Up for sale, a 1955 Silvertone S1384 "Espanada" archtop electric guitar in good working order, professionally setup and restored. This first year model is as cool as they come, with a pair of stock Gibson P-13 single coil pickups and the aluminum "Harmometal" binding only seen on the very earliest Espanada models crafted between 1955 and '57. Produced by Harmony in the USA for sale via the Sears & Roebuck catalog, this guitar is virtually identical to the Harmony "H63" model in all but name.
One of the finest guitars to every carry the Silvertone (or Harmony) name, this archtop boasts a 16 1/2" lower bout, 3 1/2" body depth, and a tone that is as rich as it is defined. Essential for jump blues and jazz, the Gibson-made P-13 single coil pickups are a precursor to the P-90 and have a slightly meatier and darker tone. Through your favorite vintage tube amp, the Espanada has lovely top end and sparkle, with a bass response that has a sweetness and bloom to the notes without being boomy or loose sounding. Truly one of the cooler vintage pickups ever produced, the P-13 pickups compliment an archtop that's stately and alluring with its "tuxedo" appointments, nickel hardware, and eye-catching thick metal binding. There's truly also something to be said for what the metal binding adds to the acoustic presence and electric chop of this guitar. Just like metal hoops on a drum, the Harmometal binding creates an audibly brassy top end and percussive cut not necessarily found with later Espanada models. According to the original catalog description, this Silvertone "is designed for the fullest possible expression of modern guitar technique, affording sharp treble tones, deep bass, and all the in-between shadings which may be desired in lead or rhythm work." This Silvertone Espanada has been professionally setup here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar, with comfortable action and a fresh set of 11-50 strings.
The neck has a moderately deep C profile that has nicely rounded edges with a slightly flatter spot in the center of the profile for you to rest your thumb. The neck profile has also been stripped of its finish for a silky smooth feel that allows you to move up the neck quickly, unencumbered by a sticky gloss finish. The nut width is 1 3/4", perfect for complex chord voicings or fingerpicking, and the original frets are intact. These slender vintage frets show moderate uniform wear on frets 1-4, with fainter wear on the fret crowns of the plain strings until roughly fret 7, and no notable wear further up the neck. The Brazilian rosewood fretboard sports pearloid block inlays and creme binding that conceals the fret tangs. The scale length is a full 25 1/2" as well. On the headstock, the original Waverly open back tuners are intact, and turn smoothly with their original buttons. The raised metal "Silvertone" logo is also present on the headstock face. Also of note, the first year models have a non-adjustable rod in the neck, and the guitar currently has ideal relief, with action that frets easily in all registers with no buzzing or dead spots.
All of the electronics work as they should, with individual Volume and Tone controls for each pickup and undeniably cool original white "cupcake" bakelite knobs. The transparent pickup rings (painted white on the bottom) and original rosewood bridge are intact, as well as the stock tailpiece and diamond switch surround. The pickguard is a modern replacemet that matches the shape and thickness of the original with a corresponding modern pickguard bracket. Cosmetically, the guitar has aged gracefully but also been consistently and honestly played. There is heavy finish checking on the body and both sides of the headstock, and there is clean finish touchup around the F holes, essentially as a more matte black base coat beneath the glossier top coat of the original lacquer. The sides of the guitar have also been refinished in smooth black gloss nitro lacquer, as much of the finish had previously flaked off the sides and warranted restoration. The back of the guitar has assorted small finish scuffs and nicks, and there are also some light sanding marks on either end of the neck profile from when the neck finish was stripped in the past.
This vintage Silvertone S1384 "Espanada" sounds exceptional with the stock Gibson P-13 pickups and looks particularly eye-catching with its early "Harmometal" aluminum binding!