NAMM 2023: Dingwall Guitars and John Taylor of Duran Duran have teamed up for a signature bass guitar that comes with all manner of high-end appointments and a Cranberry Pearl finish inspired by the cover of Rio.
The appropriately named Rio Dream is a four-string bass with a Novax fanned-fret design, on which its 24 banjo frets are angled across a multi-scale neck.
Taylor had been using a Dingwall NG3 while tracking Duran Duran’s latest studio album, Future Past, and the Rio Dream evolved out of this bass, with Taylor and Dingwall spitballing spec and then welcoming Rupert Neve Designs to the party to add some of that Neve console mojo to the custom-designed preamp.
“This project gave us a unique opportunity from an engineering perspective,” said Josh Thomas, co-founder and general manager, Rupert Neve Designs. “We were tasked with combining our design knowledge with equaliser ‘tone’ controls specific to this application. That’s become the hallmark of this design. It’s about finding the right balance of performance specifications and essential results in terms of capturing John’s tone.”
For Sheldon Dingwall, founder and CEO of Dingwall Guitars, designing the Rio Dream was an opportunity to test how far he could push the design. He says it was Duran Duran who showed him how a bass could and should sound.
“John Taylor’s bass playing on Rio really imprinted on me how a bass should fit into a band mix,” he said. “His basslines have always had a special combination of energy and elegance, and it’s been an absolute pleasure working with him on this project. I think this new signature model has really raised the bar for us.”
Feeding the signal into this preamp are a trio of Dingwall FD3-N neodymium pickups. They are seated in a solid nyatoh body. The Rio Dream has a maple neck that joins the body with a four-bolt joint.
Other features include a macassar ebony fingerboard, complete with a ‘Rio Eye’ inlay at the 12th fret, open-back tuners with a Hipshot Xtender for throwing it into Drop D tuning on the fly. A fun feature for a fun-times bass. Taylor is certainly enjoying it.
“I’m in love with this bass!” he said. “It felt so intuitive to me from the moment I picked it up, and [it] immediately made me wonder why all bass guitars aren’t made like this. It just felt so good. With Duran Duran the bass has to occupy quite a narrow bandwidth. You just need that really direct, low-end punch and I found Dingwall to deliver exactly that. Sheldon Dingwall is a real visionary.”
The Rio Dream is a limited edition run, with only 82 instruments being made available worldwide. But don’t despair if you miss out. It will be followed by a production line run, and made available in Black, Vintage White and Seafoam finishes.
Sadly these won’t have the Hipshot Xtender system but then you could just add one yourself. It’s an easy enough mod. For more details, head to Dingwall Guitars. Anyone planning to catch Duran Duran on their forthcoming UK headlining tour will see the bass (in Black) in action. The tour kicks off in Manchester at the AO Arena on 29 April. See Duran Duran for full dates and ticket details.