Silvertone 1421 (Sears 10XL) Tube Amp

Silvertone 1421 Original

Vintage 1971 Silvertone 1421 (Sears 10XL) Combo Guitar Tube Amp

This great little combo tube amp was built by (who?) and sold through Sears and Roebuck in the late 1960′s and early 70′s. It was originally sold as the Silvertone Model #1421, and in later years as the SR 10XL, and lastly as the Sears 10XL. Oh, the photo of this amp looks innocent enough, but, this is one serious sounding tube screamer. And you won’t usually find them as nice as this one!

Quick Info

Summary: A 10-watt tube combo with tremolo and 8-inch speaker. Hand-wired. Lots of midrange growl that transitions into a creamy overdrive. Great for classic and indie rock, jazz, blues, country and rockabilly. Use as a practice amp or at small venues. Perfect for recording.

Pluses (+): Vintage British, Vox-like, valve sound in an affordable practice amp. Compact and lightweight.

Minuses ( – ): Cheaply constructed lightweight cabinet and thin vinyl covering. The original grille cloth was fragile, and most are completely deteriorated by now. Loud enough for a small venue (i.e. coffee shop) but not for anything larger.

Surprises: 1) The 7189 output tube! This is the higher plate voltage version of the EL84 tube made famous in British amps of the 60′s; and 2) The 8-inch Oxford Alnico speaker sounds great!

Value ($): Depends on the condition and market demand. I have seen them run from $100 to as high as $500.

Similar Amps: The original 1960′s Vox AC4 practice amp. Nothing else in the Silvertone line is similar.

The Complete Silvertone 1421 Review

(Stay tuned… this section under construction)

The 1421 Photo Gallery

This amp is in fantastic condition for it’s age. It even came with the factory original vinyl dust cover. It is all original, except that I replaced a broken power switch, and then replaced the old 2-prong power cord with a safer grounded cord. The tubes, chassis, speaker, cabinet and finish are all in perfect condition — sans for the cigarette-sized hole burned into the original grille cloth (not by me, it came that way!).

Specifications – Silvertone 1421 (Sears 10XL)

SILVERTONE 1421 (SEARS 10XL)
Model Number 257.14211000
Serial Number None
Manufacture Date April 1971
Type 8″ Combo
Output (Peak or RMS) 10 Watts, Peak
Pre-Amp Tube(s) 1 x 12AX7
Tremolo Tube(s) 1 x 12AX7
Power Amp Tube(s 1 x 7189
Tube Rectifier 6X4
Speaker Oxford 8″ Alnico
Speaker Code 465-7118
Speaker Configuration 1 x 8″
Baffle Board 1/8″ Masonite
Impedance 4 Ohm
On-Board Effects Tremolo
Footswitch Yes
Controls Volume & Tone
Inputs 2
Channels 1
Cabinet Construction 3/8″ Pressed Board
Cabinet Covering/Color Vinyl / Black
Dimensions (WxHxD) 14″x17″x6″
Weight 10 lbs.
Power 120V AC

Schematic for Silvertone 1421

Schematic for Silvertone 1421

Schematic Courtesy of SchematicHeaven.com

Additional Resources

More info to come…

Silvertone 1445

A Vintage 1970 Silvertone MIJ Copy of the Mosrite Guitar

Silvertone 1445 GuitarThis crazy looking solid-body electric guitar is ready to play surf, jazz, classic rock or county, and is simply a kick to play! The exquisite Silvertone 1445 (I mean, by dept. store standards of course) was hand-crafted by Teisco in Japan for Sears. The body style is an excellent Teisco version of the 1960’s Mosrite of California guitar played by rock Hall-of-Famers, The Ventures (Walk, Don’t Run and Hawaii Five-O).

Sears 1969 Catalog, Page 929, Musical Instruments, GuitarsThe Silvertone 1445 first appeared in the Sears catalog in 1968, and hung around in a few variations through the early 1970’s. It has three very loud single-coil (“Hound Dog”) pickups wired in series just like the old Danelecto models. The fast, low-profile solid Maple neck with Rosewood fingerboard sports medium to low action and is easy to play. The growling Teisco “Hound Dog” single-coils have lots of bite, and the solid poplar body has plenty of sustain. Of course, the single-coils and non-shielded wiring can be a bit noisy if you’re not careful, but easy to avoid. And I must say that the hand-painted sunburst finish over the flamed Maple; the contoured German carve body with tortoise shell pickguard; and intricate triple-layer celluloid binding makes this guitar a stunning sight to see.

