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Danelectro Convertible Model 5005 owned by Vinnie Bell Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1965)
Danelectro Convertible Model 5005 owned by Vinnie Bell Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1965), made in Neptune, NJ, serial # 1055, formica with vinyl siding finish, masonite and pine body, poplar neck with rosewood fingerboard.
This 1965 Danelectro Convertible Model 5005 has a great provenance -- it was the personal property of session guitarist/inventor and Danelectro pro-in-residence Vinnie Bell, probably since new. Vincent "Vinnie" Bell was one of the most prominent of all East Coast session guitarists; he can be heard on literally thousands of recordings.
He was also a very early pioneer of electronic guitar sounds and effects and an inventor of great imagination. Bell worked with Nathan Daniel's Danelectro company in Neptune, New Jersey starting in the early 1960s and designed many of their more memorable products. These include the Bellzouki (the first 12-string electric guitar), the upscale Coral line of 1967, and most memorably the Coral Electric Sitar, one of the most distinctive fretted creations of all time.
This "Convertible" model acoustic guitar was not one of the Bell-designed Danelectro instruments, but IS one of company founder Nathan Daniels' more whimsical creations. The model 5005 was the company's least expensive model, and the only purely acoustic instrument the electric-minded firm offered. It is basically just a thinline hollow-body electric guitar without the electronics, and was offered simultaneously with a single lipstick tube pickup in the round sound hole. This model was offered for sale both with or without a pickup (hence the name) and the electronics package was available as a separate kit, so you could "Convert" it for an upgrade to amplification at any time after purchase.
The hollow Masonite-and-pine body is finished rather like a 1950s kitchen table with a Formica-covered top and back and textured vinyl siding. The neck is the standard Danelectro style with a "Coke Bottle" headstock shape adorned with a vertical logo and the "skate key" strip tuners used from 1964. The original list price of this guitar without a pickup was all of $45.00. If you wanted an electric model it was $65, or you could buy the pickup and wiring rig separately and install it yourself. The control holes in the top are re-plugged with metal inserts that pop out easily!
Convertible guitars do not have a solid center block like the Danelectro standard models and thus have more body response than any other Nathan Daniel design, making for a fairly functional acoustic guitar -- considering they are made of the finest Masonite! While never replacing anyone's Martin they have proved enduringly popular with a unique tone all their own, both plugged and unplugged. This particular guitar has not seen much use but has likely never left New Jersey until recently, having long been residing as close to the heart of the Danelectro legacy as possible.
Overall length is 38 1/2 in. (97.8 cm.), 13 1/4 in. (33.7 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 2 in. (5.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 in. (635 mm.). Width of nut is 1 5/8 in. (41 mm.).
Until very recently this unassuming Danelectro guitar had been sitting in Vinnie Bell's basement for a very long time. It is all original with very little wear, just some flaking to the lacquer finish on the back of the neck and a few corroded spots to the metal. We cleaned it up and put on new strings (and saved the old ones, at least some of which look to have been on for decades) and it's ready to go.
We'd guess Vinnie (who had a lot of guitars) didn't use this instrument much, but for some reason he kept a set of Convertibles original and intact down through the years. They remained completely unaltered while all his other personal guitars were heavily modified or even built from scratch, often using Danelectro parts. Perhaps it was simply fate, or maybe a bit of nostalgia for his days working with Nathan Daniel down in Neptune. Whatever the reason, this guitar is a good, playable instrument, but more than that, a fantastic piece of Danelectro (and East Coast guitar) memorabilia.
Included are a signed certificate from the estate sale where it was sold, an authentic Vincent Bell business card, vintage imprinted Vinnie Bell pick, and the strings that were on it. This particular guitar is also pictured in Doug Tulloch's encyclopedic Danelectro history book NEPTUNE BOUND, although not specifically credited there as Bell's instrument. Excellent - Condition.
Item # 8360
This item has been sold.
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