17. Danelectro U2 reissue
I CAN’T honestly remember how much I paid for it, or where it came from, but this rather nice maroon Danelectro U2 reissue was a bargain. After they they were re-released in the early 90s, just about every guitar player I knew had one of these cheap, cheerful, but funky guitars. The bodies were made of hardboard – yes, really. The Americans call it “Masonite”, but hardboard – the stuff you find the back of your Ikea wardrobe – it doubtless is, front and back, glued to a wooden frame, with a funny sort of plastic binding on the edges.
The bridge was about as crude as it could have been and the tuners looked like something from a child’s toy guitar. Then there were the famous “lipstick tube” pickups – apparently, the original ones in the late 50s (also the guitars the company made for the Sears Roebuck catalogue company) really did use surplus stock lipstick tubes to house the pickup coils.
For all its crudeness, there’s something about those Danos which works beautifully for slide. Jimmy Page used to play slide on an original double-cutaway Danelectro 3020 – the U2 is a pretty good, cheaper alternative.
Can’t remember where mine came from, or where it went, but it was with me for a good 10-12 years. It was my holiday guitar for a while. It was light and vaguely hollow, so it had a bit of an acoustic ring to it – enough to hear, without annoying the rest of the family too much.
And every now and then, I get the inclination to find another one, most recently when I saw the excellent Mike Ross playing a left-handed Dano.
I’ve managed to resist so far, but one of these days…
18. Tanglewood TBS500 “Blue Sound” Electric Resonator
ONE of the prettiest guitars I’ve ever owned – but sadly, also one of the cheapest and nastiest! If this guitar had been built to a quality, rather than price, it would have had the potential to be an absolutely stunning instrument. But sometimes you get what you pay for, I guess…if you want a National Resolectric, you have to pay National money.
The reality was a nicely-proportioned, lightweight solid body and a ridiculously slim neck – more akin to what you’d expect to find on a pointy-headed shredder’s guitar than a bluesman’s squeeze – crowned with an elegant headstock, reminiscent of funky old 50s and 60s instruments from the likes of National or Supro.
The body was routed to take a cheap Dobro resonator cone, fitted with a pretty ineffective piezo pickup, a fairly indifferent mini-humbucker and most bizarrely of all, a random circular hole in the top horn, covered with what looked suspiciously like a tea-strainer – purely cosmetic, serving no purpose whatsoever! Volume, tone and pickup blend knobs completed the picture.
I really tried to make something of this guitar, but it never really worked – too quiet to use as an acoustic and pretty useless as an electric. If you see one (in the US they were sold under the Jay Turser brand), I’d think hard about paying much more than I gave for mine. (I paid £50 to a bloke I arranged to meet at South Mimms Services on the M25 – scene of many a dodgy-looking, but perfectly legit gear-for-cash rendezvous down the years).
That was probably about what it was worth. After persevering for a few years, it eventually went in the same purge as the Danelectro – though in this case, I just gave it away to a mate…