After failing to chart a hit with the recordings he made with Decca Records in 1956, Buddy Holly and his band The Crickets drove 90 miles east of their home town Lubbock, Texas to record at the Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, New Mexico. Working with Norman Petty as his producer and engineer, Holly had the freedom to play and record his songs the way he intended them to sound, which ultimately had a lasting impact on rock ‘n’ roll.
Ironically, the same Fender amp that Holly used in Clovis to record his hits remains there to this day. The grill cloth is a different color, but here’s a photo of Buddy Holly’s amp, currently on display at Norman Petty Recording Studios in Clovis, humbly being played by yours truly while visiting in 2016. 😎
The Sears 60BXL (labeled as Silvertone model 1428) was a electric bass amp similar in design and appearance to guitar and bass amps built by Danelectro in the late 1960’s. It appeared in the Sears Catalog from 1971 through 1973. According to the catalog, the 60BXL was a two transistor-powered 60-watt (marketing hype) bass amp with a 15-inch speaker. It seems that very few of these amps were sold, maybe because the more powerful 200BXL met the needs of electric bass players.
Not much is known about these amps; they are rarely seen in the wild. Here is an image from the 1971 Sears Catalog.
Just picked up this great deal today at Hum Strum and Drum in Multnomah Village. A vintage 1979 Guyatone EX1 guitar amp. Made in Japan. Solid-state, one channel, 20 watts, 12″ speaker, overdrive and reverb combo. Gain and volume controls, high and low EQ, reverb depth. Normal and overdrive inputs, headphone jack, pilot light. Excellent condition. Sounds great for practice and small gigs.
This page is a work in progress, but we’re very excited to bring you this historic amplifier!
VOX Berkeley Super Reverb Twin (SRT) electric guitar amplifier
VOX USA (Thomas Organ)
17 Watts RMS, according to the Mfr.
Tube-driven 2-spring Gibbs (Hammond) Tank
VOX tremolo circuit
12AX7 preamps; 12AU7 reverb; 12AX7 tremolo, two (2) EL84’s output
Pair of Weber (USA) 10-inch Blue Alnicos replaced the worn out Bulldogs
1965. The Beatles. Vox. What more can you say?
This 1965 model Berkeley is the original all-valve (tube) powered version that Thomas Organ produced in Sepulveda, California n small numbers from late 1965 through mid 1966. This one was partially restored by its owner “65mosrite,” giving it some fresh outer cosmetics (obtained from North Coast Music, of course), and some re-wiring and replacement of resistors and capacitors where needed.
I was fortunate enough to buy this amp from Richard H. (aka: 65mosrite), and couldn’t be happier.
North Coast Music, who runs The Vox Showroom, has some excellent data and stories related to the famous amplifier. I have provide some links to those pages below.
The Berkeley SRT Gallery
The Beatles and their VOX Amps
The Beatles on Stage – Image Courtesy of The Beatles Bible – www.beatlesbible.com
Here is a video by 65mosrite, who worked to restore this awesome amp!
Analog Solid-State/Tube Guitar Amp from the 1980’s
This page (which is a work in progress) is dedicated to the Music Man 110 RD Fifty guitar amplifier, which I recently had an opportunity to play.
Last weekend I was fortunate to make some new friends, hang out, and play some guitar. I had never met these guys before, but we hit it off right away, and it was a great time had by all. Thank-yous go out to our hosts David B, and his wife Elizabeth, who graciously allowed us to invade their home and make noise until the early hours of the next day. And thanks to the other guys for letting me be part of the group. I had no idea I would be in such good company!
During our Saturday night “jam session” (and I use the term loosely), I had the opportunity to play my ’70 Silvertone Mosrite Copy through David’s vintage Music Man amp. And boy, what a great amp that was! It was a Music Man 110 RD Fifty. Similar to the one pictured above, minus the grill fabric, it was the perfect match for my old solid body Surf Guitar with Teisco single coil pups. I simply plugged my guitar into this amp and it immediately started playing beautiful big clean tones with just enough added bite and grit. I loved the sound of that amp so much that I decided to dedicate this page to Music Man, and specifically to the 110 RD Fifty.
Thank you, David!
BTW: If you don’t know what a Mosrite is, then Google it right now!
