Silvertone was a brand created and promoted by Sears for its line of consumer electronics and musical instruments from 1915 to 1972. Rights to the Silvertone brand were purchased by South Korean Corporation Samick Music in 2001. Samick sold musical instruments under the Silvertone brand, and even relaunched some historic models, until the brand was eventually discontinued.
|Previous owners||Sears (1915–72) |
|Registered as a trademark in||United States (2013)|
The Silvertone brand was introduced by Sears in 1915 with a hand-cranked phonograph. Beginning in the 1920s, the brand was expanded to include Silvertone radios and again expanded in the 1930s to musical instruments, superseding the previously-used Supertone branding.
In the early 1920s Sears began selling Silverstone radio tubes and batteries, although Silverstone radios decreased in popularity during late 1930s. During the World War II, Sears introduced the Silverstone radio antenna to help power the radio receivers.
Silvertone guitars became popular with novice musicians due to their low cost and wide availability in Sears stores and the Sears catalog. Jerry Garcia, Rudy Sarzo, Gary Rossington, Chet Atkins, Bob Dylan, David Lindley, John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty, Joan Jett, Randy Bachman, Jack White, James Hetfield, Dave Grohl, Phil Keaggy, Mark Knopfler, Brad Paisley, Dr. SETI, David Marks, and Joe Walsh played a Silvertone for their first electric, bass, or acoustic guitar. The Canadian band Chad Allan and The Silvertones, which would go on to become The Guess Who, took its name from this line of instruments. Pete Townshend used them in live performance with The Who. Jack White uses vintage Silvertone amplifiers. Singer-songwriter Beck's main electric guitar is a Silvertone 1448. Bon Iver used one in making For Emma, Forever Ago. Chris Isaak is known to play a Silvertone 1446 archtop hollow-body guitar. His three-piece backing band is named "Silvertone", after which he titled his 1985 debut album.
The guitars, especially the 1960s models, are frequently prized by collectors today. Two of the best-known Silvertone offerings are the Danelectro-built Silvertone 1448 and 1449, made in the early to mid-1960s. The 1448 had a single lipstick pickup, while the 1449 was equipped with a two-pickup configuration, and was succeeded in 1964 by the 1457 model. These guitars' cases had a small built-in amplifier, and the guitars themselves had very short-scale 18-fret necks, which proved popular with beginners. Beck's main guitar is the 1448.
Similarly the Silvertone 1484 "Twin Twelve" 60 Watt guitar amplifier, introduced in 1963 as an affordable beginner's amp, has gained a collectors' following, since artists like Jack White, Beck, Coldplay, and others have been known to use it.
Sears also sold a number of non-stringed instruments under the Silvertone name, such as electronic organs and chord organs manufactured by the Thomas Organ Company, and harmonicas made by the Wm. Kratt Company.
Rights to the Silvertone brand were purchased by Samick Music Corporation in 2001. In 2013 Samick released the Silvertone Classic series; reissues of the original Silvertone models from the 50's and 60's. The first two models released were the 1303/U2 (originally manufactured by Danelectro) and the 1478 (originally manufactured by Harmony), followed by the 1449 (also known as the "Amp-in-Case" model, originally manufactured by Danelectro), and the 1423 Jupiter (originally manufactured by Harmony). The reissues are not exact replicas, but are modeled and engineered as close to the originals as possible (using vintage models to compile the actual specifications). In January 2014 the Silvertone reissue 1444 bass was debuted at the Anaheim Winter NAMM show.
In early 2015, Samick introduced six reissue Silvertone acoustic guitars including the full body 955 and single cutaway 955CE, the 600 in either spruce or mahogany, the "Sovereign" 633, and the 604. Some models were also made available with acoustic pickup circuitry for amplified playing. In addition, the model 853 ukulele was introduced with an amplificable version as well.
- "Silvertone: 1915-1972". Sears Brands, LLC. October 31, 2006. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
- Silvertone Trademark of Samick – serial #86108361 – ABANDONED - NO STATEMENT OF USE FILED (date 1 April 2016) on Trademarkia website
- Silvertone History on Samick website, 27 Oct 2019
- Reissue guitars - The real deal on Silverstone Classic website (archived, 2 Apr 2015)
- Silvertone 1219 Buck Owens on Silvertoneworld
- Silvertone 1448L on Silvertone World
- Silvertone 1449 on Silvertone World
- Silvertone 1457 on Silvertone World
- "Twin Twelve V2". JHS Pedals. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
[...] the amp’s gritty and unpolished tone has since made it legendary, hard to find, and coveted by some of the biggest names in music.