 

Silvertone 1445 Guitar and 1421 Tube AmpThe 1445 represents the pinnacle of Teisco’s contribution to the Sears Silvertone line. All high quality materials and workmanship. It has the following specifications and features:

  • Body: Morite-style, celluloid bound, fully contoured, flamed Maple over basswood with German carve; sunburst (yellow-red-mahogany) high gloss polyurethane finish; tortoise shell celluloid pickguard.
  • Neck: Bolt-on solid Maple neck with Brazilian(?) Rosewood fretboard, Pearloid block inlays and triple bound celluloid edge (w/b/w); 25½″; 22 frets with zero fret; 1-5⁄8″ at nut.
  • Pickups: Three Teisco single coil “Hound Dog” pups wired in series (loud, louder, loudest); 3 slide switches plus tone boost switch for 7 pup combinations; 3 volumes and 1 master tone control.
  • Headstock: Solid Maple; black nitro-lacquer finish; block style logo.
  • Tuners: 6 in line; sealed; made in Japan.
  • Vibrato: Teisco tremolo bar.
  • Bridge: Teisco adjustable roller bridge; chrome cover.
  • Dimensions: Length 41½″; Body 19″; Upper Bout 12½″; Lower Bout 14½″; Thickness 2″ at base of neck.

The Silvertone 1445 Photo Gallery

Here are some photos of the 1445 taken with the Silvertone 1421 (Sears 10XL). The 1421 is a 10-watt tube amp that was also offered by Sears around the same time. These two instruments were often bundled and sold together as a set around Christmas time (the Sears Wishbook).

Schematic Diagram

Silvertone 1445 Guitar Schematic Diagram

Silvertone 1445 Guitar Schematic Diagram (by randoid.com)

 

Special thanks to Randy (randoid.com) for helping fix the electronics and getting it back into stock, playing condition!

 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

larry tiedemann November 7, 2012 at 3:04 pm

i own a 68 model that i refinished in 2004.i should not have done that but the end result looks great and at the time i only paid 85$ for it.it was my first experimental guitar.i learned about guitar construction,electronics,it taut me every thing i know about guitars today.i could build one from scatch if need be.if you want to check out a photo go to my facebook page.

REPLY

alex November 7, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Hey Larry, that’s a great looking refinish you did. Love that guitar. Thanks for dropping by and sharing. ~alex

REPLY

1970 Silvertone 1445 Mosrite Copy Guitar

Silvertone 1445 Electric Guitar

A Vintage 1970 Silvertone MIJ Copy of the Mosrite Guitar

Here is the latest addition to the Tone Gem galaxy of stars: a vintage 1970 Silvertone 1445. Also known as the Silvertone Mosrite Copy, made in Japan by Teisco. Picked this one up in Seattle from John, another Silvertone collector. The 1445 represents the pinnacle of Teisco’s contribution to the Sears Silvertone line. All high quality materials and workmanship.

This crazy looking solid-body electric guitar is ready to play surf, jazz, classic rock or country, and is simply a kick to play! The exquisite Silvertone 1445 (I mean, by dept. store standards of course) was hand-crafted by Teisco in Japan for Sears. The body style is an excellent Teisco version of the 1960′s Mosrite of California guitar played by rock Hall-of-Famers, The Ventures (Walk, Don’t Run and Hawaii Five-O).

Sears 1969 Catalog Page 929The Silvertone 1445 first appeared in the Sears catalog in 1968, and hung around in a few variations through the early 1970′s. It has three very loud single-coil (“Hound Dog”) pickups wired in series just like the old Danelecto models. The fast, low-profile solid Maple neck with Rosewood fingerboard sports medium to low action and is easy to play. The growling Teisco “Hound Dog” single-coils have lots of bite, and the solid poplar body has plenty of sustain. Of course, the single-coils and non-shielded wiring can be a bit noisy if you’re not careful, but easy to avoid. And I must say that the hand-painted sunburst finish over the flamed Maple; the contoured German carve body with tortoise shell pickguard; and intricate triple-layer celluloid binding makes this guitar a stunning sight to see.

