Monday, November 17, 2008

1973 Fender Twin Reverb

Story submitted by Alex

Ever had a "too good to be true" moment? The story of this amp is one of those. At some point I got the "vintage Fender amps are so cool" bug, and knew I wasn't going to afford anything but a silverface Fender, if that. I once played a silverface Twin and a Fernandes Tele at Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto, CA, and my recollection was that I couldn't hit a bad note. Fast forward ten or so years.

I found the pictured Twin in a small music store among a lot of new, cheapo stuff. It sure wasn't new, but it was kind of cheap at $450. I could tell that the tolex and grill cloth had been replaced, but I figured that was about it. Oh, maybe the speakers too.

It came with a nifty story about being the house amp at a bar in the Caribbean, where the sea air ruined the original tolex and so forth, necessitating a costume change into the Nudie suit of blonde all around. Still, it was a good deal.

It sounded pretty much what you'd want a Twin to sound like. It had the master volume, but not the pull boost on the knob. Being that I used it as a practice amp, it soon became clear that this massively heavy, loud amp was not the ideal choice for that. I decided to sell it and took it to a local vintage shop, where the guy started to poke around in it. I guess the transformers and the worn tubes were original, and I don't think the scratched and dented faceplate could be anything but original. Just about everything else wasn't, down to the masonite replacement back panels under the tolex. I thought they seemed awfully flexible when I bumped them.

The cabinet itself elicited the comment "well, somebody got an A in wood shop."

I guess the tube chart was missing for a reason. My ears burned, but I stuck around waiting to see if they'd buy it. No dice. Turned out it had a bad master volume pot to boot, which prevented the other store I took it to from buying it. A couple hundred bucks in repairs later, it was the perfect player's amp--running and sounding fine, but far from original and fairly homely, unless your tastes run to not-really-professionally-applied faux-early-60's blonde tolex on a very '70s-era amp. It also ended up with mismatched speakers after one of the magnets fell of—I still don't understand how that happened—one of its unmarked aftermarket speakers, and I replaced it with a newer Fender blue-label one. In the end, I sold it to a nice guy who didn't care about anything but the sound. That's really the way it should be, even though I know I can't ignore aesthetics myself.

I don't really miss that amp, but I'd like to have another silverface Fender one day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Send In Your Story!

Hey, things have been a little slow here and that's because I've just about run out of my own stories. I know every single one of you who reads this blog...and there are actually a lot of you believe it or not...has a story to tell. Send it in!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gibson GA-19RVT Falcon Amplifier

Today at work I received an email from one of the guys I play music with in The Small Pox Mountain Boys. Oliver is also the singer/guitarist in a great band that deserves some recognition called Deliverance Machine. Okay, now that I've gotten the "props" out of the way, the reason he emailed me was to let me know there was a cool vintage Gibson amp on Craig's List. I clicked on the link and, lo and behold, it was exactly like an old amp I'd found at the swap meet and completely forgotten about. Well, you know that means there's a new story to tell on the ol' blog.

The Gibson Falcon I used to own pretty much sucked.

There, I said it. Start with the truth. I found it at the local swap meet, back on the back row. Some guy had quite a few guitar related items including this amp. They don't just have power cords running all over the place, so I asked the guy how much it was and if it worked properly. He said $50 and yes, it worked perfectly. I decided to take him at his word and not try to lug the thing around to some outlet and to see if it came on. He didn't really have a guitar to plug into it for testing, so the best I could have done was plug in and see if the light came on. I got it home and it did all that just fine.

What it didn't do was sound good. I think if I were an amp tech I could have tweaked on it, changed out some amp parts stuff (whatever that is in there) and probably ended up with a pretty sweet little amp. I've often heard that many older Gibson amps are underrated and pretty nice. These Falcons were made from '62 to '67 and pumped out 15 watts. They had one 12" speaker and reverb and tremolo according to this website. The one I had came with the original footswitch, just like the one pictured (I stole the photos from the listing on Craig's List). I checked out the reviews on Harmony Central and there were some "sounds awesome" type reviews, so mine probably just needed some TLC.

I eventually traded it in on a Strat at Guitars West and everybody was happy. Even the douche at the swap meet who sold me an iffy amp under false description.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Update on Epiphone Crestwood

Hey, a kind of cool thing happened today...someone left a comment on a story that was posted earlier this year about an Epiphone Crestwood I once had: click here to link to original story. Evidently a reader of ours recently bought this very guitar on eBay for $450. Very cool to hear about one of my old guitars...if for any reason you have come across one of the guitars on this site be sure to drop me a line!