Beatles Amp Rediscovered

Vox UL730 Head

The Vox UL730 amp played by George Harrison on the Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s recordings

The Northwich Guardian reported today that a man in Wicham England discovered that a guitar amplifier he’s owned for awhile actually belonged to George Harrison in the mid-60′s. Apparently that fact went unnoticed for decades until the man took the amp in for repair. The technician discovered Harrison’s identification inside the amp during the repair.

Read the article here: Wicham man finds amp owned by the Beatles

More info about the Vox UL730 Amplifier from www.voxshowroom.com.

Photo courtesy of www.guitargeek.com.

First Solid-State Guitar Amplifier

Kay Vanguard 704 Vibrato
Courtesy Mass Street Music

Lucky me! I was looking for a vintage solid-state combo amp to use at practice, and to give my trusty tube Silvertones a rest. Just scored this one off ebay today for cheap! The very first solid-state guitar amp was introduced by Kay Musical Instruments in 1962. Can’t wait for it to arrive.

 

Roger McGuinn and the Regency TR-1

Long before iPods, CD’s and Walkmans there was the transistor radio.

The advent of the transistor radio is integral to the history of rock and roll. The first transistor radio, the American-made Regency TR-1, arrived on the scene in 1954 about one year before the Sony transistor. In this video Roger McGuinn, founding member of The Byrds, tells how he received his first transistor radio and how it inspired him to become a musician. The rest of course is history, as The Byrds became one of the biggest groups of the 60′s and transformed rock music with their own style called folk-rock.

More info:

Regency TR-1 Transistor Radio History

Roger McGuinn’s Home Page

Roger McGuinn’s Transistor Radio Collection

Roger’s Transistor Radio Collection

Danelectro DC-1 Cool Cat Chorus

Birthday’s are great! This pedal was a gift! My son and his wife remembered my affinity for chorus pedals and found this Danelectro at a used music shop. It’s the 18-volt version, all analog, made about 1996. It sounds great! Very warm and lush sounding with a broader depth and speed range than similar analog pedals. Maybe it sounds so good because it’s a clone of the legendary Boss CE-2, with the following chips on-board:

  • MN3007 — 1024-stage analog Bucket Brigade chip (BBD). Panasonic, Japan.
  • MN3101 — BBD driver chip. Panasonic, Japan.
  • TL072CP — JFET Op Amp. Texas Instruments.
  • TC4013BP — Dual D-Type Flip Flop bypass circuit (switch). Toshiba, Japan.

Along with my other analog chorus effects pedals, I hope to have a full review posted here in the very near future. Stay tuned…

How it all began…


This story began a few days after Christmas when my son and I stopped into one of Portland’s music shops, Trade Up Music, to browse the used gear. After checking out Trade Up’s nice selection of guitars, my son spotted a small, funky, beat up amp sitting atop the other guitar and bass amps. It was a simple square box, somewhat plain in appearance. The original green vinyl covering was stretched in a few places and had a few tears. The speaker fabric was splattered with paint and a had hole in it! Because of those “faults,” my son thought it had a certain cool factor and retro personality. And it had tubes inside! Cool… a little tube powered practice amp. Or maybe he could use it on stage, or for recording.

Taking a closer look, I could tell it was one of those unimpressive department store amps of the late 1960’s or early 70’s. Basically the kind of stuff we ran away from (but in reality was all we could afford!). It was a Sears amp, model 5 XL to be exact. Well I thought to myself, “A Sears amp? No way.” Musicians didn’t buy these. Only parents bought these cheap amps, paired with an equally cheap electric guitar, so their kids could start their own noise brigade in the garage.

Anyway, knowing nothing about this amp, I grabbed my smart phone and quickly Googled the amp’s name while still in the store. Not much was found, except for some less than glowing information and commentary found at Silvertone World (a great site, by the way). Still scratching my head, my son decided to buy it for less than $90 cash.

Once we got this guy home and plugged into Jon’s modified tele, all my doubts were replaced with astonishment. What unexpected sounds came zooming out of that plain green box! Jon cranked the volume and the tone knobs. The tubes went into overdrive: somewhat snarly and raspy but under control. Subtle highs, growling midrange, and a whole lot of solid bass. Who knew?!

Have a listen…

Who knew there was an real unexpected Tone Gem hiding underneath that Sears label and ugly green vinyl?

Well, that’s how this whole thing started.

{2 comments}

Randy October 5, 2010 at 7:30 am

Alex, thanks for the insight on the 1420! “Less than glowing” is right, because I’ve never had the opportunity to play through one… now, I know! Mind if I use your mini-review on the site for the 1420 page? Funny how just a little hot wire, vacuum and glass can create a Tone Gem, eh?

alex October 5, 2010 at 9:30 am

Randy, greetings! A privilege to hear from Silvertonium. Thanks for your comments. Please fee free to use as a mini-review. I am currently working on full fledged review pages (complete with specs, photos, video, and audio) for this amp and for the 10 XL (1421), which will be posted in the near future.

Here we go, our first post…

Hello, and thanks for checking us out. This site was inspired after discovering all the alternative low-budget, low-fidelity great sounding guitar gear out there, that in true reality deserves recognition and deserves to be played. There are some real Tone Gems out there, and we’re planning to find them and bring them to you.