Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cheapness And Beauty (Once You Go Black...)

Series of posts blah blah blah...reminiscing blah blah blah...share a story...you get the picture.

This post is going to be about the guitar Casey referred affectionately to in the comments as "Odie".

Number 4
1964 Silvertone Silhouette

Odie was a 1964 Silvertone Silhouette solid body electric. It was made in Chicago by Harmony and was black with white plastic pick guard that held the controls and two DeArmond pickups. I stuck an Odie decal on the headstock and a legend was born.

Here is the original description from the 1964 Sears catalog:

Dual-pickup Guitar. Tone and volume controls for each pickup plus 3-way selector switch. Thin, high-speed neck with adjustable steel reinforcing rod. Ebonized fingerboard. Adjustable bridge. White position markers. About 36 x 13 x 2 inches. $5 mo. Shpg. wt. 9 lbs. 57 H 1476L--Black finish..............Cash $54.95

Now that I had fully caught the bug I was on the constant lookout for another cool tool. Something on the cheap of course because I wasn't wealthy. One night while scanning the Sheboygan Press classifieds I came across an ad for a Sears guitar. I called the number in the ad and spoke to an older man who said it had been purchased in the 60's and all it said was Silvertone on the headstock.

The first thing that went through my head was Danelectro! Seeing they had built guitars with the Silvertone moniker for Sears I saw my chance for a real bargain.

The man wanted $75 for the guitar and accessories but it wasn't clear what they were and the fact that I might steal a 60's Danelectro for that amount it didn't matter so much. I booked across town to the man's house to scope it out.

When I got there I was only a bit disappointed it was a '64 Silvertone which was manufactured by Harmony and not Danelectro. The guitar was in great shape with the majority of the wear on the fret board. The frets were nice but the fingerboard was scalloped pretty deeply at the first position. It really didn't effect the playability of the guitar so I plugged it in.

This is when the sale became a bargain. The accessories that went along with the guitar were a 60's 20 foot coiled patch cord, amp and foot switch.

The amp is where this one becomes fun. This thing was a warm 55 watt two channel combo with a tremolo circuit and a single 12" speaker and it was mint.

I bought that rig in a heartbeat and raced home to check it out. I was already pulling the speaker wires from my Peavey Audition 30 and running it like a preamp into a 30 watt Washburn bass amp I got from my friend Scott after his failed attempt at playing bass. That combo was a tinnitus inducing swarm of bees and now coupled with that Silvertone amp I could achieve something that resembled Bob Mould's rig albeit on a smaller scale.

Scan of the 1966 Sears Catalog showing the Silhouette

Back to the guitar. It was very light with a thin neck that did nothing to help with the sustain. The neck as I mentioned earlier was very soft, or what the catalog refers to as a high-speed Ebonized fingerboard. The man I bought it from must have had a ton of Ebonized wood under his nails because the scalloping on the fingerboard would have made Yngwie Johann Malmsteen proud. The thin plastic pick guard made a sound like stretching a dental dam over the top of a cereal bowl and humming into it.

One thing the guitar wasn't was grounded. I eventually wound an e string around the output jack and tucked it under the tailpiece cover to reduce the wonderful hum it produced.

This guitar was nothing special but it did make an appearance on stage with the one off band Septic Fish. I owned it for quite sometime and finally sold it to a kid from a group called Agent Glitter. I hope he enjoyed it more than I did.

6 comments:

Intergalactic Cupcake said...

Agent Glitter is my new soul mate.

Oregarus said...

All 3 kids in that band had the last name Glitter a la the Ramones. pretty straight forward 'Sconie punk. 1 EP and a split single as far as I remember. The EP had 4 songs "Regal Beagle" (yes like the Fictitous Three's Company bar), "Heavier", "Superstar" and my favorite "Better Kate Than Heather". The Split single was with a band called Flex Luther.

Intergalactic Cupcake said...

Ill have to read the rest later because I passed at "Regal Beagle".

Oregarus said...

Fictitious!

Anonymous said...

Are you going to speak to the band that Paulo named?

tw said...

I still own that guitar, btw. Its in my fathers basement... xoxo -trev-