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In 2008, as I was prepping an old, well-loved Silvertone 1484 for international touring, I was possessed by a desire to improve on this classic. I have repaired dozens of these amplifiers over the years and always had a deep admiration for them. Danelectro created a unique product with mid-century modern looks, the cheapest parts and materials available, and amazing sounds. Sadly, they are not very roadworthy. One of my favorite discoveries in servicing these amps was the use of “Planet” brand electrolytic caps, which proudly proclaim “Guaranteed For One Year.” Ha!
Using a mix of top-shelf hifi grade components like Japanese gold-plated ceramic tube sockets, NOS parts like carbon composition resistors, and old-school point-to-point construction practices, I built a version of the 1484 that was as roadworthy and service friendly as I could imagine. I added a few useful features such as a bias adjustment control and test points, and an output selector switch for multiple speaker impedances. I also trimmed the circuit down to one channel with no effects and a single modification, a “hot” input that has slightly more gain and high end than the stock input, which is labeled “warm.”
Over the years I have used a variety of output transformers in my Acme Silvertones. A few units have bigger ones with bass guitar in mind, and the majority feature transformers salvaged from old Wurlitzer organs. I’ve found these impart a lovely color, and have a very pleasing breakup. In 2012 I secured a limited supply of these when Tacoma’s Puget Sound Organ Repair went out of business and liquidated its impressive supply of parts. While I have also experimented with various different resistors and capacitors, the output transformer, the last link in the chain, has the most dramatic effect on the sound of these amplifiers.
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