Coral Vincent Bell Sitar Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar, made by Danelectro (1968)

 Coral Vincent Bell Sitar Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar, made by Danelectro  (1968)
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Item # 11788
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Coral Vincent Bell Sitar Model Semi-Hollow Body Electric Guitar, made by Danelectro (1968), made in Neptune, NJ, serial # 828028, crystaline paint finish, masonite and pine body, poplar neck with rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

One of the coolest and most interesting oddball instruments of the 1960s, the Coral Electric Sitar has long since gone beyond novelty status and proved to be a practical and surprisingly timeless creation. It was the most elaborate of the many designs East Coast session guitarist Vinnie Bell created for Nathan Daniel's Danelectro organization in the 1960s. Wanting to use the sitar sound on sessions but not grapple with the complex original, Bell adapted the graduated "Sitarmatic" bridge that combines the Indian instrument's traditional buzzing, twangy tonality with the playability of an electric guitar.

Besides the six standard "play" strings tuned in standard guitar mode the Coral sitar offers an array of "drone" strings along the upper bout. These are designed to vibrate sympathetically with the notes being sounded, and can also be used for special effects. The three pickups each with individual tone and volume controls allow all the sounds to be easily blended. The body shape is eccentric, originally designed by Bell for himself and actually quite comfortable to play. The unusual "Bombay Red" crackle lacquer finish is unique as well.

This instrument was launched in a blaze of publicity in 1967 but was only in production for about two years before the untimely demise of Danelectro, and so is fairly rare today despite being somewhat popular when new. Numerous re-issues have appeared since, but the original is still the greatest. This is a later production example with an actual serial number sticker on the back of the headstock; the earliest ones simply said "patent pending".

In the later 1960s, '70s and beyond the electric Sitar added its totally distinctive tone to many famous recordings in every genre from country to R&B and for a while was a must in every session guitarist's arsenal. Quite a few hit records still in heavy rotation in "oldies" formats make great use of the unmistakable sound, including some classic vintage soul records with no psychedelic intent at all! This is still a very useful recording instrument which can add a distinctive flavor to a wide range of music beyond its 1960s roots. Although imitated over the last couple of decades the original Vinnie Bell Coral Electric Sitar remains the original off-the-wall classic that has yet to be bettered!
Overall length is 39 3/8 in. (100 cm.), 13 3/4 in. (34.9 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 25 in. (635 mm.). Width of nut is 1 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This is a nice original example, showing some typical fairly minor wear and tear but no major repairs or modifications. The original crackle-textured "Bombay Red" finish has very little play wear but shows a decent amount of the typical chipping, dings and flaked spots, mostly to the body edges and along the lamination seams which is pretty ubiquitous on these. The area along the upper back edge of the body is most heavily affected with a large flaked away spot. The projecting upper body horn has finish chipped off the top, the lower horn off the edge. The back of the neck is relatively clean with feelable dings behind the 4th, 10th and 12th frets.

There is minor corrosion to some of the metal hardware, but everything is original and complete except the rear upper plastic handrest panel is a very nice repro, complete with the correct edge frosting (many of the originals have by now been cracked in half). There is some scuffing on the metal control cavity plate on the back. The original frets show minimal wear and this Coral plays and sounds just as it should, set up for a strong helping of the classic buzzing tone they are famous for. Overall this is a wonderful creation and a fitting memorial to the oft-forgotten genius of Vinnie Bell, who passed away recently. This one resides in a modern hard-shell case that offers a functional if inexact fit; an original full-page magazine ad for the instrument is included. Very Good + Condition.