Hi folks! This guitar here comes straight from the Dano Dave collection. You’ll often read about him in my stories because he was a HUGE influence on me regarding vintage guitar collecting and repair. AND he has a massive vintage guitar collection! Anyway, right here we have his own Bellzouki!
I could go on and on about the history and development of the Danelectro Bellzouki, but a quick Google search will provide you with all the historical information you desire. I’ll simply tell you that this one is the two pickup 7020 version Bellzouki, and it differs from the 7010 version because this has two pickups and a different body shape (the 7010 was a teardrop shape). They’re all pretty rare! Let’s hear the story from the man himself, Dano!
“I bought this in NYC at an east village music store in 1985. I traded a old Hofner Beatle Bass and $100 to get the Bellzouki and the original case. The Bellzouki was priced at $350. I was getting tired of the Hofner because it didn’t play so well, but when I saw the Bellzouki, I just freaked! I had never seen anything else like it, EVER! No guitar had that body style, and it was like it WANTED to come home with me!
It has this freaky looking paint, sort of like a combination of chocolate pudding meets a shade of lipstick, and painted on by a vo-tech student having a really bad day. Only a company like Danelectro could pull that off! It’s sort of ugly, like that neighborhood girl that just can’t get a date, and you feel kinda sorry for her so you hang out with her. She’s not ugly but not beautiful either, but you kinda dig her!
I brought it home and realized that it played pretty bad. It needed a refret and the wiring was all screwed up. The neck was pretty straight and it had a neck tilt which placed it in the mid 1960s.
The sound is similar to the Jimmy Page shorthorn Danelectros. The sound is open and chi my. The Bellzouki has a weird design because the pickup selector is placed on the bottom edge, away from the player. But I never found it tough to switch! It’s sort of ingenious because of the way the body is made. The knobs are two volume and two tone, and a master volume. It balances pretty well, and like all Danelectros, it’s lightweight.
One thing I learned early on about Danelectros was that they used copper foil in the body cavity for a common ground. They used lock washers and attached the pots to this foil, but over time if the pots came loose the output would become intermittent.
Vinny Bell designed the first Bellzouki and it was patterned after the Greek Bouzouki. The first version had a single pickup. Mine is the second version. The third version is like the “holy grail.” The third version had that finger-like horn, similar to the Sitar that came later. Both versions of the two pickup Bellzouki’s are pretty hard to find. They all came in that same color.
Eventually I started to gig with the Bellzouki in the late 80s. I was playing in a band and we did a cover of ‘Do Wah Diddy’. There’s a part for a 12 string electric in that song. I also remember when I was young seeing a band called the Standells on TV, and one of the guys in the band was playing a Bellzouki.
After doing a little more research, I discovered footage of a young Leslie West playing a 7020 Bellzouki with The Vagrants!
I also found more footage of the band Count Five and the singer is playing a 7010 Bellzouki! Hey, it’s a garage rock staple!
And so, there you go! A story of a kid and his guitar. And isn’t that what all this collecting, researching, and buying is all about? To me, guitars are like art. And these Bellzoukis are a fine example. WHY AREN’T ANY CURRENT GUITAR MAKERS THIS CREATIVE ANYMORE?!?!? Oh well. . .