|The British Invasion|
In 1965 the British Invasion was in full force, and so was the guitar boon. As a 13 year old boy, I had to have a guitar, and so did many of my friends.
The popular British groups were mostly vocal groups. So, back in those days, to learn guitar we turned to guitar groups such as The Ventures, Dick Dale and the Del-Tones, The Chantays, and of course The Surfaris.
|The Surfaris - Wipe Out|
|An early publicity photo of |
While growing up, Dale learned to play traditional instruments. And this is where he got his rapid picking technique.
By his teen years, Dale's father got a new job and moved the family to El Segundo, California. There Dick got involved with surfing and taught himself how to play guitar. And he became a master of both skills.
|Dick Dale and The Del-Tones|
By 1961 Dick Dale had become so popular in the city of Newport Beach that he was able to get permission from the owner of the Rendezvous Ballroom to reopen the shuttered establishment and put on a series of dances that he called Stomps. These events were very popular, drawing crowds of up to 4,000 people at each dance. Dale played this venue for a six-month stretch.
|Dick Dale and the Del-Tones|
|Dick Dale with original Stratocaster|
This was the amplifier that Dale needed, and it went on to become the staple of most Surf bands.
|Fender Reverb Unit|
It featured three controls; Dwell, Mixer, and Tone. This was usually the only effect that Surf bands used.
Surf music was meant to be played clean and loud. Any distortion came from the tubes in the amplifier.
Dale was a Californian. So were the members of the Chantays. Surprisingly, some of the most well-known Surf bands were not from California, or even near an ocean.
The Routers eventually moved to California and were signed by Warner Brothers Records, where they had a hit record called The Pony.
|The Marketts aka The Routers|
Around the same time the song was released, the Twilight Zone’s creator, Rod Serling, had developed another science fiction/mystery show called The Outer Limits. Not only was Mr. Serling not amused with the song, he thought the song’s title infringed on his new show's trademark name. Serling sued and to settle the song was re-titled Out of Limits.
|Out of Limits|
The Chantays started in 1961 as a group when they were still high school students in Orange County, California. A year later they had a hit record with their song; Pipeline. The Chantays had a few other minor hits, but will forever be remember for their one big hit.
|The Chantays on Lawrence Welk|
Pipeline was so popular that it was recorded by many other artists. The Chantays other claim to fame was being the only Rock/Surf band ever to be featured on The Lawrence Welk Show.
Perhaps the biggest instrumental surf music band of all was not from California. Members of The Ventures all lived and worked in Tacoma, Washington.
|Don Wilson and Bob Bogle|
|Nokie Edwards at right|
|The Ventures with Howie Johnson|
Next George Babbitt joined the group, but had to leave, because he was too young to play in nighclubs.
Babbitt went on to become a 4 Star General in the US Army.
|The Ventures with Mel Taylor|
Back when Wilson and Bogle met Nokie Edward, he was already performing a Chet Atkins song called in his nightclub set called Walk, Don’t Run. This song was actually written by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith.
|The Ventures Walk, Don't Run|
The tune was eventually picked up by Dolton Records and went on to become #2 on the charts. It was later redone by The Ventures with an updated surf guitar arrangement and released again as Walk, Don’t Run ‘64. This song became one of only a handful of recordings that charted twice on the Billboard Hot 100.
|Walk, Don't Run|
|The Pyramids (with Dick Clark)|
|1964 Fender Showman 15" JBL|
Interestingly, Moseley had hired a young man to help design amplifiers for his company. So Alexander Dumble is rumored to have modified The Venture’s Fender amplifiers.
|Early photo of The Ventures|
During their early years, The Ventures played late 1950 era Fender guitars; a Jazzmaster, a Stratocaster, and a Precision Bass.
Mosrite guitars had already become popular in California, due to the double neck model that Joe Maphis and Larry Collins played on a California television show called Ranch Party.
|Gene Moles with his Mosrite|
Briefly Mosrite had attempted to build and market an all transistor amplifier under The Ventures banner. However it failed, due to design problems. After the agreement between Mosrite and the Ventures ended, The Ventures returned to playing Fender instruments.
|Wilson Brothers |
Later in life, the group had arrangements with Aria Guitars, and Wilson Brothers Guitars to produce Ventures model guitars.
|Aria Ventures model|
And later in their career, The Ventures enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in Japan; the same country where Aria guitars are manufactured.
The Chantays played matching 1960 model Fender Stratocasters and a Fender Precision Bass from that same era after they became famous.
Prior to that one of the players used a 1961 Kay K580 with a single coil pickup. The other player had either a Valco or Airline single pickup guitar. The Chantay’s bass player had a 1960’s model Precision bass.
