Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Vintage Guitar and Gear Wishlist.... and why I think these things are cool

There are always weird guitars and gear that I see and hope to run into one day.  Recently it has been a Harmony made Silvertone and a brand new amp from Fender.  More on that one later.

The Silvertone 1446l has been popping up on my radar just about everywhere.  These things are American made by Harmony in Chicago from 1962 until 1967.  They featured a Bigsby Vibrato, a hollow body of laminated maple (even though the ads said Spruce top and back!) and the very illusive Seth Lover designed, stagger-poled mini-humbuckers.  I have never held one of these in my hands but supposedly these pickups screamed with higher output and thick silky humbucker tone.  This one is often refferred to as the Chris Isaak model but I believe that Dan Aurbach of the Black Keys is a fan as well.  Do you have one for sale?? Contact me!

And now, for something completely different: The Fender Pawn Shop Series' Greta.  These things are a bit "gimicky" but they are just so damn cute.  It is a two watt (tube), table top radio style guitar (and iPod) amplifier.  It features one 12ax7 preamp tube and one 12 at7 power tube and breaks up faster than your "high school sweetheart" friends.  The 4"speaker has a bit of a hard time keeping up with the output but plugged in to a cabinet this thing is an apartment ready blues machine.

Notice the "VU" meter?  It is a total gimmick and I love it.  VU stands for "Volume Unit" with the green section indicating clean tones and the red indicating distorted.  The meter is backlit with a small blue LED that is really just fun to look at.  The knob on the left is gain and the one on the right is tone.  

The coolest part about this little amp is what is on the back:

From left to right: Guitar, Aux In, Line Out, 8 ohm Ext. out, Switch, Power Input
Fender made this amp very versatile with all the ins and outs.  With the 4" speaker there isn't much headroom before the speaker farts out.  Which is why they added the 8 ohm extension out.  This thing sounds really good through a 4 12" cabinet.  It has a little more headroom but still has a nice, thick tube crunch.   If you are looking for a sparkly clean tone then you should probably look somewhere else.

But what if you have a larger amplifier that you like but can't play at the volume you want at home?  Enter the Greta, once again.  It has a Line Out that you could run a 1/4" cable directly into that amp's input.  Just use it like a distortion pedal.

But what if you are a trendy hipster with a turntable and feel like your warm, analog signal path is being ruined by your solid state stereo?  Enter the Fender Greta's Auxiliary 1/8" input.  Plug your turntable into this little guy for analog tone that lets your recent Grizzly Bear or Bon Iver vinyl sound like it should, I guess.  Or just plug in your iPod (digital music through an analog amplifier?).  I actually have not experimented with this feature of the Greta although I would love to.  My wife and I listen to a wifi radio (Logitec Squeezebox) every morning and I would be very interested to hear how it sounds through the Greta.  Do you play your iPod through your Greta?  Comment and let me know what you think about it.

1 comment:

  1. I played one of those Silvertones back in 1994 - a store in Haverhill MA appropriately named "Cheap Guitars" had one for $300 - and I unwisely didn't buy it (my disposable income was pretty limited at the time!). Still regret not buying it !! Pickups were fiesty - like thicker sounding Firebird pickups.