Once again we dig around in the guitar collection of Dave D’Amelio! Good grief, he has so many Danelectros! These Coral guitars arrived shortly after MCA purchased Danelectro guitars in 1966. All in all, Coral guitars are rather rare and only lasted until 1969, when OF COURSE, the MCA corporation shuttered the Danelectro factory. Leave it to the big corporations! Anyway, these Coral guitars were heavily influenced by major session player Vincent Bell, and featured Japanese bodies made in the Kawai Piano factory paired with Danelectro pickups and wiring. Even though parts of these guitars were imported, these Corals were marketed as “professional” guitars a grade above the more “student” Danelectros. All the Longhorns featured here really have nice flame bodies, finely figured fretboards, and a unique neck joint up by the headstock which often features an odd pairing of high quality Brazilian rosewood and regular ol’ poplar wood!
These Longhorns have become very hard to find in one piece! A lot of them didn’t stand the test of time and a common issue with these bodies (and other Japanese hollow body guitars) is that the neck “block” inside the body (where the neck and the body meet) can often shift, causing the action to get all screwed up. This “shifting” was probably caused by a number of factors, most likely being old heavy string gauges. A good thing to look for is the binding around this area looking slightly warped, or check out the neck/body joint to see if it’s tight. These are the best ways to look for the dreaded block shift!
Playing a Longhorn is an interesting experience! The guitars feel tiny when you strap them on because of the body shape and how the neck sits in the body, but really they all balance well and sound phenomenal! Visually, the Longhorns are stunning guitars with their elongated, sharp horns.
The Longhorns all have a master volume knob which is a nice feature. They also have the copper foil grounded electronics that I talked about in my Bellzouki article. The Longhorns are also easy to work on since they have a large input jack plate. The bridges are kinda hard to intonate, so often the first thing players would do is replace them, so it’s nice to see all original examples pictured here.
The necks seem to have a rosewood binding, and the tuners were very good closed back Klusons, which are a step up from the open back Danelectro tuners. All the Coral guitars had the neck tilt feature, and they all seem to have brass nuts to help with sustain. It’s sort of funny because they combined a brass nut with a rosewood bridge. They sort of cancel each other out!
Something really funny Dano Dave relayed to me was that in one of the Longhorns he found bits of Japanese newspaper! I’m telling you, you never know what you’re going to find in some of these old oddball guitars!
And finally, here’s Mike Dugan ripping through two video demos! Mike played one of the six strings and the 12 stringer. We recorded both these videos through a vintage Ampeg Gemini I and for the dirt we used a Fulltone OCD pedal. Enjoy!