Sil­ver­tone 1423

Guitarist - - Longtermers - With Dave Bur­rluck

Writer Dave Bur­rluck Gui­tarist, Gear Re­views Edi­tor

Our typ­i­cally skint Re­views Edi­tor con­tin­ues on his per­pet­ual quest for a bar­gain-base­ment buy. But what blast from the past has he re­dis­cov­ered this time?

Those who don’t be­lieve an in­stru­ment’s com­po­nent and build qual­ity have any im­pact on the sounds will of­ten say: ‘it’s all in yer fin­gers’. But, if that was the case, we wouldn’t need to spend vast sums of cash on our gear, would we?

Work­ing on this is­sue of Gui­tarist I was im­pressed by the B&G gui­tars (see page 92), but I would need a se­ri­ous over­haul in bud­get be­fore I could shell out on even the £1,500 Lit­tle Sis­ter Cross­roads. So, maybe it’s time to put “it’s all in yer fin­gers” to the test?

B&G’s orig­i­nal 14-fret elec­tric con­cept is pretty unique es­pe­cially in the en­try-level mar­ket area where looka­likes dom­i­nate. But, thanks to Gear4­Mu­sic’s sub­stan­tial on­line pres­ence, I was re­minded of Sil­ver­tone – yup, that ol’ name from the past that was res­ur­rected a few years back. The brand of­fer af­ford­able ver­sions of some of their orig­i­nals, and, lo and be­hold, there’s a 14-fret sin­gle-cut – the 1423, at just £249.

Made in In­done­sia, the 1423 re­minded me of the bolt-on Gib­son copies I started on, al­though I don’t re­mem­ber them be­ing this good. At 3.32kg the weight is re­as­sur­ing, made from solid wood (ma­hogany, ap­par­ently) with a SG-like-depth slab body, around 38.5mm thick, and a rea­son­able res­o­nance. The neck is dead straight with an okay feel – 43.75mm at the nut with a depth of 21mm at the 1st fret and 23mm by the 10th – and wide and low frets with just about enough height for more se­ri­ous ap­pli­ca­tion (though the lack of height, a shade over 1mm, isn’t go­ing to give much lee­way if they need to be even lightly lev­elled).

Pow­ered by a pair of Gretsch-y look­ing FG-101 Dun­can De­sign ’buck­ers, the 1423 looks the part. In­ter­est­ingly, the neck pickup is placed as it would be on a Les Paul. But, at around 71.4mm by 31.6mm, these pick­ups are non-stan­dard, which will make up­grad­ing tricky. That might be a deal-breaker for some, but the 1423’s charms are al­ready in­trigu­ing us.

While it’s hardly a pre­cise re­pro of the orig­i­nal 60s model, the con­trol set-up looks sim­i­lar. Along with the row of small-knobbed con­trols for in­di­vid­ual pickup vol­ume and tone, there’s an ad­di­tional ro­tary con­trol marked Blender. The three-way ro­tary switch pickup se­lec­tor of­fers neck (Bass), bridge (Treble) and Blender in the mid­dle. Hmm…

A lit­tle re­search here tells us that with the Blender po­si­tion se­lected on the switch, the same-named ro­tary con­trol al­lows you to mix the bridge and neck pick­ups – like a pan-pot, if you like. But it’s a lit­tle more in­ter­est­ing than that. First, when you select the Blender po­si­tion on the switch, all the ro­tary vol­ume and tones are by­passed and only the Blender ro­tary con­trol works. Along with that, the bridge pickup passes through a 222J (.0022mi­cro­farad) ca­pac­i­tor, which acts as a bass cut, while the neck pickup passes through a larger 104k (.01mi­cro­farad) cap, which re­moves the high-end like fully rolling off a tone con­trol. So, the treble pickup’s high-end is max­imised, like­wise the neck pick­ups’ bass, giv­ing a very wide sweep – and there’s what sounds like an out-of-phase honkier voice. As you turn that Blender con­trol anti-clock­wise, it ac­tu­ally at­ten­u­ates the bridge pickup leav­ing you with a fully tonerolled-off neck pickup. So, you can sweep through it al­most like a wah pedal or pre­set a mix po­si­tion you like, or can ac­tu­ally use.

The stan­dard neck and bridge po­si­tions will suit if you’re into low out­put cleaner hum­buck­ing sounds that veer – in this case – to­wards the realm of sin­gle coils. They cap­ture a more-than-us­able 60s vibe, the neck pickup par­tic­u­larly hav­ing a woody, slightly per­cus­sive at­tack con­trasted by some (slightly sharp un­less you knock back the tone con­trol) edgy bite at bridge. Through a small Fender or Vox amp it’s 60s Keef all over. Now, that might be in my fin­gers, but this is still an in­trigu­ing find. £249? Are you sure?

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