Danelectro DC 59M NOS
5th Jul 2014 | 10:00
Jimmy Page's 'other' guitar is back in black - with a pair of 15-year-old pups in tow
When Nathan Daniel began making Danelectro guitars as a low-cost alternative to Gibson, Fender and Gretsch back in 1954, we'd wager he didn't expect one to end up in the hands of a bona fide rock god. Jimmy Page's iconic 59DC fuelled Led Zep monsters Kashmir and In My Time Of Dying, and the DC59M apes that model with a few twists.
"Jimmy Page's iconic 59DC fuelled Led Zep monsters Kashmir and In My Time Of Dying"
Danelectro already has a 59DC replica in its catalogue (the DC59M), so why the NOS? Well, it turns out Dano's pickup supplier 'misplaced' a batch of lipstick pickups and only unearthed them now - 15 years after they were made. The company reckons they have more twang than any other lipstick single coil ever, hence this new addition to the Dano catalogue.
Otherwise, the key 59 elements are all here: the lightweight Masonite hardboard construction, lanky 'Coke bottle' headstock, and dual-concentric volume and tone controls return, although the DC59M NOS is updated with an intonatable saddled bridge - good news for anyone who's tried to set up the original's rosewood version.
The DC59M is seriously lightweight, which results in the guitar's trademark airy tone. Our review model is among the best-constructed Danos we've seen lately, too, with the cream binding firmly attached and the 21 frets well fitted. The only slight snag we experienced was a curious squeak from the aluminium nut slots during wide bends on the treble strings, but it's nothing a bit of lubrication won't clear up.
There's something about the design that just feels right. The 635mm (25-inch) scale length is a great halfway house between Fender and Gibson, and the neck's gloss finish makes for slick position shifts. Those shallow cutaways don't exactly aid upper-fret access, but otherwise, the DC59M is an immediate, addictive guitar.
It's the tones that keep you coming back, though. Danelectro's trademark lipstick pickups have a glassy, crystalline clarity on clean sounds, and to our ears, the NOS versions have an extra dose of top-end sparkle.
So, you can set your amp to overdrive and have no trouble cutting through the dirt, especially in the middle pickup position - in classic Dano fashion, this runs both pickups in series for humbucker-like grunt without sacrificing single-coil transparency.
Tune to Page's favourite alternate tuning, DADGAD, and the DC59M NOS is spot-on for scuzzy, dirty blues, while busting out Kashmir-style octave riffage yields a punchy, swaggering, mid-heavy tone.
If you didn't like Danos before, a pair of 15-year-old pickups isn't going to win you over, but for our money, the DC59M NOS is one of the best-sounding incarnations of the definitive Danelectro model - pick one up and we defy you not to feel inspired.