Whack Job: 2001 Danelectro Baritone

This 2001 Danelectro Baritone model ain’t exactly what you can buy off the shelf at your local music store.
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The Silhouette of a Danelectro is easy to recognize for most anyone interested in guitars. But, wait, this Baritone model ain’t exactly what you can buy off the shelf at your local music store. This is a one-of-a-kind creation that you’ll only see in my studio. It may not be worth as much as a pristine ’58 sunburst Les Paul, but it’s definitely rare, and it may never go on the auction block.

WEIRDO FACTOR

It’s not so much the instrument that’s the weirdo this time—it’s that the column isn’t really about Danelectros. It’s about art! Specifically, the guitar as a canvas. When I was a kid, I remember almost gasping when Clapton, Harrison, and Hendrix painted their guitars back in the ’60s. So when I acquired this Dano Baritone, I asked my friend—artist/musician Michelle Winter (michellewinterdesign.com)—to paint it for me. I said, “Just do whatever you want,” and she created “The Bee.” (Note the bee hovering just under where the B string would be.)

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PLAYABILITY & SOUND

Pretty much everyone knows these vintage-styled planks made of plywood and Masonite—and with their lipstick pickups—have their own distinctive vibe. They sound bright and chimey, and tons of players have added Danelectros to their tonal arsenals since Evets Corporation revitalized the brand in the late ’90s. They’re light and easy to play, but, in this case, I liked looking at the guitar more than playing it. I ended up removing the strings, bridge, and anything that obscured my appreciation of Michelle’s wonderful pencil and eraser drawing. Now, it just hangs in my studio looking awesome.

VALUE

I paid $150 for this used ‘canvas’ from Craigslist, but now I consider it priceless. I love the art, and I love that it was painted by a dear friend.

WHY IT RULES

I’m not necessarily suggesting that you take a functioning guitar out of circulation just to paint it. But, if you do, you can hang it in your studio as an art piece, or use it as functional sculpture to perform live. Either way, it will become a singular expression of who you are.

If you have photos and stories about your own whack jobs, please contact me with at rtcarleton@gmail.com.

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