Once upon a time, the headstock on my Silvertone was in disarray. Most of the bushings were missing, and the bushing holes had been wallered oversize. This was my first electric guitar, given to me by my father (which he got when he was 16), so I decided to fix it.

The tuning gears themselves weren't in such bad shape, though they're geared way too high for good tuning. One rotation takes you up about an octave! Or so it seems. I liked the off-white plastic knobs so I decided to restore the unit instead of look for some suitable replacement. I read somewhere the Gotoh makes tuning pegs that are the right size for this guitar, but I wanted it as original as possible.

For materials I decided on H13 tool steel for the spindles and titanium for the hexagonal spindle bushings.

I used 6ALV4 titanium bar and wrote a simple program to make the bushings. I used a coarser knurl than the stock bushing, and I had to make them oversize so that theye'd press fit into the oversized holes in the wooden headstock of the guitar.

The stock bushing on the left has the finer knurl.

Next, I milled the hex flange on the end of each bushing.

The bushing I.D. had to be bored to a close tolerance to facilitate a nice fit for the spindles that would eventually turn inside of them.


Next, I wrote a program to rough out the spindles. I tried to keep the shape as close as I could to the original Silvertone hardware

I made more than I needed in case I need to replace one in the future.


I held the spindles in a 5C fixture in a Bridgeport and manually drilled and countersank the string holes.


The opposite end of the spindles were the biggest pain in the rear. Milling the flats was easy. The problem was the internal threads. I wanted to use the stock screws and so I had to determine their pitch in order to get the right tap. The thread pitch was an SAE I'd never seen before. It turns out that this pitch is used almost exclusively in some obscure industry like fishing reels or something (I can't remember.) I simply couldn't get a tap. So I opted for a 4-40 thread and found some nice stainless screws.



In the end, all of the hardware came out looking nice.

The bushings pressed in perfectly. The spindles each fit inside the bushings perfectly. Everything came together.

I've been able to play this guitar for the first time in many many years. I used it on a recording the other day and love the way it sounds. When I was a kid I thought the pickup sounded bad - but it's just its personality (like how a P90 has a peculiar personality) and it's perfect for certain colors.

Silvertones were guitars sold by Sears from the 1950s through the early 1970s. They were manufactured by five main companies: Danelectro, Harmony, National-Dobro (Supro/Valco), Kay, and Teisco. For more info about Silvertones, visit






When I was a teenager I removed, and then lost, the original pickguard to my Silvertone. For the past 4 or 5 years I'd been trying to find a replacement. There are some online sites that sell reproduction pickguards for old vintage guitars and I bought a few that promised to be the right ones. But each time the pickguard arrived with the pickup cutout in the wrong place. Danelectro made several versions of the Silvertone U1 -- some with the pickup closer to the neck, some with the pickup moved about 1/2" toward the bridge, some with the neck meeting the body a few frets this way or that way. There was no telling which pickguard I was actually ordering and each time it was wrong.

Then I found a place that will make you any pickguard you want. All you have to do is make a pencil tracing of the pickguard you require and indicate the material you want it cut from and they'll do it for you. I wrote to them asking some basic questions and they returned a form email that didn't answer anything. So I decided to do it myself.

I began by tracing one of the pickguards I'd received by mail order. The overall shape was correct -- it was just the pickup cutout that needed moving. I made sure that my pencil tracing put the pickup cutout in the right place.


Next I scanned the tracing into photoshop and cleaned it up.



Once I had a suitable jpeg I used a CAD program to create a vector file. Using the vector file I was able to scale the image to the proper size by using the known distance between the pickguard mounting holes. From this process a G-code was generated that could be read by the machine I would use to manufacture the actual pickguard.

8-32 socket head screws, super adhesive doouble-sided tape and 2mm clear acrylic, a 1/4" end mill and an 8-32 tap. As it turned out I didn't need to use the 8-32 screws because the double-sided tape was more than strong enough to hold the acrylic to the machining fixture.

Once I'd loaded the G-code into the milling machine, I used a left-hand spiral / right-hand cut end mill so that the flutes spiraled downward, preventing the cutter fom lifting the thin acrylic as it cut. I was pleased with the nice finish the end mill left on the edges of the acrylic.

Peeling the pickguard from the aluminum machining fixture without bending it was the trickiest part.

The acrylic came out looking nice. But I wasn't finished yet.

The original Silvertone pickguard had been a two-piece pickguard; clear acrylic laid over a piece of white vinyl (or some other kind of synthetic fabric.) I wasn't imagining to restore this guitar to its original condition, but I wanted it to be close enough for the sake of personal nostalgia. Otherwise I could have just made the pickguard out of white PVC.

Once I had my acrylic piece I could use it as a template to cut the vinyl into the right shape.


Cutting the vinyl was kind of tricky. Keeping the edges clean and all.



Once the vinyl was mounted under the acrylic the Silvertone looked just like it used to. Mission accomplished.