I have always had a liking for Danelectro guitars, and have owned many, both vintage and reissue models. The Evets Corporation, who owns the Danelectro trademark, recently issued the D59M-NOS, a new version of the company’s double cutaway “Jimmy Page” model. NOS stands for “new old stock” and the D59M-NOS sports fifteen year old lipstick tube pickups that were recently unearthed by Evets’ pickup supplier in their warehouse. Supposedly lost or misplaced, these pickups have that classic Dano chime and twang, and although it’s a bit of a stretch to call these pickups NOS, the guitar’s overall quality is good, despite a few minor glitches.
Constructed from Masonite like just about all Danelectros, the Korean-made D59M-NOS is a lightweight instrument, weighing in at approximately 6 lbs. The fit and finish is almost perfect, save for one small bubble on the neck, belying the model’s lower end status. Another typical Dano feature, pebbled vinyl tape, is neatly applied to the body sides. The 25” scale C-shaped poplar neck is straight and contains a rosewood fretboard with a 14” radius and 21 medium jumbo frets. The fret work is flawless, with no sharp ends or problems, and the neck is affixed to the body with four screws. Nut width is 1.65”. Tuners are vintage-style Kluson units that work well and hold tuning satisfactorily. The bridge is a metal wraparound Badass-style unit with six adjustable saddles, and is recessed into the body. You will have to remove the bridge to change strings unless you set the action high allowing access to the holes in the tailpiece, a minor annoyance. Two concentric Volume/Tone knobs and an oversized toggle switch complete the picture.
I immediately found fault with the placement of the hefty, oversized upper strap button, which is screwed in too close to the heel of the neck, making it impossible to attach a strap with a standard wide end. One of the only straps I had that fit is was an Earl Slick model from Guitar Fetish. I had to use the tail section, and even that was hard to attach, and extremely difficult to remove. I had to struggle to get it off. Clearly, the strap button needs to be re-positioned to the back of the body, an easy job.
While we’re looking at shortcomings, the concentric volume and tone knobs, which really don’t appeal to me, initially required two hands to adjust, as they failed to rotate separately and dragged together. Lifting the top knob solved that problem, but I’m certain that they will slip back down and require another separation, most likely during the course of gig. I would prefer separate volume and tone controls.
Finally, the large toggle switch makes an audible clicking noise when switched from one position to another. This is common on all reissue Dano guitars. Couldn’t Evets use a better quality toggle that doesn’t make noise? They’re not that pricey.
Despite these few minor flaws, the D59M-NOS is a nice playing guitar overall. I plugged it into my Sommatone Slick 18 amp that features two 10” Eminence Patriot Ragin’ Cajun speakers. The bridge pickup delivered that unmistakably bright Dano snap when run clean, and with some clean boost or overdrive, it was capable of cutting through a band mix with tone that favored highs and mids, but left a bit desired when it came to lows. The neck pickup was round and warm, but obviously, you’re not going to get the fullness of a humbucker, so it’s not particularly suited for a jazz gig. The guitar sounded, well, like a Danelectro should; bright and twangy, and ultimately versatile and suitable for many styles of music. In no way is this guitar a shred machine, far from it, but hard-edged blues/rock is certainly possible, and the coolness factor is undeniable.
I compared the D59M-NOS to another Danelectro guitar in my stable, the Wild Thing that features two recent issue Dano lipstick pickups. My hearing impaired ears could hear a tad more volume from both the bridge and neck NOS pickups, so maybe there’s something to be said for Evets’ claim that these pickups are something special. Of course, every pickup is slightly different, so I still have a bit of skepticism about their shpiel. The difference in volume and tone between the two sets of pickups was pretty negligible, and certainly not enough to cause the player to do a happy dance.
Summing it up, the Danelectro D59M-NOS is a nice playing reliable guitar that is certainly gig worthy on its own terms, but I would recommend a better set of strings and a setup. It played well right out of the box, which is more than I can say for other budget instruments I’ve tried. It comes in five colors, all with typically silly ‘60’s inspired Danelectro names; Orange-Adelic, Outa-Sight White, Right On Red, Baby Come Back Blue, and Go-Go Blue. Groovy, man! The Danelectro D59M-NOS streets for $349. www.danelectro.com