A mid-fifties, yellow Danelectro U-1
I’ve got an old Danelectro that I picked up as part of a trade on a few other instruments. I can’t seem to find too much information on them, so I thought you might be able to tell me what it is. Is this guitar worth anything?
Frank in Tupelo, MS
There is just something so cool about Danelectro guitars, especially when they have a Yellow finish! Unfortunately, you don’t find too many of these at vintage guitar shows while tables are overrun with Gibsons, Fenders, and other more expensive instruments. However, Danelectros are very much a part of the 1950s and 1960s guitar boom, and it is important to know the details. I’ve dug up a little history on Danelectro, and found out what guitar you have and what they are worth today.
Danelectro founder, Nathan I. Daniels, took an interest in electrical circuits and instrument amplification at an early age in the Bronx (NYC). In 1933, he began assembling amplifiers at Thor’s Bargain Basement. Daniels built his amps for $2 a piece and Thor’s would supply the parts and sell the completed amps. In 1934, Daniels went to work for Epiphone, where he worked with them on their Electar guitar amplifier line. Daniels is credited with creating the first push/pull amplifier circuit, first guitar amp with tremolo, and the first reverb unit for a guitar. Aside from working as a civilian engineer for the Signal Corps during World War II, Daniels continued to work at Epiphone until 1946 or 1947, when he decided to start building amps under his own company, called Danelectro.
Shortly after forming Danelectro, Daniels started building and supplying guitar amplifiers to Montgomery Ward and Sears. In 1948, he began building amplifiers with more than one trademark—Silvertone was developed for Sears, and Danelectro was used for Daniels’ own distribution and retailing. This phenomenon became known as “house branding,” where manufacturers would build and supply guitars and amplifiers under different trademarks for department stores and mail order catalogs. Because of multiple trademarks, many guitars and amplifiers that are labeled or branded individually are actually the exact same piece.
In 1954, Daniels introduced his first solidbody electric guitar, and similar to his amps, he built one for Sears under the Silvertone brand and one under the Danelectro brand. The first Danelectro guitar featured a solid poplar body with tweed covering, a bell-shaped headstock, a baked melamine pickguard, one or two pickups, and separate controls. Danelectro’s line continued to improve, and in 1955, the C Series of guitars was introduced. This line was replaced in 1956 by the U Series, which is the series your guitar is in.
The U Series features a single cutaway Masonite body with vinyl edging, a bolt-on neck, a “Coke Bottle” headstock, a clear pickguard with a perimeter stripe, and was available with one, two, or three pickups. Standard finishes include Antique Bronze, Bermuda Coral, Gleaming Black, Grained Ivory Leatherette, Jade Green, or Lagoon Aqua. Your guitar is a U-1, which stands for one pickup, and although Yellow is not listed as a standard finish, custom colors were available and are occasionally encountered.
From these pictures, your guitar is no doubt a player. It has a lot of neck wear and some buckle rash—evidence of a lot of use, but not necessarily abuse. Due to Danelectro’s industrial- strength construction, I have no doubt that this guitar is in fine playing condition today. According to Danelectro’s 1956 catalog, the U-1 sold new for $75. Today, in the condition your guitar is in (Very Good, 70%) and with the rare Yellow finish (assuming it is original from the factory), it is worth between $700 and $850.
The U Series was phased out by 1958, when the long-running Longhorn and Shorthorn models were introduced. Daniels sold Danelectro to MCA in 1967, and in 1969 MCA closed the Danelectro factory at the end of the 1960s guitar boom. In the late 1980s, Anthony Mark bought the Danelectro trademark, but never produced any guitars, and in late 1995, the Evets Company bought the trademark and still owns it today. Currently, Danelecto produces a few new models each year, based on vintage Danelectros, in limited quantities.
While many vintage guitar collectors do not acknowledge Danelectro as a guitar to have, it is unquestionable that Nat Daniels was an important part of electric guitar and amplifier development. This Danelectro U-1 is a great example of Daniels’ innovation, which should make this guitar a treasure for years to come!
Information courtesy Guitars From Neptune by Paul Bechtoldt and Doug Tollach. A new, more extensive book on Danelectro called Neptune Bound is also available.
Zachary R. Fjestad
Zachary is the author of the Blue Book of Acoustic Guitars, Blue Book of Electric Guitars, and the Blue Book of Guitar Amplifiers. Questions can be submitted to:
Blue Book Publications
Attn: Guitar Trash or Treasure
8009 34th Ave. S. Ste #175
Minneapolis, MN 55425
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Flare is a dual-function pedal with a tube-like booster and a 1970s-style ring modulator effect that can be played separately or together.
