Let's Go Trippin': One of Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll (1961)

Let's Go Trippin'
Single: Dick Dale and The Deltones
Album: Surfers' Choice
Released: September 1961
Recorded: 1961
Genre: Surf rock
Songwriter: Dick Dale

Rolling Stone ranks Dick Dale number 74 of the 100 Greatest Guitarists. His hit, "Let's Go Trippin'," is among the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's  "500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll." 

Known as the "Father of Surf Music" and the "Father of Heavy Metal," Dale's musical style influenced guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend, Eddie Van Halen, and Brian May.

Let's Go Trippin'

Dale was left-handed but learned to play on a right-handed guitar. After he switched to a left-handed model, he didn't restring it. In effect, he played the guitar upside-down. He reached over the fretboard rather than wrapping his fingers up from underneath. The instrumental by Dick Dale and The Del-Tones, "Let's Go Trippin'," launched the surf music craze. Dale wrote this song with ocean waves in mind.   

Dick Dale black and white photo playing guitar onstage
Dick Dale

Dick Dale got his start in the late '50s playing with his band "The Del-Tones" for surfers at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa, California. One of the requirements at the Ballroom was that every male patron wears a tie. The audience was barefooted guys in surfer garb wearing ties that were handed out at the door. The band first played  "Let's Go Trippin'" in public there in 1960. It reached number 4 on the Los Angeles station KFWB and later peaked at number 60 on the Billboard Hot 100.


"When it can withstand the barrage of punishment from Dick Dale, 
then it is fit for the human consumption." 

Leo Fender gave Dale his first Stratocaster and amp in the 1950s. Dale played so loud and so hard that he blew out the amp. Subsequently, Fender saw Dale play at the Rendezvous Ballroom and identified the problem. It arose from Dale creating a sound louder than the audience screaming. 

So Dale partnered with Fender to test new equipment. He pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping develop equipment capable of producing previously unheard volumes, including the first-ever 100-watt guitar amplifier. Fender said about him, "When it can withstand the barrage of punishment from Dick Dale, then it is fit for human consumption." 

Dick Dale
Dick Dale

The pair visited the James B. Lansing loudspeaker company and asked for a custom 15-inch loudspeaker, which became the JBL D130F model, and was known as the Single Showman Amp. Dale's combination of a Fender Stratocaster and Fender Showman Amp allowed him to attain significantly louder volume levels, unobtainable by then-conventional equipment.

Surf Sound

"The sound is a Stratocaster guitar. It's the solidity of the wood; 
the thicker the wood, the bigger and purer the sound. 
It was a Strat. Not the Jaguar, not the Jazzmaster."
About the "Surf Sound," Dale explained in a 1995 interview with Planet magazine : 

"The sound is a Stratocaster guitar. It's the solidity of the wood - the thicker the wood, the bigger and purer the sound. It was a Strat. Not the Jaguar, not the Jazzmaster, all these things we created later for different reasons.

Even the reverb - reverb had nothing to do with the surfing sound, and here they got 'em on the cover going, 'That's the wet, splashy sound of the reverb.' No! We created the reverb because Dick Dale did not have a natural vibrato in his voice. I wanted to sustain my notes while singing. So we copied the Hammond organ, which had a tank in it. We took the tank out, rewired it, and had an outboard reverb! It was for the vocal.

Our first album, Surfer's Choice, sold over 88,000 albums - locally! That's more than 4 million today. Dick Dale was already established as the King of the Surf Guitar, and that album did not have reverb. It wasn't even invented!"

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys
The Beach Boys

Whatever he used on the track was appropriated by acts that became more successful, like Jan & Dean and The Beach Boys. The Beach Boys covered this song on their 1963 album Surfin' USA.


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