'59 DC-12 review by Danelectro

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  • Features: 6
  • Sound: 5
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 3
  • Reliability & Durability: 3
  • Overall Impression: 3
  • Reviewer's score: 4 Poor
  • Users' score: 9.2 (9 votes)
Danelectro: '59 DC-12

Price paid: £ 329

Purchased from: GAK

Features — 6
2014 model, DC59BLK-12. Based on a 1959 design. Made in Korea. Maple bolt on neck with Rosewood fretboard. 21 frets, 25" scale length. Double acting truss rod. Nut width 1.65". Fretboard radius 14". 6-a-side sealed tuners. C shape neck. Masonite & plywood solid laminated body. Two Alnico powered lipstick pickups. Double cutaway body. 3 way toggle switch. One volume & one tone control. Aluminium nut. Nickel plated bridge. The original versions of this guitar were used by the likes of Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett.

Sound — 5
I didn't give this guitar as much of a sound test as I should have done. This was basically because the setup and finish were not to a good standard. I will go into this further below. Unplugged the guitar was very bright and after a few tune ups (not unexpected with a new guitar, especially a 12-string) it held it's tune well. Plugged in the sound was clear, although I only put it through a Vox transistor amp. The toggle switch was very noisy. To be fair the sound was great on all the review videos I found online. Through the right amp I'm sure this would have sounded great, unfortunately because of it's other failings I never had it long enough to find out.

Action, Fit & Finish — 3
The setup on this particular guitar was poor to say the least. The neck was at completely the wrong angle to the body and when I put a straight edge on the fretboard it bumped up against the neck pickup. To try to lower the strings to a sensible height would not have been possible without a neck reset. I tried adjusting the saddles but got to a point on both the high and low E strings where the screws were loose and the saddles were resting on the bridge plate. The stuck-on vinyl around the edge of the guitar looks cheap and I suspect it wouldn't last too long. Also is it really necessary? Surely the Masonite/plywood could be finished fairly smoothly and painted to match the top? The pickguard is not one colour all the way through. It is mostly black and the top layer is painted white. This had scratches in it prior to me opening the box and I can only see that it would soon pick up more in normal use. The knobs were like something off a cheap hifi.

Reliability & Durability — 3
Where do I start? The vinyl on the sides is going to peel off. The pickguard is going to scratch and mark up. The toggle switch is going to get nosier or stop working altogether. For me this would have been a home use guitar mostly. So I suppose with a bit of maintenance here and there it would probably have lasted. But for regular gig use I would not want to rely on one of these myself. I do a lot of work on my own and my friends guitars and the issues I've had with this one are mostly to be found on cheap/bottom end examples. I have read people comparing this model to a Rickenbacker 12-string and suggesting the Danelectro was better. I have played both and for me the Rickenbacker wins hands down.

Overall Impression — 3
I feel somewhat guilty posting this review as I have not found anything other than positive reviews of these guitars on the net so far. I bought this as a treat for myself as I've had a couple of 12-string acoustics but not an electric. It was a real disappointment. If this guitar cost about half of what I paid for it then I could forgive all it's faults. But, at over £300 I expect a better instrument than the one I got. I have a Squier Tele that cost less than £200 and it's a far better made guitar than this. I have never spent this sort of money on a guitar I haven't tried and I would be reluctant to do so again. GAK have been very understanding and I have returned the guitar to them for a refund.

I have been playing for over 30 years and play music by many artist including Paul Weller, Muse, Stereophonics, Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, The Who, Radiohead, Damian Rice... My other gear includes - Fender USA Strat, Yamaha AC3M Acoustic, Freshman modified 8-string acoustic, Squier Tele, Marshall Master Sound combo, Vox 15w practice amp, Vox acoustic amp.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    I have had my DC-12 first reissue since 2004 when I bought it used. It has the pink-purple metal flake finish and a rather narrow and thin neck, which suits my smaller hands perfectly. I had to replace the nut and have the frets cleaned up a few years ago. And the sound.... I say it makes the sound of angels, but others describe the English/Southern California classic sound, and they're right too. When I play vintage Byrds and Roger McGuine tunes people think it's a "Rick". I've been tempted, more than once, to make another nut and restring it like the "Rick" just to experience the difference.