Danelectro UB-2 Spiegel Model Electric 6-String Bass Guitar (1958)
Danelectro UB-2 Spiegel Model Model Electric 6-String Bass Guitar (1958), made in Neptune, NJ, serial # 4088, bronze lacquer finish, masonite and pine body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, original tweed hard shell case. Item # 6968
The Danelectro company introduced the Model UB-2 bass in 1956, and this example is perhaps the rarest variant of an already uncommon and sought-after instrument. With the UB-2 Nathan Daniel created the "Electric bass guitar"-a 6-string instrument tuned like the guitar but an octave lower. With a low-pitched but comparatively bright, twangy tone the Danelectro put low notes up front, and carved out a unique niche for itself as a specialty instrument. The 1956 catalog was full of enthusiasm "This instrument makes a perfect bass…playing of melody, chords and riffs can be accomplished as on regular guitar…(it) is terrific for rhythm and melody, and simply cannot be beat for combining both." It is compared to the (unnamed) Fender Bass: "…six strings, having much greater range; double pickup instead of single, 3-way switch, softer action." The pitch goes on: "If you are a professional guitarist…this instrument means more demand for your services…play guitar and double on bass with one instrument."
The UB-2 is nearly identical to Danelectro's contemporary guitars, but with a longer 29 1/2" scale neck. It is built on the same flat-topped, single cutaway semi-solid Masonite and pine body with the two pickups/one switch/two concentric control knob rig. Daniel felt he had given bass players "2 extra strings for free" and the instrument would be a natural for both bassists and guitarists. The UB-2 was priced at $135.00 offered in three finishes-black or bronze lacquer with white vinyl siding and the rare "grained ivory leatherette" body covering which disappeared almost immediately. This bronze-finish version is an extremely rare variant with an unusual pointed "star" headstock shape, no logo at all and a different pickguard outline. The working theory on this version is that it was a very small custom order by the Spiegel catalog company in late 1958, and Danelectro was "persuaded' by their #1 customer Sears not to pursue marketing to the giant mail-order company's direct competitor! This is reported in the Danelectro bible "Neptune Bound" by Doug Tulloch, the only available reference source. There are only three or four of these variant UB's known to exist, and all bear the same week factory order code of 4088 indicating construction the 40th week of 1958. This one also includes the original vaguely coffin-shaped Masonite-topped case covered in tweed fabric.
Daniel's bass WAS a hit when new at recording studios, especially in Nashville. Session players developed a style of playing it with a palm-muted pick, dubbed 'Tic-Tac" bass. Used to double and re-inforce the upright bass and give punch to the track, within a short time the "Tic-Tack" became a standard and widely heard sound. Well before the Fender Bass was accepted on country records, a Danelectro was the hot new sound. While The UB-2 rarely appeared in the hands of a featured artist, many twanged away in the late '50's and '60's, unseen but easily heard on hundreds of recordings and TV/film soundtracks.
This single-cutaway UB-2 model lasted in the line only a couple of years-after 1958 Danelectro re-worked the concept and offered both 4- and 6- string Longhorn and Shorthorn basses made from interchangeable standard parts. This economy-of-scale trick made production of limited-market instruments much more economical. The bass designs that debuted in 1958-9 replaced the UB-2 in the Danno line, but never fully in player acceptance. Well into the 1960's many sessioners preferred this original single-cutaway UB design, which can be seen in studios years after the company phased them out. This is a fantastic example of an exceptionally rare UB-2, played but not abused and fully ready to "twang ON" again.
Overall length is 43 5/16 in. (110 cm.), 13 1/4 in. (33.7 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 29 1/2 in. (749 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.). This bass remains all original and unaltered, except the minor alteration of the originally square machine-milled slots in the aluminum nut have been recut for smoother action. There is some moderate/light wear overall, the most noticeable being chips and dings and scratches to the back of the neck. In this early period Danelectro sprayed a color strip down the neck's spine OVER the lacquer sealer; in most cases (as here) it has worn and greened slightly from contact with the player's hand. The vinyl covering on the sides is lightly stained in spots, mostly on the bottom edge. There are a some small dings to the top and back finish, and it is worn through on some sections the beveled edges. The pointed top of the headstock has some chipping to the tip. The neck is very nice, the frets have very little wear and this is a very playable example of this historic bass, an exceptionally rare variant of the first of its kind. Includes the even rarer original coffi-shaped Masonite case. Excellent - Condition.
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