Why have a number of "improved" copies of original-vintage Danelectro guitars and their lipstick pickups just not cut the mustard for me ?????
Simply put, ....original-vintage Danelectros, and 1998-2003 Danelectro Reissues, had a wonderful balance between high dynamics and output signal stability. Pickup physics (coil resistance relative to magnet strength) dictate that higher dynamics come from lower pickup coil resistance and somewhat from the manner in which the coil wire is wound, ....and that the very nature of dynamics is a very sensitive but unstable signal output, ....while stability is achieved with higher coil resistances but with a commensurate loss of dynamics; The higher the dynamics, the less the stability, ......and the more the stability the less the dynamics. The cusp of balanced dynamics and stability occur (imho) when pickups coil resistance (called static impedence) is around 6,000 (6K) ohms. Less ohms resistance creates more dynamics, while more ohms resistance creates more stability. Original-vintage Danelectros pickups had a manufacturing target aimed at 4.5K ohms, so that variances in materials and machine tolerances would keep their pickups above 4K ohms. That target and tolerances produced pickups ranging between 4K and 5K ohms. With tighter modern machine tolerances and abundance of exacting material supply, the 1998-2003 Danelectros could be made remarkably right on 4K ohms. In both original-vintage and 1998-2003 reissue Danelectros, the design was to produce high dynamics that were easy for a Player to keep stable with lighter playing technique while having banshee dynamics with more aggresive picking when a Player desired it, ....and be able to make the pickups more dynamic or more stable with pickup height adjustment and / or by amplifier settings.
50 years ago when the guitar craze was just gaining some steam, there wasn't an overabundance of accomplished and famous guitar players, and thus even less famous accomplished Guitarists that used Danelectros; So "the word" from famous accomplished Guitarists that knew the wonderful character of Danelectros high dynamics, was insignificant compared to the advertising campaigns of larger companies like Fender, Gibson and Gretsch whose advertising attracted many more customers than Danelectro, and whose marketing design philosophy built guitar pickups upon a more stable pickup so that the zillions of new Guitarists could fram and bang away on their guitars and still get a stable signal, ....as more and more Guitarists moved up from their beginner kits to the most well advertised guitars (market development). PLUS, the most common sound engineering of that period was still seeking clean stable signal as evidenced in their amplifiers they continued to make more stable until the early 1970's ....since the noisy Rock'n Roll fad wasn't going to last ....or so they thought until the early 1970s proved quite different.
Distortion and unstable signals did not start coming into wide popularity until the British (Music) Invasion of the mid 1960's started using it, ...ironically due to discovering the technique of overdriven amplifiers known to an abundance of American "Folk" Blues artists for quite some time but went relatively / mainly un-noticed in the USA; ....and what overdriven amps provided was higher dynamics for more stable guitars ! ! ! As the use of distortion and overdrive devices increased, you can imagine the mayhem & belam experienced by beginner and inetermediate Guitarists (the vast majority of the guitar market) that might have happened to plug a Danelectro into their high gain / distortion fed amps ! So the wonderful natures of Danelectros and other low impedence pickup guitars were left for the experienced and reasonably accomplished Guitarists to discover and "the word" to spread mainly among themselves. But by the early 1990's a critical mass of Danelectro converts started to emerge as the number of accomplished Guitarists reached a critical mass as well, .....and the advent of the internet made distribution of "secrets" and knowledge also exponentially explode. Remarkably, it was the Danelectro sound that MANY MANY guitarists had runined MANY MANY a guitar trying to achieve in their search for "that sound" (high dynamics) they were in an eternal search for ! It was in the late 1980's that I had my religous experience with a Danelectro ....finding "that sound" that I too had been searching for for almost 30 years.
Since the late 1980's / early 1990's, a number of guitar builders have done respectable jobs of imitating and claiming to have "improved" Danelectro guitars designs, sometimes including "improved" versions of Danelectro's lipstick pickups, ....D. Armstrong, J. Jones and Gibson guru J.T. Robiloff good examples; Sometimes close .... but never the real deal. And some pickup manufacturers have also claimed to have "improved" their copies of original-vintage Danelectro lipstick pickups. But their advertisements for "improved" have been a quite misleading requirement for them to change Danelectro designs enough to avoid patent infringement; So they claim to have "improved" (increased) the output of Danelectro lipstick pickups; And of course increasing the voltage output is the same thing as making a pickup more stable, at the expense of losing the high dynamics that makes real-deal Danelectros quite exactly what they have been famous for.
When Evets / Danelectro reorgainized after stopping production of guitars in 2003, and started producing DIFFERENT designed guitars in 2008 SIMILAR to previous vintage Danelectros, ....they were only similar and lost the magic that Danelectro had recaptured in the 1998-2003 Reissue guitars. And sure enough, those different guitars were advertised as having "improved" pickups ! Although I do not know; It seems to me that Daneletro might have encountered patent / license difficulties that required their new headstocks, body side tape gone, stacked pots & knobs gone, big "bite" out of the headstock design, "improved" pickup, etc. Little at all to compare with Danelectro's previous guitars.
BUT, that might have changed in 2009 as suggested by the advent of their Hornet style reissue guitars advertised / named 'Dead On' TM series; And their recent 50th Anniversary reissues based upon the 1959 shorthorn guitars, returning to the original headstock design and advertised to be built to original-vintage factory specs. I CERTAINLY HOPE SO, AND IF SO WISH DANELECTRO THE VERY BEST IN SUCH SUCCESS.