Danelectro guitars

I’ve always been liked the art deco-ish look of these guitars (not that I would buy a guitar on looks alone). But I’ve never seen a “big name” guitarist playing one. Are they crap?

Ugh. Long day…

Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd played a Danelectro.

A friend of mine has the Danelectro Innuendo and it’s a nice guitar. Good sound, easy to play on, etc.

My brother had a Danelectro amp. One of the knobs stopped working, so I took it apart. I found that the knob was screwed into a small vertical piece of circuitboard material, which was soldered into a larger horizontal circuitboard. This was all that was holding the knob in place. It had torqued the solder joint right off. So, if that was any indication, their engineering leaves something to be desired.

-Andrew L

Good god, man, how many big names you want? Jimmy Page big enough for you? Eric Clapton maybe? Jimi Hendrix?. Link Wray?

To be fair, there are Danos and then there are Danos. Are you talking about the vintage Danelectro guitars from the fifties and sixties, the recent Chinese-made “reissues” of the vintage Danos, or the Chinese-made new designs? Or maybe the vintage Dano-made Sears Silvertone models?

Vintage Danos were fabulous examples of how much could be done in an extremely inexpensive guitar. They have few equals for playability, a distinctive sound, and are so lightweight that you can carry three of them and be less weighed down than you’d be with one Les Paul. Most examples I’ve seen have also held up remarkably for a guitar whose body is a central spine of poplar covered with Masonite and bound with vinyl tape. My college roomate bought a late-fifities Dano-made Silvertone (the same as the Dano U1) twenty years ago, and it’s still going strong. Short of downright abuse, these guitars seem to be able to stand up to just about any reasonable use. The U1s and U3s (the only Dano-branded vintage guitars I’ve actually played) have amazingly low action and are just smooth as butter to play. I’d expect the vintage DC3s to be the same, and the Convertibles (essentially, an acoustic guitar designed like an electric, with an optional pickup that fits into the soundhole) get high marks from those who’ve played them.

In addition to selling guitars under their own name, Danelectro supplied thousands of guitars to Sears that were sold under Sears’ Silvertone brand (Harmony, and to some degree Kay, also made certain Silvertone models). In the late fifties, these were mostly the same as the Dano-labeled guitars. Around 1960, they switched to the “dolphin-nose” headstock on some Silvertones, as opposed to the “Coke-bottle” headstock on the Danos. In 1962, the most famous Silvertone of all was introduced: the single-pickup “Amp-in-Case” Silvertone Model 1448, followed a year later by the coolest Silvertone of all, the two-pickup “Amp-in-Case” Model 1457. You can also see them in their original habitat (the 1964 Sears catalog) – BTW, I own one of the red-burst two-pickup Harmony-made solid-bodies in the vertical column (number 13).

As for the reissues, purists will insist that they’re not a patch on the originals. Having played the U2 and U3 reissues a good bit in stores, however, I’ll say that they’re pretty close, and the U3 is probably a better guitar than the original, given the Gotoh tuners and the adjustable, metal bridge in place of the non-adjustable rosewood job on the original. I’ve been very close to buying one several times. They’re definitely true to the Danelectro spirit of quality inexpensive instruments.

The new Danelectro line (the Hodad, Innuendo, and Hearsay guitars) has gotten very good reviews from most sources I’ve seen, and I’ve been impressed with the Innuendo in my limited time with them in stores. I’m very fond of my Rumor Bass – I’ve had it for about a year now, and wouldn’t trade it for most basses that cost four or five times as much. The thing about all the new Danos, reissues and new models both, is that they’re made of serviceable but not necessarily top-end materials, are reasonably well-made (I’ve yet to see one with obvious flaws in the workmanship or finish), and are fun to play and sound extremely good, particularly when you consider what they cost.

More Dano info:
Danelectro web site
Guitar World review of Dano 56 U2 reissue
Guitar World review of Dano Innuendo and Rumor Bass (scroll down)
An unofficial Dano page
Another Innuendo review:frowning:

Old school Dano’s are nice guitars.

Any of the new re issues would make better firewood than they do guitars. They are crap. Not even pretty crap really. Just crap.

Although, my friend has a Dano fuzz box that he swears by.

Care to elaborate on that at all? What exactly makes them crap, compared with the originals, when the materials and construction are nearly identical? I mean, if you want to make an argument that vintage Danos are crap as well, I could see that – I’d disagree, but I could understand why someone might think that. Is it just that the vintage Danos are old (and increasingly expensive), so they must be good, while the reissues are, well, reissues, so they must be bad?

Granted, as a guitar player, I’m a pretty good CD listener, but my ear is pretty good even if my fingers are hopeless, and while I wouldn’t claim that the reissues sound exactly the same as the vintage models, they’re pretty close. Playing a U2 reissue in a music store feels to me extremely close to my ex-roommate’s late 50s Silvertone single-pickup – sounds different, of course, because of the different pickup position, etc., but still recognizable as part of the same “family”.

Danelectro, Silvertone, Harmony, Kay…all discount, cheaply made guitars even in the fifties and sixties. I owned a used Silvertone in 1962 and a Harmony hollow body electric bought new from Sears in 1963. I wouldn’t trade my 2000 Tele for either or both of those guitars. They were junk then and they’re junk now. Only cool to collectors and only for nostalgic value. Just MHO.