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Danelectro Guitars: A Brief History
By Jon Blanx
It all started in 1947 for Danelectro Guitars. The company was founded by Nathan Daniel and began making amplifiers for department stores Sears Roebuck Co.and Montgomery Ward. Nineteen fifty-four marked the first year that Danelectro started producing solidbody electric and amplifiers under the Danelectro name although many were sold by Sears in their "Silvertone" line. In 1956 Danelectro introduced their line of hollow-bodied guitars. These were made very simply using inexpensive wood, masonite, formica and vinyl to not only cut costs but to speed up production. The Danelectro lipstick tube pickup is famous and was creating by inserting the magnet into actual lipstick tubes! Although the manufacturing materials were not as good as those offered by Fender or Gibson, Danelectro of this era produced a very clean tone and did so at a very reasonable price. The six-string electric bass was also added to the product line that year and although it did not prove very popular the design was later copied by Fender. In 1960, one of the most venerable Danelectro lines was introduced, the Longhorn bass. Danelectro's construction methods remained the same for the majority of their models until the company was sold to MCA in 1966.

With the acquistion of Danelectro, MCA decided to alter the methods previously used by the guitar manufacturer. In 1967, they introduced the Coral line which they attempted to sell to other distributors. The line mostly known for its electric sitars and hollow-bodied broke from Danelectro's tradition of selling mostly to large department stores. In 1969 was forced to close the Danelectro plant. The shutdown was due primarily to the fact that MCA was unsuccessful in their shift to sell the Coral line to small independent guitar shops instead of the larger retail stores like Sears.

In the 1990s the Evets Corporation began marketing primarily copies of old Danelectro and Silvertone models and also began selling a line of Danelectro pedals and amplifiers. Today, Danelectros are among the most highly sought after and have a nostaligia factor unlike any other brand guitar. The have a unique look and possess a crisp and clean sound (due to the pickup design) unmatched by any other guitar. If you know someone who collects vintage guitars, chances are they own a couple of Danelectros.

Partly due to nostalgia and mainly because they just sound and look so great, Danelectro have experienced a renaissance of sorts during the past decade. Many professional musicians and collectors have made the original Danelectros one of the most sought after brand names in the vintage guitar market. Elvis Costello even appeared in a Danelectro print advertisement when the Danelectro brand was relaunched in the 1990s. Great sound and a rich history have made Danelectro a legend in the guitar world, one in which they still thankfully inhabit today.

Jon Blanx is a music enthusiast and owns several Danelectro guitars.

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