Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Magnatone High Fidelity Custom 480

This one will make you feel like throwing up in your mouth just a little. There is an Amvets thrift store somewhat near my house that used to always have pretty good stuff (not so much any more). Weird swirly bowling balls and cool vintage bags, interesting furniture, cool western shirts before everyone including surf companies started making western shirts, and I even found a couple of lap steels here. One day I walked in and sitting in the middle of some dog cages and fake plants and old people's walkers was a Magnatone Custom 480. I walked over to it very quickly so as not to draw attention to myself, but not let anyone else get there though that was going to happen.

To be honest, from a distance I wasn't 100% sure it was an amp at all. I thought maybe it was one of those old style console stereos or something. But as I got closer I knew it was an amp. I didn't know much about Magnatones, but in the back of my mind I sort of remembered something about Robert Cray playing one. I plugged it in and got nothing. I noticed that the fuse was missing. This would be obvious to anyone with some amp knowledge because it was right there on the control panel. I went over and sweet talked my way down to $25 for the amp and it was a done deal. I picked it up...I should say I tried to pick it up...and, man, it was heavy. Finally lugged it out to the car and headed to Moonlight Music, which was a local guitar store. He actually had the correct fuse with the screw on cap built in, which was a very lucky score.

We turned it on and, SWEET. It worked!

It had inputs for guitar and accordion and maybe something else. For you geeks I found this info and the photos at (a very cool amp site): The Custom 480 originally sold for $499.95. It has 13 tubes, 1 transistor. The 2 input channels (each with high & low gain) are preamp'd by 6EU7's. Each has a Loudness, Bass, and Treble control. There is also a stereo input. Stereo vibrato is handled by 6CG7's and a 12BH7 to amplify the oscillator. A 6DR7 drives the input to the reverb pan, and a 2N306 transistor takes care of the return. Phase inversion is acomplished with twin 12AU7's. Four 6973's drive the stereo transformers along with two 12" Oxfords. It had approximately 50 watts.

Anyway, I kept the Magnatone for awhile but didn't feel comfortable gigging with it. Plus, it was just too heavy to drag around. I eventually traded it in at a guitar store and now can't remember what I traded it for. I do remember getting $250 in value for it. Not bad for a $25 thrift store find. I'm sure Robert Cray would have wanted this one.


Alex said...

I think Bo Diddley was the biggest name to use Magnatone amps that I know of.

Ava said...

Is it worth it to get one of these babies? What do u think?

Ava (