The Unique Sounds and Designs of Danelectro


When it comes to guitar manufacturers, Danelectro stands out as a company that has consistently pushed the boundaries of sound and design. With a rich history dating back to the 1950s, Danelectro has become synonymous with unique and innovative instruments that have left a lasting impact on the music industry. In this article, we will explore the important concepts behind Danelectro’s distinctive sound and design, and delve into some notable examples of their iconic guitars.

Danelectro guitars.
Image: Enrico Di Pierro (Flickr) under the CC BY 2.0 license.

The Lipstick Pickup: A Signature Sound

One of the most defining features of Danelectro guitars is the lipstick pickup. This unique design, with its distinctive appearance resembling a tube of lipstick, has become synonymous with the Danelectro brand. The lipstick pickup is known for its bright and twangy tone, which adds a unique character to the sound of the guitar.

The lipstick pickup is a single-coil pickup, but its construction differs from traditional single-coil designs. Instead of using individual pole pieces, the lipstick pickup utilizes a long magnet wrapped in a coil of wire. This design choice contributes to the pickup’s distinct tonal characteristics, providing a clear and articulate sound with a touch of vintage charm.

Chrome “lipstick-tube” pickups on a Danelectro electric guitar.
Image by Chris Roddy, Public Domain license.

Notable examples of Danelectro guitars featuring the lipstick pickup include the Danelectro ’59M NOS and the Danelectro ’56 Baritone. These guitars have gained popularity among musicians seeking a retro-inspired sound that stands out from the crowd.

Masonite: Unconventional Materials for Unique Tones

Danelectro has never been afraid to experiment with unconventional materials in their guitar construction. One such material is Masonite, a type of hardboard made from wood fibers. This choice of material not only contributes to the unique aesthetics of Danelectro guitars but also has a significant impact on their sound.

Masonite is known for its lightweight and resonant properties, which result in a distinct tonal character. Guitars constructed with Masonite bodies tend to have a bright and snappy sound, with a pronounced midrange and a touch of natural compression. This tonal profile makes Danelectro guitars particularly well-suited for genres like surf rock, indie, and alternative music.

The Danelectro ’56 Single Cutaway and the Danelectro ’63 Dano are prime examples of guitars that showcase the tonal qualities of Masonite. These instruments have gained a cult following among musicians who appreciate their unique sound and vintage-inspired aesthetics.

Double-Neck Guitars: Versatility and Showmanship

Danelectro is also known for its double-neck guitars, which offer musicians a high level of versatility and showmanship. These instruments feature two necks, typically with different configurations, allowing players to switch between different sounds seamlessly.

The most iconic double-neck guitar from Danelectro is the Danelectro ’59 DC 12/6. This guitar features a 12-string neck and a 6-string neck, providing a wide range of tonal possibilities. The 12-string neck delivers a rich and shimmering sound, while the 6-string neck offers a more traditional and familiar tone. This combination allows musicians to create lush, textured sounds that stand out in any musical context.

Double-neck guitars have been popularized by legendary musicians such as Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Alex Lifeson of Rush. Their ability to switch between different sounds on the fly adds a level of versatility and excitement to live performances, making them a favorite among guitarists who want to make a statement on stage.

Danelectro’s Impact on Music

Throughout its history, Danelectro has made a significant impact on the music industry. The unique sounds and designs of their guitars have found favor with musicians across various genres, from rock and blues to indie and alternative.

Danelectro’s instruments have been used by renowned artists such as Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd, Beck, and Jimmy Page. Their distinctive tones and aesthetics have contributed to the creation of timeless music that continues to inspire generations of musicians.


Danelectro’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of sound and design has made them a standout guitar manufacturer in the music industry. From their signature lipstick pickups to their unconventional use of materials like Masonite, Danelectro guitars offer a unique tonal palette that sets them apart from the crowd.

Whether you’re a fan of vintage-inspired tones or seeking a versatile instrument for live performances, Danelectro has something to offer. Their guitars have left an indelible mark on the music world, and their continued dedication to innovation ensures that they will remain a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

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