Best guitar for surf music...

October 29th, 2003, 10:18 PM
Ok...the question is simple.

Is the stratocaster the BEST guitar - "para el surf musica" :?: (or - 'musica de surf")

Or does the Jazzmaster and Jaguar rate above ...:?:

EEK !:shock: What of the Mosrite :?:

My vote is for the Stratocaster!! :)

Whadda you think???

e3 8)

slauson slim
October 29th, 2003, 11:10 PM
Back in the day, at surfer stomps, the Jaguar was the axe of choice and most desirable. Strats and teles were seen as downscale. But, a strat is an excellent surf axe. Use flat wound heavier gauge strings and twang away.

October 30th, 2003, 06:17 AM
Its more about the amp and type of reverb you have for playing Surf music.Strats and Teles are cool but a 335 will sound great as well for Surf music if you are plugged into the right amp/reverb unit. A lot of surf bands from the 60's used the outboard Fender 3-knob reverb unit for that lush,wet tone.

October 30th, 2003, 06:31 AM
For Jazzmaster is the primo surf guitar (Never had one, nor played one). But strats handles that territory perfectly well too. I guess I'll call it a tie.

Rob DiStefano
October 30th, 2003, 07:01 AM
IMO, almost *any* electric will do the surf thing, though there should be an emphasis on single coil gits (trem is optional). "Surf" is about the tune itself, the compliment of instruments, yer attitude, yer amp and optional FX (yes, optional). YMMV.

The Actionman
October 30th, 2003, 11:23 AM
He plays Strats...think he always has and he's the KING of SURF!

October 30th, 2003, 11:57 AM
The short scale, pickups with the directed flanges, and pickup combo just gives that surf pop. The offset body and contours give the feel. Matching headstock and you're there with the looks.

I picked up an ocean turquoise a couple of years ago and it just wants to play surf every time I strap it on.

November 3rd, 2003, 12:07 AM
Danny or Eddie ? They both sound great ...get the strat.....the strat will be more versatile... :D

November 4th, 2003, 03:59 PM
The "Gold-lettered", Chinese-made, Standard series, Squire Jagmaster!

Honest, dont knock it until youve tried one!

Bridge pup.....through a Marshall combo...lots of reverb.


Theyve stopped making these now.......
So get one while you can.

I guarantee you'll be impressed!

November 11th, 2003, 01:18 AM
Are you sure you don't mean the Japanese made Squire jag-master? Of the vista series? The vista series are very good.

The Fender jaguar or jazzmasters are the ultimate surf guitars. Strats and teles are really useful for just about anything. Moserites are good aswell for surf. The only necassary guitar characteristic for surf music is really thin single coil pick-ups.

November 11th, 2003, 05:17 AM
Ha Ha.....

Yes I'm sure. :lol:

November 12th, 2003, 05:34 AM
haha.........Dick Dale sez a Strat is the ONLY instrument fit for playin' surf muzak.

Rob DiStefano
November 12th, 2003, 08:31 AM
... The Fender jaguar or jazzmasters are the ultimate surf guitars.

Interesting, as they're totally different g'tars in terms of scale length and pickups, and tone/sound.

Strats and teles are really useful for just about anything.

Absolutely agreed.

Moserites are good aswell for surf.

Or canoe paddles, as Nokie, Bob and Don would probably have preferred using them ...

The only necassary guitar characteristic for surf music is really thin single coil pick-ups.

Yes, for retro-surf ... "modern surf" is open to almost any g'tar/pickup type, IMO.

November 12th, 2003, 09:30 PM
Jaguars and jazzmasters really aren't that much different. The pickups are a bit different, the jazzmasters are more versatile. They are still capable of the same surfy tones though. The scales are different, sure, but the only real difference that makes is string tension. Do you want sustain, with a jazzmaster, or ease of string bending, with a jaguar? Both have that nice tremelo system, I like it any way, that can come in very handy with surf. The only body difference is the jazzmaster is a bit wider. The pickup selecting is similar, the jaguar is a bit more complicated. They are very alike guitars. I'd rather have a jazzmaster, being as it is a lot more versatile, but I'd be happy with a jaguar.

