and blue luminlay side dots.

  4. Weight - 8lb 4oz/3.6kg

Actual Bass Shown, click on images to enlarge:

The new ABZ series from Dingwall brings together the brilliant fan fret technology with a more streamlined build that produces a Canadian hand made bass at a really good price.

Lightweight, easy to play, massive array of tones - this bass will take you to a new level of playability and tone.

Time after time players are amazed at how easy and intuitive fan frets feel to play - most admit that it is actually easier and more natural.

5 String Bass 34" - 37"

  1. Dingwall made in Canada FDV pickups

  2. Dingwall passive controls, volume, pickup selector (see below), tone.

  3. Dingwall USA strings - buy HERE

  4. Two piece swamp ash body

  5. Satin Natural

  6. Rear strap button  (allows to bass to hang 4 - 5 inches over to your right)

  7. Wenge fingerboard

  8. Blue luminlay side dots

  9. 3 x Series/Parallel toggles

  10. Wenge Neck - satin finish

  11. Banjo frets

  12. Novax® Fanned -Fret System™

  13. Maple neck

  14. Select Hipshot hardware

  15. Manufactured in Canada

Since the 1990s Dingwall guitars have been at the forefront of custom bass design and are the leading users of "fan fret" technology, now considered to be the one of the best ways of getting an improved low B sound from a bass guitar and has been adopted many a growing number of professional bass players including Lee Sklar who is using his Dingwall on the current Toto tour. By having a shorter length of scale for the higher strings and a longer scale for the lower strings you get a more even string tension and thus a tighter overall sound. This new range of Canadian made basses will offer an amazing opportunity for a great value Dingwall bass guitar.


Swamp Ash is a great sounding body wood with reduced mid presence, but a lot of resonance and punch.


The Afterburner I and ABZ basses feature passive electronics with powerful tone shaping capability. The controls are a simple, no nonsense master volume, a rotary pickup selector and a master tone. The rotary pickup selector doesn’t load down the pickups like a blend or second volume control. The resulting tone has great dynamic range with lots of punch. The tone gets really growly with the bridge pickup soloed. Switch to both pickups in parallel for a nicely “produced” sounding tone with scooped mids that’s great for sitting back in the mix with lots of detail to the note, or for a perfect slap tone. Need more power? Switch to series for a heavy, full sounding humbucker tone that cuts, make that pounds through a mix. Looking for a deep mellow tone reminiscent of a 50’s P? Solo the neck pickup, dial down the tone a bit and you’re there.


The FD-3 line of pickups are the direct decendents of the (F)ury (D)ingwall-1 pickups originally co-developed by Glenn MacDougall of Fury Guitar and Sheldon Dingwall. Glenn has a 40+ year career designing and building guitar and bass pickups.  We take pride in our close association with both Bartolini in the past and Fury as they are among the greatest pickup designers and makers on the planet.

The FD-3 pickups feature powerful neodymium magnets, humcancelling matched-pair coils, hardened steel pole pieces and are fully shielded for ultra quiet performance. Their tone can best be described as a blend between a J and a P but with more highs, more lows and more dynamic response. The most current versions feature 4-lead wiring which enables the internal coils to be wired in either series for strong mids and high output or parallel for scooped mids and normal output.


We take neck construction very seriously due to our extensive experience in guitar repairs coupled with our geographic location and corresponding extreme climate.  In my years in the guitar repair business I constantly had to deal with humidity related problems made worse by the huge temperature and humidity swings of our local climate. Many of these problems could have been minimised through simple design changes and materials choices.

Touring musicians are constantly amazed at how stable Dingwall instruments are.  Many state that their Dingwall necks are as stable as their graphite necked instruments.

We’ve experimented with many different laminations and have found a 5-piece maple construction to be among the best. Years of experience have proven this design to be extremely stable and reliable while minimising dead spots.


We use 18% hard nickel silver fretwire.  Lee Sklar turned us onto the benefits of small frets. The advantages are a more woody, less metallic tone, smoother glissandos and a faster feel.  Our standard size is “banjo” size.  This is the same size as you’d find on most guitars from the 50’s and 60’s. Although its size is smaller than standard bass fretwire, its service life is about the same.