Silvertone 1445 Guitar and Sears 10XL Tube AmpThe 1445 represents the pinnacle of Teisco’s contribution to the Sears Silvertone line. All high quality materials and workmanship. It has the following specifications and features:

  • Body: Morite-style, celluloid bound, fully contoured, flamed Maple over basswood with German carve; sunburst (yellow-red-mahogany) nitrocellulose lacquer finish; tortoise shell celluloid pickguard.
  • Neck: Bolt-on solid Maple neck with Brazilian(?) Rosewood fretboard, Pearloid block inlays and triple bound celluloid edge (w/b/w); 25½″; 22 frets with zero fret; 1-5⁄8″ at nut.
  • Pickups: Three Teisco single coil “Hound Dog” pups wired in series (loud, louder, loudest); 3 slide switches plus tone boost switch for 7 pup combinations; 3 volumes and 1 master tone control.
  • Headstock: Solid Maple; black nitro-lacquer finish; block style logo.
  • Tuners: 6 in line; sealed; made in Japan.
  • Vibrato: Teisco tremolo bar.
  • Bridge: Teisco adjustable roller bridge; chrome cover.
  • Dimensions: Length 41½″; Body 19″; Upper Bout 12½″; Lower Bout 14½″; Thickness 2″ at base of neck.

The Silvertone 1445 Photo Gallery

Here are some photos of the 1445 taken with the Silvertone 1421 (Sears 10XL). The 1421 is a 10-watt tube amp that was also offered by Sears around the same time. These two instruments were often bundled and sold together as a set around Christmas time (the Sears Wishbook).

Schematic Diagram

Silvertone 1445 Guitar Schematic Diagram
Silvertone 1445 Guitar Schematic Diagram (by randoid.com)

Special thanks to Randy (randoid.com) for helping fix the electronics and getting it back into stock, playing condition!

 

 

 

 

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Terry January 30, 2011 at 11:51 am

Hey just wondering what these models are worth. I picked one up from a guy in Alberta, Canada. I paid $125 for it. The electrics are alot crackily but they still work. Everything else is in good shape with the usual nicks and bumps. It also came with an old hard case. Looks a little big for the guitar but it looks old. It has a very thin red plush interiour. Not sure if I will get a reply if you reply through this web site so if you could reply directly to my email address [address removed].

Thanks Terry

Terry

REPLY

alex January 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Thanks Terry for visiting the site. I have responded to your question by email, as you requested.

Alex

REPLY

frank December 15, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Hi my name is frank i have had mine for about 20 years i haven,t picked it up in years whats 1 of these worth model #319.14459 japan silvertone mosrite copy/tone gems

3

REPLY

alex December 15, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Hi Frank. Thanks for visiting the website! I have been following the prices for this guitar on eBay and craigslist for about 2 years. The asking prices have been all over the place. Its value really depends on the condition and the amount of original hardware. A lot of these guitars have lost their whammy bar and chrome bridge cover. A decent price for one like mine would be around $450, or even more.

REPLY

cornbread April 13, 2012 at 7:46 am

Hello sir, I have one of these but it has the holographic atomic symbol headstock. Do you know the difference? Here’s what the headstock looks like: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=52948

REPLY

alex April 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm

@cornbread
Yes. Even though the headstock and logo changed over a short time span, these guitars are all the same model. Sears started using the atomic SR logo in ’71. Therefore, your guitar would have to be a 1971 model, or later.

REPLY

Ian June 27, 2012 at 8:11 am

Hello,

I have this Silvertone-teisco 1445L guitar.

What is a fair price for this type of guitar is good condition?

REPLY

alex June 27, 2012 at 8:28 am

Hi Ian. Thanks for the inquiry. I have answered your question via your hotmail address. ~alex.

REPLY

peter September 5, 2012 at 10:00 am

I’m about to purchase one of these 1445 Silvertone’s, it is a 1969 and in perfect condition other than the tremelo bar is missing. Do you know if these are easy to get hold of?

Thanks

Peter

REPLY

alex September 5, 2012 at 10:43 am
alex September 5, 2012 at 10:45 am

Peter, congrats! Send us some photos of your new guitar after you get it.

