Rickenbacker vs. Danelectro 12-Strings | Hi/Lo Pass

When it comes to electric 12-strings, there are some players who insist that it has to be a Rickenbacker. And there are even some that insist that the only real Rickenbackers are those with the vintage-style "toaster" pickups.

Here at Reverb, we're not big on making such declarations. Don't get us wrong: A Rickenbacker 12-string—whether it's a 360/12, a 330/12, or another model—is a wonderful guitar, but you get what you pay for. And in the case of Ricks, that means you're paying up.

So how does a Rick 12 compare to something much less expensive? Say, a Danelectro 59M 12-String? Is the Dano enough to satisfy your desire for 12-string jangle? That's the question we want to help you answer in our latest episode of Hi/Lo Pass.

Lo-Pass: Danelectro 59M 12-String

Danelectro 59M

You'd be hard-pressed to find a cheaper 12-string that's still playable, but the Danelectro 59M 12-String is by no means cheap-sounding. And if you think otherwise, might we direct your attention to our video above.

Modeled after the dual-cutaway 59s of the past, the 59 12-String is one of a few Dano 12s you can easily find today. It sells for around $550 new—and if you keep your eyes out for a used deal, you can save another hundred or two. Compared to the thousands of dollars Rickenbacker 12s can cost, all of these Danos are a steal.

The trade-off comes in construction, components, and labor cost: The Danelectro 12-string has a Masonite and plywood body. It features lipstick pickups, which offer a unique tone that may or may not suit your needs. And while vintage models were made in the United States, newer Danos are built in Korea.

The result, however, is still a nice-sounding 12-string. Compared to the Rickenbacker in our test, the midrange was more pronounced, and it did lack some of the Rick's characteristic chime. But if you wanted to add the flavor of a 12-string guitar to a track, a record, or a live performance, the Dano will certainly do the trick.

Hi-Pass: Rickenbacker 1993 Plus

Rickenbacker 1993 Plus

There's no doubt that Rickenbackers in general or this Rick in particular are great instruments. The model we had to test was a 1993 Plus—an update to the Model 1993 Pete Townshend famously played.

Everything about this guitar is pitch-perfect: It has a resonant, semi-hollow maple body, three toaster pickups, and even a little extra width in the neck. (If you're a fan of Ricks, you'll know the one complaint is that space on the fingerboard can get a little tight.) Add all of the various tonal settings available with the pickup selector, tone knobs, and extra mix knob, and you have an incredible range of options.

In our video, you can hear the pronounced highs and lows. When compared with the Danelectro, the mids even sound scooped. But if what you're after are rich chimes and a natural, airy quality to your 12-string tones, then this Rickenbacker has everything you could want and more.

Verdict: If you're at all interested in having an electric 12-string (and who isn't?) you might feel pressure to go big or go home. Look at forums and comments sections, and you'll see many Rickenbacker owners saying that, to be authentic, you too need to own one too. But… you don't. They sound great, they feel great, and they're almost visual works of art in their own right. But in a pinch, any 12-string will do. So what are you waiting for? Browse all electric 12-strings on Reverb.

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