Danelectro – cheap, but extremely effective designs

The original Danelectro guitars and basses were built in the USA.

The company’s founder – Nat Daniel – started building guitar amps as early as the 1930s (for example Epiphone’s first Electar-series was Daniel’s brainchild), and right after the end of WWII, Danelectro started supplying large mail-order companies Montgomery Ward and Sears with amplifiers.

Instrument production at Danelectro started in 1954, with guitars carrying both the company’s own logo, as well as the house-brands of mail-order companies, like Silvertone.

Nat Daniel had an unbelievable knack for creating astonishingly well-playing and well-sounding instruments cheaply and effectively: Danelectro’s bolt-on necks were fixed to a body made from a plywood frame with fibreboard glued on as the material for the top and back. The top nut was made from aluminium and screwed to the top end of the fingerboard, while the bridge featured an uncompensated rosewood saddle atop a metal plate.

Danelectros are most famous for their special pickups, though, which feature a long bar magnet wound with coil-wire and stuffed into two lipstick tubes. Height adjustment is from the back of the body.

Danelectros have a special, bright and gnarly tone – wiry and edgy, but never brittle or weak.

The Danelectro Longhorn-bass’ clicky attack, often augmented by slapback tape echo, was a major ingredient in the Nashville Country-sound of the late Fifties into the Sixties.

And the 1960s also saw not only one, but two electric Danelectro-sitars (the more elaborate design carried the Coral-logo).

Nat Daniel died 1994, but the Danelectro-marque is still going strong with Far Eastern replicas and reissues, as well as new ”wacky” models.


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