For years I was mostly unimpressed by instruments intended to exude a 'retro' vibe. Some builders would try a minty paint job, or oddball body, but they'd miss the mark because the didn't look at the concept systematically. DiPinto does retro right, and as a result the Mach IV could serve as a yardstick for retro revivals to come.
Designed to be flashy and versatile, the Mach IV offers more than just eye appeal; it doles out a good variety of tones and boasts good Korean workmanship. For anyone familiar with Mosrite's '60s-era surf-styled instruments, the Mach IV captures a lot of their visual essence, especially with the flipped over body. But after that quick nod to Mosrite's offbeat genius, the Mach IV roars off down its own path.
Our tester's deep-red finish, pearloid and chrome components, and groovy racing stripes make it look like a cross between a '50s dining set and a classic sports car. The star-shaped inlays match the pearloid overlays nicely. One notably confusing oddity, the double stars and side dots at both the 9th and 12th frets. I found myself accidentally drawn toward the 9th-fret position, think it was the 12th. The solid stop tailpiece bridge is adjustable for intonation, but not individual string height.
The DiPinto's construction is generally good, with a tight four-bolt neck joint and lustrous finish. The electronics assembly and components are adequate for the price range. The tone controls and output jack are grounded via a metal-foil plate attached to the pickguard's underside, but despite the lack of any other shielding and a pair of single-coil pickups, the Mach IV is relatively quiet. Out test bass's knobs and output jack were so solidly installed, but mounting them to the pickguard is a risky proposition, yank the plug the wrong way and it could crack. Normally I would balk at the guitar-like pickup switch and at it's lower horn placement, but it just seemed appropriated on the Mach IV. The DiPinto's neck tends to dive, but future models will have a strap button on the neck heel. Due to the bridge placement, which is relatively far from the body end, the DiPinto's neck feels longer than it is. The design makes low position playing a little uncomfortable, particularly for the short-armed.
Basic in its tone-shaping components -- a tone knobs, a volume knob, and pickup selector -- the Mach IV is surprisingly versatile. Slappers may not appreciate the neck-pickup placement, which is at an angle only about 3/8" away form the end of the slanted fingerboard. But one staffer noted that the pickup's placement actually prompted him to experiment with different right-hand locations, yielding a good variety of sounds. With various amps in our Soundroom, including our Demeter/Crest/Eden rig and an SWR workingman's 2x10c, the Mach IV sounded slightly boxy with a prominent midrange and grinding top end. Blending pickups resulted in a full-bodied J-style tone that would work well in many styles.
The E string initially seemed a bit anemic, but raising the bass side of the neck pickup helped. Through an aggressive-sounding vintage tube amp, the Mach IV was anything but timid, and I was impressed by its authoritative tone when my right hand dub in or when I used a pick, particularly with the tone knob cranked.
The DiPinto Mach IV is the perfect 'attitude bass' for surf, punk, or just about anything that requires being noticed. Flashy? You bet. Good-sounding? That too. If you get one, make sure your chops and wardrobe are up to it, you're going to be in the spotlight.