Danelectro ’56 Baritone Electric Guitar – Gloss Red

Danelectro Baritone Reissue

Danelectro Baritone Reissue


This is a new reissue of the Danelectro ’56 Baritone model built in Korea that features the original features, including the dolphin headstock, Kluson style tuners, adjustable saddle bridge, single cutaway design, two lipstick pickups, volume and tone controls, 3-way switch, 24 Frets/Scale 29.75, Masonite and laminate semi-hollow body and rosewood fingerboard.


Like all Danelectros this guitar is a semi-hollow built from Masonite and has vinyl around to hide the seams. The nut is aluminum.

Aluminum nut

Aluminum nut

Danelectro introduced an electric 6-strng bass that was used as a baritone guitar in the late 1950s. Many people credit the Danelectro guitar with creating the first electric baritone guitar, but this has been debated. The baritone became popular in country and surf music. Also used as background music in spaghetti western movie soundtracks. Baritone guitar has found its way into many styles of music. Country, Surf, Metal, Rock, Jazz and Classical.

Nathan I. Daniel: Founder of DanelectroNathan “Nat” Daniel founded the Danelectro Company in Red Bank, New Jersey in 1947. He was one of the great innovators and started building guitar amplifiers for Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck. Daniel had previously designed and made Epiphone’s Electar amp series, and his pioneering circuits incorporated many industry firsts, such as tremolo.

Eventually around 1954, Sears approached Daniel to make an affordable electric guitar. Nat Daniel showed some real innovative ideas making good playing guitars at low prices. Danelectro made the front and back of their guitars out of Masonite, a composite material created by pressure molding steamed wood fibers. Far cheaper than using solid wood or plywood. They were constructed simply of vinyl, masonite and Formica. Instead of being reinforced by an adjustable truss rod, the thin, bolt-on poplar necks relied on two heavy-duty steel bars installed under the fretboard making the neck quite stable and needing no truss rod. The nut was usually made from aluminum. The guitars were made simply, with no pearl adornments or expensive woods. According to Danelectro, few of these guitars came back for neck issues.

Young Jimi Hendrix with his Danelectro guitar

Young Jimi Hendrix with his Danelectro guitar

Duane Eddy used a Baritone Dano on some of his signature songs

Duane Eddy used a Baritone Dano on some of his signature songs

Danelectro pickups were made with alnico magnets that were wrapped in tape and stuffed inside of chrome-plated “lipstick” tubes wound to a relatively low (4.75k). Not generic metal cylinders, but actual lipstick tubes. The tubes were pretty good shielding and gave the Danelectro a distinctive tone that was a big hit with players. Looking at some very old Danelectro guitars it can be said that they survived pretty nicely even though these were low priced guitars using inexpensive materials. Some of these early pickups are quite sought after.

Even Jeb Clamped played a Danelectro

Even Jeb Clampett played a Danelectro

Mr. Daniel knew what he was doing, even though these were some of the most cheaply made guitars ever assembled they sound and play like a million bucks. Also note that Daniel, like Leo Fender was not a guitar player and sought out feedback from players. This allowed him to thing outside the box. He was said to be most proud that he was able to create a budget guitar that was easy to play and allowed young aspiring musicians to excel.

Nat Daniel built and sold guitars for the catalog stores under the Silverstone and Airline brand. He also sold under the Danelectro brand. Daniel designed and built tube guitar amplifiers directly into the guitar case that sold for only $69. Many of today’s rock elite stated playing electric guitar on a Danelectro guitars and amps. One reason many guitar players have a soft spot for Danelectro gear.

Nat Daniel playing the only chord he knew as he was not a guitar player

Nat Daniel playing the only chord he knew as he was not a guitar player

Danelectro built some unusual and innovative instruments during including the first 12-string electric guitar (Bellzouki), 4-string bass, 6-string bass that (was also used as a Baritone Guitar and Tic Tac Bass), double neck guitars and the Guitarlin (guitar with 25-inch scale and 31 frets that allowed the player to cover guitar and mandolin range) all heard on many landmark recordings.

Nat Daniel design ideas have been copied and adapted by nearly all the major guitar makers over the years. Danelectro guitar designs were also built by Jerry Jones (and Coral) and are quite valued. The “new” Danelectro company manufactures reissues in Korea of these classic designs with a few slight improvements like the adjustable bridges for better intonation.


Up to 1958, Danelectro guitars had a single-cutaway body (like a Les Paul or Telecaster) and were finished in the now famous bright automotive colors. Fender also followed this strategy with were radical colors at the time. In 1958, Danelectro shifted to double-cutaway designs with “Coke bottle” headstocks, offering extreme “Longhorn” and less radical “Shorthorn” models. In addition to electric guitars, the company made 6-string and 4-string basses, double-neck instruments, first Indian Electric Sitar and the futuristic Guitarlin.

