Howdy y'all! This may be part two in a two part series ... but it's a radical departure from part one! Last week we discussed a super cool and often overlooked vintage guitar, this week is different! The center of attention this time around is a Korean made Danelectro with built-in multi-effects from the late 90's/early 2000's, and it really surprised the heck out of me. I came upon one of these at a small guitar shop owned by a buddy, it had a kind of cool retro surf look (sparkles and all), I picked it up and was really surprised at how good it felt, but the real surprise was yet to come. I expected the built-in effects to be totally cheese city, but they really were not. I expected the pickups to suck and they really did not. I expected the trem to constantly go out of tune, and you guessed it: it did not either! Cool! $185 clams and she was mine. Let's dig in a little deeper.
The Tone: Really pretty darn good straight-up strat tone! What's not to like?
Fit-n-finish: Standard made-in-Korea (South, of course) at the Samick Plant ... ie: VERY good!
Distortion: Yes ... it IS a little over-the-top, and it's impossible to find a subtle setting, but it is really not bad, and the filter is really cool. I took a look inside and found the effects section to be two boards stacked one on top of the other. The bottom board is the distortion circuit. That makes sense as this guitar was also available with ONLY the distortion ... and so that model would simply leave out the stacked board. Man, it's actually a pretty darn cool circuit, too. Take a look at the pic below. You will notice the diodes for clipping (circled in yellow), and the big trash-can fassel inductor (circled in green). Yep, them there's the components to a quality wah-wah pedal with overdrive folks!
Now, how about those OTHER effects?
Chorus: Okay, this one really needs a knob ... there is just no way to NOT have it sound over-the-top. However, it IS cool as an every now and then effect ... just remember a little goes a long way! Tremolo: Flat-out excellent; nothing to complain about here, sounds just like a Fender tremolo ... and the speed can be varied from swampy-slow to chain-saw fast and all points inbetween! Echo: Now, this is a personal taste, but I love it. Hit the button and you have instant rockabilly slap-back, I use that a LOT! So, let's take a look at that TOP effects board! Look at the pic below. In the pink circle is the pretty darn cool 2398S chip that provides the chorus, this excellent sounding chip can do a lot of stuff, and it's sure to bad they couldn't have managed to fit a speed control, or at least intensity control on the pick-guard somehow! In blue is the 2399S chip that provides the echo, again it would have been easy to add a length control to this good sounding chip! And last, the real surprise in Yellow: this little box actually houses a LED photo-optic tremolo "bug" ... yep, just like the neon bug in a Fender blackface or silverface amp! Dang! That's why the trem sounds so good!
At a later point I just might try to cram in a couple extra controls to be able to vary the delay time and tame the chorus, but for now there was only ONE mod I did right away: I added a conservative treble-bleed circuit. Why? Well, to keep the distortion from being totally over the top, you need to pull the volume control WAY down, to like 2-3 ... and with no bleed circuit, that would mean total MUD! So, with the bleed installed, I can pull the volume way back and not loose all my top end.