February 2013


Here's a Great Little Something From ol' Buck I just know you're gonna love: it's the 7" record from "The Buck Owens Guitar Method," introducing and encouraging you to join the "happy world of guitar pickers." Unfortunately, I don't have the accompanying book for you, but this piece of audio, with just Buck and his guitar (I hope it's an 'American') is just terrific. Buck takes you through guitar tuning and some basic strumming, picking and time signature exercises on side one, referring to the pages of the book, and encouraging you to study hard and master ("it's important to pound this into your head") the accompanying exercises. He also even offers to help you if your guitar neck is "out of whack" if you'll just write to him. The real gem, though, is Side 2; Buck takes you through some intros on some of his hits, and even a spoken strum/playalong on "Cryin' Time." Also included is the intro to "Love's Gonna Live Here," "Buckaroo," "Santa Looked A Lot Like Daddy," and a little story to the 'turnaraound' on "Act Naturally." Apparently Don flubbed the bit ever so slightly, and the errant note was innovative enough they left it in. Enjoy... and if you're like me, you'll find it hard to resist not grabbin' your six-string and playin' along with Buck. 

Out with an expensive BANG! As we say goodbye to February 2013, let's check out one of the last guitars to be auctioned off this month: it's a beautiful example of the rare end-of-the-product-run 1478, the blueblueblue 14782. Groovy pickup inserts, roller bridge, and bigger V/T knobs. The price was a bang, as well!

14782 Harmony SBEG w/ OC E $2250 Clean, minimal wear; one small ding at tip of headstock and very light edge wear on back lower bout, logo strong, whammy bar and roller bridge in place, high 'E' tuner gear/screw replaced, case still has its 'seat belt,' matching coiled cord incl.





Me And My Silvertone
is a hit over on Silvertone World's Facebook page... go and visit, 'like' the page, and contribute!

Today, we've got a great vintage snapshot from the early 40s of some happy pickers; looks like they might be playing along with the radio. Our friend on the left is ringin' out some weepy notes from a lapsteel of undetermined origin, but our picker on the left is happily strummin' his very rare Harmony-made Silvertone 'Royal.'

And I know this is a Kay-built Airline, but still... wow! Sears, Montgomery Wards, Western Auto... hey, we're all friends here, right?


When The Moon is in the 7th House... things in Silvertone World just get more exciting!

Silvertonian Cory posted a set of pictures on the Silvertone World Facebook Page last night of one of the rarest amps in the Silvertone family; it's the only one I've ever seen in over 30 years of Silvertonium mining! It's the end-of-the-product-run Danelectro-built 1343, part of the last ragtag group of amps to be sold by Sears in the Spring/Summer 1954 catalog. Starting with Fall/Winter 1954, Silvertone amps would be offered as a pretty well-defined line of amps with a unifying 'look,' beginning with the faux alligator-and-tweed 13XX line.

Here are the amps; quite an eclectic bunch, and all of them rare in their own right (you can click on each amp to go to its Silvertone World page):

And here's the 1343, sibling to the not-quite-as-but-still-pretty-rare trapezoidal beige and green 1342:

Check the control panel above; a push-button tremolo switch, and no footswitch jack in sight! Look at the severe 'flair' of the illustrated 1343 (a real bear to manufacture, I would think) versus the right angles of the amp pictured. The sharp-bottom-cornered speaker cutout illustrated is quite different, too, from the rounded reality we have before us. Also, note the difference in the catalog depiction of the 'bannered' logo versus this example. Lastly, note the square speaker baffle cutout for the 12" speaker; you can just see the 'shadow' behind the grille in the first photo. Thanks, Cory!

Silvertone World keeps revealing its mysteries little by little, and we're happy to be here to tell you about it!




In All The Excitement, I forgot to tell you the new page for Buck's 'American' model is up, with some great new info and galleries. Check it out!

Now for some fine Silvertonium, fresh off the auction block... first up, a fine early-40s 'Crest.' Check that binding!