REPLY

Billy Decker December 1, 2012 at 7:07 pm

I’ve had my Silvertone 1445 since1974 and it still plays. It was my first electric guitar. Bought it from a friend of mine with a Sears tube amp but the amp got stolen. Saw one on Ebay for almost $500. Bought both amp and guitar for $40. Missing my bridge cover. Never got a case with it and the only thing it fits in is a coffin bass case.

REPLY

Paul Chesney April 12, 2013 at 9:41 am

Want even better Mosrite-like sound from the 1445? Bypass the other two pickups and wire the bridge pickup straight to the input jack. Even better, replace the bridge pickup with an M3 or California “RH-100″ Wow! No need to drop $6,000 to get that Mosrite Mark 1 sound.

REPLY

alex April 12, 2013 at 10:29 am

Awesome mod! Love getting comments like this. Thank you Paul!

 

Andrew December 8, 2013 at 11:25 pm

 

Hey,

I just bought one of these on eBay for $250. The differences are that the headstock is almost like a generic block but the top of the head is shaped like a wave. Another difference is there is no white lining surrounding the edge of the body. The pearl inlays stop at the 17th fret, there are actually two separate smaller inlays on the 12th fret, and the paint job and finish covers the entire guitar including the back of the neck and back of the headstock. My questions are what year was this model made? Also, it’s missing a volume knob, the whammy bar, and the original bridge so I’m also wondering where I could find these parts?

Thank you very much

REPLY

alex December 9, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Andrew,
Congrats on the new guitar! Is it a 2 pickup or 3 pickup version. A 3 pickup is model 1445 and the 2 pickup version is a 1440 or 1441. From your description, it sounds like it might be a 1971 or 72 model year.

The guitar was built in Japan at the old Teisco factory, which was owned by Kawai by that time. You can search for parts on eBay by searching for “Teisco knob” or “Teisco whammy bar.” The is a seller on eBay to offers new reproductions of the original Tesico parts. That seller go by the name ezpz-parts. I have not purchased from that seller so I cannot endorse. But the parts look pretty good.

Good luck and enjoy your new find!
Alex

REPLY

Andrew December 10, 2013 at 9:02 am

Thanks! I’ve already found a teisco old style tremolo and spring. The seller you mentioned has some good stuff. I even picked up a new strap. The one I bought is indeed a 3 pickup. I’ve seen more than a few of these recently and a lot of them seem to have small variations. I’m not sure if they were moded that way or actually made that way. First time I saw this guitar I instantly fell in love. Then that love went to a whole new level when I heard what it’s capable of. Vintage just has a feeling that not even repro can give you. I have a lot of years left and this will for sure be my #1 guitar out of any others I get in the future.

Thanks again!

REPLY

alex December 11, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Glad that you love the guitar and are finding the parts you need. Enjoy!

REPLY

 

Jayson May 12, 2014 at 11:31 am

 

I bought one of these guitars back in october and I love its uniqueness.
However my is slightly different.
Mine has a big almost flag shaped headstock with 3 tuners on each side, and doesn’t have binding all the way around the body. Does this make it an older/new model?
Also what are all the woods that make it up? I don’t think mine has the maple top. so what’s the body and neck?

REPLY

alex May 26, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Jayson, thanks for the comments. From your description, it might be the last version, about 1972, I believe.
~alex

REPLY

 

James November 11, 2014 at 8:56 am

 

Hey there, I own a Silvertone 1445 (actual SN is 16877) but the wammy bar and tail bridge are destroyed and missing. Where can I get a replacement? Is it possible or do I need to add a new one on?

thanks for any and all help.

cheers

James.

REPLY

alex November 17, 2014 at 8:30 pm

James, thanks for posting your comment! The parts you need can probably best be found on eBay. Check out the seller named ezpz-parts.

Here’s the wammy bar: http://www.ebay.com/itm/TEISCO-SILVERTONE-TREMOLO-ARM-60s-VIBRATO-WHAMMY-ARM-FITS-MANY-OTHERS-TOO-/251715391093?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a9b680e75

But don’t know about the tail piece and bridge. You might have to buy another Silvertone 1445 to get the parts off it.

Good luck!
~alex

REPLY

 

Randy Doran August 26, 2015 at 5:25 am

 

I own one of these great guitars. Silvertone from Sears. 1445 model I believe
It is in mint condition and sounds great with the original pickups.
I am missing one volume knob and would really like to get one to make this guitar
good as new. Any idea where I could get an original knob?

