Thanks to players like St. Vincent, Jack White, and Dan Auerbach, vintage “pawnshop” guitars have been back in style in recent years.
Thanks to this new market space for defunct brands and models that used to be known as student guitars, several companies have started re-making the most popular models.
Furthermore, many companies themselves have re-opened or been re-started by new owners looking to cash in on the legacy and heritage associated with these guitars.
As a huge fan of these guitars I’ve written about and reviewed them quite a bit and thought I’d bring some of my expertise over to The Guitar Junky by presenting our list of the top 10 “pawnshop” models that have been re-released.
Based on our expert reviews and those by many of our peers, here are 10 to check out at a local guitar store or on YouTube.
Eastwood Sidejack Mach Two
Based on the famous Mosrite model used by Johnny Ramone, the Eastwood Sidejack Mach Two is a killer guitar in both looks and tone. With a mini humbucker in the neck position and high output tele-style single coil in the bridge, you can get a variety of tones outside of the Ramone’s “buzzsaw” guitar style. The guitar is stripped down to the bare essentials, in true punk fashion, featuring a 3-way pickup selector, volume and tone knobs, and a simple adjustable roller and stop tailpiece bridge found on vintage mosrites. Unlike its original ancestor, the Mach Two improves on the playability issues that dogged many a Mosrite Venture’s model such as narrow necks, thin frets, and flat necks.
One of my personal favorites that I’ve ever reviewed, which you can read about here, the Guild Jetstar is as close to perfect as an affordable guitar can be. The dual Little Bucker humbuckers provide plenty of jangle and brightness without the annoying hum or noise of vintage single coils and Jetstar’s neck is smooth and fast to play. Great tuning stability doesn’t hurt either, as this guitar can go from Black Keys-esque garage rock, to crystal clear alternative rock tones in seconds. There also aren’t many cooler looking guitars than this one.
Supro Tri Tone
Featuring a unique pickup selection, two vintage style Vistatone single coils in the neck and middle followed by an overwound, loud Super Alnico pickup in the bridge, the Tri Tone is about as unique as it gets. The gold hardware contrasts the black, mahogany body and white pickguard beautifully and the guitar has no shortage of tonal options. A 5-way selector switch is paired with dedicated volume knobs for each pickup, creating a ton of blending options, all next to a master volume switch. If killer looks and vintage versatility is something you wish, check out the Tri Tone asap.
The new Harmony company is just getting started with their first line of 3 guitars, including the Silhouette, which is not a direct remake, but a kind of modern remake of their popular Bobkat model. Featuring a unique 25” scale length, and two gold foil humbuckers, the Silhouette is one interesting offset guitar option that mixes vintage specs with modern playability and construction. Jazzmaster, Jaguar, or Firebird players would be wise to consider this high quality Harmony as a new alternative.
Well known from its days as a Sear’s catalog staple, Silvertone’s guitars first became popular as part of a package deal that came with a guitar case that also served as an amplifier. While Silvertone hasn’t re-released that part yet, the dual lipstick pickup 1449 made famous by Beck and Brad Shultz of Cage the Elephant is now readily available for all. With vintage vibes galore and single pickup twang and chime akin to popular Danelectro models, you’ll definitely draw eyes playing this thing on stage.
This superstrat meets Danelectro mashup looks and sounds unique. With three Lindy Fralin single coil pickups, an un-strat like 24.5” scale length, and a reverse headstock to top it all off, this is re-made strat for people who don’t want just another strat. Another re-make mashup, this Danelectro borrows from ‘70s and ‘80s strat knock offs made by company while being refined into a higher quality product. Ironically, this guitar doesn’t feature the Danelectro lipstick pickups most vintage guitar hounds love so much, but with other Danelectro goodies such as the headstock and offset body, I’m sure they’ll love this beast too.
Airline ‘59 2P
Most famous for being Jack White’s guitar of choice in the White Stripes years, this guitar is maybe the iconic “pawnshop” guitar you can own. Unlike the original, this reproduction by Eastwood Guitars is made of a chambered mahogany body with two humbucker-sized vintage single coils. With dedicated volume and tone for each pickup, a 3-way selector switch, and a master volume, you should have no trouble dialing in a wide variety of sounds with this iconic model. Need I say more?
If you want an idea of the monstrous tones you can get with a Guild Thunderbird, simply listen to hit single “Little Black Submarines” by The Black Keys. Recently re-released as part of Guild’s “Newark Street” line, including the phenomenal Jetstar, the Thunderbird comes in a number of cool models including humbucker, P90, and tremolo options with striking finishes. While many of these guitars have found fame alongside garage rock bands, the Thunderbird is a prime example of a guitar that can suit a number of needs. From jazz to pop, this guitar makes an exciting alternative to more conventional guitar shapes.
Looking for a hollow or semi-hollowbody guitar in the vein of Gibson’s ES line? Airline’s H77 is a remake of the popular ‘60’s guitar also sold under Harmony and Silvertone brand names. Similar to the one used today by Dan Auerbach, this striking semi has a laminated maple top, vintage F holes, and three “Argyle” gold foil single coil pickups. In honeyburst and black finish options and with a tremolo, this is a loaded guitar that is unique enough to inspire your playing while familiar enough not to be cliche. With volume and tone for each pickup, and 3 switches that turn on and off each pickup, you get a classy looking and diverse archtop guitar for not a lot of money.
Last but certainly not least, we have the Silverwood. Similar in shape the Tri Tone from Supro, their other offer packs unique hardware into a few beautiful finish options like Trans Cherry Red and Natural. With two Supro gold foil pickups, this take on bluesman Jimmy Reed’s classic guitar should be perfect for your vintage tone needs. While the Tri Tone is all about tonal options, the Silverwood is more stripped back with just a 3-way pickup selector and one set of volume and tone knobs.