Hi gang, and welcome to 2014. My world has been seriously Silvertone
lately. First, I got to review the “new”
vintage reissue Silvertone guitars for Vintage Guitar Magazine, then I wrote a
feature story on the history of Silvertone electric guitars, and just last week
I had a vintage mid-60s Silvertone model 1482 combo amp on my bench. Don’t tell the folks at Fender, but I’m kinda
turning into just a little bit of a Silvertone guy! In case you don’t know, the 1482 is rated at
15-watts with a pair of 6V6’s in the output stage, and has kool 60’s shagadelic
power-tube tremolo. I’ve seen it referred
to as “the poor man’s blackface Deluxe”. Let’s talk a little about what I
learned from my time “inside” the 1482.
Sound like fun? Yeah!
First a confession: Before working on this amp, I’d never so much
as peeked inside a Silvertone amp. Don’t
know why, but life just never took me in that direction. Okay, with that disclaimer outta the way, let’s
This amp belongs to my buddy and notable
Nashville Guitar Slinger Brad Sample.
Brad brought it in because it “just didn’t sound right”. It had a certain amount of yucky fuzziness at
all volumes, and it had been suggested that it needed a “thorough going-over by
a good tech”. I put her up on the bench,
brad played just a note or two, and I turned the amp off. “I know what’s wrong” I said, “the speaker’s
blown”. And it was. This is ever so
common amongst “budget” amps of that era.
If an amp was rated at 15 watts RMS, they felt they were doing fine
fitting it with a 15-watt rated speaker.
Shoot, who on earth would ever push an amp beyond its design specs,
anyway, right? Ha! Can you say “overdrive pedal”? This is why I always recommend that folks who
plan to actually USE a vintage amp for regular gigging remove the original
speakers, put them safely in a box for safe keeping, and replace them with
something that they won’t fry!
Brad just happened to have on hand a “one-of-a-kind”
black ET-65 that, as he put it was “made for the 1482”. So, as far as the speaker is concerned, he’s
good to go. But …
The old gal had a few other issues.
Truth be told, these amps look to me like they were NEVER really built
to take the rigors of serious professional use.
And of course, they in fact were not.
They were sold through the Sears-Roebuck catalog to an almost
exclusively amateur demographic. Be that
the case, they are still cool as heck in a “definitely NOT a Fender” kind of
Here are a few factors that distinguish these amps as most certainly not resembling
Fenders in any way.
Finger-jointed ¾” pine? No way,
baby, it’s more like medium density cardboard butt-jointed and glued.
The speaker baffle.
Plywood? Nope. Once again, barely above ¼” cardboard. In the case of this amp … and I’d guess most
of them … this baffle was just about disintegrated and needed to be beefed up
with actual plywood.
The chassis. This was downright amazing. It was simply a L-shaped piece of aluminum,
held in place by three small wood-screws.
No support, and free to flex like mad!
Turret board electronics? Nope!
It was heath-kit “build it yourself” style point-to-point wired. Where one component ends, the next
begins. This was a real problem when combined
with the previous point about the chassis, because when that chassis flexed,
the components literally got yanked apart!
In the case of this amp, the carnage was limited to one orange-drop
Filter Caps. (or
lack thereof). I’d literally NEVER seen
an amp with this little filtering. I
mean, even an original 1940’s 6-watt Fender Champion had more filtering. If you’re looking for bottom-end that falls
apart in a hurry, well, this is a good way to accomplish it.
So having pointed all this out, you might begin to believe that I downright
dislike the little Silvertone combo … but you would be ever so wrong. Truth is I flat out LOVE it. But! I
believe it’s important to understand what it is, and what it is not. First, it certainly is NOT a poor man’s
Deluxe! It’s also probably not a very
good choice for a hard-gigging player.
What it is is an amp that can dish out knarrley, raunchy, 60’s garage-band
rock tones in a way that will NEVER EVER be produced by any form of “modeling”. You just can’t model that level of
imperfection. All of the shortcuts and
cost-saving measures employed in the design and construction of this amp add up
to an amp of unrivaled glorious imperfection.
This is the antithesis of hard-hitting gut-kicking scooped-mids nu-metal
tones … it hits with a fluffy velvet glove and has a big-fat mid-section even a
middle-aged Italian mob boss would be hard-pressed to best.
And, when it comes right down to it, no other amp is “sexy” in quite the