Review in iGuitar issue 8

Dan Veall gets to sample a luxurious Dingwall fan-fretted bass. The only trouble is, he has to explain to us what that means. Oh, and he has to give it back, too...

It seems to me that every month I have a (somewhat geeky) conversation with iGuitar’s editor Gary Cooper about what exciting gear will be coming up for review in future issues and there has always been at least one item I am thrilled at the thought of getting my paws on. Last month I was flabbergasted at the brilliant Yamaha NE2, the Nathan East signature 5 string. I figured it was going to be hard to beat. Then the spec of the following bundle of joy appeared in my inbox from Mark Stickley at Bass Direct, here in the UK, who was kindly offering to lend us a Dingwall Afterburner ABZ 6 string bass - made in Canada by Dingwall Guitars, owned by Sheldon Dingwall. I’d actually played a few fan fretted Dingwall basses in the past, but this is the first time I have ever had an opportunity to dig in and really get to know the instrument a bit more.

So let’s take a closer look at the specification. Immediately your eye is drawn to the obvious difference visually with Dingwall basses. They incorporate the ‘Novax Fan Fret System’ - a scale length method developed by Ralph Novak. What’s that I hear you say? Much like a grand piano, each string has an optimal scale length for best tension and tone. Lower tuned strings in a piano are longer and according to Sheldon Dingwall when explaining the fan fret system, a string closer to its ideal length will have a brighter tone. This is certainly true if you were to compare short scale instruments with longer scaled counterparts, indeed it’s a well known fact taken in to account when comparing Les Paul guitars with Stratocaster guitars tonally. Thus each string is arranged so that the bridge and nut are at opposing angles, allowing the B string to be longer in comparison to the higher strings - in this case this six string model is standard tuned B to C. The scale length for the B is a huge 37” coming down to just under that of a standard P bass at 33 ¼” for the high C string.

As for how the fan fret system ended up on Dingwall basses, Sheldon had originally seen a magazine review of another guitar featuring Novak’s system and later met him at a convention. He suggested to Novak that the system might work well on basses and the rest, as they say, is history.

Moving away from the frets, the look of this beast of an instrument may make it seem like a rather daunting affair. As someone who has played six and seven string basses for many years, I needed little adjustment to my actual technique to play the bass comfortably - I just had to be a bit careful to begin with as I got used to moving from position to position. We shot the video fairly quickly after I picked up the instrument for the first time, so you can see how easy it was to acclimatise to the unusual fretboard layout. Whether that would be true if all you were used to were traditional four stringers, is less certain, of course.

Unplugged and on my lap it was immediately obvious that the bass had something to show off in terms of tone and sustain. We have other basses in the studio to compare and the ABZ 6 sounded clear and true against everything. The low B had a great fullness even when just played acoustically. The neck was a joy to handle and I especially liked the fingerboard carve. According to the details online it's of a compound radius, the neck profile itself being a ‘medium C’ carve. Either way, it was instantly comfortable. The string action was set to a comfortable height with no unwelcome buzzes from the frets. And speaking of frets, I’m not aware of playing a bass with banjo-sized frets before, but I have to say that I am converted! Absolutely brilliant! Up until now I’ve always preferred medium frets on my basses and that has just changed. The whole neck is maple, by the way - a very stable five piece laminate for the main shaft. The fingerboard is also maple for a bright and snappy attack.

The whole instrument is finished with satin polyurethane, the headstock is adorned with six custom Dingwall tuners made by Hipshot, while the body is two piece swamp ash. I love the way the grain has been left open for a tactile finish to the whole body. Finished in a ‘blackburst’ coating it really does look great with the glossy black hardware and ‘soft touch’ knobs. Yes, even the knobs are made in house for just the right styling to fit the instrument. There’s real attention to detail here!

The experience only improved when I plugged in. Despite personally preferring active pickups and pre-amps, I can only report that the completely passive ABX sounded superb. Master volume and a single tone control flank the pickup selector - a four way switch. Check out the video review to hear how each setting has its own flavour. Starting counter clockwise you have a great biting bridge pickup soloed. In the next position both pickups are wired in parallel for a classic tonal configuration. For a fuller mid present sound position three is both pickups wired in series - boosting the output slightly. Finally up to the last switch position for a nice mellow almost P bass character that just begs you to roll the tone control back a little bit for some vintage love!

