Danelectro Hodad

6 ratings (6 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: Excellent
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Jan 8, 2007 (Updated Mar 11, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:This is an excellent guitar for the money.


The Bottom Line: This guitar is an excellent value for the money, and may one day be a collectors item.


One of the most popular guitars ever released by the Danelectro company was the Hodad electric guitar. When it was introduced at the end of 1999, it was Danelectro’s top of the line 6-string electric guitar. This is a beautiful looking guitar, and it has a very “retro” look to it, sort of like the Mosrite guitars that were used by the Ventures. It was promoted as being “The Ultimate Surf Guitar,” and in fact, with a bit of tweaking, one can get some of the sounds of the ultimate surf guitarist Dick Dale out of this guitar.

The Hodad is a guitar that was made in Korea under the careful supervision of personnel from the Danelectro company. Do not let the fact that this guitar was made in Korea deter you. Some of the best “American” guitars are made there, such as the Line 6 Variax. The folks at Danelectro inspect each guitar that is made in Korea to insure that it is up to specifications before it is shipped to the public.

Like most Danelectro guitars, the Hodad has a very unusal construction. The Hodad has a hollow inside, and it is made with a wooden frame, with a solid Masonite top and back to the guitar. I know that this sounds like a “cheaply” made guitar, but I prefer to think of it as an “inexpensively” made guitar. The hollow body makes the Hodad a very light guitar, and one can rock out all night long with this guitar without having to see a Chiropractor for the next several weeks. The hollow body also gives the Hodad an unusual resonance to the sound of the notes, and it sounds louder than most solid body guitars when it is not plugged in. The extra resonance also adds to the uniqueness of the sounds that one can get from the Hodad when it is plugged in.

The neck of the Hodad is made of very hard light colored Maple, and the fretboard is Rosewood. The neck is connected to the body with a bolt-on design, similar to a Fender Stratocaster. There are 21 medium frets, and the generous double cutaway permits easy access to even the highest of notes on any of the strings. The frets are set nicely and evenly into the neck, and there were no sharp overhangs, protruding endings, dead spots on the neck, buzzing notes, or other problem issues with the fret work on this guitar. The tuning pegs are Gotoh’s, and I have come to respect these tuners as being really great, as I own several guitars with these tuning pegs. They are smooth to turn, have a good turning ratio, and hold the tune of the guitar very well, with no discernable slipping, even when the Vibrato tailpiece was used.

The rest of hardware on the Hodad is also great. The bridge is fully adjustable, which makes setting the intonation quite easy. The Hodad also comes with an optional Bigsby style tremolo, which adds to the retro look as well as giving the guitar greater versatility. The Hodad also comes equipped with 4 “Lipstick Tube” pickups with Alnico V magnets. The 4 pickups are grouped into 2 pairs, and are wired like 2 humbuckers. When the pickups are set to function this way, they are wired to cancel the hum or noise that single pickups are noted for. However, although the hum is cancelled, the sound is not exactly like a Gibson humbucking sound, and it is not as rich or as powerful. But it is still quite good, and part of the charm of this guitar is that it does not sound exactly like a guitar with humbucking pickups, or a guitar that is trying to imitate a Gibson.

There are four control knobs on the Hodad, as well as a 3-way toggle switch. The toggle switch permits you to choose the dual pickups at the bridge in the down position, all four pickups in the center position, and the up position activates the dual pickups at the neck position. Regarding the rotary control knobs, two of these control knobs are Volume controls, and two are Tone controls. This is what makes the Hodad such a remarkably versatile and interesting sounding guitar. The dual humbucking configuration of the pickups can be instantly modified or changed to be coil-tapped, as well as put “out-of-phase.” The Tone controls can be pulled-on and pop up, which puts the pickups “out of phase,” and a coil-tap on each pickup permits you to get the typical Danelectro single coil lipstick pickup sound. This yields a total of 12 different tonal combinations. If I have one complaint about this system, it is that I would have loved the Hodad to also have a 5-position blade switch like can be found on a Danelectro Innuendo model guitar as well, or as is commonly found on a modern Fender Stratocaster.

Well, what type of music is suitable to be played on a Danelectro Hodad you might ask? You name it, and you can do it. You can easily get sounds out of this guitar that would be suitable for most types of rock, blues, country, and even jazz. Although the humbucking configuration of the pickups did not really produce a Gibson like sound, when the Hodad’s pickups are set to the single coil configuration, they really can come quite close to a Fender Stratocaster. In this setting the notes sparkle and chime, and really sound great.

Who is the Hodad suitable for? Personally, I think it is a great guitar for an advanced beginner, as well as a good choice for a cost conscious intermediate player, as well as a good second guitar for a gigging musician. I like the look, the feel, and the sound of the Danelectro Hodad. These guitars are currently not being made anymore, and one can get one that is next to new on Ebay for about $250 to $300. Because so few of these guitars were made, and because they have such a unique sound and appearance, I truly believe that someday the Danelectro Hodad will be a guitar that has appeal to collectors. Further, for the cost conscious musician who can not afford to buy a Gibson or a Fender, I would heartily recommend a Danelectro. Yes, of course there are better guitars out there, but for the money, there is simply no guitar that I can think of that sounds as good, or plays so well, in this price range, as a Danelectro.

Well thank you for taking the time to read my review. But now, if you will please excuse me, I really must get back to my practicing.

Recommend this product? Yes

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