Other Guitars

Silvertone Espanada - Aluminum Binding


No Affiliation With Seller.

I haven't seen one of these in a few decades. There was a used shop in the Sunset district in San Francisco that had several, but it was so long ago that I thought my memory was playing tricks. Nope. Aluminum binding. At least it didn't rot and you could use the screen door to fix it. Insanely priced.


might that have been genes music on 10th and judah..circa 80's

bit of an sf music shop historian here


ps- that guitar got mucho spotlight via chris isaak..who used one lots..also of the bay area...maybe he bought it at your old shop!!


might that have been genes music on 10th and judah..circa 80's

bit of an sf music shop historian here


ps- that guitar got mucho spotlight via chris isaak..who used one lots..also of the bay area...maybe he bought it at your old shop!!

– neatone

Might have been, but I think it was out on Noriega or Taraval in the outer Sunset. That may be brain lint however. I remember Gene's as being a bit more upscale. I got my '56 6120 from 5th String on Geary in '82 or '3 for $450 as they thought it was weird and ugly. Was on the hunt for over a year posting 3x5 cards all over the Bay Area with a little drawing of a 6120 on it. A guy at the little shop on Clement, later called Guitar Solo, said 5th String had just gotten a trailer-load of guitars from some luthier. Told the clerk at 5th String what I was looking for and he said "Oh, that weird thing," and pulled out a battered cowboy case. I wrote that check as fast as I could and left. I came in the next day saying the bridge pickup wasn't working and did they know where I could take it to get fixed. The clerk offered me twice what I paid. Not a chance. My first electric and my dream guitar.


5th string and solo guitar..knew them both!...i think i knew the guy on taraval as well...had lots of hawaiian lap steels and matching amps.. oahu, national, etc...not worth much at the time... super collectable now

82 or 83, 5th string had bunch of fender white amps in front room, just as you walked in!! priceless now!!




Yeah, the lap steels and matching amps sound quite familiar; all that MOTS. All on an old dusty green formica floor. Gene's had the first ES 175 I ever saw and you had to ask politely. I remember Treefrog on Geary; many shops downtown but only two Gretsches in the entire City before mine: a junky Gent in a shop on Columbus (near Bimbo's) and a tired Tenny at the GC on Van Ness.


columbus ave shop was don wehrs music city...that was the hippest shop in the city for a number of years

treefrog!! hah




Insanely priced.

In that condition, it's f'ing bananas. But a really clean Espanada with the aluminum trim, and not the Chris Isaak, not the H1427 with conventional binding, has been a $2000ish proposition for quite a while. When I was smitten with these, I settled for a nice H1427 for about $750. I didn't care for it at all. Way darker than I was expecting (which I've later come realize is just how those P-13s are). Maybe okay for blues and other stuff, but not for the jangly brighter sounds I'm usually after. But they certainly are cool looking, and much cooler looking with the aluminum trim.


Absolutely. I've owned two "Harm-o-metal" (that's really what they called it) and literally dozens of H62/3s - a well known and loved favorite of jump blues guys like Nick Curran. I traded my last one straight up for a blackface Vibrolux.


Been recently tweaking the setup on my early H-62, very distinctive sound, cool old guitar. This one has the early f-holes that are slanted inward towards the pickup.


No truss rod either, not that I ever had a neck one go bad on me.


Yup, there is plenty of neck on mine for sure, no real need for a truss rod. Think mine is a 54? Not real sure, no visible serial number.


At least 53-55 for sure.Truss rod introduced in 56.


They're strange guitars in some ways. I have a "husk" of a slightly later H-62 I got from an Ebay seller, and it has no bracing inside the body whatsoever, nothing, and no traces of bracing ever having been there.


Whats the body thickness? They went to a 2 3/4 size around 1960 along with some other changes. Having said that, I've had a few over the years that had sunk in the middle. Guess that's why.


Mines deep, I wanna say 3-1/4"? I'll measure it later, and yes the top dips a bit between the f-holes, so I've had to raise the bridge pickup a bit more. I can feel bracing on mine though, just not sure how long it is.


Oh yours is def an older full depth model. I had to install a sound post in a couple that got real bad.


Just measured it, 3-1/2" deep actually!


I tried several of those espenadas, also other full depth models with P-13. The challenge is to get a a good one. So many in disrepair. I tried one espenada at that price point. "mint" condition. It was barely playable, probably had never been much better.

However, when you get a good one ... my P13 adventure started with a deal on a Silvertone 1427, the somewhat shallower variant minus the aluminum. And with a different tailpiece. Otherwise much the same. Got it for a low price, and when it arrived with the fingerboard separating from the neck, I took it to a luthier friend to see if it was worth holding onto. Little did I know, he has restored many of these old archtops, even had repro parts made for that purpose (fretboard blanks, p/u rings, for example.) Anyway, he says you're in luck, this guitar is solid, a good one. I got a partial refund from the buyer, and had it done up right. Repaired neck/fingerboard, new frets, new bone nut, new inlays, a repair (not rewind) to one of the P-13s, new ebony bridge handcarved, a solid, strong strap attach point added in the body side, near the neck. Best of all, wiring harness replaced, and a phase switch discreetly tucked into the lower f hole.

He did a simply amazing job. This guitar could not be a better player. And the sound. Yes, at lower volumes, that neck p/u is murky as hell. The trick with these is to turn those knobs full up. Must be the specs for the caps. Whatever. When you turn up the volumes, get some air moving, the neck p/u stays dark, but gets gainy, wild. Other p/u positions just as tasty. The out of phase tones are better with this guitar than any other I've heard, quite different, deeper and more resonant than what I hear with OOP P-90s.

It was not cheap, but totally worth it. An unusual and worthy old guitar for sure. MD


Player’s Guitars in San Rafael usually has one or two of these in various states of repair.


might that have been genes music on 10th and judah..circa 80's

bit of an sf music shop historian here


ps- that guitar got mucho spotlight via chris isaak..who used one lots..also of the bay area...maybe he bought it at your old shop!!

– neatone

I think that is a different Silvertone guitar. If I remember correctly, the aluminum bound guitar was the Espanada from the '50s.

The Chris Isaac guitar was the 1446 from the 60s with Gibson-sourced mini-humbuckers, a Bigsby, and regular binding.

They do bear a resemblance but the Espanada was a deep body while the 1446 was a thin body.


Aluminum seems like a very good idea.

Any drawbacks?


maddog, out of all the ones I've owned, the last one I still have is a black 1427L. Debuted in '60, sometimes referred ro as the "Jazz" model in the catalogs. Still has the P13s with individual pole pieces, or at least the ones I have seen do. Fine example of the breed, and I dont mind the slightly narrower body.

hammerhands, I think it was originally abandoned for both cost and manufacturing ease, as well as the changing aesthetics of the day. Plastic binding is just so much easier to deal with, but the metal worked just fime from a practical standpoint.


That's not aluminum, it's "Harmo-Metal"!!


I would have thought the opposite, that the aluminum was cheap and easy. Bending it and nailing it on seems a lot simpler than routing and inlaying multiple plies of binding.

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