Danelectro got its start in 1947 when founder Nathan Daniel returned to New Jersey and to his passion of making amplifiers after serving in the Army during WWII. He secured his first customer, Epiphone, with Sears and Montgomery Ward following soon after, with amplifiers branded under the names of Silvertone and Airline.
At the request of Sears, starting in 1954, Danelectro began producing electric guitars, first developing many of what became Danelectro features for Silvertone guitars. Danelectro's genius lay in using innovative materials to produce affordable, playable instruments. With a poplar frame topped with masonite and/or formica, the guitars also had a unique look. The famous "lipstick" pickups were a brilliant use of surplus lipstick tubes and the unique, signature punchy sound of the guitars came from pickups in series, rather than the more common parallel wiring—a happy accident which occurred when parallel wiring would have required a more expensive switch.
At first considered simply cheap guitars for the masses, the unique qualities of Danelectros caused the guitars to quickly grew in popularity—with artists like Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page becoming fans and users of these instruments that had as much in common with kitchen cabinets as with other guitars.
By the time Nathan Daniel sold the company in 1966 to MCA, it was clear he had succeeded in his aim to produce the highest quality guitar for the lowest possible cost. Under MCA’s ownership, the Coral line of hollow-body guitars and electric sitars was introduced. The company, however, changed hands a number of times over the next couple of decades, with the guitars eventually reissued under the current owner of the brand, the Evets Corporation in Camarillo, California.
Over the years, the list of Danelectro players has included the likes of J.J. Cale, Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, Beck, Thom Yorke, Cat Power, and countless more. Over the past decade, Danelectro has expanded its vision for the brand—offering effects pedals and limited-run reissues of some of the most-loved models. Today, the company offers a number of effects pedals including the Daddy O, Dan-Echo pedals, Dan-O-Matic Tuners, and the Cool Cat and FAB series pedals—all in addition to the still-popular guitars.