Line Out Music & the City at Night

Friday, December 2, 2011

Silvertone Danelectro Guitar: Masonite

Posted by on Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 12:18 PM

photo courtesy of
  • photo courtesy of
The Sea and Cake guitarist/singer Sam Prekop hath guitar affection for the Silvertone, which he said he played almost exclusively on their latest album, The Midnight Butterfly. It's not his road guitar, so he probably won't be playing it at The Crocodile tonight, sadly. But afterward he will be giving a solo concert at the Volunteer Park Greenhouse, where he will play Rush's Moving Pictures in its entirety, on a Silvertone guitar. Behold the Silvertone Guitar by Danelectro. Distributed by Sears Roebuck. Semi-hollow body. Made out of Masonite hardboard. That would be Mr. William H. Mason who invented Masonite, in Laurel, Mississippi, 1924. Mason disintegrated wood chips and blasted them with pressurized steam, then released them into atmospheric pressure, and molded the fibers into boards on a screen, where he pressed and heated them to form the finished product.

Tone-wise, Masonite accentuates the highs and rolls off the lows. Mids are smooth and clean with a humbucker/single coil combination. Silvertones have almost no sustain. In 1963, Sears musical buyer Joe Fisher and Nathan Daniel came up with the beautiful idea to put a 5-inch speaker and amplifier in the guitar case. Thus, the Silvertone was affordable, and complete. A workhorse. The body didn’t matter, they said, as opposed to Les Paul’s fine wood usage. Daniel said the neck was more important. His pickups were strange then and still are today. He used lipstick tubes, wiring them in series. There you have the unique Dano/Silvertone sound now proudly played by collectors and musicians worldwide. Even if you don't love guitars, you love this guitar.

photo courtesy of
  • photo courtesy of


Comments (12) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
I love Danos, but they can be frustrating for a couple of reasons:
1-both the vintage ones and the most of the modern reissues have a straight block of rosewood as a saddle, which does not allow for individual string some chords sound a bit weird.
2- the bridge rides on 3 screws, one on the back edge and 2 in the front (on either side). This means there is no support in the middle and the steel plate is too thin, especially on the modern reissues, so it sags in the middle and the middle strings end up w/ fret buzz after a couple years.
3-No truss rod access- you have to take the neck off to adjust the bow. Old fenders were the same way, but they used better seasoned wood, so it was stable and didn't need adjustment constantly -this is a big issue w/ the chinese reissues.

I have owned 3 over the years, and have sold them for these reasons
Posted by Chris Jury on December 2, 2011 at 12:34 PM · Report this
I own this exact guitar, with amp case and original paper work.

It's a workable enough guitar, but more of a novelty than anything. They look cool, but sound atrocious.

Posted by Jeff on December 2, 2011 at 12:46 PM · Report this
My first guitar was an old Sears Silvertone acoustic dreadnaught, given to my family when we were on welfare as a kid. I was 8, went to play it, and the high E string broke off and shot into my left hand pointer finger, wedging itself almost an inch under my fingernail. Crying, running to my mom, blood everywhere, we removed the string and didn't touch a guitar again until I was 15. From that one experienceI developed a literal guitar phobia.
Posted by Ben Harwood - Hobosexual on December 2, 2011 at 1:10 PM · Report this
During my high school obsession with Mark Robinson/Unrest, I thought these guitars and amps were simply the shit. Then, like the rest of the shoegaze nerds, I ignored them for Jaguar and Jazzmasters. Still, I wish I owned one of these boys. That particular jangle can't be made by anything else. Every time a band hits the studio and pulls out this guitar, I get a little excited and "Cherry Cream On" starts running through my brain.
Posted by Erik Blood on December 2, 2011 at 1:11 PM · Report this
Trent Moorman 5
But Jeff, Mick Jagger plays one.
Posted by Trent Moorman on December 2, 2011 at 1:11 PM · Report this
lars finberg played one of these with thee oh sees on tuesday
Posted by factoid on December 2, 2011 at 1:21 PM · Report this
Pat Boone 7
...and Pat motherfuckin Boone owns the amp. Boooyah!
Posted by Pat Boone on December 2, 2011 at 1:36 PM · Report this
Pat Boone 8
Glad you hippie kids are writing bout something American today!
Posted by Pat Boone on December 2, 2011 at 1:39 PM · Report this
Damn, Ben Harwood. That is phobia inducing indeed. Maybe that's what made you such a shredder.
Posted by Vladagear on December 2, 2011 at 4:03 PM · Report this
I have one of these too, amp case and all, though the case has definitely seen better days. I think the guitar sounds great, but mine doesn't stay in tune for nothin'. I guess eventually I have to decide whether I want it as a guitar - in which case I'll replace the tuning machines - or as a museum piece.
Posted by Levislade on December 2, 2011 at 4:53 PM · Report this
11 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
matt 12
Someone needs to point out that this was a fine, concise piece of writing.

Also, pretty sure @11 is spam.
Posted by matt on December 3, 2011 at 10:14 AM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy