Vox Berkeley Super Reverb Twin

1965 Vox Berkeley Super Reverb Twin

This page is a work in progress, but we’re very excited to bring you this historic amplifier!

NAME: VOX Berkeley Super Reverb Twin (SRT) electric guitar amplifier
MODEL: V8
MFR: VOX USA (Thomas Organ)
ORIGIN: Sepulveda, California
DATE: 1965
POWER: 17 Watts RMS, according to the Mfr.
REVERB: Tube-driven 2-spring Gibbs (Hammond) Tank
TREMOLO: VOX tremolo circuit
VALVES: 12AX7 preamps; 12AU7 reverb; 12AX7 tremolo, two (2) EL84’s output
RECTIFIER: EZ81 Valve
SPEAKERS: Pair of Weber (USA) 10-inch Blue Alnicos replaced the worn out Bulldogs

1965. The Beatles. Vox. What more can you say?

Vox Berkeley Super Reverb TwinThis 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

The Beatles on Stage – Image Courtesy of The Beatles Bible – www.beatlesbible.com

Video

Here is a video by 65mosrite, who worked to restore this awesome amp!

External Links

Excellent page from The Vox Showroom: The Vox Berkeley Amp

And another: The Vox Berkeley Super Reverb Tube Amp Head – Model V-8

Facebook Comments

Previous Comments

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Randy September 23, 2015 at 10:49 am

I notice that the V8 head pictured has the original flat handle, but the cabinet has the later Vox logo styled handle. Did Thomas Organ sell them paired that way when they ran out of flat handled cabs but still had the older style heads? Or is this a (fairly insignificant) mix’n match.
I have the same head with flat handle, but my cab has no handle and no holes that I can find?!? Mysterious.
Thanks
Randy

REPLY

alex September 26, 2015 at 10:57 am

Hi Randy!
I really don’t know the answer. I checked at the Vox Showroom website, and they have photos of V8 Berkeley’s that have both types of handles. Go figure? Maybe Thomas Organ was using both types at the same time? If I learn anything more about this, I will let you know.

Thanks for visiting Tone Gems.
~alex

Music Man 110 RD Fifty

Music Man 110 RD Fifty Guitar Amplifier

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!

Some Background

Music Man LogoBack 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).

Music Man 110 RD Fifty with foot switchThe 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.

Music Man 110 RD Fifty speaker and chassisThe 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

Mfr: Music Man, Anaheim California
Series: Fifty
Model #: 110-RD-50
Chassis: 1650RD
Power: 50-watts RMS
Speaker: 1×10-inch, Ceramic Magnet
Tubes: Preamp: 12AX7; Output: 2x6L6GC’s
Effects: 3-spring Reverb; Distortion
Accessories: 2-Button Foot Switch
Years: 1981-1983

Music Man Hall of ShameA 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.

More Links

As I work to gather more info about the company and their products, here are some links:

More later (to be continued…)

Music Man 110 RD Fifty Guitar Amplifier

 

Previous Comments

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob September 1, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Hi, Alex
I have a Peavey Musicman model No. 112-RD-50, similar to or exactly the same as the one featured in your article. I remember purchasing mine from American Music, located in Seattle, WA, sometime during the mid to late 70s. So although it’s the spitting image of the one in the article, I did purchase it some years before 1980.

I’m considering selling it and was wondering if you had any idea what it might go for on today’s market?

Thanks
Bob

REPLY

alex September 1, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Bob,
Thanks for reading our article. You say “Peavey Musicman” but I believe you are referring to just the original Music Man, not Peavey? I have seen the Music Man 112-RD-50’s selling on eBay from about $550 to $700, depending on condition.
~Alex

REPLY

Eddie September 11, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Hey Alex, yup yup yup about your exp with the Music Man 110 RD-50! I know what u spk of, I own two in excellent orig cond & they’re stayin’ with me lol! These 110’s are superb & fly way under the radar of guitar plyrs but I don’t understand why. In big cities like NYC where musicians subway to gigs these little giants are revered. I’m going to try a Celestion G10 vintage in one of them, just for fun.
Keep playin’, Eddie, Toronto, Canada.

