View Full Version : Silvertone (mfd by ????) baritone

08-17-2013, 12:30 PM
Spotted a Silvertone baritone in an antique shop yesterday. Convinced myself I didn't need it and left. Thought about it all day today.

Condition was pretty good - needs cleaned, and at least one tuner was toast. But no cracks, no loose braces, hell, it was barely even scuffed. Had a case that has seen much better days though. Price tag said $75.

It looks a lot like this one that Jake Wildwood restored
right down to the faux tortoise binding.

I know Silvertone was a house brand for Sears and they were manufactured by various companies including Kay and Harmony. My question is, is there any way to tell who made it, when and where? Does it even make a difference? Is it worth my time at $75? Can you stop the voices in my head?? You know, the ones that say "you neeeed a vintage baritone..."?????


08-17-2013, 02:41 PM
If it's in great shape, they often go for around $125, so $75 is a great price, especially with the tortoise binding (very desireable) and a vintage case. That will leave you a little room to do a little restoration without exceeding the value of the uke.....something I always consider. I'd certainly buy it in a hurry for that price.

Appalachian picker
08-17-2013, 04:58 PM
Be careful. There could be many less-than obvious condition issues that would make it not such a great buy!

08-18-2013, 07:35 AM
I won't be able to get back to that shop before next weekend, and if it's still there I will give it a very critical inspection. And if it still looks good I'll try to talk them down a bit, if I can.

Does anyone know if it would be solid wood, and a USA build (Chicago maybe?)? Or would manufacture have shifted to Japan by then, and used laminates?

08-18-2013, 02:31 PM
My Silvertone is from 1956 and is solid mahogany. Made in Chicago by the same factory that made Harmony.

08-25-2013, 10:41 AM
I GOT IT !!!!!!!!

details & pics to follow

08-25-2013, 12:12 PM
I GOT IT !!!!!!!!

details & pics to follow

Woo hoo! Congratulations. Looking forward to pix.

mm stan
08-25-2013, 12:18 PM
Congrats ..what you never tried to haggle it for 50.00 ha ha I would....:)

08-25-2013, 12:22 PM
Congrats ..what you never tried to haggle it for 50.00 ha ha I would....:)

Stan, are you psychic? 50 is what I paid!

08-25-2013, 12:25 PM

(I really need to get a better camera! Or at least a new phone with a better camera in it.)

08-25-2013, 12:31 PM
Closeup of the faux tortoise binding...


It's got a few scuffs and rub marks, but this is the worst mark on it by far:


I should add that these pics show it fresh from the showroom floor. I haven't so much as taken a dust rag to it yet.

The case appears to have done its job of protecting its contents. While it looks a little worse for wear, the uke survived 50+ years like a champ:


08-25-2013, 12:47 PM
I think I scored well on this uke. It really looks like it was played minimally when it was new, then was cased and stuck in the back of a closet sometime before Kennedy was shot.

It appears to be all solid wood (top and back for sure, and I assume the sides are too). Can't decide if it's true mahogany or if it's sapele - the sides definitely have that characteristic sapele striping, but the top and back are a little more ambiguous. If this is a USA build from around 1960, would they have been using sapele?

I'm going to have to order up a new set of tuners. Two of them won't hold tension; I tried tightening the screws, but they just released the tension more gradually then. Something is stripped.

New strings too, of course. Thinking I might get a GCEA set so my meager pea brain doesn't have to work too hard.

And a new humidifer. And a better case. Speaking of cases, does anyone know if these were originally sold with cases? That is to say, does the case have any particular value, or is it just a junky old cardboard case?

08-25-2013, 05:21 PM
Great buy, congrats!! Looks really good. You could, for now try adding a small flat washer between the back of the headstock and the button to see if the screws will then hold tension. A quick, easy fix. I think you did GREAT for $50.00! Glad you got it.

08-25-2013, 05:56 PM
Wow! Nice purchase. A definite score. It's good to see these antique shop purchases still happening. Enjoy.

08-26-2013, 03:32 AM
Don't think I'll need to get new tuners after all! I was being a little too timid tightening the screws ("But it's old! I might huuuurt it!"). But last night I figured, heck, if I'm buying new tuners anyway, let's see what happens, so I cranked the screws down real good...and this morning, they seem to be holding!

I am really just amazed with this uke. Seems like 99% of the musical instruments you see in antique shops around here are trashed beyond even being decent wallhangers.