November 12th, 2003, 10:44 PM
had a bunch of Fender guitars, and amps, as well as a bunch of other stuff, You can use any thing you like for surf..My preference is for the Rickenbacker 330 with High Gains, and a Vox AC-15 TBX..for a real treat try a 12 string.....

November 12th, 2003, 11:03 PM
But did ya know that some of the greatest
surf music of all was played by a guy who
didn't surf and he did it on ES-345's and
ES-355's, WHO you ask? Who else but
Freddy King!!!
ps: Buglecorps, great to see you back man!!!

November 13th, 2003, 01:23 AM
Maybe not the best choice, but a tele makes a suprisingly good surf guitar, yet I've never seen anybody play surf on a tele.

November 13th, 2003, 11:52 PM
One of the beach boys occasionally played a tele. He's the only one I can think of at the moment, but I KNOW there are more.

November 18th, 2003, 03:17 PM
Surf Green or Surf Pearl in color. :wink:

November 18th, 2003, 04:09 PM
I've always like MUSTANGS for surf.

I think that the Mustang trem warbling is just about the coolest sounding trem ever.

Take a Fender Mustang, Super Reverb, with the Reverb on 7, hit an open E minor, warble the trem.....


Of course that's only ONE particular "surf" sound. There are as many different surf tones as there are people who played what is collectively known as "SURF".

I've heard good surf tones from everyone from The Stray Cats to Reverend Horten Heat even SRV. I think the only common thing in that sound may be the way you play it and the use of reverb.

November 18th, 2003, 05:43 PM
Agreed, mustangs are great surf guitars. In my opinion, mustangs can be used for near anything, and do it gracefully. Surf, "grunge", classic rock, indie, blues, I once saw a guy playing folk with one, it sounded really nice too.

November 18th, 2003, 10:26 PM
Agreed, mustangs are great surf guitars. In my opinion, mustangs can be used for near anything, and do it gracefully. Surf, "grunge", classic rock, indie, blues, I once saw a guy playing folk with one, it sounded really nice too.

I'll second that with a bold "NEAR" anything. I did a whole night of screaming blues and the Mustang just didn't have the snap, sting or sustain I needed in a 3 piece.

I got to "Red House" and those intro notes (where it just hangs) was very nerve racking as the sustain factor was nowhere close to my Tele. 5 tunes in after "the thrill is gone" the thrill of jamming blues on a Mustang truly was gone.

Putting the Tele on was like pulling on your favorite pair of Jeans.


November 18th, 2003, 10:45 PM
Personally, I think Surf has got to have that shimmering 'Tremolo'. Oh, and string mutes! Mosrite for me makes me think 'Iron Butterfly' (Eric Brann played one to great & versatile effect with that band - Great guitarist, sadly no longer with us). Strats have got the Dick Dale seal of approval. Jazzmasters are for Jazz (just kidding!). I think the Fender Jaguar is the ultimate Surf Guitar.

November 20th, 2003, 01:25 AM
"the sustain factor was nowhere close to my Tele"

That's to be expected though, isn't it pedalworld? It's a 24" vrs. a 25.5". They don't get great sustain, but in my opinion, they do get great tones. The way the switching works, two humbuckers would be very nice in there, you could put them in and out of phase and such.

November 19th, 2008, 02:10 AM
I Love My Jazzmaster...My 89 MIJ Tele on both pickups and heavy reverb is great for Surf too

November 19th, 2008, 02:31 AM
Jazzmaster all the way! Played my 1960 JM in the '60's in a surf band in Souther Cal and it is IMHO the quintessential surf guitar!

November 19th, 2008, 03:29 AM
I get as good surf tone on my tele. I think its more about picking and reverb. No trem though, so no shimmers. Has anyone ever built a synchronised trem tele?

November 19th, 2008, 04:01 AM
Maybe not the best choice, but a tele makes a suprisingly good surf guitar, yet I've never seen anybody play surf on a tele.

Well, you're not seeing it played, but you get the picture. Yeah, it's not a "real" tele.