There are times when words just aren't enough so, again - please check the video!

OK, so this is a premium instrument with a premium price tag. I’ve been lucky enough to play instruments with high price tags in this and the previous issue but there is a reason why basses like this fabulous Dingwall and the custom shop Yamaha I was raving about last month, are so expensive: put simply - they're worth it. And, anyway, the asking price of this stunning Dingwall is less than you can pay for a US-made Fender Precision (at least, it is in the UK), so by that standard this is ridiculously good value for money.

This one nearly came home with me - I’ll be sad to see it returning to Bass Direct!

Our thanks to Bass Direct for the loan of this instrument www.bassdirect.co.uk

Dingwall Afterburner ABZ 6 string

MSRP £1,950                   US $ On application

Made in: Canada

Body Core: 2 piece swap ash

Finish: satin polyurethane

Colours: Natural, Honey Amberburst, Trans Blackburst, Whalepoolburst, Trans Redburst, Stormy Monday Blueburst

Neck: 5 piece maple laminate

Carve: Medium thin C shape

Neck reinforcement: Heavy duty truss rod

Standard Fretboard: maple

Radius: Compound 7.5” – 16” low to high

Fretless option: No

Fret Options: 24 Banjo.

Dot markers: Side and face, black

Electronics: FD-3 passive pickups neodymium magnets, hum-cancelling matched-pair coils, Hardware: Tuning keys, Bridge Dingwall custom made by Hipshot.

Strap pins, Dunlop locking

String spacing: 18mm at bridge

Weight: 3.6Kg

Supplied with heavy duty Dingwall gigbag.

These upmarket instruments from Sheldon Dingwall are set for success, says Stuart Clayton. Bass Guitar Magazine Review - August 2011

Dingwall Lee Sklar & ABZ 4

There’s no mistaking a Dingwall bass. With their distinctive Novax fanned-fret design you’d be forgiven for thinking you were looking at an optical illusion of some kind, but it’s a system that is now being embraced by a host of top name players including Dave Swift (Jools Holland), Jon Burr (Stan Getz, Chet Baker) and Lee Sklar among many others. The fanned-fret system is designed to facilitate the most appropriate scale lengths for each individual string. It’s a logical system that enables a 5-string bass (for example) to use a full 36” scale on its B string, with a 34” scale on the G string. This allows for clear, well-defined notes across the whole range of the instrument and is a unique concept that is applied across the whole of the Dingwall range.

The two instruments on review here represent two different price points for the Dingwall range. At the upper end is the Lee Sklar 5-string bass, built for the legendary session bassist and retailing at a hefty £4,000. Dingwall have built basses for Sklar for over ten years now, and this new signature model combines all of his favourite features, with gorgeous finishes that reflect his love of hot rods. At the other end of the spectrum we have the rather more affordable ABZ 4 bass, a 4-string instrument retailing at £1,685. The ABZ series combines the fan fret technology with a sleek, streamlined body that makes this instrument a perfect introduction to the Dingwall brand.

