When three pickups simply won’t do, reach for a Silvertone ET-460 K4L
There was a time when a man was
judged by the number of pickups on
his guitar. Ah, those were the days—the
After seeing some 4-pickup Silvertones
show up on eBay over the years, I decided I
needed to experience one. So I bookmarked
this particular guitar—an old ’60s teal-colored
Silvertone ET-460 K4L. Nicknamed
the “Sharkfin,” the instrument was made
in Japan by Teisco. On this model, each of
the 4 pickups has its own on/off switch, a
system that allows a mind-boggling number
of different pickup combinations. (Okay,
that’s only 15, not including “all off,” but
compared to a Tele, Les Paul, or Strat, this
seems almost infinite.)
“Sharkfin” moniker comes from its cool, sculpted headstock. The Grover tuners were added by
a previous owner.
The seller admitted that his tech had
declared the neck was slightly twisted, and
this probably kept bidding low. It was also
missing one of the bridge roller inserts for
the low-E string, as well as the Silvertone
I decided to take my chances anyway
because everything else seemed to be there,
and apparently all the pickups worked.
Also, someone had replaced the tuners with
nice Grovers, and the original tuners would
be included in the case for the winner. I
always figure when an owner changes out
the original tuners for Grovers, the guitar
must be pretty decent, so I bid on it.
The entire guitar sports a teal paint job.
I won it for $262, plus $18 shipping.
Not exactly a steal, but definitely within
bottom-feeder territory. It arrived with no
strings on it (usually a bad sign), and I
immediately took it to my tech Jack Dillen
for an assessment. He was amused by all the
pickups and switches. He put on a single
high-E string, started fretting it all over the
neck, and after a few minutes gave me some
good news: The neck was actually in good
condition. It only appeared to be twisted
because a half-dozen frets were popping up.
After Jack applied a few dabs of super
glue and clamped the loose frets to reseat
them, the neck seemed to be just fine. He
also looked in his parts box and found a
compatible roller bridge saddle to replace
the missing one. These simple modifications
made my Sharkfin work just fine.
The Bigsby-inspired bridge
includes roller saddles.
Bottom Feeder Tip #2,289: Keep your
friends close, but keep your guitar tech even
closer. It was my guitar tech against the seller’s
tech ... and mine won. So is it a keeper?
Absolutely—it now has super-low action,
plays like a dream, and seems to possess a
gazillion different sounds, thanks to all the
unusual pickup combinations. I also dig the
cool “pointy” Jetsons vibe. She’s a real retro-future
is a founding
member of the
trio. He also does guitar
clinics promoting his
namesake G&L signature
model 6-string, and produces
artists and bands at his studio in
Asheville, North Carolina. You can contact
Will on Facebook and at willray.biz