DanelectroDanelectro ’84 Strat-style Electric Guitar Review
This article is a full review of the left-handed Danelectro ’84 Strat/S-Style electric guitar. This Danelectro ’84 was sent out for me to do a video review on (below). Danelectro allowed me to keep the guitar and has not paid me in addition to this. This review, like my videos, are pros and cons based on my own experience. Danelectro has no input into my content, nor does any other company. With that aside, let’s get into it!
The Back Story
Danelectro contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing one of their guitars. I didn’t expect to be able to choose which one, but I am glad I got to pick this one first! The Danelectro ’84 was high on my list of guitars to test out. It had a lot to like about it on paper, and when it turned up, I was pleasantly surprised.
There’s a lot of Stevie Ray Vaughan fans out there, and if you are reading this review, odds are you know who and what inspired this guitar to happen. The quote below is from the Danelectro website.
This “S-style” with Lipstick tube pickups hearkens back to a guitar built for and used extensively by Stevie Ray Vaughan. His was a custom “one-off” made by Charley Wirz of Charley’s Guitar Shop in Dallas, Texas in 1983.
When the guitar turned up, I still owned my Fender Standard Stratocaster (made in Mexico) in white. Because of this, I had a solid foundation for comparison. Each of these guitars is roughly the same price depending on where you live, of course. There is a lot to like about the Danelectro ’84 guitar, including. These things include the tone, build quality and overall mojo.
The Danelectro is Strat-style guitar with a modified headstock and loaded with the iconic Danelectro lipstick pickups. Furthermore, the build quality is excellent right across the board. Danelectro manufactures their guitars in Korea, and the quality is above average. This guitar compares very favorably with my 2015 made in Mexico Fender Stratocaster.
Pickups and Tone
The Danelectro ’84 is loaded with the three Danelectro Lipstick pickups and is wired internally like a modern Stratocaster. We get a five-position switch that allows for all of the regular combinations of pickups. In true Stratocaster fashion, positions 2 and 4 are also hum-canceling. Hum canceling positions allows for a massive advantage if you usually have issues with any buzz.
What sounds good when it comes to a guitar tone is always a very subjective thing. The tone of these lipstick pickups is more scooped than I was initially used to, but it grew on me. It also has a slightly thicker tone than a true-vintage feel. These aren’t overly hot pickups, but they sound pretty fat. The Danelectro pickups will appeal to those who like something a little bit more modern. They are somewhat similar to a Fender single-coil pickup in terms of the lower frequencies, but they have their own thing going on. I was shocked these pickups weren’t your standard “vintage” sound.
Let’s put it like this. If you prefer a higher output single-coil pickup, you might want to give this guitar a miss. If you like something somewhat reminiscent of a vintage Stratocaster or if you are a huge SRV fan, you should check this out.
A Simple Configuration
I love simple guitars. Who even uses two tone controls on a strat? I don’t, and I don’t know anyone that does. Having a single volume control and individual tone control is all you’ll get along with the five-way toggle switch. This simplicity is right up my alley, and I think a lot of players that never use their tone controls will feel the same way.
Neck Size and Feel
The neck on this guitar feels great. Danelectro has used a C-shape neck profile on this guitar that will feel instantly familiar. The significant difference between this neck and most found on a Fender Stratocaster is the fretboard is a lot flatter with a radius of 14″. The scale length of the guitar is 25.5″.
This neck profile is very uncommon with all Fender brand Strats. The Danelectro ’84 doesn’t have the familiar curved radius of a Fender. The advantage of this radius means you can lower the action more and get less fret buzz. It also means the Danelectro does feel different to play than your favorite Fender Strat.
For those used to a PRS, Ibanez, or Gibson, you’ll know just how low you can set the action on those guitars. This Danelectro ’84 is just like that. You can get a far lower action without any fret buzz, unlike on a Fender, where the action will need to be higher to avoid buzzing.
Be warned: This might look like a Strat and sound somewhat like one, but the feel of the instrument is a bit different. The difference is one of the guitar’s biggest strengths. I am thrilled that Danelectro didn’t just build a clone of some random Fender guitar.
Frets & Hardware
Here’s my first complaint about the guitar. The fret edges aren’t incredible. They aren’t sharp, but you really can feel them a lot more than any Stratocaster I have ever owned or played. The fretboard and the flat frets aren’t shaped on the sides the same way.