291 Harmony FHAC w/ OC VG $335 Clean, light wear, logo strong, (1) tuner replaced, others show deterioration, (1) tuner button repaired (with a cut quarter!), tailpin needs replacing

Now, I'll show you this fine 1478, and let you know about some brand-spanking' new Silvertones coming your way...

1478 Harmony SBEG w/ OC VG $406 Clean, light wear, logo strong, whammy bar present, rare clear knobs, replacement pickguard

If you hadn't heard, the Samick Music Corporation is resurrecting the classic logo and the classic guitars of yesteryear with a brand new line of vintage-style Silvertones! First out of the gate are these reissues of the 1478 and a grayburst reimagining of the  'U2' body style 1303 (apparently also to be available in black). We should be able to lay our hands on 'em some time in May!

Check this beautiful 1478 reissue, with a real Bigsby, dual single-coil pickups and the classic Silhouette/Bobkat lines of the 1400 series:

And how about this cool 1303 reissue, with a compensated string-thru bridge, lipstick pickups and the classic narrower lines of the so-called 'peanut' or 'C' body shape? Sweet!

Visit Samick/Silvertone on Facebook, and pre-order yours from Love the Arts!


I Was Pretty Tough on Nancy Sinatra
in my 'Silvertone Ad' debunking last week (see Nancy notes below), but as adamant as I was about that not being a Silvertone advertisement, I'm infinitely more excited about this piece of Sears in-store ephemera that recently turned up on eBay. It's a 'cut sheet' that probably hung beside the 'American' as people flocked to Sears to get their very own red, white and blue design-patented model 1219, made by Harmony. The verbiage is just dated enough, and just corny enough, also using phrasing from the catalog listings of the brief time it was available in the Sears catalog (late '71/early '72) for me to believe this is the real deal.

In some other Buck-related fun, here's a little something that poses a couple of big questions:

This is a congratulatory ad from a special Buck Owens section of Billboard magazine from September, 1970. So, it would seem CMI had news of the impending sale of the 'American' a bit before it actually hit the catalog pages and shelves of Sears stores. Most examples of the 'American' that we see are date stamped 'F-70' or 'F-71,' and it's entirely possible (in fact likely, my research indicates) the guitar hit Sears stores before it was shown in any Sears catalog.


Gibson 'Buck Owens' Guitar?
CMI was the parent company of Gibson during the 60s, and the co-licensee of Buck's 'American' patent, but I can't find, nor have I ever heard of a Gibson 'Buck Owens' model... although it looks as though Fender may have prototyped an 'American,' seen (with a hangtag!) in this snapshot from June, 1970 with Buck and Kenni Huskey at Owens' Bakersfield studio.

Standel 'Buck Owens' amp? Can't find a reference to one. Little help?

Speaking of 'American' wannabes... Buck Owens applied for a design patent for his 'American' guitar on February 11, 1971. Was this hideous knock-off what spurred him on to getting the iconic red, white and blue guitar patented? Cryptically labeled FG-34 ("Flag Guitar"? 3/4 size?), the label is in one of those weird fonts that we often see from our guitar-making friends in Japan, and the lone number stamped inside (10617) is of no help either. The headstock detail more closely resembles the original Moseley-designed guitar that appeared on several "Hee Haw" shows before production on the Harmony-built 'American' began.

One more, my little Buckaroos... here's a pic from an eBay auction from a couple of years back. The 'American' example is nice enough, but what really caught my eye was the poster behind it: it's Ringo Starr holding a stock Harmony-produced 'American!' It's interesting for many reasons; I've never seen the poster before or since, nor can I find it in any image search on the 'net. In the wonderfully campy 1989 "Act Naturally" video (below) Buck plays the Korean-made reissue; you'd think that if an original 'American' were available, they'd have used it! Maybe they were too precious to Buck, and he preferred to have one of the Korean-made reissues on the set... not too many tears would be shed if one of those got busted...