This group used Fender Showman amplifiers that were built between 1960 - 63 that were covered with white Tolex and had maroon grill clothe. Before that they have a Fender Deluxe amp, and a Danelectro/Silvertone style Twin Twelve amplifier, and of course the Fender reverb units.
|Dick Dale's Stratocaster|
Dick Dale was given a Fender Stratocaster by Leo Fender. The story goes that Dale visited Fender at his office and announced that he was a guitar player, but did not have an instrument. Leo procured a Strat and has Dale to play something.
|Dick Dale's Stratocaster|
Since Dale was left-handed, he flipped the guitar upside down and to Mr. Fender’s amusement played the guitar in this manner. Dick Dale had learned to play guitar with the large E string on the bottom and the small one on the top.
Mr. Fender must have been impressed because he had a left-handed Stratocaster built for Dick Dale. However Dale always strung it like it was a right-handed guitar.
|Dale's set up - original Showman amp|
- Dual Showman cab - reverb unit
Dale and Leo Fender had lengthy discussions on building guitars, amplifiers, and even combo organs. As previously stated, this was how the Fender Showman and Dual Showman were developed. At Dale’s suggestion the Tolex was changed from white material, to a light brown colour, which showed less dirt.
Dick Dale’s mid 1950’s Fender Stratocaster was originally painted Olympic White with a red tortoise shell pickguard. It is odd, since most models of that vintage had maple fretboards, Dick Dales model was perhaps the first of that era to have a rosewood fretboard.
Dale modified the guitar by removing all of the pots, since he felt they took away from the volume, and he always kept the guitar at full volume anyway.
His guitar had the older 3-way toggle switch. Dale had another switch installed that turned the middle pickup on or off. This enabled him to use the middle and neck pickups or the middle and bridge pickups simultaneously. Dick Dale never used the vibrato. He blocked it off with a piece of wood.
|Dick Dale's repainted Stratocaster|
Though Dick Dale was mainly thought of as an instrumental guitarist, he also sang on many of his early recordings.
|1960 Fender Jazzmaster|
Many of the California Surf and instrument guitar players preferred the Fender Jazzmaster, because of its pickups, which had a warmer sound than Stratocaster pickup and some of its other attributes.
|1959 Fender Jazzmaster|
In this mode, volume and tone were controlled by the roller switches on the upper bout. This also activated a capacitor in this circuit that gave the guitar a warmer tone with more of an acoustic feel. The other difference was the use of 1M linear taper potentiometers for the lead tone control, and a 50 k linear taper potentiometer for the rhythm tone control.
The final feature that made the Jazzmaster most desirable was it’s long-armed vibrato. The vibrato in Surf music of the day was used subtly to enhance the end of musical phrases.
|1960's Fender Stratocaster|
The Fender Stratocaster seemed to be the preferable choice for Surf bands as their lead instrument. It was usually played with the bridge pickup activated to get the best sound for this genre.
|Fender Flatwound strings|
Strings were also important to Surf players. They preferred heavier gauged flat-wound strings.
|Difference - roundwound - flatwound|
These strings were great for recording, and perhaps live playing, since there was no string scraping noise.
Dick Dale preferred regular extremely heavy gauged guitar strings as part of his sound. His preference was .016, .18, .20, .39, .49, and .60 gauge strings, with the .60 string being the first string.
One other aspect of surf music that may seem odd today, but was downright cool to a kid in the 1960’s was that while the groups played they also did a sort of synchronized dance; moving the guitar necks up, down, and side to side, while stepping back, forth, and sideways sometimes kicking a leg up and down. It is damn silly looking now.
Over on the other side of the world, there were a couple of groups that were prominent in instrumental music, which sounded very close to Surf music.
The Shadows were originally formed as the band that backed popular British singer Cliff Richards on his recordings and shows, and worked with him from 1956 to 1968.
However the group charted with several instrumental hits on their own. Most notably was a 1960 song called Apache. It was a great song.
The Shadows band included guitarists Bruce Welch, and Brian Rankin, aka Hank Marvin. They added bass player Jet Harris, aka Terrance Harris, and drummer Tony Meehan.
|Apache - The Shadows|
The Shadows had several more hit songs. Perhaps the best known player from the group was Hank Marvin. He was one of the first players in the UK to own a Fender Stratocaster.
|VML Easy Mute and Trem bar|
|The Shadows - Burns/Baldwin Guitars|
|Telestar Satellite - 1962|
Meek had a rented flat above a leather goods shop in Northern London. There he kept a lot of recording equipment. One electronic instrument that he had on hand was called a Clavioline.
|Joe Meek's Clavioline|
|Joe Meek and The Toranados|
His recording was laced with a lot of echo and reverberation giving the illusion that this song was being played by a much larger group in a much larger hall.
The group of musicians that recorded Telestar were known as the Toranados. They went on to do live performances of Telestar and other songs and were featured on LP's.
|The Original Telestar Record|
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