It’s not “bad,” but I found it distracting at first and was shocked at how different they felt on the sides along the edge of the fretboard. This point is the only main criticism of the guitar, and I mentioned it in my video review below. Danelectro does not specify the frets they use on this model, but to my eye and hand, they feel like medium jumbo frets.
Bridge & Nut
The rest of the hardware is top-notch. Included, we get a Wilkinson bridge that floats on a 2-point tremolo system that works well. Wilkinson tremolo systems are some of my favorite because they work great without the guitar going out of tune all of the time. The Graphite nut works a treat, and the vintage-style tuners are 100% reliable. The guitar played great out of the box. To this day, I have no set it up or made any modifications to it.
Value for Money
The Danelectro ’84 Strat is an excellent value for money instrument. It combines a unique twist to a classic Stratocaster design that will appeal to fans of SRV and just great guitars in general. This instrument is punching well above its weight quality-wise and is on par with Fender Player Series instruments in terms of quality. I have to say the Wilkinson Tremolo system and bridge on the Danelectro ’84 is better than on some Strats. The two-point design allows for more tuning stability. The PRS SE Custom 24 uses a very similar bridge, and it’s very reliable also.
The suggested price on this guitar is USD 599. While you don’t get a gig bag, I still consider this to be a great value instrument considering the performance, uniqueness, and quality of the guitar. Danelectro doesn’t always get their designs right for gigging musicians, but this is easily the best guitar of theirs I have used at gigs and jam sessions.
All you get with the Danelectro ’84 is a whammy bar and a couple of Allen Keys to adjust the Truss rod and saddles. You don’t get a gig bag or hard case with the Danelectro ’84. I can highly recommend this gig bag (Sweetwater link) if you are considering this guitar.
Below is my video review of the Danelectro ’84 electric guitar
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Who this Guitar is for
This guitar is well suited to anyone who loves a strat but prefers the feel of a modern fretboard radius. Blues, surf, and classic rock n roll players will get a kick out of this.
Who this guitar is not for
Due to the lower output pickups and design, this guitar wouldn’t be overly well suited for heavier styles of music. Anytime you are using excessive-high gain with single-coil pickups, it doesn’t usually work well.
Concerns or Quality Control Issues
Overall, the quality of the Danelectro ’84 is fantastic. The only thing is the fret edges feel way more prominent than I am used to playing. They aren’t sharp; they are just noticeable.
Has the Danelectro ’84 Been Discontinued?
I spoke to my contact at Danelectro that said the ’84 can still be found in some shops but is no longer in production.
Danelectro stated: “The 84 won raves from a lot of players, but I think our error was not making it “pro” enough in the overall guitar features. If we were to do this model again, we would pay more attention to all the details.”
It appears that a new release of the Danelectro ’84 might be on the horizon, but only time will tell.
The Danelectro ’84 is an excellent guitar in its own right. If you are familiar with the Player Series guitars from Fender, this instrument is very similar build quality-wise.
Thankfully, Danelectro changed enough in terms of feel and tone from the Fender Stratocaster, making it a unique instrument in its own right. Minus the apparent Strat-style shape, it’s nothing like a Fender Stratocaster.
The Wilkinson Tremolo system is much better than anything Fender is making. A few reasons why this is better is the guitar will stay in far better tune with this Tremolo system, and it’s far more reliable with its two-point design.
If you can find one of these new or used I would suggest snagging it up asap. These are tough to find and are well worth a look for guitarists wanting something different.
Comparable Left-Handed Guitars
- Fender Player Series Stratocaster
- Squier Classic Vibe 60s Stratocaster
- Danelectro ’64 Electric guitar
- Fender MIJ Stratocasters
Official Specifications thanks to Danelectro
- Solid-body electric guitar
- Double cutaway offset horn shape
- Scale length: 25.5″
- Number of frets: 21 (graphite nut)
- Wilkinson vibrato bridge
- Three single-coil Lipstick pickups
- One master volume
- One master tone
- 5-way pickup switch
- Alderwood body, Maple neck, Rosewood board
- Nut is 41mm
- Fretboard radius is 14
- “C” neck shape & 7/8 thickness
- New for 2017 from Danelectro
- Made in Korea – fabulous build quality
- Available in White, Red Burst, 3-Tone Sunburst, Black