Ahh, the simple wonderment of the Danelectro guitar…a curious amalgam of household kitchen parts, women’s cosmetics accessories, and vinyl wall coverings. Geez Louise, what a beautiful way to enter the world of musical instruments, and if you happened to be a youngster during the 1960s, you could’ve walked into any local Sears and bought a guitar just like this, complete with a case/amp combo, for under $100!
This particular model is called the 1449 and bridged the gap between the short scale, single pickup 1448 (also in black sparkle), and the full scale red burst, two pickup 1457. This 1449 was only around for a year or two, circa 1962-63. This model did appear in the 1963 Sears catalog and was touted as having the “longer 21-fret hand-rubbed Brazilian rosewood fingerboard. Two magnetic pickups widen and enrich sound. Tremolo adds exciting pulsating professional effects.” That, in a nutshell, encompasses all the benefits of the 1449 over the 1448; full scale, two pickups, and a more powerful amp with tremolo. Within a year this black full scale 1449 would be gone in favor of the red burst model 1457, but this guitar pictured right here was the transition model, and my favorite of the amp in case guitars
Sears had been selling Danelectro guitars since around 1954, but the amp in case models were just HUGE sellers. There were so many of these amp in case guitars made during the early 60s, and there are still so many of them around. In fact, they still sell for $600 and under all the time, even less if the amp case isn’t there. I just love how many guitar players scoff at the Danelectro guitars, because that means they stay affordable. They can be quirky, but it’s nothing that can’t be sorted out by a good tech (Dano Dave!!!!)
I really like the sparkle paint on these guitars, and I really like the simple controls and components. The stacked knobs are nice, and electronics are done very well, and these guitars usually stand the test of time. I suppose people used to think these were toy guitars based on their initial price and construction techniques, but the sound of a 1449 through the case amp is pure rock ‘n’ roll bliss!
Check out how they painted the back of the necks! The natural wood can still be seen on the edges so it creates this nice, fading look. The necks on these are reinforced really well and the frets are AWESOME! They used big frets and a very flat fretboard radius that makes these guitars very playable. Once they’re set up properly, you have a real rocker on your hands! The first time I saw one of these amp case models in action was with Dex Romweber of the Flat Duo Jets. I saw the Duo Jets in concert when I was 16 years old, and you know, it was just one of my life-altering experiences. When you think about popular vintage guitars, many of the most desirable ones are associated with popular guitarists. Like, the Jack White red Airline, or the Jimmy Page Danelectro shorthorn, or even the Chris Issak Silvertone! But I feel these amp case guitars should be “Romweber” or “Dex” models! When I saw the Duo Jets, Dex played the short scale 1448, and he did more with that guitar than anyone I’ve seen before or since! Check out the bottom of this post to see Dex in action with his Silvertone!
Living on the east coast, I would see Danelectros all the time in local pawn shops and guitar stores, but Silvertones are everywhere! And back in the day, Sears stores were all over the country. But there is an aspect that bugs me about these guitars, and that’s the Jimmy Page references. That darn Jimmy Page’s name is used in such reverence in connection with gear! I know he was a great guitar player, but this hero-worship is something I’ve never understood. Most folks know that Jimmy played a shorthorn Danelectro 3021, and we have two of these in the collection (bought well before they hit the $1k mark). Buying a 3021 is an expensive “investment”, but most people just don’t seem to realize that the 3021 sounds pretty darn similar to these long scale Silvertone amp case models! Seriously! There is no way the 3021 sounds $1500-$2000 better than the 1449 or the 1457!!! The biggest difference I see/hear is that the 3021 has a little more “bite” because the bridge pickup is slightly closer to the bridge (and the body is slightly bigger).
OK, enough ranting. Let’s just leave you with a pic of the “binding” found on these Danlectro guitars. And here’s some advice, if you have a vintage Danelectro that needs work, just send it on down to Dano Dave D’Amelio. I’m not exaggerating when I say the man is devoted to his craft and he understands Danelectro guitars better than anyone I’ve ever seen. And then check out Mike Dugan playing some Led Zeppelin on the 1449! And then check out Dex and the Flat Duo Jets!
Here’s the Flat Duo Jets!!!
Dex is still playing these guitars in 2011!!!