Danelectro was founded by Nathan Daniel in 1947; throughout the late 1940s, the company produced amplifiers for Sears, Roebuck and Company and Montgomery Ward.
In 1954, Danelectro started producing the Danelectro lines of solidbody electric guitars and amplifiers. Later hollow-bodied guitars (constructed out of Masonite and plywood to save costs and increase production speed), distinguished by Silvertone’s maroon vinyl covering, Danelectro’s light tweed covering, the concentric stacked tone/volume knobs used on the two-pickup models of both series, and the “lipstick-tube” pickups—invented by placing the entire mechanism into spare lipstick tubes—aimed to produce no-frills guitars of reasonably good tone at low cost.
The Danelectro U1 is a single-pickup hollow bodied guitar made of Masonite and shaped similar to a Les Paul model guitar.
It was originally made from the years 1956 to 1958 but was re-issued in the late 90s, in 2006 in a slightly modified form as the ’56 Pro, and again in 2010 as the ’56 Single Cutaway.
The sound of a U2 is distinctive of the Danelectro guitar, coming from its lipstick pickups which when both selected are wired in series rather than the more standard parallel used today by most big brands.
Construction materials used by Danelectro in this period are quite unusual for guitar making. The U1’s body is made of a poplar woodframe with Masonite used for both the top and back, with the side of the body being bound with creme coloured vinyl.
A single-pickup version, the U1, was manufactured and sold alongside the U2. The U1 and U2 were reissued from 1998 to 2001, along with a new version, the U3 with three pickups and a six-position switch which would allow the player to select bridge, middle, neck, bridge and neck, bridge and middle, middle and neck, or with the “blow” switch, all three pickups at once.