Popular Surf Guitars

What guitars do popular surf rock bands play? Several come to mind – Fender Stratocasters, Jazzmasters and Jaguars, Mosrites, and Danelectros.  Not only do they usually have a certain sound, but they also have a certain look.  You don’t see a lot of Flying Vs in surf bands.

Let’s take a quick and unprofessional look at what popular bands of different eras played:


  • The Ventures – Fender Strats, Fender Jazzmasters, and Mosrites
  • Dick Dale – Fender Strat
  • Surfaris – Fender Strat
  • The Beach Boys – Fender Strat
  • Duane Eddy – Gretsch
  • Link Wray – Les Paul Goldtop, Gibson Firebird, Supro Dual Tone
  • The Shadows – Fender Stratocaster
  • Man or Astroman? – Silvertone Hollowbody, Epiphone Coronet, Hofner Hollowbody
  • The Mermen – Fender Stratocaster
  • The Blue Stingrays – Fender Jaguar (I think)
  • Los Straitjackets – DiPinto Galaxie
A guitar store display of Fenders
A guitar store display of Fenders

According to the book “Guitar Rigs” by Dave Hunter, “Fender’s Jazzmaster and Jaguar have been the dual lodestones of the retro surf crowd.”  That certainly seems to be true.

Just from this small sample, Fender Stratocasters have been amongst the most popular as well.  Today, of course, you have many more choices than early surf bands.  I’d say there’s more than a couple of different “classic” surf guitars and rigs.

DiPinto Galaxie 4 Surf Guitars – Now Extra Sparkly

The Traditional surf guitars, like a surf green Fender Stratocaster or Jazzmaster, are no doubt cool, but they are definitely not the only option for surf bands today.

DiPinto, a smaller builder of lots of cool electric guitars and basses, has one of these modern surf guitars.  The DiPinto Galaxie 4, pictured below, is attention getting for sure.  Models come is sparkly silver, sparkly pink, orange and sunburst.

DiPinto Galaxie 4 Guitar in Silver & Gold
DiPinto Galaxie 4 Guitar in Silver & Gold

The only annoying part of this guitar to me is the name.  Why can’t it be the DiPinto Galaxy, what is the need for the misspelling?  For the specs, it has a mahogany body, 22 frets, 4 (four!) single coil pickups, inlays can be dots or stars, and a tremolo bar.

The Galaxie (in the silver) is the guitar of choice for Los Straitjackets.  The bass guitar version of the Galaxie is also the bass of choice for them, which makes a cool looking live show.  Here’s a look at these guitars in action:

Von Drat Surf Guitar from Sparrow Guitars

Sparrow Guitars has come up with a line of surf guitars, announced at NAMM 2009.

The Von Drat Continental surf guitar is named after Canadian surf band “the Von Drats.”

It’s got a cool green color, a big pick guard, and a slanted pickup.  Apparently it’s available in black as well.

The pickups are Burns Tri-Sonic and the tremolo is Wilkinson tremolo. According to Sparrow it has maple neck, and rosewood fingerboard as well as a volume knob and a tone knob.

Picture below for your enjoyment:

Sparrow Von Drat Surf Guitar
Sparrow Von Drat Surf Guitar

Anyone own one of these? Tell us what you think with a comment below.