REPLY

alex September 20, 2015 at 9:04 am

Hi Randy!
These knobs for this guitar are rare and hard to find. Occasionally one will appear on eBay. That’s your best bet.

Good luck!
~alex

 

Two Silvertone Amps + Boss CE-3 = Stereo!

Boss CE-3 Chorus

I love stereo! That’s why I got pretty excited when I looked at my Boss CE-3 chorus pedal and realized I could connect a pair of amps to the CE-3′s dual outputs and play my guitar in stereo. So I decided pick up two inexpensive Silvertone 1421′s (aka: Sears 10XL) off eBay. These are great little tube amps from the late 60′s and early 70′s. The 10-watt 1421 uses two 12AX7 tubes—one for pre-amp and the other for tremolo—and a single 7189 as the output tube. The 7189 tube is the industrial version of the venerable EL84, a tube found in so many British valve amps. The 12AX7/EL84 tube combination is unique to the 1421 amp within the entire Silvertone line, and compares it nicely by design to the original Vox AC4 Combo of the early 60′s.

Silvertone 1421 Original
Silvertone 1421 Original

This first amp is a beautiful 1971 model, completely original and in excellent condition. The Sears model number is 257.14211100. It probably sat in someone’s closet for the better part of 30+ years and was hardly played. Except for a power switch stuck in the “on” position, the old two-conductor power cord, and a little bit of hum, this combo is totally functional and sounds great. It even has its original protective vinyl cover (I’ve never seen a cover for these before) and its original tremolo foot switch. The original grill cloth is in great condition, which is truly rare for this model, even though it does have one cigarette-sized hole in the fabric. The speaker is an 8-inch Oxford Alnico magnet speaker that rings clear at low volume, but breaks up nicely when cranked (along with the tubes in overdrive). All in all, this little combo is a real sweet find! After I fix the power switch and replace the cord, I plan to keep this guy all original. I can live with a little hum for now.

Silverton 1421 Grill Cloth Replaced
Silverton 1421 Grill Cloth Replaced

The other amp is a 1970 model 1421. Also Sears model number 257.14211100. It’s in pretty good condition too, and is almost completely dead quiet (no hum) when running. But the original grill cloth was replaced and the tremolo is not working. Somebody already replaced the notorious power switch and the 2-prong power cord before I bought it. Unlike it’s twin, this 1421 has an 8-inch CTS speaker with ceramic magnet. I plan to mod this amp as my next project. I will need to work on the tremolo circuit, then replace the caps, ditch the ugly brown fabric, and build a new baffle board to hold a bigger 10-inch Alnico Blue speaker (think: Celestion). After those mods are complete, this 1421 should sound more British than American.

Then, plug these two into my CE-3 stereo chorus pedal and have fun!

A full Tone Gems review of the Silvertone 1421 will be in the near future.

Another Silvertone Christmas

Another Christmas; another Silvertone surprise!

Last year it was the snazzy electric Silvertone 1445 that showed up under the tree. This year it’s the diminutive 1956 model Silvertone 605 parlor guitar. It must have been misplaced in the back of Santa’s sleigh for some 55 years?

The 605 is a small body, short scale, acoustic flattop with a solid birch top, birch sides and back. These sturdy little guitars were made in Chicago, Illinois for Sears by the Harmony Musical Instrument Company. They were popular with the rhythm and blues crowd and they made great slide guitars. This one is in very good original condition with just a few minor surface scratches here and there. The size is perfect for traveling, so it will be a fun guitar to knock around and take anywhere.

The Silvertone 600 Series of parlor guitars were sold through the Sears Catalog continuously from 1948 through 1970 (that’s 22 years of production). In fact, a 1961 model of this guitar was played by Audrey Hepburn in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This 1956 model originally retailed in the Sears and Roebuck catalog for $10.95. Here is a cut from the 1956 Sears Catalog.

For more information about the Silvertone 600 Series and the 605, see Silvertoneworld.com and the Harmony Database.

