1960s Danelectro Pro Semihollow Electric Guitar (Modded)

Update October '20: I've added new photos, a new video, and a new description. Now back to it...

A Dano Pro! In the wild! Nice. I bought this for my own use as a "husk" (no pickguard or pickup) out of a garage near Burlington, Vermont. I'd wanted a Danelectro Pro for years (I think the body shape is the coolest) but they're hard to come by at prices humans can shell-out for one and the new ones are not quite the same. This did the trick!

These are short-scale (23 1/2") instruments with a fixed, one-piece bridge and semi-hollowbody construction. Most Danelectros are built with pine/poplar "ribs" and masonite top/back and a center-block that runs to the bridge. This one is fully hollow in the middle but the "ribs" connect to a block that sits under just the mounting screws for the bridge. So, in effect, this sounds/handles more like a hollowbody but has a bit more sustain. When playing off the neck P90 it sounds almost like an early-'50s Gibson ES-125! It's surreal and wonderful.

Originally I set this up with a different P90 pickup at the neck and a K&K acoustic pickup under the bridge. I changed that later by fitting a premium-quality Fralin P90 (sounds to me like a '50s-style, lower-wind model) at the neck and a Guitar Fetish Surf 90 (basically a DeArmond DynaSonic clone) at the bridge. This pairing really makes the guitar. It can go from a bluesy/jazzy/saucy Gibson sound at the neck to a rockabilly/almost-surf/Gretschy sound at the bridge. It's a really good pairing and I'm entirely happy with the way it turned-out.

The short scale lets you get some pretty neat stretches in and the guitar itself is lightweight and fun to play. The odd, offset body shape really hugs you just right. I made sure to make some templates of the body while I had it apart.

Repairs included: a fret level/dress, replacement screws for the tuner plates, cutting a new cream pickguard ("aged"), new pickups -- Fralin P90 and GFS Surf 90 -- and shielded wiring harness, extra neck-attachment bolt (these only had 2 to begin-with, 3 makes them stable), modded compensation added to the original bridge for modern 3-wound, 3-plain stringing, and setup.

Setup notes: action is low and fast at 1/16" overall at the 12th fret. While the bridge is not adjustable, there's a micro-tilt adjuster screw under the neck bolts on the back. Simply loosen the lowest bolt and then adjust the micro-tilt with a hex wrench to set neck angle and thus action height. The neck is essentially straight but there's a teensy amount of relief (~1/64") on the treble side of the neck when tuned to pitch. Strings are 50w-11 at the moment. Folks used to playing Mustangs and the like might prefer 10s, however.

Scale length: 23 1/2"
Nut width: 1 11/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 3/8"
String spacing at bridge: 2 1/4"
Body length: 17 1/2"
Lower bout width: 12 3/4"
Waist width: 8 1/2"
Upper bout width: 10"
Side depth at endpin: 1 3/4"
Body wood: poplar/pine blocking with masonite top/back
Neck wood: poplar w/steel bar reinforcement
Fretboard: rosewood, aluminum nut
Bridge: non-adjustable bent steel, compensated
Neck feel: medium/slim C/D-shape, ~12" board radius
Weight: 5 lb 8 oz

Condition notes: while there's a lot that's original, there's also a lot that isn't! The pickguard is non-original and I've cut the body to fit a P90 at the neck and a humbucker-sized pickup at the bridge. There are scratches and small nicks/finish flaws throughout but the sparkle-brown finish still looks killer. All the "tape" on the sides of the body is in good order, too. Tuners are original but have replacement mounting screws. Bridge is original but I've compensated its string slots and cut a few extra slots for tailoring your string spacing to taste. Knob is unoriginal but '30s-era. At the end of the fretboard there's a tiny nick-out in the rosewood that's non-obvious.


CM said…
Hey Jake, Please do a follow up on the pickup orientation and what wiring you needed to do to achieve a balanced sound between the K&K and the P90. (And how to do away with that P90 --to put it crudely -- humsucking pickup -- noise?) "Most interesting Captain," the pointy ear one would say. Thanks! Chris M Corvallis
Jake Wildwood said…
Will do, I haven't had the time to play with it yet, though. ATM I just A/B box the acoustic pup to a different amp when it's selected.
Unknown said…
Hi Jake- would you consider selling this beauty?