Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 138

VG APPROVED GEAR

BOOK THIS DANO
The Danelectro '59 Resonator

W

hile guitar enthusiasts expend a lot
of brain power waxing poetic about
tonewoods, for many VG readers of a certain
vintage, that gateway experience with an
electric guitar may very well have involved
a fair amount of Masonite. Of course,
Danelectro and any of its once-ubiquitous
"catalog brands" made ample use of the
pressure-molded fiberboard.
Perhaps it was only the power of suggestion, then, that blew a brief whiff of
Masonite into the room as this Danelectro
'59 Resonator was unpacked. Rather than
Masonite, today's Dano uses modern,
environmentally friendly MDF (mediumdensity fiberboard) as the bread in its
wood-frame sandwich.
Tricked out with the familiar Dano "Coke
bottle" headstock, polished aluminum
nut, and vintage-style tuners, this modern
interpretation of the classic 1959 Dano
double-cut shorthorn features a spun cone
biscuit resonator, diamond cover plate,
stamped tailpiece, and Danelectro's '56
lipstick pickup. Three knobs determine
volume, tone, and the blend of the lipstick
with a Schatten "special design" piezo
mounted in the resonator cone assembly.
The 21-fret Canadian maple bolt-on
neck with rosewood board is an accessible
modern carve, with the fingerboard edges
nicely rolled over for a comfortable feel.
The truss-rod adjustment at the headstock
is attached with four countersunk screws.
The glossy finish, polished fretwork, and
easy setup mean a solid fit and finish for
the fussy, but there's also character galore
for vintage freaks seeking that '60s aura in
a modern axe.
There wasn't enough acoustic volume
from the hollowbody '59 Reso for effective
front-porch jamming (no soundholes!),
but plenty for hotel room practice without
rattling the neighbors. Easy playability was
enhanced by light-gauge strings (including
an unwound G with satisfactory intonation). The string height was conducive to
fluid electric playing, but bottleneck and
acoustic styles begged for heavier wire and a
higher action for a harder attack - all quick
work for a competent repair person.
Plugged in through the house PA at
a folk/blues duo gig, the '59 Resonator

was played with bare fingers and a stout
plectrum underneath a National resonator
mandolin. The first impression was of the
extraordinary balance between the piezo
and the lipstick. The center detent on the
Blend knob proved to be the sweet spot,
which made it easy to find a variety of
good acoustic resonator sounds for blues
and Americana styles in various tunings.
The Tone knob was crucial for obtaining
a spectrum of voices, from brittle tin pan
to dark and gloomy. Percussive effects and
slide guitar string noise were accentuated
by the piezo, making the Blend knob useful
for dialing in just enough lipstick pickup
for quieter performance and added sustain.
Through a late-'50s Ampeg Jet, the
lipstick was round and warm but lacked
the raw attack one might want for blues
and related styles. Bleeding in just a little
Price: $599 (street)
Info: danelectro.com

VINTAGE GUITAR

138

December 2016

piezo and opening up
the Tone knob added the
needed edge. Stomping
in an overdrive pedal led
to mixed results - too much
piezo, and high-end feedback
became excessive.
Soloing with the lipstick
alone while working the
Tone knob achieved a classic
"woman tone" and allowed
the acoustic nature of the
body/resonator combination
to produce a controlled midrange feedback from the overdriven repro Jensen speaker.
Remarkable effects were
created by suddenly kicking
in the piezo on a sustained
note - shrieks and whistles
were rendered musical with
a little finesse on the Blend
knob. Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot,
sonic improvisers: take note.
The Danelectro '59 Resonator isn't exactly your
Masonite sandwich of yesteryear. And while it exhibits
many of the sonic traits of
those now-desirable classics,
it also offers modern improvements. - Chip Wilson


http://www.danelectro.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 1
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 2
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 7
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Contents
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