Body & Neck

First up on the bench is the Sklar model. This bass is constructed using a unique to- Dingwall construction method that couples a piece of northern ash with a piece of alder. However, rather than use an alder body with an ash laminate top, as is often seen on other instruments, the pieces are placed side by side. Ash is used for the upper part of the body (where the lower strings are sited), while the alder is used on the lower half (where the top strings are sited). As these woods have different densities, the result is a naturally equalising’ body: ‘the higher-density ash accentuates the highs and gives power to the lows without affecting the treble strings’. Similarly, the low-density alder ‘brings out the resonance and warms up the treble strings without making the bass strings sound muddy’. It’s a unique build feature that makes a lot of sense. The body on our test bass is finished in a colour called ‘blueberry’, with a polyester finish. There is a generous amount of edge contouring and an attractive cutaway by the bridge, which makes access to the Neutrik jack socket easier as well as allowing the instrument to stand safely against a wall without falling over. The five-piece maple neck is a bolt-on design and affixed with Allen screws sited in recessed circular bevels. Removing four screws accesses the control cavity on the Sklar bass. A recessed ‘finger hole’ allows you to easily lift the cover off – a fantastic idea that we’re surprised not to have seen on more instruments. The cavity itself is immaculately shielded, with extremely neat wiring. Cable ties are used to keep wires bunched together, making for a very neat and ordered compartment. Top marks. Next up is the ABZ 4. The body of this instrument is a single piece of swamp ash, again combined with a bolt-on five-piece maple neck. Our test instrument was finished with an indigoburst satin finish – very different to the Sklar bass, but appealing in a different way. The same overall body shaping is evident here, although slightly refined into a sleeker instrument. The cutaway section at the bridge is once again present, allowing comfortable access to the jack socket. As on the Sklar bass, the bolt-on neck design comprises four Allen screws in recessed circular bevels. Th e control cavity on the ABZ is accessed in the same way minus the added finger hole. Once again, wiring and shielding are exemplary, altogether some of the neatest work we’ve seen. Fretwork on both instruments is superb and the action on the Sklar bass is set appropriately, while the ABZ needed some tweaking.


The most obvious feature on both instruments is, of course, the unique fan fret design that Dingwall are renowned for, but the fun doesn’t stop there: both basses also have backward-angled pickups (more noticeably so on the Sklar bass) and the staggered bridge saddle design that accommodates the different scale lengths of each string. Dot position markers on both instruments are sited on the lower part of the fingerboard, while a stylized ‘D’ motif adorns the 12th fret of the Sklar bass. Both basses come equipped with a Hipshot extender key on the lowest string (on the Sklar bass this drops the B string to an earthshaking low A), although this is an £85 optional extra on the ABZ series. Both basses have slim frets, a feature that was introduced to Dingwall by Lee Sklar. Th e benefits of thinner frets are a ‘more woody, less metallic tone, smoother glissandos and a faster feel’. The ABZ bass comes with standard ‘banjo’ frets – which Dingwall state is the same size as what you would find on most guitars from the 50s and 60s – while the Sklar bass features mandolin frets, which are thinner still. Th e ABZ bass is fi tted with FD3-4L pickups, while the Sklar has Z2 Super-Fatty models paired with a Glockenklang three-band EQ circuit. The Super-Fatties are made at the Dingwall workshop in Canada and, according to Dingwall, have been constructed with an end-to-end hum-cancelling coil array with neodymium magnets and hardened steel poles. Th e coils are also noise-symmetric/ tone-asymmetric, meaning that they boast near perfect noise rejection along with increased low-end clarity. Lee chose these pickups as they combine clarity on the B and E strings with increased warmth and fatness on the D and G strings. Th e FD3-4L pickups, on the other hand, are the evolution of the original Fury Dingwall pickups that were developed by Sheldon Dingwall and Glenn McDougall of Fury Guitars. Again, these feature neodymium magnets, humcancelling matched-pair coils and hardened steel poles, and are fully shielded for quiet performance. Dingwall’s literature notes that these pickups are a ‘blend between a J and a P but with more highs, more lows and more dynamic response’. The pickups on both basses feature four lead wiring, enabling the coils to be wired in either series or parallel. At a significantly higher price point it’s unsurprising that the Lee Sklar model comes with a few extra bells and whistles. One of the most impressive of these is the magnetic battery cover sited on the rear of the top bout. This oval plastic cover has two holes for finger and thumb to grab the plate and remove it. Strong magnets hold the plate in place, meaning that there’s no danger of it falling off mid gig. This has to be the  quickest battery access method we’ve seen – it’s certainly the coolest.