Dick Dale never uses the tremolo. If you do use the tremolo for surf music, it's hard to beat the Jaguar / Jazzmaster unit as they are much smoother and more subtle than a strat.

November 19th, 2008, 04:47 AM
What about a DiPinto Galaxy ??

November 19th, 2008, 05:30 AM
I've never seen anybody play surf on a tele.
too bad you live so far away. we play a bunch of surftunes like misirlou, pipeline and nitro. all on the telecaster.
i think it is very important, that the strings are really "anchored". our local shop has a jaguar, and i can see no way, how to play misirlou on that beast unmodded. the strings come off the saddles just from looking at them. if you play real hard like dick dale, a strat or a telecaster are the way to go. i have no idea, how some surfpickers get their thing done on jaguars or jazzmasters. and you need fat strings to have something coming back at you, while you pick. but what do i know. ymmv, just 2 cents.....

November 19th, 2008, 08:27 AM
This one!

http://www.guitarvillage.co.uk/product-detail.asp?id=2366&catid=53&manid=9&quantity=1&product=Burns+The+Shadows+Custom+Signature%2C+Red% 2C+New%2C+Inc.+Case

A friend of mine, who's a typical surf type player, played one of these at my annual gig, and he just floored me with his tone (through a small Musicman amp). I've never heard Ebb Tide, Pipeline or Ghost Riders sound better! And as for twang - this guitar has got it in spades!!!

Dan German
November 19th, 2008, 08:40 AM
Well, I don't know about "best" guitar, but this sure works for me (even without a tremolo):

November 19th, 2008, 11:30 AM
For classic/traditional surf, you're pretty much in the Big Fender Three of Jazzmaster, Jaguar and Strat. The Jazz has that mellow twang that suits so well, the Jaguar has the thin, percussive thunk and punch and the Strat, well, pretty much does the Strat thing. You get a minor chorus of Mosrite players vying for their pick, but for the most part it's those three.

Allegedly Nokie Edwards played a Tele on a lot of Ventures stuff in the studio. For my money, a surf guitar just has to have a vibrato. Sure, Dick Dale has the trem on his Strat blocked, but nothing says Surf to my ear like a glissando down into Amin with a big ol' vibrato dip to finish it off!

On Dick Dale's Strat: In addition to the blocked trem and hot-rodded wiring scheme, the man plays with 15- and 16-gauge strings, which is a big component of his tone. I saw him live for the first time last year, and not only was it one of the best live shows I've ever seen, but that guitar tone has to be experienced to be believed! You literally "feel" it in your chest as much as you hear it - like thunder or an artillery explosion - and even through the ridiculously heavy reverb he uses it still cuts and pushes you around!

Dick Dale's Strat notwithstanding, I'm not a big fan of Strats for surf, myself. Too plain-jane, not enough character. I predominantly play surf on my Gretsch Anniversary with TV PowerTrons and it sounds amazing. Definitely not the purist/traditional surf tone, but still very surfy but with plenty of heft. Actually, a Gretsch Jet with Dynasonics would be an excellent surf guitar - bald 'n bold twang for days, baby! - and I'm going to Bigsbyfy a Tele as my second/backup surf guitar.

The DiPinto Galaxie is a great guitar and can definitely surf! Hallmark is "reissuing" the Mosrite with their Custom 60 - and doing very well by the originals, from what I hear. A Reverend with P90s could probably do some nice, aggressive surf, as well.

By the way... check out the forum on www.SurfGuitar101.com for more than you ever wanted to know about surf. Especially reverb units - the site itself should come with a Dwell control!

November 19th, 2008, 02:16 PM
There is some very good information in this thread. Nice job!

I actually played surf back in the day. I used a Jaguar which was one of the top guitars for that application at the time. I played through a blackface Fender Showman with the old outboard Fender reverb unit. I would offer that the outboard reverb was a large component of the sound. When the spring reverbs moved into the amps the sound changed - never had the sam character after that.

