Pros: This is a great sounding bass guitar.
DANELECTRO DC BASS GUITAR
The Danelectro DC Bass is possibly my favorite Danelectro Bass. I must say possibly, because I also love the sound and feel of the Danelectro Hodad Bass and the Danelectro Longhorn Bass as well. There is something that is addictive about playing a Danelectro, and that certainly goes for the DC Bass. Read on and see why I feel that the Danelectro DC Bass is one of the best bargains in the world of bass guitars.
Most people who think of Danelectro guitars immediately think of the double cut model 59-DC played by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, and when they think of a Danelectro Bass, most people will think of the Danelectro Longhorn that was popularized by John Entwhistle of the Who. Well the DC Bass is sort of a cross between these two instruments. The shape of the body on the DC Bass is a double cutaway, which looks very similar to the 59-DC Guitar, but it is a long scale bass with a similar sound to the Longhorn Bass.
Like most Danelectro Basses (the exception being the Danelectro Rumor Bass), the DC Bass is constructed using some very unusual and unexpected materials for a musical instrument. The body of the DC Bass is made with a plywood frame covered by a Masonite back and top. I know this sounds like I am discussing the materials that go into making a cheap kitchen counter top, but for some mysterious reason, the DC Bass manages to sound remarkably good. It sounds good both plugged in and unplugged, but Ill get into more about the sound of the DC Bass a bit later on in this review.
The neck on the DC Bass is made of more conventional materials. The neck is made of a very hard Maple, and the fingerboard is made of Rosewood. The DC Bass is a long scale bass, and has a neck length of 34 inches, and it has 21 frets. The neck is a bolt-on design, like a Fender Precision Bass, and it has a very tight neck joint, which adds to the resonance and sustain of the DC Bass. The four tuning pegs are two on each side of the headstock, and they held the DC Bass in tune very well. The bridge has a Rosewood saddle, and does not have individually adjustable saddles. Obviously this can present problems when attempting to precisely adjust the intonation, but I did not find that the DC Bass I was playing had any intonation problems to speak of. The DC Bass is available in the following colors: Limo Black, Commie Red, Silver Metal Flake, and Black Metal Flake. It is also available in a left-handed version.
And now on to a description of the electronics of the DC Bass. The DC Bass has two Lipstick Tube pickups, and it has a 3-way pickups selector, which permits you to engage either the neck pickup alone, the bridge pickup alone, or a combination of the two. There are two concentric Volume/Tone knobs, one for each pickup. As mentioned before, the DC Bass has two Lipstick Tube pickups, which are the same pickups found on most Danelectro Basses and Guitars as well. The story behind the design of these pickups is quite unusual, and the type of stuff that legends are made of. These pickups were designed by Nathan Daniel, who is the guy who put the Dan in Danelectro. At the core of these Lipstick Tube pickups is an Alnico V bar magnet, with a copper coil wrapped in electrical tape. Sounds pretty standard so far. However, as the story goes, Mr. Daniel was on a tight budget, and he needed to figure out what he could use as a protective cover for the delicate wiring and related electronics of the pickup. Mr. Daniel reportedly heard that a local cosmetics manufacturer had a surplus of brass lipstick tubes that were gathering dust. Mr. Daniel decided to see how these lipstick tubes might work as protective covers for his newly designed pickups. He took two lipstick tubes, placed one half of the pickup in one and the other half of the pickup in the other, and pushed the two lipstick tubes together. Remarkably, this worked, and the famous Danelectro Lipstick Tube pickup was born. With the exception of the Danoblaster series of guitars and basses, these same Lipstick Tube pickups are used on all Danelectro musical instruments, including their guitars, baritone guitars, and basses, and that also includes the DC Bass that I am reviewing here.
Well how does the Danelectro DC Bass sound? Like nothing else out there. Although the Lipstick Tube pickups on the DC Bass are single coil pickups, similar to the design of a Fender Jazz Bass pickup, the Danelectro DC Bass has a very unique sound all its own. It seems that most musical instrument manufacturers seem to try to copy the sound either a Fender or a Gibson, but that is not the case with the Danelectro DC Bass. A Danelectro Bass with lipstick tube pickups sounds different, interesting, and unique, and it has a sound that is hauntingly quite addictive.
With a bit of tweaking, one can get a lot of great sounds out of the DC Bass. Because of the resonance of the hollow body of the DC Bass, one can get a sound that is almost like an acoustic bass that is being amplified. On the other hand, the DC Bass always seems to have a bit of an edge to its sound. Thus, even when you set it to emphasize the low end bass, the sound seems to be able to cut through the mix. I was able to get a sound similar to the live sound that Jack Bruce achieved in his days with the Cream, and also a great live rock sound similar to what John Entwhistle was able to get in his earlier days with the Who. With a bit of tweaking I was able to get a sound similar to a Rickenbacker Bass as well. However, the best sound achievable on the Danelectro DC Bass is the unique sound of Lipstick Pickups on a bass with a Masonite body. There is nothing quite like it. It can sound very 60s, but it also can sound ideal for Seattle Grunge Punk Rock, and all out Heavy Metal as well.
Is the Danelectro DC Bass my favorite bass, or the best bass I have ever played? The answer is obviously NO. It is, what it is. It is a great, unique sounding, inexpensive bass, and one can find a Danelectro DC Bass in very good condition for about $250 on E-Bay. I am not about to through out my Fender Precision, Gibson EB-3 or my Line 6 Variax Bass. On the other hand, I must say that the Danelectro DC Bass is simply a lot of fun to play. It is light enough to play all through the night, and it is versatile enough and sounds good enough to play almost any type of music.
Who is the Danelectro DC Bass best suited for? For a price of about $250 it would be a great backup bass for just about any one who plays the Bass, and who wants a second bass with a different sound. For this price it is also a good entry level instrument for an advanced beginner. It is also very light in weight, and as such it is a good bass for a person who is smaller or lighter in stature. Plainly and simply, it is also a fun bass to play, and as such I could recommend it to anyone.
Well, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review of the Danelectro DC Bass. But now if you will excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.