Price-hunting and proximity win a sweet deal on an homage to a ’50s Silvertone.
As I was browsing eBay a while back, this guitar caught my eye. From a distance, it looked like an old Silvertone Model 1423 Jupiter from the '60s. But upon closer inspection, I saw it was a newer Jay Turser copy of a Jupiter, with one very important distinction: It had what looked like old DeArmond Dynasonic pickups—the kind frequently seen on vintage Gretsch guitars. This intrigued me, so I emailed the seller asking the make of the pickups. He replied that he believed Artec made them in Korea, so I did a little research on eBay for Artec pickups, but found none looking like these. However, I did find a FrankenTone Chester pickup that looked exactly like the ones on this guitar, and they sold for around $45 to $65 apiece new. That told me they were at least decent pickups.
The seller had a “Buy It Now" price of “$199.99 or Best Offer," with $30 for shipping, and after doing a little research I saw that these guitars were selling everywhere for between $200 and $240. So the BIN price wasn't really saving me much money. But the “or Best Offer" part interested me—if the price was right.
So I made a lowball offer of $150 and explained in a note to the seller that I lived only one state away, so the seller would probably save some money on shipping. To my delight, he accepted my offer and I PayPal'd him the $180.
One selling point was the pickups, which resemble vintage DeArmond Dynasonics that are frequently
seen on older Gretsch guitars.
Bottom Feeder Tip #382: Sometimes, when making an offer on a guitar, it may be to your advantage to tell the seller your state and zip code if you live relatively nearby. That way the seller will know a few bucks can be saved on shipping.
I received the guitar a few days later. It looked mighty fine and played easy right out of the box. I replaced the strings with my favorite gauge, and then adjusted the neck. But when I played it hard using hybrid picking, the 1st and 2nd strings kept popping out of their grooves on the wooden bridge, so I broke out my set of nut files and carefully carved the grooves just a little deeper.
The tuning pegs and headstock on this nuevo-retro model outshine the original, which would have featured plastic tuner buttons and a rougher finish.
It plays fine now. Listen to my sound sample and hear how the pickups sound very lively and single-coil-like. The middle position puts both pickups into hum-cancelling mode, which comes in handy in noisy situations. I'm not crazy about using the chicken-head rotary switch to change pickup positions. It's kind of cumbersome, but it is a nice nod to the original Jupiters. My only beef is with the lack of sustain due to the wooden bridge. A Tune-o-matic may be in my future.
So is it a keeper? Yeah, for now. I've taken a liking to the pickups. They sound unique and look cool. And it's like owning a poor man's Gretsch.