Tags: 605, Audrey Hepburn, Birch Blues Box, Blind Willie Johnson, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Catalog, Django Reinhardt, H-605, Harmony, Leadbelly, Moon River, Robert Johnson, Sears, Silvertone, Slide Guitar

25 Years of Vintage Silvertone on CD


Here is a must-have for all vintage Silvertone fans. It’s a CD containing 25 years of Silvertone guitars, amps, and other musical instruments offered from the original Sears catalogs. The pages cover Silvertone products for each year from 1950 through 1975. The CD was created by Ray Clearwater of Morro Bay, California, and can be purchased on eBay or directly from Ray for $12.95, plus $2.00 shipping.

There are a total of 126 catalog pages all scanned at high resolution and saved as color JPEG’s. Also included are some articles compiled by Ray about Silvertone, Danelectro and music from the 50′s and 60′s. Ray says that this CD is a labor of his own appreciation and childhood memories. He adds, “It was my feeling that as I really enjoyed going back and looking through the guitar pages that I dreamed about as a kid, it might also be of at least some sentimental value to others as well.”

Here is the link to the eBay page: SILVERTONE – DANELECTRO – KAY – HARMONY – SEARS CATALOG PAGES 1950 TO 1975 ON CD. You can also contact Ray by email at ohcisco2001@yahoo.com.

Here is a catalog page from 1964. This page is a real winner in itself! The black hollow-body is a sought-after classic, owned and played by Chris Isaac. The red one is a favorite of Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Both were built for Sears by Harmony in Chicago, Illinois.

The pages have been carefully scanned and contain invaluable information, specs and original prices of old Silvertone guitars and amps built by Danelectro, Harmony, Kay, Teisco, and others from the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s. It is definitely worth the $12.95 plus shipping.

Silvertone 1420 (Sears 5XL)

Vintage Sears 5XL Silvertone 1420 Guitar Tube Amp


Welcome to our first review. Please consider Tone Gems a resource for vintage guitars, amps and gear of non-repute. We will strive to make each review rich with information and content, including inside gut shots, electrical schematics, audio, video, manufacturer specs and more. Since this is our very first review, please excuse any rough spots. We welcome your comments and feedback. Thanks ~alex.

Quick Info

Summary:  Five watts of hand-wired boutique tube heaven for a fraction of the cost. Lots of midrange growl and creamy overdrive. Great for  jazz, blues, classic and indie rock. Use as a practice amp or at small venues. Perfect for recording.

Likes:  Cheap! Lots of tube overdrive. Awesome speaker. Cheap! Point-to-point hand soldered. Cheap!

Dislikes:  Cheap cabinet materials and shoddy construction. Not loud enough. No safety fuse. Non-grounded power cord.

Surprises:  8-inch Alnico Speaker. Polypropylene caps (Orange Drops!).

Price:  $90.00 from Trade Up Music, Portland Oregon.

Similar Amps:  Silvertone 1420; Silvertone 1459.

The 5XL Review

At first glance the Sears 5XL guitar amp would be easy to disrespect, even considering it’s legacy in the line of original Danelectro/Silvertone guitars and amplifiers. And why not, it’s a Sears, right? Well, that’s where you’d be wrong. We recently discovered this 5XL at Trade Up Music, a local music shop in Portland (see posting: How It All Began…). It was dirty, dusty inside, and a little beat-up. It appeared to be all original, except for two replaced vacuum tubes, and was fully functional. Later, we discovered that someone must have upgraded the capacitors with new Orange drops (more on that later).

My son Jon, who likes to play alternative and indie stuff, thought this amp would be a perfect match for his 1950′s Gretsch Electromatic or his newer custom modified Telecaster. I was not initially impressed. But boy was I wrong, and he was right!

The 5XL is an all-tube amplifier producing a modest 5-watts of peak power through a single 8-inch speaker. It has one channel, two instrument inputs, and separate volume and tone controls. The cabinet is built from cheap pressed board and the speaker baffle is 1/8-inch thick Masonite. It is clad in an equally cheap, thin green vinyl that stretches and tears easily.

At lower volume this amp has a clear, clean sound and decent frequency response. But with only three tubes pushing 5-watts it’s more fun to dial this puppy to 10! At that level it’s easy for the player to control the output and vary the tone from clean to full distortion.

This amp is also friendly to effects pedals. It sounds really good with a decent analog delay or analog reverb pedal.

Video of the 5XL

How good does it sound? See and hear for yourself. Here is Jon playing his modified Squier thinline Tele through the 5XL. Hope you have a good set of speakers connected to your computer.

