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SurfGuitar101 News & Articles

Category: Gear

The Drip Switch is here! $50 introductory price.

ATTN: Surf Guitarists both rhythm and lead:

As veteran surf guitarists ourselves, Mel and I consider this pedal a must have for anyone using a Fender style reverb tank. Surfy bear kit builders, you can easily wire in a jack to accommodate the pedal as well, if you haven't already.

We will be setting up a demonstration area at the SG101 convention, but if you're not coming and you'd like to pre-order one at the discounted intro price, we've created a page on Mel's Alameda Guitars website with more information and a contact form at the bottom.


You can also find everything you need to make your own right here.

Vintage Guitar Profiles 1961 Fender Showman 12

The May 2018 issue of Vintage Guitar magazine is featuring every surf player's favorite amp, the venerable Fender Showman 6G14-A. This particular example has apparently fallen into the hands of a collector and is all original. Wow!

Being a Showman 12", it features the separate, elaborately ported 12-inch JBL D-120-F "speaker Projector Ring" (tone-ring) "piggy-back high fidelity Lansing enclosure" cabinet, versus the Dick Dale-approved 15-inch JBL D-130-F speaker. Yet, for the devoted, it is a fascinating look both into an especially well-preserved specimen and at this model's place in history.

Lucky you! Vintage Guitar kindly makes some of their issues freely available on the Web, and possibly only for a limited time. It is available now via online distribution. Follow this link: The Show Must Go On: Fender's 1961 Showman by Dave Hunter


South Creek Instrument and Audio Cables

If you are looking for amazing quality cables for live performance and recording you need to look no further. These cables are fantastic. Copper grading, gold plated, with a variety of sizes and angles for all your cable needs. I know they're just cables, but I can't say enough good things about them. I discovered them on Scott Grove's Youtube channel and I was hooked. I Redid my entire rig in nothing but cables from South Creek Audio .

Check out his review:

South Creek's website:

They do nothing but cables and are not paying me a dime. I can't see myself using anything besides them for the rest of my guitar life.


Paul Johnson amp for sale

If you or anyone you know would like to own the Fender De Ville amp that I've been playing through over the past ten years or so, please see this post in the "for sale" section.

Hallmark Guitars at Rickorama Music

Bob Shade of Hallmark Guitars was kind enough to send me three Hallmark guitars for distribution here on the west coast. I have a Custom 60 Gospel in white with white pickup covers. I also have a black Gospel with white pickup covers, (stunning) and finally a Hallmark II in 3 tone sunburst. If you have any interest these beauties, contact me. I can also send detail pictures on request.



Rickorama Music


Sinuous Guitars

Please check out to see guitars I build that make great surf rock guitars.  I will also gladly give artist discounts.

If anyone has some input on what they would like to see in a modern surf guitar I would love to hear it. 



Sparrow Launches Von Drat Surf Guitar

Sparrow Guitars is proud to have introduced the Von Drat surf guitar at the 2009 NAMM Show. The Von Drat is the newest addition to Sparrow’s family of retro guitars which includes the Big Daddy, Primitive, Rat Rod and Twangmaster models. The Von Drat debuted at the 2009 NAMM Show Hall D Booth #3394 in Anaheim, California from January 15-18th 2009 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The Von Drat joins Sparrow’s Rat Rod and Twangmaster as available in the premium “Continental” line. Made in Vancouver, BC Canada, the Von Drat surf guitar features Burns Tri-Sonic pickups, Grover tuners, bone nut and Wilkinson tremolo. With an alder body, maple neck and rosewood fingerboard, the Von Drat is a 21-fret, 12” radius, 25 ½” scale length guitar with the volume and tone top-hat knobs and three-way selector switch located at the lower bout for versatility and playability. The Von Drat is currently available in Tudor Black and Avocado Green, with custom pickguard.