Flare’s ring modulator is based on the iconic tone of the original Dan Armstrong Green Ringer. This vintage classic was made famous by Frank Zappa who loved the unusual modulations created by generating a harmonic octave over notes. Messiah’s version offers two control knobs: a “Sparkle” tone attenuator and output Level control. Its taupe-gold body, purple and green knobs and stick-figure rock ’n’ roller holding up a flame convey an appropriately rockin’70s vibe.
In a unique twist, Messiah’s Flare pairs the ringer with a warm tube-style boost instead of a fuzz. Flare feeds the booster into the ringer for an extra punch, while preserving the Green Ringerspirit. The ringer side also turns any fuzz into an octafuzz, and it has the ability to quiet signal background noise fed through it.
The booster side features a single Boost knob to control the MOSFET circuit, making it very tube-amp-friendly with a warm, organic boost and gain of up to 32dB.
The pedal is a distinct improvement over the 1970s pedal that inspired it. “Most ringer pedals don’t track well,” Tom Hejda, owner of Messiah Guitars. “The player can’t rely on repeating the same effect even with the most consistently played notes. We carefully matched the components, so our ringer follows your every move, producing that slightly dirty octave you expect on demand.”
Messiah developed this vintage octave pedal with flexible features so that people who love that messy, dirty Zappa-esque sound can get there with ease but there’s also something for those who have not fallen in love with fuzz or the Green Ringer alone. Flare offers an array of sonic options while retaining simplicity in the controls.
Each Flair Pedal Includes:
- 3 control knobs: Boost, Sparkle, and Level
- Two effects – Ring Modulator and Boost – can be used together or separately
- Space-saving top side jacks
- Durable, cast aluminum alloy 125B enclosure with fun artwork
- Easy to see, illuminated True-bypass foot switch
- Standard 9V pedal power input
Flare Pedal Demo
Messiah Guitars pedals are designed with an explorative player in mind. Like their custom guitars and amplifiers, Messiah’s pedals are hand-crafted in Los Angeles for a long life with guaranteed quality.
Flare retails for $199.00 and can be purchased directly at Messiah Guitars or you can hear it in person at Impulse Music Co. in Canyon Country, CA.
For more information, please visit messiahguitars.com.
This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal.
If it looks like a duck, acts like a duck, and QUACKS like a duck, then it must be a duck. That's how we came up with the name for our new envelope filter. This feathery little guy is a joy to play because of its incredibly quick response to your right hand - much faster and more expressive than your typical auto-wah pedal. Trevor explains how this is possible in the launch video, as well as gives a demo on Le Canard’s operation.
The attack control determines how quickly the filter responds to the envelope, and the decay sets how quickly the filter releases afterward. The range controls which frequency spectrum the filter does its magic on. Add to this relay-based full-bypass switching with failsafe, and you've got one crazy little quacky beast. It is so expressive that you'll want to give up on your rocker-wah forever.
The MayFly Le Canard envelope filter features:
- Super fast responding envelope follower. Touch it and it jumps!
- Range control to dial in the character of the filter
- Attack control to control how fast the filter moves on that first touch
- Release control to control how slowly the filter slides back to baseline
- Full bypass using relays with Fail SafeTM (automatically switches to bypass if the pedal loses power)
- Cast aluminum enclosure with groovy artwork
- MSRP $149 USD ($199 CAD)
Introducing the MayFly Le Canard Envelope Filter
All MayFly pedals are hand-made in Canada.
For more information, please visit mayflyaudio.com.
Outlaw Effects introduces their next generation of NOMAD rechargeable battery-powered pedal boards.
Available in two sizes, NOMAD ISO is a compact, versatile tool that offers the convenience of a fully powered board plus the additional freedom of not having to plug into an outlet. NOMAD ISO is ideal for stages with limited outlet availability, quick changeovers, busking outdoors, temporary rehearsal locations, and more.
NOMAD ISO builds upon the legacy of the ultra-convenient and reliable NOMAD rechargeable pedalboard line originally launched in 2018. The brand new NOMAD ISO editions feature eight isolated outputs (1 x 9V DC, and 1 switchable 9V/12V DC) for even more versatility and clean, quiet power. With an integrated lithium-ion battery pack boasting 12800mAh capacity, NOMAD ISO can fuel a wide array of pedals, and will last over 10 hours* on a single charge.
Each NOMAD ISO pedal board includes adhesive hook & loop pedal-mounting tape, eight (8) standard DC connector cables, and one (1) reverse polarity DC cable, giving you everything you need to build your ultimate "off-the-grid" rig. A rugged, road-ready padded gig bag with shoulder strap is also included, to safely protect your gear while you're on the move.
NOMAD ISO S
NOMAD ISO S: MSRP $309 / MAP: $249
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 5 ¼"
NOMAD ISO M
NOMAD ISO M: MSRP $349 / MAP $279
Dimensions: 19 ¼" x 11"
More info: https://www.outlawguitareffects.com.