Back in the mid 70’s a new music company from Anaheim California, called Music Man, hit the scene. This new company was founded by some former Fender employees: Forrest White, Tom Walker, and most notably Leo Fender. Leo himself designed a new line of amplifiers and a new bass guitar for the company. (BTW: The bass guitar, called The Music Man Stingray, is still around today and sold by the Ernie Ball Company.) Some of you reading this will know more than I about Leo Fender, his second guitar and amp company, his Stingray bass, and the Ernie Ball connection, as I am still learning the facts.
The Music Man amps were designed to be clean and LOUD with lots of headroom! They sounded very “Fenderish” (I wonder why?). According to literature, Music Man amplifiers were a unique hybrid design, employing solid-state electronics for the preamp stage, and tubes for the output. Apparently, the 12AX7 tube in the preamp stage is just for the distortion only, but I’m not exactly sure about that? The amps were big on power and built like tanks, to handle the difficult task of traveling professional musicians. Music Man produced amps in several sizes (65-watt, 135-watt, 150-watt) and configurations (combos, heads, cabs).
The Fifty Series
The Fifty series was introduced in the early 1980’s. The Fifty series included heads and cabs, as well as small combos that had either 10-inch or 12-inch speakers. These amps were packaged different ways. Some had a built-in distortion effect; others had a phaser; but all had real spring reverbs.
The 110 Combo with Reverb and Distortion (RD)
The 110 RD is a compact (but heavy!) 50-watt single-channel combo, with a 10-inch Ceramic speaker, reverb and distortion effects. I read that the designers of the amp were aiming for a clean tone similar to a Fender Blackface Deluxe Reverb, and apparently they hit the target!
Specs for the Music Man 110 RD Fifty
Music Man, Anaheim California
1×10-inch, Ceramic Magnet
Preamp: 12AX7; Output: 2x6L6GC’s
3-spring Reverb; Distortion
2-Button Foot Switch
Schematics for Music Man RD Fifty
A Bit More Character
Now the one I played had a woven wire mesh front grill, so it looked more like this one. But that just added to its character.
As I work to gather more info about the company and their products, here are some links:
Update: Just added some new shots of the chassis, tubes, board, Orange Drop caps, Fisher speaker, etc.
The Original 40XL
This page is dedicated to photos of our ’69 Silvertone 1422, also known as the Sears 40XL. We recently acquired this amp and found it to be one of the nicest 40XL’s we’ve seen in many a year. This Made-in-USA amp is totally original, right down to it’s late 60’s dark olive vinyl, green sparkle grille cloth, and a 12-inch Alnico magnet made by Fisher. The only cosmetic damage we could find is a bump (dimple) on the cabinet edge, right side of the control panel, and a chip off one control knob.
The 1422, or 40XL, was marketed by Sears as a 40-watt, 12-inch, combo tube amp for guitar. It features two separate input channels, and built-in reverb and tremolo. The reverb and trem are controlled by a dedicated foot switch. Sears advertised these as 40-watt combo amps. But in reality, the two 7189 power tubes put out around 20-watts or less. In fact, the features and chassis layout suggest that it could be an American copy of a the mid-60’s Marshall Model 1974, which was an 18-watt combo using two 6BQ5’s (EL84’s).
Summer of ’69
This amp was built, sold, and first played in the Summer of ’69. The code on the CTS potentiometers read “137-6919.” Decoded, that means “137” = Mfr’d. by CTS; “69” = Year Mfr’d. (1969). “19” = Week Mfr’d. (2nd Week of May).
How Does It Sound?
Well, it’s a loud 18 to 22 watts, that’s for sure. HUGE in the mid range, solid in the bass range, but not too sparkly or chimey at the high end. Poor speaker sounds like it’s wearing a heavy wool sweater. And there is a noticeable 60-Hz hum. But we will dig into it and find out what’s wrong.
Major improvements! We took the chassis out of the cabinet, cleaned and tightened all the loose connections, and relocated one unshielded cable sitting too close to the transformer (will completely remove that later). Now, the amp is almost silent when idling, the 60-Hz hum is completely gone, and frequency response at the high and low ends have improved!
These photos are little rough, and I hope to upload some better ones in the near future.
