silvertone

Rig Rundown: JD Simo

The Nashville-based power player uses classic-style guitars and amps to create big tones that echo from the past to the future.

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Silvertone revisits a classic with improvements that enhance its stability and versatility.

Silvertone spent decades maligned as the ugly duckling on the electric guitar and amplifier pond. Because Silvertones were relatively affordable instruments sold by Sears, Roebuck & Company from the 1930s through the early ’70s, they were viewed as stepping-stones to the Fender, Gretsch, Gibson, or Rickenbacker you’d get when you got serious. But since the ’90s, many vintage Silvertone guitars and amps (typically those built by Harmony and Danelectro) have gained the respect and collector attention they always deserved.

With all this renewed interest, Samick revived the Silvertone name. And in the past year, they’ve started to revisit some of the Silvertone brand’s most loved designs. One of the most interesting original offerings, the 1423 (also branded as the Harmony Jupiter H49), was made from 1959 through 1962 and it’s the inspiration for the guitar reviewed here.

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"This is a 22-inch short-scale guitar with Valco single-coil pickups and a built-in tremolo circuit," says guitar collector Daniel Ivankovich. "The short scale really adds fatness for open-tuned slide playing. The Valco amp-in-case is about 5 watts and has a similar tube configuration as the Fender Champ. No wonder it sounds so good.

Blues monster all the way!"

Photo by Chris McMahon

For much of the 20th century, Chicago was the epicenter of musical instrument manufacturing and distribution. Here, guitarist Daniel Ivankovich shares two-dozen favorites from his personal collection.

Chicago built guitars the way Detroit built cars.

For much of the 20th century, the United States was largely rural and people tended to buy guitars and other musical instruments from catalogs. Chicago's centrality—with access to the Mississippi River, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and later the rails and highways—made the city a major manufacturing, commercial, and distribution center. It's no accident that catalog and retail giants Sears, Roebuck & Co. (for many decades America's largest retailer), Montgomery Ward, Spiegel, and others were founded there, and that these retailers played a critical role in the creation and distribution of guitars, amplifiers, and other musical instruments.

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