10/03/2017

1967 Danelectro-made Silvertone 1452 "Hornet" Electric Guitar




Update 2018: I finished work on this guitar in early October 2017 and I've been using it at every show since. It's a good one. Because I've changed a few things on it since then, I've updated this post with new pictures, a video clip (played through a Vox MV50 Clean amp), and rewritten the entire description.

I've long been a huge fan of vintage Danelectro products, but I fell in love with this particular offset model via repairs on one owned by a friend of mine. That guitar ticked a number of boxes off on features that I like -- 24 3/4" to 25" scale, offset body, and righteous old lipstick pickups with a hot enough signal to get a bit grungy. This one is much the same but took a little more tweaking to get it to where I wanted it.

When it came to me, it was all-original save that the frets had been swapped to jumbo frets. The final level/dress job hadn't been done, but I was happy to have new frets on it of the general size and shape I prefer. My work on it ultimately included that level/dress job, a new wiring harness install (everything shielded and a 3-way switch and master volume/tone in 500k pots -- the lower 2 knobs are there just for original looks and not hooked-up), and sanding-down of the white veneer of the masonite pickguard to its raw masonite under-layer. I also removed the pickup surround rings as they seemed to brighten-up the sound a little, removed the original whammy system and bolted/blocked the bridge in place, compensated the saddle, and set it up to play spot-on with 49w-11 strings. It's rockin'!

Specs are: 25" scale, 1 3/4" nut width, 1 7/16" nut string spacing and 2" bridge spacing, approximately 13" lower bout and 11" upper bout and 1 1/4" depth. Action is on-the-dot at hair-over 1/16" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret. It weighs 6lbs 11oz overall.

I compensated and radiused the original rosewood bridge  saddle properly so it plays in tune up the neck. There's a set-screw ("micro-tilt") neck angle adjustment gizmo near the neckplate for easy action changes and the bridge has two adjustment screws on its front edge for additional action/back-angle adjustments. I have it currently set at a compromise between best pickup tone and good string height over the body. The neck is straight and has a C/D, medium-heft profile to its rear. It's fast but the wider nut gives it a retro, roomy feel.


The body seems to be made of maple, but failing that it may be poplar. The neck is poplar and both the 12"-radius fretboard and bridge saddle are Brazilian rosewood.


The Silvertone logo, original aluminum nut, and "skate key" tuners are still in great shape. The tuners hold surprisingly-well -- I've been playing this for 2-hour shows where I chop on the strings a lot and only have to tune when I begin unless, of course, I bump them like a dummy!




The bare, brown, masonite pickguard looks rad in person. I did put a layer of finish on it, but you can see the areas where my fingers and picking has rubbed-it-up. Just extra love!


Only the top two knobs function -- master volume and master tone. The bottom two have the original pots but they're disconnected. I like simplicity and as small a circuit as possible. The 3-way switch runs neck/out-of-phase both/bridge. This is because it's an on/on/on switch rather than on/off/on switch like in the original wiring layout -- which would've put the two pickups in series. The problem with the original harness is that it was crudded-out and had extra caps and whatnot between the pickups and their controls. It was sucking tone like crazy.

Inside the control cavity, the whole instrument is shielded, too.









While not pictured, this guitar does come with a good-quality, new gigbag.

10 comments:

The Pittmans said...

Hi Jake,

I just picked up one of these and am loving it. The thing is, I can't figure out where the ground wire attaches to. There's no way I can see to attach to the bridge. Do you remember how yours attached?

Thanks for any help on this.

Thad Pittman

Jake Wildwood said...

I just drilled a hole from the cavity to one of the mounting screw holes for the bridge in the front -- just sent the wire in there with enough bare to make contact with the screw. There might even be one going there from the factory...? There's also so much pickguard that you could run one to the same screw/adjuster over the top without drilling and have it be essentially invisible.

The Pittmans said...

That's actually what I ended up doing-running a wire to the top and into the bottom trem screw. You can't see it at all. Now I just need to upgrade the bridge and still keep the trem. That tremolo stays in tune pretty well. Thanks for the response!

Jake Wildwood said...

I find that once I dial-in the compensation on the saddle, if I just wick a little superglue on the edge of the saddle, it'll stay put. Then you have the benefits of the rosewood sound and setup which gives these guitars a definitely different vibe vs. steel-on-steel.

The Pittmans said...

I'm still working on this thing. Attaching the ground to the back of the pick guard seems to be quieter than the traditional bridge ground, believe it or not. It’s sprayed with something at the factory that’s metallic-like.

I’m also working on a better version of the bridge, as the original is so primitive, it scratches the body every time I change strings.

Jake Wildwood said...

A Duo-Sonic bridge would fit the footprint almost exactly. You'd need to get 3-barrel compensated Tele saddles for it, though.

The Pittmans said...

I think I just decided to order a special flat plate with 3 barrel tele style saddles for it. I hate to lose the whammy bar, but I want to really be able to play this thing.

The Pittmans said...

Also, I watched your video of this guitar. Sounds great! I think I might rewire it with a 500K harness like you did there.

Jake Wildwood said...

Yep, you gain-back a lot of tone. Don't fret about the whammy... it's really not that great a unit.

The Pittmans said...

I like the primitive whammy, but yeah, probably not worth the fight to keep it. Will set it all up with modern 500 K wiring and a tele saddle style bridge. Then I'll enjoy it properly! Thanks for the responses, super helpful.