Sunday, January 24, 2010

Silvertone Amplifiers - Model 1483 Bass Amp and Model 1484 Guitar Amp

Although this blog is specifically about unique guitars, I figure every now and then I ought to mention amplifiers, since they are so crucial to the electric guitar sound.

When I was about 13 years old, I met a kid that lived a block away named Doug Abbott.

Doug became my best friend. We grew up learning to play music together.

Doug had just bought a single pickup Silvertone bass. This model was a single cutaway Danelectro model with the penquin headstock.

This was one of the Silvertone/Danos with the coke bottle headstock.

A few months later he had saved up enough of his lunch money to buy a Silvertone amplifier. The model he purchased was the 1483 bass amp.

The 1483 was a straightforward bass amplifier with the functions modeled after the 6G6 model Fender bassman (with head and cabinet 1961-64) and the 1965 blackface model.

The model 1483 took it lead from the model 1473 which had been discontined in 1963.

The 1483 was similar, but was a combo model. It was listed in the Spring/Summer 1965 catalog simply as "The Bass Amplifier."

The 1483 was easy to carry around with its amp-in-the-back storage. It had a respectable amount of power at 23 watts, which is similar to a Deluxe Reverb. And it came with a 15" Jensen speaker.


The amplifier was actually introduced in 1963, but may not have been available until 1964.

The original retail price was $119.95.

The 1483 was discontinued around 1966-67 and was replaced by a solid state model. The amp was designed by Danelectro and manufactured by Danelectro.

I had another friend named Rick Sears. I played with him in a band for a few years. Rick owned a Silvertone guitar amplifier. This was the mate to the bass model 1483 and was nicknamed The Twin Twelve. It was model 1484. It supposedly cranked out 60 watts, but I don't recall it being that loud. A Super Reverb is 40 watts and has a similar tube set up. This amp was built by Danelectro.


The catalog listing advertised this amp for guitar or bass usage, and had all the amenities you could want in a medium sized (and priced) package: reverb, tremolo, two channels, two matched 12-inch Jensens, and 25 feet of cable to separate amp from speaker to "end feedback."


The model 1484 was introduced in 1963 and sold for $149.95. It was discontinued in 1966 when the price had gone up $30 to $179.95. It was replaced by the larger, louder model 1485 that came with six 10" Jensen speakers and a quartet of 6L6 tubes.













My buddy Doug had a love/hate relationship with his 1483 due to the propensity to distort. In 1965 we were all looking for a clean sound. Leo Fender's goal was to produce amplifiers that produced a clean tone. Blues players, that usually could not afford an expensive Fender amp, got use to the distorted sound and used it to their advantage.

The Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds had some hit songs that used fuzztones or amps with torn speakers, since they were fans of blues songs and were attempting to emulate that tone.

Doug replaced the 15" Jensen with a Utah speaker. He changed the baffle to one made of solid wood and he stuffed the cabinet with fiberglass insulation. He finally gave up and saved up enough money to purchase a black face Bassman.

The 1483 cranked out 23 watts, so naturally it would distort at higher volumes as would a Fender Deluxe played with the gain up full. The 15" Jensen was an excellent quality speaker, but the amps baffling was made of the material used to create inexpensive subflooring and pegboards. I was flimsy and cheap. The amplifier components and chassis were well constructed and the wiring was point to point.

The chasis for the head amp and speaker cabinet were made of inexpensive medium density fiberboard and covered with a wallpaper type of material instead of tolex.

The tubes were a 5Y3GT rectifier, two 6L6GC power tubes and two 128X7 preamp tubes and either a 6CG7 or a 6FQ7 for a phase inverter.

During these days there was no standard for amplifier power. Most companies advertised by posting peak power. Today we use the more realistic RMS as a standard.

I have never tried this amplifier for guitar, but the 1483 would probably make an excellent jazz or rock guitar amplifier. It just wasn't loud enough to handle the music of the day, since we didn't mike amplifiers back then.

The 1484 was made of similar materials including the speaker baffle. The compliment of tubes were similar to the 1483 with the addition of a 12AX7 for the reverb circuit and a 12AX7 and a 6CG7 or 6FQ7 as a supply to the tremolo circuit.



