In the early 80's, sideman extrodinaire David Lindley discovered the joys of cheap imported and domestic guitars like Teiscos and Silvertones. Their unique tone instantly put a sonic signature of his music, and they looked really cool (at least on a man who wore checkered polyester pants as rock garb). More recently, Beck has favored Schecter imports that also wear their weirdness proudly. For the new millennium, DiPinto guitars of Philadelphia has designed model that straddles the line between classic American design and import oddities.
The radical design elements shared by the DiPinto Galaxie 4 and Galaxie 2 may require a certain sartorial confidence on stage, but much of the guitars' strength is functional. True the Galaxie 4's matching tortoise pickguard and headstock ensemble, star inlays, and four (count 'em, four) pickups scream fun. But the angled headstock combines the look of a Fender with the ability of a Gibson to maintain tension across the 42mm nut without the use of string trees. This is especially functional on the Galaxie 4, where it helps the tremolo stay in tune.
These lightweight poplar guitars also balance extremely well, with then neck hanging at a very comfortable angle when your strapped in. The maple, four bolt necks are attached to the headstock with a luthiers' joint. The Galaxie 4's Jaguar style tremolo maintains the guitars tuning, and bending one string doesn't throw the others out of tune, but dive bombing is not an option, and there is some loss of sustain (though in general the guitar sustains well). The Galaxie 4 brings Fender to mind with a 25 1/2" scale length and a club-like shape to the neck. The Galaxie 2 nods to Gibson with it's standard tune-o-matic bridge and stop tailpiece configuration.
If three pickups are good, four must be better, right? Well, different anyhow. At first it might seem that the DiPinto dudes decided to go a little nuts with the wiring set up, but, like its looks, the wiring of the Galaxie 4 is as functional as it is freaky. The five-way switch offers bridge pickup alone, bridge and two adjacent pickups, middle two, all four (yahoo!), or neck pickup alone. Positions 3 and 4 are hum canceling combinations of the single coils.
These DiPinto designed pickups are powerful enough to let you lower the middle two a bit, if they get in the way of your picking, and still have plenty of punch. The bridge pickup provides a Strat-like skank tone but also has enough midrange to sound good distorted. Position 2 offers a fine funk tone, and the neck pickup by itself gives enough warmth for jazz combined with beaucoups bite for blues. The middle two together make a unique sound that will in future be know as DiPinto Tone, like a Strat neck/middle combo but with more mids. The Silver Sparkle Galaxie 2 came with two humbuckers and a three way switch. But of course two standard humbuckers would be too normal for DiPinto. In reality, these humbuckers are made up of two single coils each, wired together in series and mounted separately. This allows you to shape their tone by raising or lowering half the pickup. Finding the neck sound a little boomy, I just lowered the half of the pickup closest to the neck and instantly had more focus without the output loss I would expect from lowering the entire pickup.
Wave Your Freak Flag
I'd be lying if I said these were the most playable guitars I ever picked up, but I could say the same about all the cool Teiscos, Framus, Silvertones, and Danelectros (old and new) I have played. The DiPintos certainly are playable but, like the aforementioned bands, their strength lies in their style-visually and sonically. Take one of these on-stage and the audience will be talking about it for weeks.
Onstage or in the studio, these DiPintos will give you a leg up on developing a sound of your own. At these prices they can be a welcome addition to your collection for that special sonic or stage occasion.