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Fixing up a 50s Silvertone Acoustic

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Active Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 15
Topic starter  

Over my Christmas visit to my parents', my mom dug out her musty old vintage 50s (before they started putting on pickguards anyway) Sears-catalog Silvertone 605 Acoustic guitar ( ) from the storage shed. The strings and machine heads were rusted through, the fretboard had come unglued, the bridge was falling off, but it all seems to be made of solid wood and looks real nice.

So we cleaned it up a bit, reglued the fretboard and bridge and replaced the strings. Open strings sound all right, but the intonation is way off starting right away on the second fret or so, the action is scary high, and there's bad fret buzz above fret 11.

Anyway, looking closer at the neck, it's bent noticeably up (hence the action), and where the fretboard meets the body it bows up there, too (hence the fret buzz). I thought maybe the strings were putting too much tension on so I put on some .010s instead, but there's not much difference if any. I am thinking that sitting for decades with the strings on has pulled it out of alignment. If there's even a truss rod in this thing, there doesn't seem to be any way to adjust it.

My mom is interested in the thing (it was hers as a kid, actually) to try to learn some basic chords and notes, so I'm trying to decide if it's worth putting any more work into and/or taking it to a luthier.

So I have a couple of questions. First: was it a mistake to glue the bridge in place? I'm guessing so at this point, given the terrible intonation, but I don't know if the string tension is really sufficient to hold it in place normally.

Second, if anyone has any experience with these guitars, is this thing worth trying to save? Like I said, it seems to be made out of quality materials. If we could straighten the neck and replace the machine heads, we might have a pretty sweet little guitar. Or maybe she should just spend a hundred bucks on a cheapo special.


Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 7833

Sounds to me like your analysis of the problems is spot on. Whether it's worth saving depends mostly on the sentimental value, I think. One possibility for it as is is to play acoustic lap slide on it.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."

New Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 1

I have one that I'm fixing up that was my grandfathers. i think if its got enough sentimental value, anything is worth fixing. also, some years had a 'Floating Bridge'. meaning, it wasn't glued down and could be slid up or down the strings to alter the sound. i hope the neck is fixable. I'm not sure these had truss rods back in the day... but, good luck with it. hope it turns out good.