By the time Nathan Daniel sold Danelectro in 1966 to MCA (Music Corporation of America), Danelectro was located in a much larger plant in Neptune City, N.J employing about 500 people. They were shipping out an average of more than a full trailer-truckload of amplifiers and guitars every day. Not as large as Fender or Gibson, but certainly a pretty successful operation.


Danelectro had sold about 85% of it’s products to Sears so MCA started the Coral line in 1967 to sell to other distributors. The difference was the Coral hollow bodies (only) were manufactured in Japan. All other Coral parts were made in the New Jersey Danelectro plant. All Silvertones and Danelectros had been made entirely in the U.S.

MCA ended up closing the Danelectro plant in 1969. MCA’s shift to selling instruments to individual guitar stores instead of jobbers (such as Sears) was likely the cause. At that time, Dan Armstrong bought most of the remaining parts, and continued manufacturing Danelectros through Ampeg. These instruments had single cutaway bodies with one humbucking pickup (not lipstick tube pickups), and no brand name on the peghead. Apparently Ampeg was having problems with the production of the see-thru Dan Armstrong guitars. In the interium, Armstrong sold the remaining Danelectros through Ampeg until the Dan Armstrong guitars were fully available.

From Nat Daniel’s son’s blog (great information here):
Nat Daniel did not patent most of his innovations, which also included:

  • first six-string electric bass (1956)
  • first 12-string electric guitar (1961 – the “Bellzouki,” developed in collaboration with Vinnie Bell and inspired by Greek bouzouki music from the film classic “Never on Sunday”)
  • 31-fret “Guitarlin” (1958) with a deeply cut-away “longhorn” body that enabled a guitarist to play an extra 10 frets into the mandolin range
  • an amplifier and speaker built into a guitar carrying case (this was done for Sears, which sold the Silvertone “amp-in-case” and guitar for under $50 as a set for novice players)
  • a “convertible” guitar that could be bought, inexpensively, for beginning students, as an acoustic, and later, with the purchase of a pickup kit, turned into a semi-hollow-body electric
  • total shielding of guitar and amplifier circuits to protect against hum from neon signs, motors or other sources of electrical interference (he introduced this at a National Association of Music Merchants – NAMM – show, with Vinnie Bell demonstrating Danelectro guitars and amps while sitting right next to a glowing neon sign; the Danelectro products sounded crystal clear, while a specially assembled “Brand X” guitar, lacking the shielding, hummed noisily every time Vinnie plugged it in)
  • guitar necks that never warped because they were reinforced with twin steel I-beams
  • the use of inexpensive, yet strong and stable composite materials in both amplifier cabinets (Homasote, particle board) and guitar bodies (Masonite, Formica)
  • a guitar neck-tilt adjustment system “nearly identical [as Washburn and Soest wrote in Guitar World] to the one Fender used – except that Danelectro did it a decade earlier and didn’t bother to patent it”
  • a “master-slave” amp system with 300-plus watts of distortion-free power (back in 1956)
  • a “hexaphonic” guitar, with each string having its own separate pickup, amplifier and speaker (1958 – but never manufactured)
  • a capacitance pickup for classical guitar with a tube pre-amplifier built into the body; etching the nylon strings and coating them with graphite made it possible to pick up the signal (1959 – but never manufactured)
  • a hybrid vacuum tube/solid-state amplifier (1968)

For more history of Danelectro.


Brian Wilson used baritone in Beach Boys arrangements. Pat Metheny, Brian Setzer, Duane Eddy, Joe Bonamassa, Metallica, Aerosmith, B-52’s, Allan Holdsworth, Dave Matthews and the Pixies have all used a baritone guitar to great effect. The Band’s Rick Danko, used the Fender Bass VI is often referred to as a baritone guitar. Jack Bruce briefly played one during Cream’s early days. The Cure made great use of the baritone in the ’80s from the Fiction album onward. Metallica has used them as well.

List of some popular songs that use a Baritone Guitar:
Sara Evans – Suds In The Bucket
Hellecasters – Hellecasters Theme
Desert Rose Band – Desert Rose
Aaron Tippin – The Sound Of Your Goodbye
Brad Paisley – Whiskey Lullaby
Dwight Yoakum – Buenas Noches From A Lonely Room (She Wore Red Dresses)
Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman and Galveston
Alan Jackson – Life Keeps Bringin’ Me Down
B-52s – Rock Lobster
T-Bone Walker – Two Bones and a Pick
Cry, Cry, Cry – Highway 101
Clint Black – Killin’ Time
Diamonds – Jet Harris & Tony Meehan of the Shadows
Joe Bonamassa – The Ballad of John Henry
Duane Eddy – Peter Gunn
Metallica – St. Anger

Baritone guitars generally have longer scales, thicker strings and are tuned to a lower pitch. A standard guitar’s standard tuning (from lowest string to highest) is E A D G B E. Baritone guitars are usually tuned either a perfect fifth (A D G C E A), a perfect fourth (B E A D F♯ B), or a major third lower (C F B♭ E♭ G C). “Tic-tac bass” commonly used in country music, is a method of playing in which a muted baritone guitar doubles the part played by the bass guitar or double bass.

