1966 Danelectro-made Silvertone 1450 "Hornet" Electric Guitar

My friend Tom owns this much-worn guitar and he handed it to me as a shopping bag of parts. Apparently he let his son "refinish it" a couple times and the last sand-down was never completed.

This Danelectro-made guitar (it had Silvertone branding to begin with) is known colloquially as a "Silvertone Hornet" because it's much like the coveted Dano-made Coral Hornet solidbody model but with a simplified pickguard/control plate and plainer finish. It also has an extra "curve" at the lower-bout strap-button area that gives it a bizarre, hip look. Otherwise the body is similar in length and shape to a "non-reverse" Gibson Firebird that's had a child with a Fender Jazzmaster/Jaguar. Even the scale length splits it down the middle at 25" overall, though the body (maple in the case of this guitar!) is thinner depth than either parent. Just a note, too -- the 1452 model with the white pickguard is much more common.

My work was to re-assemble and hodge-podge problem areas. I first fine-sanded the remains of the finish on the body to smooth it down enough to get a light stain and sealer coat on (I left all the old deeper tool-marks and whatnot). After that I did the same to the neck (poplar), but brought it down to bare wood on the back of the neck and removed a ton of flaked paint on the fretboard. I stained the bare wood a bit and then added a sealer coat to keep things tidy. The result is a guitar that looks terrible in a very good way. It feels nice, however, as the brushed-on layers of house paint that remain have been given a smooth surface.

Work after that included a fret level/dress, new synthetic nut, some cleaning of the harness and installation of a ground to the bridge, compensation for modern 46w-10 strings to the original rosewood saddle/bridge topper, and conversion of the bridge from a whammy-style spring-loaded unit to a blocked, hardtail bridge. The whammies on these never worked beautifully so this is a nod to practicality. It also sounds better with more energy transferred into the body.

I'll be honest -- I can't get over how much I love the feel, comfort, and sound of this guitar. Add just a bit of drive and it evokes a gorgeous, airplain-engine roar at the neck position and a buzzsaw twangalang at the bridge.

The Fender-ish headstock shape is just ungainly enough for a mother to love it. This has a wide, 1 3/4" nut width, too. The poplar neck has a shallow D-shape to the rear and a very light radius (16"?) to the rosewood board.

The side dots are metal markers. The frets are wide and low but serve and the neck itself is nice and straight. Danelectro used two big steel rods to reinforce their necks and most of them stay pretty healthy over the years.

Note the added compensation for each string. Once I get the saddle in place for good intonation, I wick two drops of thin-viscosity superglue on the leading edge of it to just lightly tack it in place. Otherwise, these saddles move all over the place as you tune-up over and over again and suddenly the guitar's not playing in tune at all.

Obviously, this body got some good abuse.

The cover hides the chamber where the whammy's spring would be located. I've safely stowed the arm and spring for posterity.

After a lube, the "skate-key" tuners work just fine.

While there are no serial numbers extant, this model had a run from '65-'67 and the '65s are pretty rare, the '66s most evident, and the '67s have either a 3-bolt neck or 3-bolt-plus-plate neck... so I'm fairly certain this was a '66. The hole below the second bolt is a micro-tilt feature! Yussss!

You can tell that the body is fairly thin -- like a Fender Mustang or Duo-Sonic and perhaps even just a little thinner than those. This means that while the body is long and fits snugly in the lap and contour of the player's body, it's still lightweight and fun to play and bounce around with.


Brad Smith said…
that custom finish is awesome! Makes it a one-of-a-kind!