From the tail end of the vacuum tube era, a real Tone Gem in the genre of garage band tone.
Editor’s Note: This is Part One of a two part series on modifying the Silvertone 1421 guitar amp. This article is a work in progress, so please check back for additional info and updates.
The 1960’s Silvertone 1421 Combo Tube Amp (also originally sold as the Sears 10XL) is a great little vintage tube amp. It’s compact size makes it easy to carry to practice or a to small venue. It’s low 10-watt tube output (actually, closer to 5-watt) is perfect for the recording studio. It has two instrument inputs going into one channel, volume and tone controls, and a fantastic 12AX7 tube tremolo circuit, playing out to an 8-inch speaker. The sound here is definitely in the garage band category, but you can coax some great sounds out of this little guy.
The all-tube version of this amp was made from 1968 to 1972, and was later replaced with a all-transistor (solid-state) version in 1973. I picked this one up off eBay a few years ago. It’s a 1970 model and is all original, except for the brown speaker grille fabric (which is ugly!).
Below is a photo of my Silvertone 1421 after it first arrived. The vinyl covering, the controls, the faceplate were all in excellent condition for its age; no tears or scratches. The original vinyl handle was flexible and intact. The only problem this amp had was a stuck (frozen) power switch. I replaced the bad switch with a new heavy-duty toggle, and replaced the old two-prong power cord with a new grounded cord. When I powered it up for the first time it was amazingly quiet for an old tube amp.
The knobs and faceplate were in great condition. The handle was still flexible and firmly secured to the cabinet. But the original toggle switch stuck (frozen).
Front view showing the replaced grille cloth over the original baffle board and speaker.
Rear view of cabinet. You can see the new grounded power cord that I added.
The Sears product label on the rear panel showing the model number and vacuum tube layout.
A view of the chassis through the back panel vent.
Photo of the cabinet interior, showing the chassis and the original 8-inch speaker made by CTS.
A closer view of the chassis.
The 8-inch speaker with ceramic magnet made by CTS (code 137).
Another view of the chassis, showing the power transformer, the filter capacitor can, the output transformer, and the tubes. The on-baord tube complement is one 6X4 Rectifier tube, two 12AX7 tubes for preamp and tremolo circuits, and 7189 power tube.
Here is the baffle board removed from the cabinet. The board was nothing more than 1/8″ thick Masonite.
Here is the cabinet with the baffle board removed.
This great little combo tube amp was built by (who?) and sold through Sears and Roebuck in the late 1960′s and early 70′s. It was originally sold as the Silvertone Model #1421, and in later years as the SR 10XL, and lastly as the Sears 10XL. Oh, the photo of this amp looks innocent enough, but, this is one serious sounding tube screamer. And you won’t usually find them as nice as this one!
Summary: A 10-watt tube combo with tremolo and 8-inch speaker. Hand-wired. Lots of midrange growl that transitions into a creamy overdrive. Great for classic and indie rock, jazz, blues, country and rockabilly. Use as a practice amp or at small venues. Perfect for recording.
Pluses (+): Vintage British, Vox-like, valve sound in an affordable practice amp. Compact and lightweight.
Minuses ( – ): Cheaply constructed lightweight cabinet and thin vinyl covering. The original grille cloth was fragile, and most are completely deteriorated by now. Loud enough for a small venue (i.e. coffee shop) but not for anything larger.
Surprises: 1) The 7189 output tube! This is the higher plate voltage version of the EL84 tube made famous in British amps of the 60′s; and 2) The 8-inch Oxford Alnico speaker sounds great!
Value ($): Depends on the condition and market demand. I have seen them run from $100 to as high as $500.
Similar Amps: The original 1960′s Vox AC4 practice amp. Nothing else in the Silvertone line is similar.
The Complete Silvertone 1421 Review
(Stay tuned… this section under construction)
The 1421 Photo Gallery
This amp is in fantastic condition for it’s age. It even came with the factory original vinyl dust cover. It is all original, except that I replaced a broken power switch, and then replaced the old 2-prong power cord with a safer grounded cord. The tubes, chassis, speaker, cabinet and finish are all in perfect condition — sans for the cigarette-sized hole burned into the original grille cloth (not by me, it came that way!).