Silvertone Guitars were produced by Danelectro for exclusive distribution through Sears and Roebuck stores.
Many a guitarist's first guitar was a Silvertone purchased from Sears.
6Click to enlarge 1960 Sears catalog page below6
5Click to enlarge 1963 Sears catalog page5
6 Click to enlarge '66 Sears catalog6
Excerpts from an article by C.W. Fisher, son of Joe Fisher: National Headquarters - Sears, Roebuck and Company - Homan & Arthington, Chicago, Illinois. 1963 - Joe Fisher, 38, was a buyer for musical instruments at Sears. Nathan Daniel, 51, wants Sears to sign on with the Danelectro guitar line but Fisher would not be sold. He told Nate that without an amplifier included, no deal. So Fisher and Daniel put their heads together and come up with the "Electric guitar and carrying case with built-in 5-in speaker and amplifier." It would be a piece of the cheapest material available for the body, masonite. Stapled to the flat sides, spray painted and edged with vinyl. There's the body. According to Nat, bodies don't matter in an electric guitar (in direct opposition to the ideas of Les Paul, who believed a fine electric guitar should be made of fine woods and weigh more than a sack of fine potatoes). Nat put all his attention into the neck, and here no expense was spared. His pickups were odd then and now, not because of the lipstick tubes, but because he wired them in series. This, they say, is what produced the unique Dano/Silvertone sound now proudly owned by collectors and still played by some of the world's finest guitar players.
This 13-inch-wide solid body guitar weighed approximately 5.20 lbs. and had a nice, fat nut width of just under 1 11/16 inches and a scale length of 24 1/2 inches. Came with masonite top, poplar frame, poplar neck with aluminum nut, and Brazilian rosewood fretboard with 21 frets and white dot position markers. The deadstock had a silver silk-screened "Silvertone" logo with one-piece six-in-a-line metal tuners with "Skate Key" stamped buttons. There was one "lipstick tube" pickup with alnico bar magnet with an output of 3.32k.
More: Baked melamine pickguard. Two controls (one volume, one tone) and jack socket, all on pickguard. Black plastic knobs with white tops. Combination rosewood bar bridge/stud tailpiece. Serial number inside the neck cavity.
The 1448L came housed in a three-watt "Amplifier" case with a six-inch speaker (9.50). The guitar with amp in the case weighed approximately 25.00 lbs.
"It's likely that more American musicians began their interest in guitar-playing on a Silvertone -- as sold by Chicago's Sears, Roebuck & Co -- than on any other beginner guitar. Supplanting the Supertone brand when Sears divested itself of the Harmony guitar company in 1940, Silvertone was a former brand for radios, record-players and records. It was first applied to guitars in 1941. A Silvertone version of the Kay Thin Twin and Sears' first Les-Paul-style Harmony solidbody appeared in 1954. That same year the first of several Danelectro-made Silvertone solid bodies appeared, followed by masonite-and-vinyl hollowbodies in 1956. The single-pickup amp-in-case guitars debuted in 1962."
"By 1962 the only Danelectro guitar offered by Sears was the new amp-in-case guitar, a single-pickup short-horn in black metalflake. The brillantly simple idea was that built into the guitar's case was a three-watt amp and 6" speaker, providing the guitarist with a portable electric guitar outfit. This was joined in 1963 by a two-pickup version in red sunburst that came with a deafening five-watt amp, 8" speaker and tremolo. The six-tuners-in-line headstocks now looked like meat cleavers. In 1967 the amp-in-case guitars changed to a new Fender Jaguar-style shape" (Source: Tony Bacon, Electric Guitars: The Illustrated Encyclopedia, p. 46).
1448L with Amp-In-Case
2 Pickup 1457L
2 Pickup 1457L
More Vintage Silvertones
Model 1303 circa 1958
This is the predecessor of the better-known Danelectro U2 - note the smaller, thinner "C" body style. For some reason the Silvertone versions still haven't caught up to the Danelectros in price, although these pre-"U" models are at the top of the Silvertone food chain. "C" models have a center block to which the top and back were glued, unlike the "U" guitars, which had a thinner brace glued to the back only. This accounts for their tighter sound.
Model 1317 circa 1957
The "quintessential" Danelectro-made Silvertone U1 - long-scale neck, 3-way "tone switch" and "coke bottle" headstock. These guitars sound rich and multi-dimensional, yet quite twangy and lively - completely unlike the popular Korean reissue Danelectros. The tone switch circuitry on these single-pickup models allows for a surprisingly wide range of sounds. A highly underrated, lightweight and playable guitar with a big tone.
Model 6038 circa 1960
Model 1416 circa 1962
These originally came in either a black or bronze (Model 1415) finish. The "dolphin nose headstock" version of the U1. Quite common and usually available for less than a reissue. The headstock configuration makes these later models feel somewhat different from their predecessors in terms of string tension. Slightly slimmer necks than on 50's models. The guitar above is the second version (note rounded cutaway shape).
Model 1457 circa 1964
The long-scale, 2-pickup "amp-in-case" model. Features two series-wired pickups w/ concentric controls. Bigger and looser sounding than the "U" models on account of even less internal bracing - only a block under the bridge. Everything you would expect from a two-pickup Danelectro at a fraction of the price of a Shorthorn. Despite having the same body shape as the short-scale 1448, these are vastly superior guitars on par with other long-scale Danelectros.