Friday, February 23, 2018

Long Lost Silvertone Amp – Found

January 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Random Notes

I think I have found an old amp I owned from 1965 to 1994.  As a young rocker in Greenville, Mississippi, I was surrounded by a lot of music in the Mississippi Delta.  Greenville was in the heart of the 1960s blues culture, and only a short drive from Sun Studio in Memphis, the mecca  of Rock & Roll, where Elvis and Jerry Lee were recording.  My mother was a piano teacher and there was always music in our home, but I wanted to play the guitar.  My dad bought my first guitar and amplifier from Baird & Co. in Greenville. They sold wholesale goods to his company, Greenville Lumber Company. They also sold a few electronics alongside the plumbing and hardware.  The amp was pretty underpowered so after several months of “encouragement” he agreed to buy me a better amp.

Amp selection was simple.  There was Tatum’s Music, a local establishment, and Sears.  They were next door to each other on Washington Avenue in Greenville. One of the biggest purchasing errors I ever made was to buy the Sears amp.  A comparable outlay of cash would have bought a Fender Twin Reverb.  I liked the Sears amp, simply because it was BIGGER.  It was a Model 1484 Twin Twelve amplifier.  It was a two cabinet system.  Two 12″ speakers were in one enclosure and the power amp, controls, etc were in the other.  The only problem was that I could not carry the 60 pound rig by myself.  My solution … I cut the cord connecting the two cabinets and installed a 1/4″ phono plug at one end and a female 1/4″ plug on the other.  That allowed me to carry them separately.  Over the years, the Fender Twin Reverb has become a classic and has appreciated considerably since the mid 60s.


Silvertone Amp on Left - Tripp Edwards, Larry "Shine" Thornton, Paul Mauceli & Dave Sherman - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Our local band, The Illusion, played a few gigs. We practiced a lot and mainly had fun dreaming of making it big one day.

The band members included Tripp Edwards on guitar, Larry “Shine” Thornton on the bass and Paul Mauceli on drums. The group fizzled.  My interest in guitar faded and I loaned my amp to a friend.  That guy loaned it to another and before I knew it, it was gone and the trail was cold.

Fast forward about 5 years.  As a high schooler, I drove a blue 1971 VW Super Beetle.  I had driven my bug with some friends to one of their friend’s home on Wayside Drive in Greenville.  There in the garage was my wounded 1965 Sears Silvertone amp.  I was shocked to see the left face scratched to the point of scraping off the vinyl face that covered the pressed-wood cabinet. Whatever scratched it even gouged the wood below.  When I asked what happened to it and where he got it, he said “someone gave it to him.” He also said that it was in poor condition when he got it.  I asserted that if it had a 1/4″ phono jack connecting the head to the speaker section, I’d be leaving with it in my VW.  It was a job loading it in there, but I left with my long lost amp.

I never really used it much anymore.  I did gig with it a little in college and used it occasionally as a PA system, before I got a real PA system, but it mainly collected dust.   Naturally it was a tube amp and it would shock me quite often.

I ultimately traded the amp.  Sixteen years ago I traded my 1965 Silvertone amp, an empty Martin case and some cash for one of the first guitars Bill Collings built.  The Collings guitar was unnumbered, but was built in a batch with two others.  If numbered, they would have been Serial Numbers 0004, 0005 and 0006 according to Bill Collings.  Bill began building guitars from his apartment in Houston for his friends. Yes, mine was built in his apartment!  The Collings was originally owned by Jack Saunders.

My guitar purchase/swap was done at the 1994 Arlington Guitar Show.  My amp and the empty Martin case went to Rockin’ Robin Guitars in Houston, Texas, the prior owner of the Collings.

SilvertoneAmpI never expected to see the amp again.  I have seen a few others like it at other Dallas and Arlington guitar shows, but not mine …. until today.  My sister, Frances, sent me a link to a music documentary called “It Might Get Loud” featuring Jimmy Page, Jack White and The Edge. It was filmed in Austin, Texas.  Hmm, not far from it’s almost final resting place, when I last saw it in Dallas, when I traded it to a Houston-based dealer.

I reviewed the movie trailer and the still promo pics.  THERE’S MY SILVERTONE AMP.

Click HERE for additional photos.  And to THIS link sent to me by my daughter Kate.  The amp lived in Kate’s closet  for a few years when she was a teenager.  This photo, however, looks like it got loaned out again!

and the last few seconds of this video >>

I can’t prove it unless I could check the 1/4″ phono plug connecting the head to the speaker section, like I had to do once before.  The uniquely scratched faceframe definitely leads me to believe that it IS my old amp.

Well, The Illusion never made it big, but my amp might have.  I may not ever know for sure.  I’ll just have to wait until I take that Stairway to Heaven, and ask then.

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3 Responses to “Long Lost Silvertone Amp – Found”
  1. newtimus says:

    I’m a believer.
    This amp is right up his alley of style with road scars especially if he likes plastic guitars and bent necks. And what style it is!

  2. Nice story about your amp. I wonder what trail my 1484 traveled to make it to me? I bought it on ebay in 2004 in original shape for about $350. Now I can’t find another working one for less than $650 to start.

    I blow harp through mine, and love seeing the amp fans come up, ooh and aah about it, and ask the story. I even had the techs at Boston’s House of Blues chatting me up about it. They just love it. So even if you didn’t get the Fender, you still had a screaming machine.


  3. Keith Smith says:

    I bought my Silvertone 1484 in 1965 when I bought my Fender Jaguar. I still have both and they still play really well. I too should have bought a Fender Twin Reverb, but the music store wanted cash and Sear lets you make payments.

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