Just like the top-line Dingwall
s, the Chinese-made Combustion
carries the Novax Fanned Fret System
developed by luthier Ralph Novak after studying the workings of the grand piano and the harp.
On the Combustion this means a varied scale length, 34" on the G string moving to 37" on the B, the idea being to gain an optimum length for each string, especially the low B.
Another interesting element is the frets. After consulting with endorsee Lee Sklar (James Taylor, Phil Collins, Billy Cobham), Dingwall became hip to the benefits of narrow, banjo-size frets – less metallic tone, smoother glissandos and a faster feel. This banjo-size fretwire produces an interesting marriage of contemporary and retro.
The Chinese-made Combustion has an alder body (in candy apple red) with a scoop at the bridge but more traditional fin-like horns.
The Dingwall FD3-A alnico pickups (are slanted in sympathy with the frets and the individual saddle chrome bridge is also offset.
The neck is a five-piece maple affair with slim, playable contour and the fingerboard is rosewood with offset dots. The electronics include an EMG BT07 preamp with two volumes, bass and treble plus an active/passive switch.
A few hours with the fanned frets will get you completely used to it. Tonally, the Dingwall is less in-your-face than the SL5, with growling lows and clarity on the treble strings with a hint of nasal high mid.
Often, if a B string is focused enough for practical use it sticks out like a sore thumb against the rest in terms of volume and tonal quality, but here it sounds and feels much more integrated – lightweight, but practical.
The Dingwall benefits from rolling on some bass EQ; both pickups on gets a little woolly on full boost, but the other two options benefit from extra weight and width, while extra treble increases detail and vibrancy at the expense of some zingy high mids becoming more dominant at the top end.
This bass force you to think about your approach to playing, and you have to agree that it’s fantastic to see bass makers doing something a little different. The quality of the Dingwall Combustion's B string is excellent, but be aware… you may love it so much you’ll start thinking about one of the Canadian-made Dingwalls, and they start at £1750.