The guitar is the namesake of Toronto, Canada-based surf outfit The Von Drats. The Von Drats were hired by Sparrow Guitars to play an event as part of the 2008 MIAC Show in Toronto, Canada and became instant favourites of Sparrow staff. From that meeting, Sparrow President Billy Bones began planning and designing what would become Sparrow’s Von Drat guitar. Steve and Dave Von Drat were in attendance at the 2009 NAMM Show to debut the guitar at the Sparrow booth and play original material and surf-standards and the band will take their Von Drat guitars on the road and in the studio.

There is more to this story, continue reading ...

Forty Years Of The Fender Stratocaster

Last night at our show at The Sheraton Kauai Resort a guy and his daughter come wandering up to us and he asks "do you guys know Mr. Moto?" Yeah, we sure do...wanna hear it? and he nods yes and so we busted in to Mr. Moto which brought a huge smile to his face as he sat on the steps leading up to the restaurant where we play outside near the beach in Poipu. He sat and listened for the whole set and when we took our break he came up to me and started asking questions about surf music, my unusual guitar, and equipment and stuff like that and then mentioned that he used to play with Dick Dale back in the 80's. I'm like wow, you played with Dick Dale? and we started talking about DD having cancer and i told him we invited him to sit in with us when he comes to Hawaii after all his medical stuff is finished next year and he started reminiscing about playing with DD and surf music and equipment in general.

There is more to this story, continue reading ...

Fender's Champ 600: A Great Lil' Surf Amp

When I decided to move to Mexico, to a place you can only get to by boat, I knew I would have to foresake my huge Fender Twin. But I didn't have much hope of finding a decent small amp that would make me happy. Most small amps sound like crap, the attitude being that you don't need decent tone for practice. But, I wanted a small amp that didn't make me cringe when I played it - and of course, I wanted clean Fender tone.

Fortunately, Fender just released the Champ 600, a 5-watt tube amp that is a tribute to the 50s-era Champ.

Did they get it right? Let's put it this way: when I put it next to my big blackface Twin, it actually added a sonic element to my sound that the big blackface beast was lacking. Of course, that was largely because the Champ 600 has a 6" speaker, meaning that its treble response is very good. But, surprisingly, it still gets a full, round sound that really works well for surf. The amp's power section comes through a single 6V6 tube, while a single 12AX7 completes the pre-amp section.

Controls include a single chicken-head style volume knob, which was the setup for the original Champ. You pretty much have to crank it all the way up to get decent volume, and even then, it is a little paltry. Still, plenty good for practice. There are two guitar cord inputs, one a clean channel and the other a mildly-distorted channel. Really, the distortion is almost non-existent, so I just plug into that channel and use the volume knob on my guitar to vary the drive. Naturally, there is no reverb, so you'll need either a pedal or a Fender reverb unit to get a decent surf sound. The amp also responds well to a drive pedals, but don't expect to get Marshall tone through your ProcoRat or other heavy-distortion pedal. A nice TS-9 tube screamer with mild overdrive is about all this amp can handle.

The two-tone cosmetics are a nice touch - very retro in appearance, with a nice Fender '50s vintage red-on-chrome badge that complements the overall look of the amp. A brown leather handle complements the vintage look.

For $200 bucks, this is a pricey addition to your collection, especially for a practice amp. But if good, clean Fender tone is important to you, this little amp does a good job for the money. I highly recommend this amp for newbies looking for a good surf practice amp and veterans looking for a nice apartment practice amp or even a recording amp.

There is more to this story, continue reading ...

Question about JBL Clones?

Has anyone had any experience with the new Eminence Commonwealth 12's or 15's?

According to one source (supposedly an Eminence rep ) they are meant to sound like the JBL E120.

Although familiar with the D120F and D130F, I 'm not familiar with the "E" series.  What are the sound differences between "E" and "D" series?

How close do the Commonwealths come to the traditional sound of the D120F's and D130F's ? 

How do they compare to the Weber High Power California D120F and D130F  clones which I understand are very good.  It is worth noting that the Commonwealths' have the traditional JBL 4 inch voice coil, high power handling capability (225 watts), and are less expensive than the Webers ( $135 and $150 each).