Danelectro Guitarlin, ’58
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Copper Burst, Serial #3088
The Danelectro Company was founded in 1947 by Nathaniel Daniel in New Jersey. Danelectro began as an amp manufacturer (Daniel had previously designed and made Epiphone’s Electar amp series) providing amps for Montgomery Ward and Sears. His pioneering amp designs included many industry firsts, such as an amp using tremolo. Daniel was eventually approached by Sears to make an electric guitar, and by 1954 Danelectro offered a line of low priced guitars aimed at beginners. A large percentage of the guitars and amps made were sold by Sears under their Silvertone brand name. The price of the guitars was kept low by using an inexpensive composite material known as masonite for the body fronts and backs. The bolt-on poplar necks were kept thin and easily playable by using two heavy duty steel bars as reinforcement. The pickups, nicknamed “Lipstick pickups”, did actually utilize real lipstick covers with an alnico magnet inside.
Until 1958, Danelectro guitars had a single cutaway body with a similar shape to a Les Paul or Telecaster, and were finished in several bright automotive colors. In 1958, a new double cutaway design took over with the extreme “Longhorn” design, and the less shocking “Shorthorn” models. Six string and four string basses, and double necks were offered as well as the futuristic looking Guitarlin.
The Guitarlin, as the name implies, was built to cover the typical guitar registers as well as the higher mandolin range with its unprecedented thirty-one fret fingerboard. The eye catching long double cut-away served to allow accessibility to all the frets. The long rosewood fingerboard began with an aluminum nut. The “Coke Bottle” shaped headstock was decorated with the bold vertical Danelectro logo. The headstock, neck and body were all finished in a cream to copper sunburst. This unique design was a little too radical and awkward for most guitar players, so it didn’t sell very well. Only about 200 were made between 1958 and 1968. The guitar is collectable today mostly due to its association with Link Wray on his recordings and tours of the late ‘50s.