Like Holding a Beautiful Girl! 1968 Coral (Danelectro) Hornet Guitar

Right here is my all time favorite guitar to come out of the late 60s MCA Danelectro period!!   All Coral guitars were only made for about two years, and there’s all kinds of people who want to get their hands on any Coral guitar they can find!  This one is in the collection of Dave D’Amelio and I’m hoping if I mention how bad I want this guitar EVERY time I talk to Dave, he’ll let me have it through subliminal messaging.  Yup, I’m addicted.

Some of the Coral guitars were made in Japan (bodies for the hollow bodies), but the solid body Coral guitars were all New Jersey BABY!  Once again we see a Vincent Bell design, and let me tell you something, that guy had some cool ideas.  Holding this guitar is something to experience.  Seriously, all the edges are tapered and smooth and it’s like wrapping your arms around a slender, firm woman.  Does that sound weird?  Anyway, Dave found this in a now defunct music store in Wilkes Barre PA.  It cost $350 in 1992 and was worth every penny I’d say.  Dano Dave even named his first cat after this guitar, “Horny”!!!

The bodies on these Hornets were poplar and they balance very well.  Dimensions were: length 40 3/8″, body 19″ long, 14″ wide, 1 3/4″ deep, 25″ scale, 21 frets. The Coral catalogs at the time described them this way:

Meet the Hornet… favorite of recording artists for the true electric sound.  Handsome sculptured body designed for perfect balance.  Detailed with custom features for fast action and complete flexibility. The price of these fine instruments will surprise the most critical artist.  Available in Pearlescent Black, Flame Red, Three Color, and Natural Sunburst…pickup with and without vibrato.

Prices and models are as follows:

  • H2N5-Double pickup with individual volume controls plus master volume control.  Four switches provide complete tone variations for highs, lows, and mid range effects.  $138
  • H2V6- Same as H2N6 with vibrato. $149
  • H3N6- Triple pickup with individual volume controls plus master volume control, switches for each pickup. $159
  • F3V6- Same as H3N6 with vibrato arm. $169

There was also a Scorpion model as a twelve string.  The S2N12 Scorpion was the two pickup version and cost $149, and the S3N12 had three pickups and cost $169.

Looking at the back of the guitar you can see that signature neck joint used on the Corals. Very interesting.  These Hornets all had the neck tilt feature and tend to set up very well.  Remember, the Coral line was supposed to be the “professional” line of Danelectro.  At least that’s what MCA envisioned.  But these guitars were made very well and used some really good components.  The finish, tuners, body sculpting and overall fit and finish are top notch.  One part I don’t like about these Hornets is the tone switching.  Whenever I see words like tone “shading” or tone “presets” I sort of cringe.  What those terms usually mean is that there is a lot of wiring and capacitors between you and the pure singing tone of the guitar.  In the case of these Hornet guitars, this is sorta true.

When Dano got this guitar all the wiring had already been messed with so he just took what was left and wired it straight from pickups to pots.  Both he and I would love to see a wiring diagram of the original scheme, so if anyone out there has one, well, you know what to do.  I think the sound of these Hornets is just the balls.  These came with bigger frets, a flat radius, and of course that sculpted body.  Check out the pic below to get an idea how the entire body is tapered at the ends!

Can you see that!?!?!  I remember some Ibanez guitars of the 80s hyped their sculpted design, but let me tell you that was a sad effort compared with the Hornet.  Good grief man, these guitars just melt into your body.  Can you tell I love them?  Doing a quick Google search leads to Pete Townshend, who used these for a few years, and of course Dan Auerbach was seen recently playing one of these in January 2012.  Dan is becoming a one man live guitar museum!

So peeps, there it is.  The Danelectro company was just one of the best makers of guitars there ever was.  The humble masonite and pine bodies reached the final evolution with these Hornet solidbodies, and the lipstick pickups paired with the solid wood just created a wonderful marriage.  So check out Mike Dugan caressing the lady…


9 thoughts on “Like Holding a Beautiful Girl! 1968 Coral (Danelectro) Hornet Guitar

  1. Todd Driesbach says:

    I have one. My parents bought it for me way back. Identical to the Coral Hornet you show except for 1 thing: mine has Danelectro on the horn. except for finish all original and working well-still play it over 40 years later.

  2. Don says:

    I have rediscovered three, yes THREE Coral Hornets in their original cases. When we moved out of our old building my boss handed them to me and said; “Maybe there are enough parts here to make a good one.” They originally came from “Special Services Division – Port Ord California.” Each case had a hand written tag that read “junk return.” Well I had no idea what they were besides in bad shape so I just stored them in my basement for 17 years. My boss is retiring and I thought I’d see about fixing one up for him to play. Each guitar has a stenciled military serial number on the back. I picked up the first one and it was still in tune. That really blew my mind. Turns out all three are salvageable. One was in good shape, one had a cracked body and the third has a crack in the headstock and is missing 4 tuning machines. I’m missing 5 knobs too. I have 2 refurbished and they play beautifully. All electrics are good and identical so I drew a schematic for you and took some pics. How should I send them to you?

  3. John McCarroll says:

    Danelectro guitars have a unique sound that has never been duplicated by any other manufacturer due to their combo of the lipstick tube pickups & Poplar & Masonite construction.
    Their advertising was overblown & somewhat misleading..referring to RMS as…TMP…Total Music Power…in an attempt to rate amp output wattage as being higher than it actually was..( playing the numbers game ).
    Danelectro invented the first 6 string bass…( in reality a Baritone guitar ) several years before Fenders Bass VI was introduced.
    Danelectro also created the first Sitar like guitar with sympathetic..or..drone well as a model without them.
    Danelectro also introduced the first guitar with a 31 fret neck ( Guitarlin ).
    Danelectro also described their instruments as being on par in construction & sound as Gibson…Fender..& other higher end guitar makers. ( Reality…You get what you pay for )…thus the higher price of Fender…Gibson….etc.
    Danelectro used a 3 bolt neck & built in Micro Tilt ( built in neck shim adjustment ) 4 years before Fender incorporated it to the Stratocaster.
    Danelectro guitars had no adjustable truss rods ( 2 steel bars side by side in the neck )…& limited bridge adjustments ( no intonation or individual string adjustment ).
    Danelectro Amps had some interesting circuit designs which made for some unique tonality…but were somewhat fragile & not road worthy due to their cheaply constructed cabinet materials. They were fine for bedroom playing & studio use.
    All in All…Danelectro guitars & amps were the ultimate in budget musical equipment during their day.

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