The ''59 Original''s the hot lipstick-tube alnico pickups and uber-light construction make for a screaming instrument that might inspire new ways of playing.
|Download Example 1|
Neck & Bridge - Clean
|Download Example 2|
Neck & Bridge - Distortion
|Download Example 3|
Neck - Trashy
|Download Example 4|
Bridge - Clean
|Download Example 5|
Bridge - Distorted
There is an amazing moment in the rock doc It Might Get Loud when Jimmy Page straps on his Danelectro (an original hybrid of a 3021 double-cut body and another Danelectro with modifications) and casually goes into that immortal “Kashmir” riff. The tone coming from the instrument and Jimmy's casual playing is nothing short of stupendous, and it made me eager to play one. The ’59 Original sent to me is a recent reissue based on the original 3021 model.
The finish is white with gold hardware, with the classic Danelectro hard-tail bridge and rosewood saddle and vintage-style tuners. Danelectro also offers a '59 Modified Black in the same line which is closer to the Jimmy Page instrument. The primary difference between the two models is the Modified has a more robust 'stop-type' tailpiece and an adjustable bridge. Otherwise, they are essentially the same guitar. The '59 Original's body is semi-hollow with a plywood frame and Masonite top, hence its unbelievably light weight of just over six pounds. The bolt-on maple neck is C-shaped and has a double acting truss rod. Scale is 25" with 21 frets and a rosewood fretboard. It also features the “Coke bottle” headstock and the classic 'seal' shape pickguard, giving the guitar a totally vintage look.
Out of the box, the ’59 Original was in desperate need of tuning. When tuned to the standard EBGDAE, I had to retune the guitar a couple times a session, but tuned to DADGAD, it locked on and rarely wavered.
My initial instincts were to be careful, as I didn't want to accidentally break a knob or tweak the neck by playing too robustly—that is how the guitar feels compared to pretty much any electric guitar I've ever played, with the exception of a Teisco. The neck is on the narrow side but also thick—at least thicker than a Les Paul and somewhat thinner than the vintage reissue Fenders. It is not fast by any stretch of the imagination. Eventually I grew accustomed to its quirky funkiness, and that's when I started enjoying it.
Embracing the Rawness
I have to say, playing this guitar made me smile. In our world of $5000 customs, $3000 Les Pauls, and the oh-so-beautiful Paul Reed Smiths, it was very satisfying to play an inexpensive, unrefined guitar. Its inelegance reminded me that rock and roll was never supposed to be pretty. It was, and is, the music of the voiceless rabble—the lowly of birth, if I may cop a Stones lyric. Something happened (I think it was the ‘80s) where prestige became a component of the music industry. Guitar heroes, like classical music virtuosos, became affiliated with prestigious and outrageously expensive instruments—from ‘56 Strats to the aforementioned Paul Reed Smith works of art. The Danelectro screams raucously, "to hell with prestige!"
Guitars are usually 'shes,' but the Danelectro is definitely an 'it.' And when playing it distorted there is this totally wild, round growl on the low end that made me want to solo on the wound strings. More than that, I found myself writing songs on it using the low E and A strings on the first five frets—nothing like instrument-based inspiration. At reasonably hi-gain settings, the guitar leaped into feedback every time I moved my right hand away from the strings. The feedback evaporated as quickly as it started when I returned my hand. Clean and with the volume wide open, the sustain lasted as long as my Strat—not bad for a plywood guitar. While there was a dash of bells in the sustain tones, it was also somewhat murky. I believe this is due to the pickups being on the hot side since rolling back the volume cleaned up the murkiness, perhaps at the expense of sustain. When played dirty, however, it aggressively sang out long and prominent.
Nuts, Bolts and Lipstick Tubes
This model has lipstick-tube alnico single coils in the bridge and neck. I rarely used the bridge pickup by itself, as it was a little too thin on its own. The neck pickup, which is actually a couple inches away from the neck, sounded midrang-y but with good single-coil cut. Using both pickups together kept the highs bright and warm and added enough bottom to allow me to play with the tone controls wide open. The pickups are wired in series so when using both together they cancel hum while fattening up the tone. Two sets of screws on the back of the guitar allow you to adjust pickup height a slight degree. Both pickups are hotter than average as previously noted, and each has its own stacked pair of concentric knobs—one volume and one tone. The knobs are lightweight and feel a little bit like something from an old portable radio circa 1970. I had to slightly separate the neck pickup's knobs so that turning tone did not also turn volume, which later resulted in the adjusted knob coming loose with some spirited playing.
The Final Mojo
As proven by the long list of famous Danelectro players, Danelectro's usefulness extends beyond trashy-but-musical genres. From rockabilly to grunge, and classic punk to classic country, the Dano has the potential to bring the goods. In two-guitar lineups, its boisterousness provides a nice juxtaposition to more sophisticated guitar tones. No doubt, the alnico bar magnet pickup design coupled with the resonance of the body is a large part of the reason why. The guitar simply sounds interesting in a tonally rich, yet non-elegant way. It sustains nicely, feels good enough, and—best of all—inspires creativity.
