The frets on the ’63 are smooth, and the aluminum nut allows for unfettered string travel and good tuning integrity. The new guitar’s beefy adjustable bridge is an improvement over earlier wood-and-metal Dano hardtails, but the 3-position switch produces some audible scratches. The Master Volume and Tone knobs operate smoothly, and both controls are positioned on the body for easy pinky manipulations. The Tone knob’s frequency range allows for reasonable wah effects when you rotate the control between its extremes.
The hippest tonal aspect of all the Danos I’ve played is their articulate pop. The combination of the lipstick pickups and the ply-Masonite body conspires to produce quite a different sound from most humbucker and single-coil guitars. Whether you play clean or uber distorted, Danelectros deliver a nice round snap that leaps out of your amp and lifts each note into the air, and the Dano ’63 is no exception. It’s also a very dynamic guitar that reacts beautifully to Volume knob changes, as well as translating the roundhouse punches and gentle caresses of your pick attacks. Selecting the bridge pickup gives you a thin and steely tone, the dual position offers the most awesome sound—a righteous combo of thud and snap—and the neck position can emulate reasonable jazz timbres when the Tone is knocked down a tad. There’s also a small volume boost when switching from the bridge pickup to dual-pickup mode, which is nice if you use the dual mode for solos or catchy riffs.
Like its siblings, the Dano ’63 is a fun, fashionable, and inexpensive guitar that provides its owners with a unique voice. If you’re a sonic explorer or a cover-band musician, you should definitely consider adding the Dano ’63 to your arsenal. Now, if the case-amp package reappeared as well, I’d be so happy that I wouldn’t be tempted to suck down vanilla bean ice cream for an entire year.