Both amps cut down on the actual cabinet size for sound displacement because the bottom of the amp had a compartment to carry the amps head. I do not know how much effect this had on the sound, but the carrying compartment was a unique feature.


Reverb unit is behind the tubes
The reverb on the 1484 was not at all the quality of the Hammond units in Fender models. Hammond reverbs utilized a transducer for the driver that contained a coil to optimize sound. Silvertone reverbs used piezo units, somewhat like those used on acoustic guitars. The Silvertone unit sounded weak and flat compared to a Hammond unit.

The use of piezos is probably the reason you could get this sort of space sound by turning off the amps volume controls and turning the reverb all the way up. You could achieve a Dick Dale sort of tone.


The 1484 yeilded a much better clean tone than it's bass counterpart, possibly due to the headroom added by the twin twelve inch speakers. But if you crank it up it produces an excellent distorted sound.  Some bass players played through them.

The transformers in both amps were adequate, but not on par with Fender or Gibson amps.




These were excellent giggable amps back in the day for high school kids and are gaining popularity now. On the final Conan O'Brien show, Warren Haynes was playing his Les Paul through a Silvertone 1484. If it's good enough for him...







9 comments:

SMIVER said...

Silvertone 1483 General Description

The 16 pound Silvertone 1483 chassis number 185. 11030 is a fine straight forward, fully vacuum tube operated amplifier. It is a separate power head and speaker cabinet (piggy-back) design with a total weight of 55 pounds. A piggyback amplifier has a separate amplifier (head) and speaker cabinet (bottom). From an amplifier designer's standpoint, a piggyback amp is very advantageous. A musician can put the controls next to his fingertips while placing the speaker cabinet on the other side of the room. Also less vibrations and frequency rattles make their way into the electronic circuitry, for greater performance and reliability.
Amplifier testing has proven to not position vacuum tubed amplifiers on top of speaker cabinets or include the circuitry in an console (all-in-one) manner. Vibration of the speaker can and does affect the amplifier if not immediately, then later with tube microphonics and component failure issues.
The 1483 amplifier utilizes two 6L6GC power, two 12AX7 preamp (1st/2nd stage), one 5Y3GT rectifier and one 6CG7/6FQ7 phase inverter (3rd stage preamp) Silvertone branded (GE/RCA) vacuum tubes. The tube positions are marked at socket locations.
The 1483 amplifier was advertised to output 23 watts but, it is really about 50 watts. New quality upgraded components evolve the amplifier to a higher level then when it was new. The 47 year old design is highly functional, impressive and appears to produce more like 100 watts. After overhaul the amplifier easily drove both a 1x15 and 4x10, 600 watt cabinets.
The tone controls are interactive, the more treble and bass, the more gain especially after four on the dials. Also the type of pickups installed in the instrument effect the overall output. Danelectro built a full line of guitars and basses, so it only stands to reason that they tested their amplifiers with Danelectro manufactured instruments of the same era with 1960's instrument pickups in mind. High output pickups will produce a strong preamp signal resulting in more distortion at peak volume settings.
The current maximum volume setting for an overhauled (design not modified)1483 is volume at 9.5, Bass at 4 and Treble at 4.
Take this thing with you and leave the Fender Bassman at home. SMIVER

SMIVER said...

“Everyone should have at least one of these amps. You would be hard pressed to find a better amp for the money. Very reliable, sounds good and get lots of compliments from bands we play with, etc.”
“Too bad they don't make them like they used to, it's a good amp and if you find a 1483 model around somewhere, I would suggest getting it. It'll look a little ragged, mine does, but the sound is incomparable. Don't get anything besides a 1483!”
“Sears Silvertone 1483 is the best alternative to a '59 Bassman that you can get. The cabinets are very cool and you can slide the head into the back of the cabinet for transportation. For $500 you can get the amp speaker combo that sounds even better than the bassman”.
“A Silvertone 1483 is also one hell of a vintage rock head. It's tonally equal to much of the boutique stuff made today. The new amps copy these old circuits (which are great sounding) and sell em for big dollars. Vastly superior to much of the stock factory stuff currently out there”.
“The Silvertone 1483 (by Danelectro) is basically a Fender bassman in a different box”.
“This amp, out of all the amps I've had, has the sweetest tone. It has a nice complete spread of frequencies. It handles low end pretty well and it handles higher frequencies well too. I think I'm in love. It is utterly unique.”
These amps have instant likeability, friendly tone that really grabs you and kind of encourages you to play it. It's very aggressive and compressed, but without the drawbacks of compression. It's more of a high-fidelity sound.