On practically any other guitar, the flaws mentioned above would be unacceptable, but on the Danelectro, they add character and made me play with a totally different approach. I solo'd differently, I jammed differently, I even wrote differently. Accidental noises from picks or fingers that sound like string farts on elegant instruments actually sound musical on the Danelectro. It is a guitar that does not need to be played with great precision to sound good.
Though Danelectro's history and artist roster is part of the company’s legacy, the name might never have the respect Fender, Gibson and a handful of other guitar makers command. And they probably don't care—these guitars just want to be played.
At $349, buy two, because you might break one in a moment of orgiastic inspiration. Also a must-have if you play “Kashmir” in your band.
prestige matters to you or you’re in the market for an all-purpose instrument.
Street $349 - Danelectro - danelectro.com
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Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
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- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
The Generation Collection of acoustic guitars features the exclusive Gibson Player Port designed to offer a unique and immersive sonic experience.
The G-Bird, the newest addition to the Generation Collection--represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird colliding with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port to add a new dimension to the G-Bird sound. The Gibson Player Port allows players to hear more of themselves as the audience hears it. With a tone that is crisp and resonant, all of the Gibson Generation Collection acoustics are designed to be comfortable to hold and play for long periods of time. All Generation Collection guitars feature the Gibson Player Port, slim, lightweight bodies, a flatter fingerboard radius, Walnut back and sides, Sitka spruce tops, and a stunning Natural finish. Additionally, the new G-Bird, and the G-200 and G-Writer are equipped with LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup systems which amplify deep bass and crystal-clear highs.
The G-Bird represents the glorious legacy of the Gibson Hummingbird with modern sonic enhancement through the Gibson Player Port adding a new dimension to the G-Bird’s sound. The G-Bird features a stunning solid Sitka spruce top and solid walnut back and sides for the ultimate in crisp, resonant tone. This square-shoulder dreadnought delivers all the rich low end and well-balanced mids and highs the original Hummingbird is famous for. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning. The utile neck, with its easy-playing Advanced Response neck profile, is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird also comes equipped with an LR Baggs™ Element Bronze pickup system, so it will always sound as good to your audience as it does to you. The G-Bird is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Modeled after Gibson’s pioneering small-body parlor acoustic guitars from the 1930’s, the G-00 is a top choice for blues and fingerstyle guitar performances. Despite its more compact size, the G-00 achieves a full, balanced sound. The G-00 fills any room with rich tones-which players can hear like never before, with the exclusive Gibson Player Port. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-00 is handcrafted in Bozeman, Montana, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustic guitars. The G-00 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-00 parlor-sized body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-00 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
The G-45, a round-shouldered jumbo, adds the Gibson Player Port to its famous “Workhorse” J-45 style body, which is Gibson’s best-selling acoustic guitar of all time. On the G-45, players can now hear more clearly than ever how this beloved guitar responds to every style and technique of playing. Powerful one moment and soft the next, the G-45 delivers all sounds with incredible dynamic range in an elegant, medium body size. The G-45 is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-45 features a slightly thinner round shoulder body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and play. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-45 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is included.
Gibson’s impressive range of square-shouldered guitars have become an expressive standard for rock, pop, folk, and country artists. The G-Writer is known for its wide range of sounds, from gutsy and loud, to soft and sweet; they are superb for all styles and shine, whether strumming chords or fingering intricate solos. The G-Writer comes ready for the stage or studio with an LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system and the ear-opening Gibson Player Port. The G-Writer is part of the Gibson Generation Collection and like all models in this collection, it is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. It features a solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The G-Writer features a slightly thinner cutaway body, is more comfortable to play and provides effortless access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners deliver solid tuning stability, so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-Writer is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
Gibson built its first “Super Jumbo” SJ-200 as a custom order for country and western singer and film star Ray Whitley, who desired a big, loud, and deep flat-top over which to croon. The SJ-200 quickly became a staple of cowboy singers and horseback troubadours, and then country music, 60’s folk stars, and onto every acoustic guitar genre that has followed. Ray would be proud to hear the booming sound from the Gibson Player Port on the new G-200, which comes ready for the stage or studio with a LR Baggs Element Bronze pickup system. Like all models in the Gibson Generation Collection, the G-200 is handcrafted in Bozeman, MT, by the same highly--skilled craftspeople who make all Gibson acoustics. The G-200 features a beautiful solid Sitka spruce top and solid Walnut back and sides for tone that sounds crisp and resonant. The slightly thinner G-200 cutaway jumbo body is exceptionally comfortable to hold and provides excellent access to the upper frets. The TUSQ nut and saddle, along with the Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners, deliver solid tuning stability so you can spend more time playing instead of tuning, and the utile neck with its easy-playing neck profile is so comfortable you won’t want to put it down. The G-200 is available in Natural finish. A gig bag is also included.
G-Bird | Generation Collection
For more information, please visit gibson.com.