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The Forgotten Instrument

Have you ever heard of a “guitarlin?” It was created in 1958 by Danelectro Guitars, built to cover the typical electric guitar register along with the higher range of a mandolin. It was such a radical instrument at the time, and because it didn’t sell well, only about 200 were made between 1958 and 1968.

Nathan Daniel founded the Danelectro Company in 1947, which went on to build electric guitar amplifiers for Montgomery Ward and Sears. Eventually, Sears asked Danelectro to produce an electric guitar, leading to its line of low-priced guitars for beginners.

Along with its guitars, Danelectro produced basses, double-neck instruments, and of course, the guitarlin. The guitarlin had an unprecedented 31 frets, with a fretboard made of rosewood and a “Coke bottle” headstock decorated with the Danelectro logo.

Most were made of Masonite, a material created by pressure molding steamed wood fibers. Similar to all Danelectro instruments, the two single-coil pickups were housed in metal tubes that were originally designed to hold lipstick.

The original price for a 1958 Danelectro Guitarlin was $150, but its current value is $2,000. It was very awkward for most guitar players, but it’s a collectible today due to its association with Link Wray, who used it in recordings in the late 1950’s.

Courtesy of Premier Guitar

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