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Review/Pics of 1965 Danelectro Silvertone Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jim Carr, Aug 30, 2008.

  1. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Combine one single-coil lipstick tube pickup, a 30” short scale neck, a thick Brazilian rosewood 24 fret fingerboard, a set of round wounds strings, a semi-hollow Masonite body, and wood saddle equipped bridge---Presto Dano, what do you get? Retro heaven!

    Here's the review of the '65 Silvertone bass I just received, with pics at the end, as promised.
    Do we need a Danelectro Bass Club??? :eyebrow:

    I'd love to hear from other Dano/Silvertone bassists or anyone interested in (or skeptical of) Danelectro basses, new or old. This one is essentially identical to the bass I first learned on at age 13 in 1963, and except for a couple of parts, is pretty much original. I am very happy to have found it. I got the chance to play it with one of my bands for about 5 hours last night, so here is a review of sorts. :hyper:

    Instrument Description:
    1965 Danelectro-built Silvertone single cutaway “dolphin nose” single pickup bass. Color: black. Weight: 6 lbs. 9 oz. Condition: Very Good

    The “dolphin nose” takes its name from the shape of the small headstock. Its fingerboard is a thick slab of Brazilian rosewood. The "semi-hollow" body is built of a poplar wood frame with Masonite top and back. The original white vinyl side covering is intact and well attached. The 24 frets are in good shape, as is the entire bass, right down to the cupcake control knobs, nail position markers ala wishbass, and Micro-tilt neck adjustment.

    This bass might have been partially “parted out.” The original round brass strap buttons are gone with Schaller strap locks installed in their place. The plastic Silvertone headstock logo is missing, and the old “strip” tuners have been replaced with new Gibson guitar tuners. However, the transparent pickguard, control knobs, bridge, input jack, pickup, frets, aluminum nut, screws, and glossy black finish appear original. I would put this bass in the "well-loved" category, due to numerous old dings—but it is attractive, very playable, and really in terrifically good shape considering it’s over 43 years-old!

    The bass arrived well-setup in its original hardshell case, and strung with what I believe are new D'addario XL220S light gauge Nickel-plated steel short-scale hexcore round wounds.

    No boomy mud bucket, this is a unique and fun to play instrument with a sassy, even honky retro tone. It is almost pure growl. The D and G are noticeably brighter than the lower strings, as is common in short scales, but there is a woody note to the all the tones from the resonance (or lack there of) of the semi-hollow body, and the strong upper mid frequency response of the single coil pickup. The bass likes thumb-style and even to be slapped, but really just plain loves a pick. I get some cool honky twang near the bridge, and the punchy palm mute pick tones are totally to die for. You can get a less growly and more even sound from finger-style playing nearer the fingerboard.

    Being used to the dark chocolate rich punch of my Sadowsky P/J, I found myself on more than one occasion reaching for my amp’s EQ knobs to boost the lows. This is not a “fundamental rich” instrument, and the fretted notes do not sustain anywhere near as much as on my more modern basses.

    This may explain why some people think the tone of the “dolphin nose” is like a plywood upright. Cheap plywood uprights don’t sustain it is true, but I didn’t find myself reminded of an upright playing the Silvertone. This is rawer sound, and definitely with a punk attitude!

    On the other hand, with my tube preamp pushed hard, this bass could be played on the verge of feedback, providing a thrilling sustain. The strings have a nice slack quality, inviting guitar vibrato, bends, and chords. Creating a consistent note-to-note tone and dynamic level is a little challenging, which may be the only real flaw in this type instrument, besides the less than ideal intonation available from the fixed bridge.

    Yet, the really great things about this bass besides it’s cool retro vibe are its lightweight playability and range of usable distinctive tone colors available by varying touch, technique, and playing position.

    This bass is very cool, fun to play, and useful for songs that call for pungent twangy or muted tones with a unique growly personality.

    Randy Ward, mongo2 and bobyoung53 like this.
  2. BassBob185


    Oct 25, 2007
    Rocking Chair
    Nice bass and very informative review Jim. My first stringed instrument was a new Silvertone acoustic guitar that was bought at Sears back in the early 1960s.
  3. UncleBalsamic


    Jul 8, 2007
    That's pretty cool! I like it.
  4. Very cool bass , any sound clips ?
  5. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Not yet, but I'm working on it. This needs to be heard, as it is one of the more interesting sounding basses of that era that I have played.

    More to come...:cool:
  6. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Thanks. I wish I knew a little more about the history of this line of basses.

    I am hoping we will see Doug Tulloch's book, Neptune Bound, soon...and that you still have the quitar!
  7. ForestThump


    Jun 15, 2005
    Very cool bass. Can be difficult to intonatie properly. Danelectro offers a replacement bridge with adjustable saddles which is definitely worth considering if you want to gig/record seriously with this instrument.
  8. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    I had one of those Silvertone acoustics. Got it on my 7th birthday in 1962. Kept it until my wife (now ex-wife) broke it over my back and then beat me in the head with the neck. But we were still kids, married at 18. Fun times.
    Kirk Bryant, elgranluis and mcgreivey like this.
  9. sedan_dad


    Feb 5, 2006
    I have 2 Dano's.
    A Longhorn and a U-1 that I put together. Imagine the body from yours with a shorty Longhorn neck.
    I love em'.
  10. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Thanks! I guess I'd better check out the Short Scale club to see if other
    Silvertones have appeared. :hyper:
  11. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147

    Intonation is one of the major flaws in the instrument. :p
    Have you tried the new bridge? Got pics of a bass with it?
  12. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Banned Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    The tuners on this are replacements, although close to the original. From the pics I see they are gibson deluxe. Originals were Kluson. Some of these basses also came with a single "skate key" 4 post tuner.

    Either way, very cool. I have a Dan Armstrong Modified Danelectro I just love. As for the intonation, no Dano was even close after about frets 4-6. But don't sweat it. They are on a lot of original 1950's and 1960's classics and you can't tell.

    If you want to really see that the intonation doesn't really matter that much, check out recordings by Al Ciaola. He used a 1956 Danelectro six string bass for many of his guitar parts on major pop and movie soundtrack hits in the 1960's. You can't tell his instruments intonation is as off as it really is.

    His six string bass just sold on ebay.

  13. That thing is sweet, I love it.
  14. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Nice bass...I've owned a few of them over the years. If you put flats on it and play up near the neck you can get a nice "upright-ish" type tone. Nice and fat, woody (what kind of description is that ?!?!) type sound.

    Congrats !
  15. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I wanna Longhorn! Cool bass BTW!
  16. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    I hope nobody here takes offense if I say that is one of the funniest things I have ever read on this board.
    elgranluis likes this.
  17. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    me too :)
  18. Just last week I found a '65 Silvertone U1 "dolphin nose" with much player wear at a music pawn shop with a price tag of $799. The finish is original although most of it is worn off the back of the neck, the body finish is worn under G near the pickguard. There were a decent amount of good basses but the Silvertone called my name. I agree with the OP's review, it is unique and fun to play. I'm considering contacting the store to place a best offer $. Since these dont often appear on Ebay, what would be a reasonable offer?
  19. The sound is clearly unique with deep grindy lows, growly with strong mids if combined with strong attack very punchy. There is no truss rod. The neck is stable well constructed of thick solid maple with a thick rosewood fretboard. Neck adjustments require shims. There is NO neck dive. It is super light feels comfortable to play for being short scale.
  20. that thing is just way too ugly for me to play

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