Who built the 5XL?

The tube version of the 5XL was sold by Sears in the United States from about 1969 through about 1972. It was Sears entry level into their line of guitar amps. But the original manufacturer of the Sears 5XL is hard to nail down. I have seen several different builds of the Sears 5XL amp on eBay and elsewhere on the web. Up until 1968 or so, the Silvertone line of electric guitar amps were built for Sears by the Danelectro company of Neptune, New Jersey. In fact, the 5XL is identical in electronics and appearance to the earlier Silvertone 1420 and 1459 amps that were built by Danelectro. But Danelectro was purchased by MCA in 1967 and was, unfortunately, out of business by 1969. This particular sample appears to have been built in December of 1968, so it’s possible that it could be a Danelectro original. But I suspect that even later models were built for Sears by others, maybe using leftover Danelectro parts?

UPDATE: I recently noticed that the schematic diagram for the Harmony H303A is nearly identical to the Silvertone 1420 and Sears 5XL. So it might be possible that these were built for Sears by Harmony. However, I thought Harmony was struggling to stay open around this time as well?

UPDATE 2: This basic amplifier design was used throughout the radio and musical instrument industries for decades. Which makes it even harder to pin point the factory of origin.

The 5XL Chassis

The amplifier is a hand-wired, point-to-point, single-ended Class A amp. The chassis layout and construction is standard to Danelectro/Silvertone design dating back to 1950’s. It is very similar to the Silvertone 1430 chassis, except that it has a separate tone control and a voltage isolation transformer which the 1430 lacks. Apart from some replaced tubes, this chassis has all its original parts including the big paper-oil-wax filter capacitor. Amazingly, this amp is still quiet while running. The three vacuum tubes (thermionic valves) used here are: one 12AU6 for pre-amp, 5OC5 output, and a 35W4 tube rectifier. Curiously, we believe someone replaced all the original capacitors with newer polypropylene film capacitors (Orange Drops!) which may have something to with the usually smooth tone of this sample.

A close up view of chassis showing the Orange Drop caps and volume pot. The stamped 7-digit code on the pot indicates it was manufactured by CTS (code 137) on the 48th month of 1968.

The Speaker

Sears used a lot of cheap parts. No exception here. But for some reason this original 8-inch speaker made by Fisher with an Alnico magnet sounds great!

Conclusion

Even though this little amp is as basic as it gets, it simply excels at what it does. And that qualifies the 5XL as a Tone Gem. Perfect for recording jazz, blues or rock. And perfect for the player looking for that alternative indie sound. But fare warning: manufacturing quality of this amp was inconsistent and not all samples found today will be built like or sound like this one.

Specifications – The Sears 5XL

SEARS 5XL
Model Number 257-1420(1100?)
Serial Number ????
Manufacture Date Dec. 1968
Type Combo
Output (Peak or RMS) 5 Watts, Peak
Pre-Amp Tubes 1 x 12AU6
Power Amp Tubes 1 x 50C5
Tube Rectifier 35W4
Speaker Fisher 8″ Alnico
Speaker Code 6392 (printed on cone)
Speaker Configuration 1 x 8″
Baffle Board 1/8″ Masonite
Impedance 16 Ohm (?)
On-Board Effects None
Footswitch None
Controls Separate Volume & Tone
Inputs 2
Channels 1
Cabinet Construction 3/8″ Pressed Board
Cabinet Covering/Color Vinyl / Olive Green
Dimensions (WxHxD) 16″x16″x6″
Weight 8 lbs.
Power 120V AC

Schematic for the 5XL

I’m working on a new schematic diagram for this amp which I will add here later. In the meantime the schematic of the Silvertone 1430 (shown below) is somewhat similar to the 5XL, except that the 5XL adds a tone control and has no safety fuse! Diagram courtesy www.freeinfosociety.com.

