In the fall-winter catalogue of 1963, Sears debuted its 1480 line of Silvertone-branded guitar amplifiers. The most popular of the bunch was the 15-watt 1482, which featured a vertically mounted chassis, a 12-inch speaker, two 6V6 power tubes, two 12AX7 preamp tubes and a built-in tremolo manufactured by Danelectro. It retailed for $68.95 — the rough equivalent of $537 in 2016.
If that sounds like a lot, remember that electronic equipment was not nearly as democratized in American homes as it is today; adjusting for inflation, the cost of a small color television set, for example, would cost almost $4,000 back in 1963. At the time, the 1482 was still considerably cheaper than other high-end amplifiers, such as its most direct parallel, the brown-face-era Fender Deluxe.
The 1482 earned the reputation as a “student” model amp, marketed to amateur players (and their parents). It was attractive for its price, but not really for its sound, which was described as being dark, quiet and muffled. Owners of a Silvertone 1482 could thank the cheap cabinet construction for that. Sears used particle board, Fender used white pine. After flailing sales, Sears sunset the 1480 line in 1968.
Today, these amps tell a different story. Jack White famously used a Silvertone 1484 during the White Stripes era; Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes uses a 1960 Silvertone cabinet. The small 1482, meanwhile, is prized by many session guitarists in the studio for its unique tonal characteristics, such as its early breakup at low volumes; even its darkness is seen as an asset, capable of injecting grit into a Gibson or tame the brightness of a Tele. On sites like eBay and Reverb, a well-preserved 1482 retails for about $500. In a way, that makes the amps cheaper than they were 50 years ago.