Plugging in the Sklar bass was really a rather memorable experience. Th e overriding tone of the bass is very gutsy, with a lot of punch. The low end is clear and well defined, and the tone is even across the whole instrument. Turning our attention to the control set we found a three-band EQ, master volume and a four-way selector control that has positions for front pickup soloed, both pickups in parallel, both in series, and neck pickup soloed. Existing Dingwall users should note that this control is wired to Lee’s preference, which is to have these positions placed in a slightly different order. The first position wires the pickups in series and the result is a powerful, well-rounded tone that sounded phenomenal through our TC Electronic test rig (set fl at). With this setting the bottom end was full but well defined thanks to the enhanced mids, while the top end remained clear without too much ‘sizzle’. It worked well for both fingerstyle and slap playing, and sounded great in a band setting. The next position soloes the neck pickup and in comparison to the previous setting is slightly thinner sounding in the low-mid range. The third position wires the pickups in parallel which results in a scooped tone, ideal for 80s-style slap sounds, while the final position soloes the bridge pickup for a biting fingerstyle tone that is guaranteed to cut through the mix. Overall, the Sklar bass off ers an exceptional tonal palette that caters for everything a busy session player like Lee would need. Turning our attention to the ABZ bass, we have a far simpler set of passive controls: a master volume, another four-way selector switch (with positions for bridge, both parallel, both series, neck) and a tone control. With passive electronics and no EQ controls, the ABZ has a more traditional-sounding range, but we found old-school slap tones, biting fingerstyle and everything in between well catered for. As with the Sklar bass, wiring the pickups in series resulted in a full, fat tone that would work for the majority of recording/live situations, while a scooped tone was the result of wiring in parallel. The toggle control might not be to everyone’s tastes – particularly if you are used to using a standard blend control – but the range of sounds on offer is undeniable. In use, the most obvious difference with these instruments is the Novax fanned-fret design.   is was our first time playing a Dingwall, and we anticipated a period of adjustment with our left-hand positioning. Yet we found that for the most part little or no adjustment was required – as unnerving as it can be to look at the fretboard and see sloping frets, our fingers still seemed to land in the right places and we were able to get around both instruments comfortably. It’s a little different in the upper register as the angles become more obvious, which combined with the smaller frets means that you have to be quite careful when playing melodic lines. Playing chords also required some adjustment – for example, playing the interval of a fourth in the upper register requires a slight adjustment. Overall, however, we were stunned at how easy it was to get around these instruments, and would have no hesitation in playing one on a gig.


Both the Sklar bass and the ABZ are stunning instruments that reflect forward-thinking design elements combined with superior craftsmanship. These two very different models occupy different price brackets and certainly the ABZ is priced sensibly in the lower half of the high-end market. There are cheaper Dingwall basses available (such as the Chinesemade Combustion) but this is undoubtedly one of the more affordable of Dingwall’s handmade basses, and is most certainly worthy of your attention. The Sklar bass, retailing at £4,000, is a far more serious investment, but again, there’s no denying the level of craftsmanship, design and sheer playability on offer. These factors, combined with a stunning sonic palette, should make it a serious contender for anyone looking for a top end instrument that not only looks amazing but can deliver the goods in any situation as well. We’d have no hesitation in recommending either bass for an immediate test drive.



Made in: Canada

Body: Northern ash/alder dual-density body

Neck: Maple

Fingerboard: Wenge

Neck join: Bolt-on neck

Frets: 24 mandolin frets

Machine heads: Gotoh ruthenium lightweight tuners

Bridge: Black custom bridge

Pickups: Z2 Super-Fatty pickups

Electronics: Glockenklang 3-band EQ

Controls: Volume, blend, treble,middle and bass

Weight: 3.8 kg (8.8 lb)


Made in: Canada

Body: Swamp ash

Neck: Maple

Fingerboard: Maple

Neck join: Bolt-on neck

Frets: 24 banjo frets

Machine heads: Hipshot

Ultralight tuners

Bridge: Custom Dingwall bridge

Pickups: Dingwall FD3-4L pickups

Electronics: Glockenklang 3-band EQ

Controls: Volume, blend, treble,middle and bass

Weight: 3.4 kg (7.9 lb)


Plus: Superior tones, expert

craftsmanship and innovation.

Minus: No complaints about the instruments themselves, but the Sklar model will be too pricey for many.

Overall: Two beautiful basses, great sounds, great to play.


Tel: 01926 886433

Nine months interest free credit on up to £5000 on Instrument purchases! For UK residents aged between 16 and 25.


  1. New Deluxe Dingwall Gig bag with detachable accessory case