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Put on your tie-dye shirt and mini-skirt, because we’re stepping back to 1963, when the Silvertone 1478 was first issued! These guitars – originally sold across American via the Sears catalog – were hugely popular with beginners on a budget. Fast forward more than fifty years and the reissued Silvertone Classic 1478 is still a fantastic performer – staying true to the original style, with a few modern tweaks that make it a very interesting prospect for a sub-$500 guitar.
The Silvertone Classic 1478 just oozes retro style, with a curvy, asymmetrical double-cutaway 24” scale length body, crafted from solid mahogany with a maple top. It comes in two vintage finishes – a classic Red Silver Flake or a solid Black – both with appropriate five-layer tortoiseshell pickguards. It features a sturdy bolt-on mahogany neck, which sports a modern C-shape, allowing for more playability over the original, as well as a rosewood fretboard with 20 nickel-silver frets, and pearl block inlays that complement the vintage style. It’s light and comfortable to play, and certainly shares a lot with the original 1478 when it comes to ‘60s aesthetics.
While the looks remain vintage, the hardware on this reissue model has seen several upgrades, and certainly no longer sports the rosewood bridge of the original! No, this guitar features a reliable and fully adjustable chrome bridge, which means sustain has drastically improved while the authentic Bigsby tremolo tailpiece is perfect for nifty vibrato effects. Although be warned that this is tailored to more subtle vibrato – if you’re looking for Van Halen-style dives, forget it! Up top, on the six-in-line headstock, you’ll find six sealed chrome vintage-style tuners that show good action and keep your tuning in check.
The guitar is voiced by two Silvertone-designed chrome-covered single-coil pickups, fixed at the neck and bridge positions. The classic American brand have done their best in trying to replicate the pickups that featured on the original 1478, by using similar materials, windings and magnets. The result is very good, with vintage tones aplenty. The two pickups are tended to by an individual volume and tone control for each, in addition to a three-way pickup selector switch, while the output jack is placed on the face of the guitar.
With vintage-inspired style, vintage-inspired hardware, and vintage-inspired electronics, you’d be pretty disappointed if this guitar didn’t sound vintage! But thanks to the attention Silvertone have paid to making this reissue as similar to the original as possible, it offers a real ‘60s vibe, with a bright and punchy clean tone. Turning up the gain gives you excellent crunch, while remaining articulate enough for lead licks and soloing. Naturally, the 1478 is well suited to surf rock and blues, but versatile enough for many other styles, as the controls allow for ample experimentation.
Whether you had one of these as a child or are exploring vintage options for the first time, this upgraded nostalgic reissue will appeal to many guitarists, whatever skill level. Easy to play and versatile enough to cater for many different genres, it’s no wonder the 1478 is still going strong!