Here's the Korean-made reissue, currently sold by Buck's Crystal Palace.

Here's the 'Act Naturally' video from '89, and a fine, bluegrassy  performance of "Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms" from Hee-Haw, featuring Don Rich on fiddle, Ronny Jackson on banjo, and Buck on his Harmony-built 'American.' Note Buck's 'American' has been electrified; see the volume control on the lower treble bout?




Doggone if it hasn't been Slooooow
on the Silvertone auction scene recently... a guitar here, an amp there... some going unbid on, some going for appropriate prices... is everybody waiting on their tax checks? Have we reached 'Peak Silvertone?' Dunno, but I'm gonna run a full auction dollar analysis at the end of February and see what kind of totals I come up with... maybe do a pretty graph...

That said, let me share a nice 'Jimmy Reed' that just sold, and a little ephemera from the bluesman whose name has been applied to not only the Kay-built K-161 that he was known to play, but also the 'Thin Twin' Silvertone that has inherited his name as a nickname. First, here's a couple of Billboard ads, the first from 1959 for his best known (courtesy of Elvis) tune "Baby What Do You Want Me To Do?" Then an ad for an earlier tune and his first LP from 1957, and a 1956 peek at the Kay listing for the 'Thin Twin' from our friends at KingOfKays.

Next, a couple of shots of Jimmy with his namesake guitar, and the only existing live footage of the man from a Houston performance in 1975 (you'll have to click the graphic, I can't embed it).

1369 Kay SSEG w/ OC VG $735 Clean, light wear, light checking, logo and pickguard design strong, tuner buttons deteriorating (one completely gone), SSN scratched on back of headstock, nut chipped at low 'E'




Indulge Me On My Birthday, as I call 'shenanigans' on this bit of Silvertone-related graphic frippery that seems to have taken on a life and unintended and undeserved legitimacy of its own. You avid Silvertonians have probably already seen it somewhere, and I first saw this graphic of Nancy Sinatra holding a 1448 guitar in late 2011, in an eBay auction that I (luckily, it now turns out) saved the images from. I can't remember the seller, as the sale and the guitar/amp were unremarkable; just your good ol' in-fine-shape 1448 setup goin' for a good price. The only thing that got my attention was the Nancy graphic, which was the seller/artist's point, I suppose. I immediately ID'd it (to myself, anyway) as a clever fake, and thought no more about it. A few sellers apparently picked it up and used it in their own auctions over the past year or so, and still I thought no more about it, other than to be amused that the image was being passed around.

Now, though... the image seems to have taken on a legitimacy that (at the risk of seeming like a Silvertone-obsessed 'Portandia' character) I just gotta shoot down.

Here's what I posted under the Silvertone World Facebook account yesterday on a couple of threads:
Nancy never endorsed Silvertone guitars. This is a (somewhat) clever Photoshop of the famous 'Kook A Le Le' picture with the 1448 dropped in, and a new face added to Nancy. Her left hand and hair are in the exact same position as the Kookalele pic, the fonts are too modern, and the guitar is much sharper than Nancy. Still don't believe me? Her quite deformed-looking right hand is constructed of several copies of the fingers of her left hand. The guitar knobs also exhibit significant wear/adhesive seep, which would not be true of a 'catalog' shoot. The 'Amp In Case' moniker is a modern concoction, as well."

There are other odd things, too, that I didn't mention; the rough edges around the 'constructed' hand (honestly, the original hand was good enough, why bother building a new one?), the lack of shadows from the guitar on Ms. Sinatra's thighs, the slight downward displacement of the left hand, the 'new' Nancyface chin covering the neck opening of her groovy bodysuit, the bright edge of the 1448's headstock (treble side), and a few other things that you'll discover below.

