1959 Silvertone 1304

CRAVE Guitars says…

Thumbs up: Cute cool looks, light weight and distinctively Danelectro, trendy affordable vintage tones, great neck, superb all‑original condition, rare model

Thumbs down: Not the most versatile guitar, the brown colour may be bland, no Danelectro name on the headstock, low cost construction, no adjustable truss rod, no OHSC

Decree: A fantastic genuine 1950s guitar with oodles of vintage character for not too many bucks (at the moment). Not at all bad for a 60+ year old mail order beginners’ guitar

Model Description:

The Silvertone Model 1304 Guitar was a limited edition guitar only available from the Sears & Roebuck ‘Wish Book’ Christmas catalogue and related advertising of 1958, 1959 and 1960, and not available in Sears’ retail stores. The 1304 was offered by Sears on its own or as a package with an accompanying 1389 3‑watt valve amp (NB. the guitar was briefly re‑named 1450 along with the 1451 amp in 1959). Silvertone guitars of this era were manufactured by Danelectro in New Jersey, America. The 1304 features the characteristic single ‘lipstick’ pickup and is essentially the equivalent of a Danelectro U‑1 model originally made 1956‑1958, which had its single pickup positioned closer to the neck. The 1304/U‑1 body shape was the last of Danelectro’s single cutaway 1950s style instruments and, unlike most Silvertone‑branded guitars, the 1304 retained the Danelectro’s distinctive 1950s ‘coke bottle’ headstock shape. The neck and headstock of most 1304s were painted in the same drab brown colour as the bodies with more or less (or no) sparkle metal flake in the finish. The rare variation of the 1304 with a natural finished neck and headstock may be the result of cost and/or time saving due to seasonal back orders. The fingerboard was reportedly Brazilian rosewood. Early 1304 models had a square cutaway behind the neck instead of the later curved ‘swoop’ and a colour‑matched circular electrics cover on the rear rather than the later ugly 5‑sided aluminium panel. The single cutaway body of the 1304 comprises a solid pine centre block and hollow ‘wings’ faced by Masonite/hardboard with the Danelectro standard vinyl tape wrapping to the sides of the body. The model number is unique to the guitar and shouldn’t be confused with an earlier Danelectro amp carrying the same designation. The relative rarity of the über‑cool little 1304 makes it eminently collectable today. While not a purist’s ‘must have’, Danelectro’s 1950s classics play an important part in guitar history. Cool & Rare – perfick!

Guitar Description:

Wow, here we have ‘Oreo’, a terrifically groovy little Silvertone 1304 from 1959. She is a bit of a rare bird too, as the 1304 was a unique limited edition model that isn’t generally found in the usual model listings. Silvertone guitars are often dismissed by collectors and players as ‘beginners’ guitar’, which misses the point by a country mile. The dowdy chocolatey colour was described in the Silvertone advert as a “rich, gleaming lacquered brown”. There is some barely discernible gold metal flake in the finish and you have to look closely to see it. This example has an unusual scale length of 23½”, rather than the more common short scale 22½” or 24”, and the neck is limited to only 18 frets. It has been suggested that demand for the model proved popular resulting in more 1304s being ordered than had been made meaning that, in order to meet the backlog, many guitars were shipped after Christmas resulting in the rare natural neck finish. Personally, I prefer this neck to the colour‑matched ones. The serial number is difficult to read although the pots, characteristics and features all point to a 1959 model, including the distinguishing square cutaway shape, circular brown electrics cover, smooth concave ‘reactor tower’ knobs and fine weave vinyl binding. This specimen is in exceptional all‑original condition for its age. The sound is typically Danelectro, aided by the semi‑hollow body, short scale and the aluminium nut. The neck is remarkably playable and, although the action is a little high and fret ends a bit sharp, it suits the overall lo‑fi vibe. Given that it was a 1950s budget student model, the quality of the neck shows where Danelectro put their money. Acoustically, it is quite loud and vibrant with lots of lively, bright harmonics. Electrically, the unique mid‑pickup positioning gives a nice balance between the traditional mellow neck and strident bridge positions. She is also very lightweight at just 5lbs 10oz (2.6kg), so very easy to strap on and play. As mentioned frequently, I have a real penchant for the pure simplicity of single pickup guitars and this one is a great case in point. Overall, the dinky, quirky, idiosyncratic Silvertone 1304 is a joy to play for all those alternative, bluesy garage type arrangements or even jangly pop. It is definitely not a manic metal machine but there are plenty of those around – besides, heavy metal hadn’t been invented way back in 1959!


  • Made by Danelectro in New Jersey, U.S.A. in 1959
  • Single‑cutaway body finished in brown nitrocellulose finish with subtle hints of gold sparkle
  • Poplar frame body with ‘centre block’, hollow ‘wings’ and Masonite (hardboard in the UK) front/back
  • Reinforced poplar bolt‑on C‑profile neck with aluminium nut (no adjustable truss rod)
  • 3‑a‑side open‑gear strip tuners with white plastic buttons
  • Scale length 23½”
  • Unbound Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with 18 frets and white dot markers
  • Original chrome hardware
  • Original Brazilian rosewood/metal integrated bridge/tailpiece
  • Original single‑ply transparent scratchplate
  • Original vinyl body‑edge binding tape
  • Original ‘lipstick’ single coil pickup in the middle position
  • Original volume and tone controls
  • Weight: 5lbs 10oz (2.6kg)


Silvertone was a brand used by Sears, Roebuck and Company for its range of consumer electronics and musical instruments from 1915 to 1972. Musical instruments started to appear in the 1920s under the brand Supertone before being renamed to Silvertone in the 1930s. Silvertone instruments were manufactured by a range of companies including Danelectro, Valco, Harmony, Thomas, Kay and Teisco. South Korean company Samick Musical Instruments Corporation acquired the rights to use the Silvertone brand in 2001 and since 2013 has reissued guitars based on original Silvertone designs from the 1950s and 1960s.

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