1967 Sears, Roebuck and Co. 1483 Catalog Listing

The 1967 Sears, Roebuck and Co. Spring & Summer catalog, edition 234 page 1273 lists the 57 A 1483N tubed bass amplifier for the last time. Sales of the 1483 continued through Sears retail outlets while the final production year quantity lasted, possible into early 1968.

Big 15-in. speaker; 23 watts
22 For bass . . 60 to 15,000-CPS. Tone control, Line, ground and stand-by switches. Pilot light. Two channels, 4 inputs. Controls store in gray vinyl speaker cabinet 29x9x19 in. high. With 25-ft cable.
57 A 1483N----Wt. 55 lbs. $6 mo……..$124.95 (2008 inflation price adjustment is $797.23)

The 1483 was the first true vacuum tubed amplifier for bass guitar marketed as a Silvertone bass amplifier. Previous amplifiers marketed by Sears Silvertone for use with a bass guitar were actually built for accordion, harmonica or guitar.
The 1483 amplifier is not labeled as a bass amplifier on the chassis or cabinets. The only clue is the 15'' speaker cabinet, but the head and cabinet rarely sell as a set. It is probably safe to say the 1483 is primarily known for guitar since few people read 1960's Sears catalogs. The amplifier face simply states “Sears Silvertone” and the chassis rear gives the 1483 model number. Due to the wide tone range and versatility the 1483 has become highly sought after for guitar amplification. However, the 1483 is a great bass amplifier just the way it was originally intended.

The 1483 was introduced in the 1963 Sears, Roebuck fall and winter catalog, edition 227, Pg 1367 for $99.95 as the 57 G 1483N (2008 inflation price adjustment is $695.67)

The 1483 amplifier also was available in a bass, case and amplifier combination set which saved 5 to 10%. The included bass was the Danelectro manufactured Silvertone 1444. The set was offered last in 1965 as the 57 A 1495N2 for $189.90 (2008 inflation price adjustment is $1,282.94). The amplifier and bass are literally made for each other , but were also sold separately. The 1444 bass/case sold for $79.95 from fall 1959 through early 1967 when it was discontinued.

steve said...

I have a 1483 still original tubes, it's raw power, it's a

Simon George said...

thanks so much for the reviews and pics. stuff like this really makes it easier for musicians to buy with confidence. great post keep up the hard work. check these out IStillGotMyGuitar

Wolfman said...

What I want to know is the power handling of the speaker cabinet. I want to experiment using other heads with my silvertone cab, but I am concerned about pumping too much power through it. The amp is somewhere between 25-50 watts. Can this 15 inch Jensen handle a 100 watt head?

guitar picks said...

Amplifiers are essential tools to boost sounds but with the emergence of different brands or styles, it makes it a little difficult to choose the right one. So, thank you for this very informative post. This will certainly guide musicians in choosing the right amplifiers they need especially those who are just starting out or are first time purchasers.

Samosurfer said...

The 1483 cab has a Jensen C15N speaker The N stands for 5owatts in all Jensen speakers. A 100 watt amp is too big for it. The amp should be about 1/2 wattage of the speaker. The head of the 1483 is 23watts and its speaker is 50 watts so there you go.

julian thibeault said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
julian thibeault said...

I have a 1967 1483 head in seriously pristine condition with the original tubes. This thing is loud and clean until you push it about halfway or jump the channels then it gets crazy rock and roll tone. No joke, if you play a gibson humbucker guitar through this, youll give mick ronson a run for his tone. I picked this up on ebay for about 350 plus 30 shipping and its just ridiculous that people pay thousands of dollars to get this type of tone.

Its also really small in size, the head is very light as well with makes it awesome to carry around.