Danelectro Dead On ’67

BASED ON DANELECTRO’S HORNET SERIES H2V6 model made from 1967 to 1969, the Dead On ’67 takes some liberties with the original’s specs, which included “natural” finishes, a slider switch for each pickup (some versions had three pickups), and individual volume controls and a master volume. The originals also had an adjustable clear pickguard that floated above the “reflective stylized” pickguard. The ’67 comes in color finishes only and dispenses with the floating pickguard system while keeping the neat looking reflective plastic piece that hugs the curved top. The satin nickel-plating on the metal parts is another departure (a welcome one though), and the control layout is also quite different, consisting of Volume and Tone knobs for each pickup and a 3-way toggle selector. The Dead On’s control plate is metalized plastic instead of stainless steel, and the neck also has no tilt function as originally provided.
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The new guitar plays very well thanks to its slim, fairly wide neck and well-dressed and polished frets. The action on our test model is nice and low, and there was no fret buzz. The floating vibrato bridge provides a mild amount of pitch bend (about a step up was the most we could muster), and, like the original, it is adjustable for height, tilt, and intonation (accomplished by loosening a small screw under the rosewood saddle and twisting the piece to achieve the best compromise at the 12th fret).

The ’67’s boosted lipstick pickups have an excellent balance of clarity and punch, and the individual controls elicit a good deal of sonic range from them. Tested through a Traynor YGM-3 handwired combo with a Hardwire CM- 2 Tube Overdrive pedal for distortion, the ’67 served up everything from stinging clean to massively overdriven tones. The neck pickup has a round, clear vibe that works great for blues or even jazz with a little rolloff from the Tone control. With both pickups active, the sounds are bright and jangly and can be easily shifted toward darker or more trebly timbres by varying the pickups’ volume settings. For straightup burn, the bridge pickup complies with a fat, presency attack that sounded killer with the Tone knob pulled back slightly and feeding a high-gain setting on the CM-2 pedal.

Though perhaps not quite as “dead on” as some Dano aficionados might like, the ’67 brings back the unique look, sound, and feel of this long-lost solidbody model from Danelectro’s past. And considering that originals go for upwards of $800 now, the Dead On ’67 is certainly priced right for the times.