Whack Job: Dinette Stratotone Replica

December 23, 2014

Seeing and playing a Dinette guitar is very much like listening to XTC or Jellyfish. Like the well-written and quirky songs from those bands, Dinette doesn’t boast a huge body of work, but each guitar is unique. This model evokes the familiarity of classic guitars from the ’50s and ’60s, but also offers a very distinctive flavor that is totally “Dinette.” Dinette guitars are built in a small and very secret shop in Northern California that produces no more than ten guitars a year.

WEIRDO FACTOR

This guitar—often referred to as “The Peanut”— is made from the leaf of a yellow Formica “mother of toilet seat” dinette table. Not a new-ish table sourced from some cheap-o replica furniture store, but a vintage table from somewhere around the era of the Eisenhower presidency. In fact, when you look closely at the guitar, you can easily see knife and fork marks from decades of use as some family’s actual kitchen table.

PLAYABILITY & SOUND

Ronni, the chief designer and builder of these guitars, explained that the 20-fret neck is from a ’60s Harmony Bobcat that he reshaped to look more like a Harmony Stratotone (hence the Harmony decal). In addition to the aforementioned ’50s dinette-table top, the back is a thick ply of flamed maple, and the chambered body is held together “Danelectro-style” with grip tape and glue. The tuners are Grover- inspired Alebards that have a cool diamond shape to the grip and work smoothly. The bridge is a ’90s Wilkinson with adjustable saddles for the G and B strings.

Interestingly, Ronni used two single-coils designed to be placed in the neck position for both the neck and bridge pickups. As a result, the neck tone is very full, the bridge really cuts, and the dual pickup position sounds skinny, out-of-phase, and scratchy like an old Motown skank vibe. Every sound of out this “dual neck pickup” guitar is terrific.

Although it’s a replica of sorts, this Dinette plays way better than any 20-fret Harmony I’ve ever come across. I’m not sure if it’s due to the pitch of the neck and how it meets the body, but the rather large neck fits snugly in your palm and plays solidly and accurately. I never get the feeling I’m playing a budget or student guitar—this “Peanut” plays and feels as great as most pro guitars.

VALUE

I paid $800 for this guitar last year. For me, it was a total deal. This guitar is extremely usable in both studio and stage settings. The sound is so cool, in fact, that I really wonder why some other manufacturers haven’t offered two neck pickups as an option. They really work well together.

WHY IT RULES

There are a number of handmade guitars available for sale, but most Dinette guitars are one-offs. Mine is musical, whimsical, unique, and as fun to play as it is to listen to.

You can find Dinette guitars for sale online at dinetteguitars. com, or sometimes at Pinterest, Reverb, and Etsy.

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