Silvertone 1430 Schematic

Additional Resources

Links to more info surrounding the 5XL…

 

{5 comments}

Ty Stites February 18, 2012 at 10:05 am

See also schematic for the Alamo Capri which is very similar. You might want to add that as an update. ( I can e-mail you one if you like).
I bought a “5 XL” on e-bay that needs to be repaired/restored. It does NOT say Sears on it anywhere (however, the back is missing…) but has a big Danelectro logo on the grille. It does say “5 XL” on the front panel but where you sometimes see a Sears logo on the front panel there is a logo that looks like an atom or something (???). Anyway, I was wondering if you ever found another schematic. Most of the wires in this one have been cut – I have no idea why as it appears that all the original components are still in place despite all the wires being cut (??!). Anyway, this one has TWO chassis mounted transformers (wires cut) which appear original which I do not see in your pics. It has the output transformer on the speaker like in your pics. Three trannys total. (??…)
Any help would be greatly appreciated!!
Love your site. Keep up the good work!
Thanks.

alex February 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Ty,
Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. What you are describing sounds odd to me. To the best of my knowledge, Danelectro did not market a 5 XL amp with a Danelectro badge on it (that would be news to me). The logo that looks like an atom is actually a Sears-Roebuck (SR) logo from that era. I have two amps with that logo. It sounds like you have a mixture of things going on there (a frankenamp?). Could it be possible that someone before you took it apart and added the Danelectro logo? The transformers you describe definitely sound to me like someone’s custom modification. Could you email to me some photos? That would be great. ~alex

alex February 18, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Also, thanks for the tip about the Alamo Capri. The schematic does look similar, and it uses the same tubes. I will research that further. Thanks!. ~alex

Scott June 7, 2016 at 11:47 pm

I have been slowly hot rodding one of these little amps for a while now. I have recapped/potted, traded out the OT with a Hammond, and replaced the cheapy 8″ speaker with a Jensen p10r. I’ll tell you what, for blues harmonica it is a tone monster. To play with a band I just stick a microphone in front of my speaker and let the PA do all the heavy lifting. I have a few big tube heads and combos, but I still plug into the hot rod 5xl every time.

alex June 10, 2016 at 10:18 pm

That sounds awesome! Thanks Scott for sharing that info about your 5xl.

~alex

 

How it all began…


This story began a few days after Christmas when my son and I stopped into one of Portland’s music shops, Trade Up Music, to browse the used gear. After checking out Trade Up’s nice selection of guitars, my son spotted a small, funky, beat up amp sitting atop the other guitar and bass amps. It was a simple square box, somewhat plain in appearance. The original green vinyl covering was stretched in a few places and had a few tears. The speaker fabric was splattered with paint and a had hole in it! Because of those “faults,” my son thought it had a certain cool factor and retro personality. And it had tubes inside! Cool… a little tube powered practice amp. Or maybe he could use it on stage, or for recording.

Taking a closer look, I could tell it was one of those unimpressive department store amps of the late 1960’s or early 70’s. Basically the kind of stuff we ran away from (but in reality was all we could afford!). It was a Sears amp, model 5 XL to be exact. Well I thought to myself, “A Sears amp? No way.” Musicians didn’t buy these. Only parents bought these cheap amps, paired with an equally cheap electric guitar, so their kids could start their own noise brigade in the garage.

Anyway, knowing nothing about this amp, I grabbed my smart phone and quickly Googled the amp’s name while still in the store. Not much was found, except for some less than glowing information and commentary found at Silvertone World (a great site, by the way). Still scratching my head, my son decided to buy it for less than $90 cash.

Once we got this guy home and plugged into Jon’s modified tele, all my doubts were replaced with astonishment. What unexpected sounds came zooming out of that plain green box! Jon cranked the volume and the tone knobs. The tubes went into overdrive: somewhat snarly and raspy but under control. Subtle highs, growling midrange, and a whole lot of solid bass. Who knew?!

Have a listen…

Who knew there was an real unexpected Tone Gem hiding underneath that Sears label and ugly green vinyl?

Well, that’s how this whole thing started.

{2 comments}

Randy October 5, 2010 at 7:30 am

Alex, thanks for the insight on the 1420! “Less than glowing” is right, because I’ve never had the opportunity to play through one… now, I know! Mind if I use your mini-review on the site for the 1420 page? Funny how just a little hot wire, vacuum and glass can create a Tone Gem, eh?

alex October 5, 2010 at 9:30 am

Randy, greetings! A privilege to hear from Silvertonium. Thanks for your comments. Please fee free to use as a mini-review. I am currently working on full fledged review pages (complete with specs, photos, video, and audio) for this amp and for the 10 XL (1421), which will be posted in the near future.