Published 7 months ago on November 23, 2023

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

Dingwall D-Roc 5

MSRP: (UK) £1699 / (US) $2440

The D-ROC 5 from Dingwall is a cost-effective, but brilliant bass guitar. It features a classic design and a high-quality mahogany body, partnered with smoked nickel Hipshot/Dingwall hardware. It’s a match made in bass heaven. This 5-string model comes in a sleek Matte Metallic Black finish which Nick Jennison takes a closer look at in this exclusive review.

Bass players have always been a step ahead of guitar players like me when it comes to innovation. While us guitar luddites are notorious for fetishising 50s instruments that won’t play/stay in tune and amps that require a team of sherpas to transport, our bass playing sisters and brothers have long ago embraced class D amps, lightweight high-efficiency cabs, active electronics and optimised, ergonomic instruments.

No manufacturer embodies this modern, forward-thinking way of building instruments more than Dingwall. Their basses have been wholeheartedly embraced by the modern metal crowd - as well as legendary virtuosi like Lee Sklar and Tony Levin - for their incredible playability, punch and clarity. The D-Roc Standard takes all of these qualities, but packages them in a more “rock & roll” body shape. It’s like a Thunderbird from the far future, but without the neck dive or the excessive weight. And because these instruments are produced in China, they’re actually pretty affordable too!

Let’s start by talking about something I’ve been very vocal about in the past: fanned frets. If you’re unfamiliar, fanned frets allow for different scale lengths on each string: longer on the low strings for higher tension and greater clarity, and shorter on the high strings so they don’t play like high-tensile bridge cables. I’ll be honest, I can’t stand fanned frets on guitars, but on a bass it’s a whole different story. Because of the differences in the way the instruments are played, and the roles they serve in a band, fanned frets on a bass feel very natural, and allow for some of the clearest and most punchy low notes you’ll ever hear. Let me put it this way - the D-Roc Standard we looked at here was set up for an artist who was using it tuned F#-B-E-A-D. The fundamental of that low F# is about 23hz - right on the threshold of human hearing - and the D-Roc was quite happy to reproduce this absurdly low pitch with room-destroying clarity. There’s even a hipshot D-tuner on the 5th string if you want to go even lower!

Electronics come courtesy of Dingwall’s FD-3N pickups - three of them, to be precise. There’s a 4-way rotary pickup selector offering bridge, bridge and middle in parallel, middle, and all three pickups in a special blend of series and parallel that sounds absolutely massive. The upshot of this is that you have access to sounds that are reminiscent of P-bass grunt, J-bass bridge pickup poke and Stingray grind, all in a hugely playable and thoroughly modern instrument.

If you’re looking for crazy playability and some of the most outrageous low notes you’ll ever hear, but in a (relatively) affordable and eye-catching package, the Dingwall D-Roc Standard should be near the top of your list.

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