When it comes to guitars with the perfect combination of cool styling, righteous tones and amazing value, Danelectro has been the guitar industry’s shining city on the hill since 1954. That’s truer today than ever before, as Danelectro’s current products offer an alluring combination of vintage appeal and modern high-performance upgrades that make Dano guitars incredibly versatile.
Danelectro’s new ’59XT is the perfect example of where the company stands today, as the model offers the classic shorthorn double-cutaway semi-hollowbody design, a wider tonal palette courtesy of its pickup configuration and a rock-solid Wilkinson tremolo. (Danelectro also offers the ’59X without the Wilkinson tremolo for all you hardtail purists out there.)
Like the Danelectro guitars of yesteryear, the ’59XT features a Masonite top and back, and the body has hollow inner chambers. Tonewood snobs may scoff, but in a blind listening test I doubt that most would notice and probably would prefer the Dano’s tone because it’s rich, thick, dynamic and musical. The neck has 21 jumbo frets with a shallow, rounded profile, and the neck’s profile itself is a shallow C shape that plays fast and comfortably. Classic features include the signature three-on-a-side Coke bottle headstock shape and die-cast chrome master volume and master tone knobs.
The pickups consist of a high-output single-coil P90 at the neck position and a pair of iconic Dano lipstick tube pickups placed side-by-side in a humbucking configuration at the bridge position. Both pickups are also angled, with the neck P90’s bass polepieces angled closer to the bridge while the bridge lipstick humbucker is angled with the treble string portion closer the bridge. The humbucking pickup also has a split coil function that is activated by pulling up on the master tone knob. The Wilkinson tremolo is floating, so users can raise or drop pitch.
In terms of tone, the Danelectro ’59XT is an aggressive rock and roll beast. The P90 and lipstick humbucker roar with a vicious snarl that emphasizes delicious upper midrange frequencies that slice through a mix without sounding shrill or harsh. The hollow body is somewhat sensitive to high-gain amp settings and will produce feedback, but actually this guitar’s tonal sweetspot is a moderate amount of gain that provides the string attack with ample snap, spank and zing. The Wilkinson tremolo has a vintage-style non-locking design with all of the expected tonal benefits, but even the most aggressive whammy action won’t knock the strings out of tune.
STREET PRICE: $499
MANUFACTURER: Danelectro, danelectro.com
● The side-by-side lipstick humbucker bridge pickup provides classic Dano single-coil tones, thanks to a coil-split function activated by pulling up on the master tone knob.
● A floating Wilkinson tremolo allows players to perform modern rising-pitch or deep-diving whammy tricks while delivering rich, expressive tone—and without going out of tune.
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you love the timeless classic looks of a vintage Danelectro guitar but need more versatile modern performance as well as the most aggressive tones known to mankind, the ’59XT is the ax for you.