REPLY

alex October 4, 2014 at 9:24 am

Eddie, thanks for checkin in, and telling us about your Music Man. Let us know how the Celestion G10 sounds!

~alex

REPLY

Eddie February 3, 2016 at 7:14 pm

Well, I finally got around to installing the Celestion G10 Vintage speaker (8ohm, 60w) in one of my MM 110 RD 50 amps (have two), only took +1 year lol. Fantastic improvement on ALL sonic levels! Highly recommend this upgrade, do this. Don’t know what took me so long, just stuff i guess.
Super ez too, the speaker & grill removed forward as 1 unit and Celestion screw-holes lined up perfectly. I’ll hang on to stock spkr to keep amp’s originality.
Curious, anybody tried out other spkrs??
Rock on MM brothers! (are we able to upload photos here?)

REPLY

alex February 4, 2016 at 8:57 pm

Eddie,
Thanks for the update! Sounds like the Celestion G10 was a great choice! And makes sense too, since a lot of the guitar speakers we have available today sound soooo much better than speakers they had in the 70s and 80s. Actually, I believe mfrs back in the 70s and 80s were just making bad choices on the speakers for their amps.

You could try emailing me your photos, I would love to post them here on the site.

Thanks,
~alex

REPLY

Jim October 5, 2015 at 10:50 am

I’m not sure when they started making the 50 watt version but mine is a 1981. I have owned at least 75 amps. This one is a definite keeper.

REPLY

alex October 6, 2015 at 7:20 am

Hi JIm!
Thanks for that info. Glad to hear that you still have yours! I have revised this page, by changing the dates to 1981-1983, which probably fits the Music Man timeline better.

Thanks!
~alex

REPLY

bruce November 29, 2015 at 10:30 am

the date built is on a white sticker under the top back panel on the right
year/month like 83/3
i fell so deep in love with the amp i put an ad in VG mag and acquired 10
some heads/10’s/and 112’s
the last editions show a more wedge shaped cabinet ..wider at the bottom ,
harder to tip over …. first ones….no wedge shape at all
revision e models have a mid shift rocker instead of the clean/distortion rocker in the
center of the panel i have a 112 and a head both with this set up and they both have black grills the head was originally a half stack with a closed back 1 15 bottom
i also had a white rev e half stack
it also came with a closed back 1 15 bottom
in both cases i sold the bottoms and used all sorts of other cabs with these heads

these amps are fixes bias no need to worry just change the power tubes as needed

sovtex 12ax7 lps is a secret weapon for the amp enhancing smooth creamy sustain
the 2 110 models i acquired were equipped with JBL and EV speakers
a cool pair of amps for sure
the EV magnet was cut along the top to fit under the chassis no way a home made fit .. it must have been built for the amp at ev

leo took a 110 to g&l with him and it was in his office there to test guitars

GOD bless leo and the rd 50

REPLY

alex November 29, 2015 at 11:05 am

Bruce,
Thank you for all that valuable information! Great to hear from people who were there, playing their gear! (I was in college, broke, and still hadn’t begun playing seriously) Your contribution will make this page on the 110 even better! Since I wrote this article, I have passed on several, but still intend to get one in 2016!

~alex

REPLY

Silvertone 1422 (Sears 40XL)

Silvertone 1422

Update:

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.

UPDATE:
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!

Photo Gallery

These photos are little rough, and I hope to upload some better ones in the near future.

Previous Comments

{ 37 comments…  }

Ed September 23, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Hi,
I have a 1422 from late 60’s early 70’s? It too is in very nice condition. All original tubes, but missing a knob. The volume on channel one is quite low but channel two roars. True, it does sound like its wearing a heavy wool sweater! I was wondering if I could change out tubes for a better high gain sound? Shoot me an email and I’ll send some pics, and any advice would be much appreciated!!

