Just returned home from witnessing a great performance by Dick Dale! At one point I was mere inches away from him and his left handed, gold sparkle strat that is strung upside down (low strings on the bottom, high strings on the top). I was curious what all the switches do on his guitar. There’s the traditional 5-way switch for selecting pick ups. And he had removed the volume knob from the volume pot, but it was still there and he used it a lot. The two tone pots had been removed and replaced with rivets. There was a 3 way selector like what is on Les Paul in the middle of his pick guard that he used, but I couldn’t tell what it did. And he had one or two other little switches under the tone pot replacement rivets that I saw him move at least once, but couldn’t tell what they did.
The guitar itself looked well used! The American Flag sticker he had placed on the upper horn has almost no colors on it anymore. His strap was attached through eye screws in the traditional strap button spots and carabiners in the strap holes. The gold sparkle paint job is starting to show wear where his arm rests and the King sticker where his wrist rests is just an outline. The neckis rosewood with a well worn headstock and, as I already mentioned, he strings his guitar upside down.
He put on a great show! His guitar playing was fascinating to watch. He really works the palm muting and different pick attacks. And everything was drenched in reverb! It usually sounds cheesy or over the top, but that just made me love it more. I loved it!
His interaction with the audience was hilarious. He stopped in the middle of one song to retune his guitar. He extended a song so he could re-do the solo since he had messed it up the first time (he said his hands were cold!). He sang. He played the trumpet. He played harmonica. He played the drums. He banged on his bass player’s bass with drum sticks!
And hearing the iconic Misirlou played by the man himself was great. However, his cover (and audience participation) of House of the Rising Sun was the highlight of the show for me.