1960s/2022 Dano/Wildwood 5-String Electric Guitar

This is a "2 hour partscaster" that I whipped-up for myself to satisfy curiosities. Aside from some moonlight recording sessions to crank-out albums, I haven't done much on the workshop side for my own stable in ages. I've always wanted a 5-string electric I could tune like open D but without the 3rd in the tuning and, well, here it is. I'm completely happy with it despite its being a bit of a hot mess, too.

All of the parts for this were either gifted or free to me as flotsam and jetsam in the workshop. The neck is a damaged "amp in case" Danelectro/Silvertone piece that was stripped and then played on decades ago. The (super thin) body is a chessboard my grandpa made around the same time for my Mom. It kicked-around her place not getting used (it was on stand and it was awkward) and then kicked-around here doing the same. I finally got frustrated and yanked the stand off and stowed it until I could find a neck good enough to fit to it.

The "cut" is a reverse Danelectro Hornet, more-or-less. I've had a lot of Hornet-a-likes through the years (see a 6-strong Silvertone here and a 12-string Dano here) and my friend Tom's has been living here since he left for Colorado a while back. I flipped his over, traced its outline onto the chessboard, adjusted it slightly for the reversed cut up near the neck pocket, and cut it out. It turns-out my grandpa's chessboard was made of some disagreeable plywood but it's stable enough for the job. I'm going to probably fit a piece of masonite to the back of it to give the body a little more depth and a cleaner appearance, though, and then probably sand the sides a little better and maybe even add some binding at some point. That will be years from now, though, I'm sure.

The Fender Wide Range pickups were a gift from one Mr. Jorge (thank you!) and the locking tuners were, too. I whipped the bridge up out of a mix of parts as I needed a tall one to make-up for my "bolt-on-top" build method. The bridge base is a bass bridge (or pickup?) cover, the saddles are random import Strat-style ones, the saddle bolt-holders are banjo shoes, and I've funkily-fit two slider switches into the wings of the bridge as on/off controls for each pickup. The strap buttons and flipped-over Strat-style jack plate were Gotoh units that had been yanked from something or other in my parts-stash and the cheesy Fender neck plate was, too.

So -- is it any good? Well, of course! I set it out in the store on Thursday so I could grab it for a strum and pick now and then and people kept jacking it in and getting that glowy, "oh this is fun," look on their faces when they were using it. It's funny how altering a simple open D tuning to remove a string and make it modal changes how you play an instrument entirely. For me it feels like freedom -- I've tried all sorts of tunings on guitar to get modal (CGCGCG was the most recent) as I adore modal folk instruments from around the world, but I was never really happy with a 6-string format because the "logical" tunings feel like they cover too much range and always feel a little busy in their sound.

Anyhow, feel free to port the idea to any random beater of your choice and please don't look too closely at this mongrel -- I have a feeling it'll be a work in progress for a while. I just set myself the goal of finishing in a couple hours and this is as far as I got.


CM said…
Deke Dickerson would buy it in a heartbeat.....
sixfootsix said…
I can testify this thang is a glorious sounding hot mess!