Generally you cannot get a standard guitar and just tune it lower fro the same sound. If you try this you will find that the strings become way too “floppy” with not enough tension to produce a useable sound. Making the scale longer and using heavier strings like the baritone guitar solves the issue. Scale is the distance from the nut to the saddles. Gibson guitars generally have a 24.75 scale and most Fender guitars have a 25.5 inch scale. The Fender Jaguar uses a 24-inch scale. Hohner Beatle Bass is a short 30-inch scale and Fender Jazz Bass is 34-inch scale. This Danelectro Baritone is 29.75. String gauges are also a big factor that allow for the needed tension.

Since the baritone guitar is tuned string-to-string, just tuned to lower pitch, guitar players do not have to learn new chord shapes. For example, when you play an open E chord on your guitar, you’ll do exactly the same on a baritone, but it will be an open B (A or C). Get it? So you can play any song or riff you already know, right out of the box, but with the darker and haunting tone of the baritone guitar. When you add a capo it opens up even more possibilities.

From Premiere Guitar Article:
The one builder who probably has more invested in the electric baritone than any other is luthier Joe Veillette of Veillette Guitars. His experience goes back 35 years and includes partnerships with other innovative builders.

Based in Woodstock, New York, Veillette contends that the first true electric baritone was a model called the Shark, which he conceived around 1980, during the years he was in a partnership with luthier Harvey Citron. The Veillette-Citron Shark was developed with input from the Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian, and was later sought out by such luminaries as Eddie Van Halen, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (Steely Dan, the Doobie Brothers), and Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna).

Like George Gruhn, Veillette contends that the first Danelectros were just 6-string basses. “Same with the Fender VI,” he says. “Sebastian came to us wanting a shorter scale—because 30″ is a lot of neck!

“We had the first one that was conceived and sold as a baritone,” Veillette continues. “Then the Danelectro people came in trying to copyright the name ‘baritone,’ which was ridiculous. What stopped them was our magazine ad from 1980. We had to do something … It cost me real money to keep making baritones for a while as we fought that. Other people were making what they called baritones, but two-thirds of my line was baritones—we’ve been more dependent on it than any other manufacturer.”

From 1991 to 1994, Veillette partnered with famed bass builder Stuart Spector, and his instruments were sought out by even more top-tier players, including Billy Gibbons, bass legend Billy Sheehan, Earl Slick, Journey’s Neal Schon, James Taylor, and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Brad Whitford. “Dave Matthews bought his first baritone from us, and Eddie [Van Halen] eventually bought two 12-string baritones, too,” he adds. Veillette also partnered with another esteemed bass builder, Michael Tobias, to develop Avante baritone acoustics for Alvarez.

Given his history with baritones, it’s no surprise Veillette has seen the instrument evolve through a series of changes. His first Veillette-Citrons were solidbodies with piezo pickups but “for Eddie and Sheehan I added magnetics,” he says. For the past 10 years, he’s moved toward acoustic instruments with a piezo pickup under the saddle. These can be heard on Kaki King’s latest recordings, among others.

“Recently, I’m doing an equal number of 6- and 12-strings,” Veillette explains. “All this has put me in a place to experiment with different tunings and scale lengths—my specialty is in tuning ranges and string tension.”


I thought an inexpensive Danelectro Baritone was perfect to dabble with. Danos generally play and sound well and cost little. Do not expect high build quality or fancy woods. I been looking for a vintage 6-string longhorn version, but they are scare and pricy. Figured the reissue was perfect. Since most guitar players may want to add a baritone to their arsenal for a few select uses the Danelectro Reissue can fit this use nicely at an affordable price.



This Danelectro Baritone weighs in at a light 6-lbs 12-ozs. The fit and finish is pretty good for a guitar at this price range. Plays pretty nice. My only complaint is that I wish they used the older style “Dano” pickguard. The clear one they use is adequate, but the older style has a better look and vibe.

I have mine tuned B E A D F♯ B.

Telecaster, Danelectro Baritone and Danelectro 12-string gives you an idea of the longer Baritone scale

Telecaster, Danelectro Baritone and Danelectro 12-string gives you an idea of the longer Baritone scale

My Danos - Baritone and 12-strings

My Danos – Baritone and 12-strings


Some examples that use a Baritone Guitar

Eastwood Western Spaghetti Twang

Cry, Cry, Cry by Highway 101

Dwight Yoakam – Buenos Noches From A Lonely Room

Clint Black – Killin’ Time

Sara Evans – “Suds In The Bucket”

Brad Paisley – Whiskey Lullaby ft. Alison Krauss

Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman

“Hellecaster theme” – the Hellecasters

Brian Setzer – I Won’t Stand In Your Way

Diamonds – Jet Harris & Tony Meehan of the Shadows

The B-52’s – Rock Lobster

T-Bone Walker – Two Bones and a Pick

Joe Bonamassa – The Ballad of John Henry