Danelectro Hearsay (no more!)

I kept calling this the Danelectro Innuendo. Its not – its a Hearsay, a simpler version. The others have the same body but different on-board electronics/effects. This hearsay only has a distortion module.
Which i tore out.
Though its a danelectro, the body shape is not original Dano. It’s from a Mosrite (i guess the patent ran out). I still liked the reverse strat look, something twisted about it. And to further that twist, ive added mine.

When i hear the name “danelectro” the first thing that comes to mind are the LIPSTICK PICKUPS. Its how you know its a Dano. These Danoblasters are an anomaly, in my opinion. NO CHROME LIPSTICK TUBE PICKUPS???? Its not Hearsay, its HERESY!

So out the 3 white single coil pickups came, along with the rest of the electronics. The Danelectro guitar i really wanted at first was the Danelectro Mod (6 or seven, it doesnt matter – i was enamored by its shaped – sexy and sleek, with the humbucker pickup along side two single coil chrome lipstick tubes). The danoblasters already has the framework of a 3-single coil layout, i thought i can build on that.

Building from scratch, i patterned the the guitar wiring akin to a strat. A 5-way switch, and the same pickup selections.  Only, with a simple 1 volume, 1 tone control. I also wanted (and am intrigued) with the notion of the blow switch, as found on the Danelectro Mod. On this incarnation, i was going to put a simple mini-toggle switch for it. There were plenty of holes already from the minimalized controls.

As it is, the 3 lipstick pickups on the Hearsay already looked decent, but whats a modded guitar without a few more twists? I decided to push it, and make the bridge single pickup a humbucker – following the design of the Mod  (again. Hey, im a fan of that guitar). This wasn’t easy, as i had to first trace and guesstimate the cut on the pickguard, and at the same time doing it without the proper tools to cut the plastic. Then, to make room for it, i had to route that section of the body to accommodate the humbucker lipstick pickups. It was already close to the trem bridge – im not too keep on making that part of the body weak for trem action. Careful measurements were made to ensure the bridge posts/screws were firmly still in place. The final look was a success – it could be better, but considering i didn’t have the correct cutting tools, it was fine.

Now whats a humbucker mod without coil-tapping? on this one, i put a push-pull pot on the tone control – lift it and it disconnects one of the slanted pickups, and leaves the one closest to the trem bridge. It adds a bit more high-end chime when the blow switch is engaged with the neck pickup.

I do have to point out one thing: i had to use a second pickguard, as in hindsight i goofed on the lipstick placement. The first hole i cut was closer to the middle pickup, and it looked odd and uneven (wow, that was redundant!). Owing to the plethora of parts found online for this specific model, i was able to grab a replacement pickguard easily and for cheap, this time though i opted for a white pearloid pickguard. Looking at the finished product below, i think it was a great choice – the chrome pickups sit nicely on it.

BUT… it wasn’t the end of it all. There still was the issue of the really bad stamped tuners. They had the chic danelectro “D” logo stamped, but in the end, its still stamped covers for the gear and bushings inside. They were crap. Besides, it was missing one tuner anyway, and im not about to buy crappy dysfunctional tuners just to complete the look. It has to be functional and it has to function very well.
So for now i slapped on a set of sealed tuners, which are a lot smoother (and keeps itself in tune more). Later on i will need to put in locking tuners (SPERZELS!), so trem action wont put it out of tune too much too often. I must say im digging the trem on this guitar – the only one in my arsenal that has one.

One other major thing done (for now) was the nut. The plastic one on it was decent, but its plastic. Not a big fan of it. Ive always pictured a guitar (ANY) to have a traditional nut – BONE. Ive seen synthetic materials used, and the graphite ones are i feel the best for simple tremolo systems. But what i feel is not exactly what i had in mind.

dano03Another feature Danos have in their original guitars are ALUMINUM NUTS. So i knocked out the plastic nut, and installed an aluminum one. I had to cut and file it down to size using the original plastic nut as a template – it was way too tall. I am aware that this is NOT a good idea, using an aluminum nut for a tremolo system. There is a good chance that the string may not smoothly move back into place, and worst case is they get caught in the slot, and they break or snap off. A simple lubrication with graphite can alleviate this, but beware the dirty hand that follows. Im sure there are far better lubricants you can use here, but i opted NOT to use any. So far, no string has caught itself in the slot, and i still have to break a string on this guitar. And its all part of making this Danelectro guitar more into the real Danelectro spirit.

I mentioned using sperzels earlier. this can help keep the Dano in tune, and hold the strings more taut and tight- there is less of a chance it will slip out of the nut groove when divebombing notes.  I rarely do that, if at all. Most of how i use it is for subtle vibrato, or a long, deliberate and slow undulating sound.

Another thing i did is to make the tremolo action go up too, not just down. This involved taking off the middle spring, and loosening the six screws a couple of turns. This lifts the bridge up a bit from the string pull. The headache comes when you start to tune this – as each pull of each string affects the other strings as well, unlike a fixed bridge. But keep tuning, and son it will find its center balance point, where each string is tuned correctly. Now if one string breaks, the rest go out of tune, again, unlike fixed bridges.

I also changed the plain white strat-like knobs to chrome metal bell knobs. Looks more like a UFO from its shape. I covered the cream pearloid top with sticky aluminum tape, but it still didn’t look right. I decided im going to paint that top white, to match the white pearloid pickguard and other white trims.

To cover up the holes, i used the same aluminum tape and covered the inside of the pickguard (instead of on top). This came out decent too, as the shiny tape peeping thru the holes blended quite well with the pearloid look.

Additional changes later? Maybe a 2-fulcrum rolling bridge trem. Lessens string breakage, and a better, smoother trem action. Wilkinson Trem comes to mind. But as it is, im happy the tremolo can bend a note up a half note. A new trem can wait.

dano02So the look and spirit of the original Danos are now in the guitar, but what about its sound? Im happy to say it sounds WONDERFUL! The lipstick pickups are not know for its strength, but for its chime. These have it, and its a treat to play clean, with plenty of reverb and echo (SURF’S UP, DUDE!). The sound is like a warmer single coil, without the piercing highs. The chrome tube the windings and magnets are in provide more mellower highs, as opposed to muted highs. This gives it that warmth not heard in either humbucker or single coil pickups. Not fat nor thin-sounding – It stands apart from the rest. If i lost this guitar, id get (and MAKE) another one.

A SIDENOTE (this was before i got a Mod 6):
danomodShown here is a pic of a rare purple Dano Mod (a six-string – Mods are usually 7-string), for comparison. So why not just buy a Dano Mod? Too much money theyre charging! Though i most certainly will get one if the price is right. The Danoblasters cost far less, and seem to be more in quantity (supply and demand). I spent less souping it up and making it one-of-a-kind than if i had gotten a Dano Mod. Plus this one was already a beater  – i dont have to baby it too much. The previous owner(s) were not very careful with it. I received it with a lot of small dings, scratches, paint chips and general use and abuse over the years (this is alesson to NOT trust what you see in pictures on ebay! the first unmodded pic above was from the seller). Thing is, as beat up as it is, its still plays well – a testament to its toughness. Something’s got to be said about a guitar that’s taken abuse and lived through it. Now its given second life as a unique guitar on its own.