Here's what's causin' all the ruckus; it's the original constructed image from the 2011 auction, alongside a tilt-matched and cropped piece of the 'Kook-a-lele' shot:

Here's the uncropped original 'Kook-a-lele' photo, and a nice Kook-a-lele for comparison:

Here's my original mention of the auction in December, 2011; as you can see, I acknowledged the graphic, and moved on:

Here are closeups of the 'oddities' I mention:

This image reveals a bunch of 'de-legitimizers;' the bright crop line at Sinatra's sleevetop and around the 'new' hand, the frightening Frankenstein fingers, the lack of leg shadows, the dirty / worn knobs, and the crop line on the edge of the 1448 itself.

As fortune would have it, I saved the auction photos that accompanied the first appearance of this graphic, and the next few image pairs represent those comparisons; they further bolster my debunking. The color shot is my saved photo, the B&W shot is cropped/rotated from the constructed graphic. Note the identical reflections on the headstock and bottom bass side edge of the guitar body, and the rolled-up guitar cord:

Here are those knobs, in the same rotational position, and showing identical (save for some 'artifacting' caused by who knows how many generations of layering/cutting/pasting) wear & adhesive 'seep.'

Note the glitter line pattern at the corner of the treble side bridge edge; the glitter groupings and voids (again, taking generational artifacting into account) are identical:

I also find the nearly identical positions of the tuning keys a statistical improbability were this a 'real' ad. If the shots had been taken from the same angle, no doubt they would be identical; compare the depicted angle of the tuner shafts. Also, note the bright line at the headstock's treble edge in the constructed image:

Sinatra's left hand is shifted slightly downward in the constructed image as compared to the 'Kook-a-lele' shot, and the pad of Nancy's thumb as well as the treble side neck shadow has disappeared, and you can see a hint of a crop line along the bottom of the hand's edge:

If this isn't the shot  the new Nancyface was created from, there's no dearth of sultry, heavily-madeup 60s-era shots for the Photoshopper to have chosen from:

I'm certain the creator (email me, will ya?) of this graphic meant no deception, and never meant their little 'Shop job to hold up under serious scrutiny (or get so out of hand!); they just wanted an attention-grabber...

They got it!

shenanigans n.
tricky or questionable practices or conduct —usually used in plural


You've Heard Enough About Groundhog Day, so I'll not mention it... what I will mention is how hard Danelectro pushed their Coral Electric Sitar... it became a studio favorite, but didn't seem to sell very well otherwise, despite the hippest celeb endorsements Dano could find...

Here's Danelectro president, designer, genius and namesake Nathan Daniel and Dano official Magnus Hendell introducing the instrument in a Billboard piece from Spring 1967.

A snarky bit from the Village Voice, with some groovy ads accompanying...

A few more odds and ends...


Designed and promoted by the legendary Vinnie Bell, the drone-string-equipped Coral Electric Sitar made it onto several hits of the late 60s and beyond, and we still hear it every now and again today. There's even a couple of stomp boxes that attempt to the distinctive sound of this unusual instrument.

A groovy album cover (that you can still sample/buy!), and the 1969 U.S. patent assigned to Vinnie and Nathan Daniel.

More great info on Vinnie, the Electric Sitar, and Danelectro in Doug Tulloch's essential Neptune Bound. Go buy it!

Abbreviations: M-Mint, NM - Near Mint, E- Excellent, VG- Very Good, G- Good , F-Fair, P-Poor, NS- Non-Stock, HBEG- Hollow Body Electric, FHAC- F-Hole Acoustic, FTAC- Flat-Top Acoustic, SBEG- Solid Body Electric, SSEG- Semi-Sold Electric, MIJ- Made In Japan, MOD - Modified significantly from stock, w/ O/C Original / Case, BOA - (related to price) Best Offer Accepted; price shown was asking price, sold for less, DNS - Did Not Sell; used mainly to show an item of interest whether it sold or not.
Unless otherwise noted, I'm rating them by what I see in the pictures and read in the description.

The items depicted on this page are not for sale by Silvertone World. These are reviews of items from completed eBay auctions on or around the date specified.


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