November 19th, 2008, 02:24 PM
Mosrite ... http://www.edroman.com/guitars/scorpion/images/DSC_0033.JPGthe first real surf guitar

Tim Armstrong
November 19th, 2008, 02:26 PM
Ah yes, another five-year-old thread risen from the depths!

Junior Brown does a killer surf medley on his Guit-Steel. Bill Kirchen does some great surfy wang-bar action on his Ol' Coalburner by pushing the neck (he don't need no sissy bar!).

I think surf is more attitude than gear!


November 19th, 2008, 02:36 PM
I think surf is more attitude than gear!

and melodies!

November 20th, 2008, 12:44 AM
+ 1 to Brother Tim and to Eddie

Attitude and an aptitude for melody are the keys ...

...but ... the JazzMaster / Jaguar bridge is seriously deficient so while playing a tune like Walk Don't Run or The Hearse works - any tune that requires heavey picking hand work is bothersome as the strings pop off the saddles way too easily.

A tele ? really ? desparation is indeed the mother of invention...

Nope the ultimate Fender surf machine is a Strat with one heck of a good reverb and time spent learning how to run it ...

October 11th, 2010, 06:46 AM
I definitely believe there is more to surf than jusyour gear. Feeling, attitude, approach, intent, style of playing, etc.

That said, I am something of a traditionalist when it comes to surf. If I see someone playing a big hollow Gretsch or a Gibson 335 or something along those lines for surf music, I think "Cool!" and more power to them.

You can also do a lot by way of dialing in sounds depending on the amp and effects you use.

For me, I want a Fender or something approximating one.

I would LOVE to have a Jazzmaster. In fact, it's one of my very few GAS items at the moment.

However, my cheapo Squier Strat can really nail anything I personally want to play that might be considered surf. I also tend to think of the Strat s more versatile than the Jazzmaster.

I leave the Jaguar out of the discussion because, while I love the looks of them, as well as their sound, I can' get along with their 24" scale necks.

I've only recently become a Strat lover after over 30 years of playing. Never cared for any othem I owned until now, and I finally see their beauty and utility.

One of the good things about Strats is that you can score a decent example of one very cheap. They are as common as dirt. And they are easy to mod.

Beyond that, while there may well be a few guitars that really hit the surf sound as well as a Stratocaster, there's really nothing out there that does it better.

IMO, of course.

October 11th, 2010, 08:45 AM



October 11th, 2010, 09:20 AM
WOW this dinosaur came back. For the surf you might ask Rick Miller of SCOTS. I've never seen him use Fender gear of any type.

Uma Floresta
October 11th, 2010, 09:44 AM
I think most any guitar with a vibrato and bright sounding pickups can be a good surf guitar. But I think the quintessential surf sound is a Jaguar set up with heavy flats.

October 11th, 2010, 10:24 AM
originally posted in '03, came back in '08, now again in 2010... Surf will never die!! :mrgreen:

Chris Callahan
October 11th, 2010, 10:55 AM
I have played surf on Jazzmasters, Strats and, most often, Teles/Esquires.

The Tele is fun because you can wiggle the neck for the Vibrato but the bridge plate can get in the way for tremelo picking on the E strings.

October 12th, 2010, 12:23 AM
Love your guitar DanGerman. I like the beach boys too but musically they've got nothing on Dick Dale. I'd go with a strat, cheap easy and good enough for Dick Dale.

October 12th, 2010, 12:36 AM
My old Danelectro Hodad with it's lipstick pickups would do some crazy surf tones...traded that on a Blues jr many moons ago...haha.

October 12th, 2010, 12:48 AM
M. Ward uses a gretsch with dearmonds (http://s0.ilike.com/play#M.+Ward:Neptune%27s+Net:461983:m8069389)

my buddy loves the mustang...sounds pretty good!


October 29th, 2010, 06:25 PM
I'll throw my vote into the ring. Here is my Fender Ventures Model Stratocaster. Here is the video review I did on it plus a pic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnBcWv_WjGU
http://i207.photobucket.com/albums/bb245/groovydjs/199620Fender20Stratocaster20Ventures2020Limited20E dition20Scott20Grove20004.jpg