Silvertone. What a great name. Descriptive certainly, yet ambiguous enough you can put your own meaning into it, and it was catchy and applicable to a wide range of products. Sears  picked a winner with it, patenting it as a trademark, and applying the name to thousands of products for better than fifty years. Yet, for some customers, especially those in the musical instrument arena, the name was embarrassing. To these sad souls, it somehow denoted cheapness, 'not good enough-ness,' minor league, garage band... SHAME.

It's this 'Silvertone Shame' I'd like to say  few words about and give you a few examples that I've seen over the years. Sometimes it's just the obliteration of the logo; on the headstock of the guitar, on the amp's faceplate or speaker cabinet. Sometimes it's a full scale refinish or all-over spray paint. Sometimes, most amusingly, a new, 'known' name will be scrawled, painted, glued or bolted in he place of the Silvertone moniker. All of these defacings ultimately reduce the value of the instrument , and, I feel, reflect somewhat sadly on the one doing the deed.


OK, so your lawn mowing didn't bring much in this summer, and you had to 'settle' for a Silvertone. Or, Mom and Dad just didn't think getting  a Les Paul or Strat was a good idea, especially since you had never played before, and you'd just gotten on this 'guitar kick' after seeing the Beatles on TV, and they didn't want to put big money into something they thought might end up in the closet with the Davy Crockett  hat, the chemistry set, and the Hula Hoop.

I get that, but what I don't get is why one would think think they're fooling anybody by hiding the fact that that's a Sears-bought Silvertone guitar or amp being played. Anybody who knows anything is gonna know that it's not a Gibson or a Fender you've got up there, and that you' re not playing through a Marshall or a Vox... c'mon! Anyway, it happened enough that I've given it my own little nickname over the years of seeing these modified instruments and amps. Silvertone Shame takes on many different forms, from the simple to the involved, and here are a few descriptions of the various ways that I've seen folks try and hide what's inside.

On a refinish, borne of necessity or desire, it can be difficult to preserve or 'salvage' the logo on a guitar. The logo is generally at the top or along the side of the headstock, and usually gets sanded off (in a natural refinishing), or painted over (in a color change or even a same-color refinish). Not necessarily shame... just a desire for the betterment (in the modder's eyes) of the instrument, or a needed move in the face of damage, age deterioration, or the like.

Here's a couple of axes that the refinishers/refurbishers have made an earnest effort into making sure the Silvertone name is carried on through an original design.

On the 'Black Beauty' and early 'Chris Isaaks,' the logo was a substantial cast metal item that could be easily snagged at the 'S,' and leaves a tell-tale 'shadow' behind when removed, and currently has a very shiny repro replacement available.
There's also a small group of instruments that get a reverse pulled on them: they're not Silvertones at all, but they get a logoplate or a stencil or a decal  bestowing the honor upon them.


Amps are rarely obviously 'shamed,' but it doesn't take much to pry the logoplate off your amp cabinet, the logos on the faceplates of amps like the 1484 and others tend to be small or maybe on the back control plate, and amps are kind of in the background anyway. Here are three that some effort was made to send the Silvertone pedigree into oblivion.

There are also members of the 'Anti-Shame League' that have done their best to preserve the lauded name through clever (or ham-handed) masking, carving, or a valiant re-paint attempt.


Lucky for us, for every shamed Silvertone, there are thousands that have happily retained the name we now celebrate.

Say it loud : "I'm Silvertone and I'm proud!"


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January 2011 Feature ~ "From A Dano Six"

February 2011 Feature ~ "Aristocratically Yours"