REPLY

alex September 23, 2013 at 8:32 pm

Hi Ed,
Would love to see photos of your amp. This one has a lot of gain already. Not certain which tubes to try for even higher gain. I think the speaker might be the weakest part. Planning to try some different speakers to hear what happens…?
~Alex

REPLY

mike March 31, 2014 at 12:02 pm

I just picked up a solid state 40XL at the goodwill for $9. Sounds great with mu delta king semi-solid body and they look great together.

A bit of wear, but love the tremolo feature I also played a round with it and found with the 2 chanenels that I could actually use it as an amp and mini PA if I balance things right in a pinch. The tremolo works on your voice too, kind of like a 70’s ( I think that’s how old it is without the tubes) W.i.l.l.i.a.m effect.

Any chance of finding a manual on this baby on line anywhere? Is it repairable if it craps out, being it’s so old??? Any review info or thoughts would be appreciated.

Let me know

REPLY

Mikey March 14, 2015 at 11:11 am

@mike — It is most certainly fixable. I took mine into the local shop (Columbia, MO USA), and they fixed the reverb, changed the tubes, and installed a 12″ blue dog speaker that I brought in. I also had a proper 3 prong cord installed. The amp is now my mainstay, I use it always!

REPLY

alex March 15, 2015 at 9:55 am

Excellent! Thanks, ~alex.

Tim September 27, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Hi Alex,

I just got one of these and was wondering if you have a schematic. Mine is not in the great condition of yours, but seems to work fine. No pedal though. Please post your findings about the different speakers you try!

Thanks!
Tim

REPLY

alex September 29, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Hi Tim. No schematic yet. Hopefully I can make one (with some help!).

I’m pretty sure that the original speaker can’t handle the power of this amp. I disconnected the original and patched this amp into another cab that I have. That made a big difference! I’m planning on ordering a G12-H-30 (Greenback) from Ted Weber.

REPLY

Tim September 30, 2013 at 7:32 am

Thanks Alex! I took the head apart this weekend and just wanted to let you know that there is an 8 ohm speaker tap on the board. It has a red wire going to it and it’s right next to the 4 ohm, where the speaker is connected. Also, I tried jumping the channels, and with both channels turned up there seemed to be more presence and touch sensitivity, seems like the clouds lifted some. I’m also going to try a Celestion, I have an old G12H25, but it’s 15 ohms. I’m going to try it on the 8 ohm tap and keep my fingers crossed!

REPLY

alex October 1, 2013 at 10:14 pm

Thanks, Tim. Good call! I did not notice the separate 4 and 8 ohm taps. I also tried jumping the two channels and noticed a slight improvement.

REPLY

Tim October 2, 2013 at 7:03 pm

I wasn’t able to use my old speaker, but I did put in a g12h30 anniversary and it was more clear and gave it more Marshall growl. My try a Jensen next.

REPLY

john November 18, 2013 at 11:02 am

Has anyone discovered a schematic for the 1422 ? I have one and am trying to figure out if it’s 4 or 8 ohms ? I have a 4 ohm Fender speaker I would like to put in it.

REPLY

alex November 18, 2013 at 9:33 pm

John,
I’m *pretty sure* the the original wiring is for a 4 ohm speaker. But please see Tim’s comment above about both 4 ohm and 8 ohm taps from the output transformer. It’s nice to have options :-)

REPLY

john January 20, 2014 at 10:00 am

Still searching for a scematic for the 1422. Having distortion problems in the tremelo circuit. My tech guy can’t find one either. The tremelo does not seem to kick in unless the Strength knob is at 12 noon or higher. When the speed knob is turned past noon, ugly distortion is present. Any ideas ?

REPLY

alex January 20, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Sorry, John. Haven’t been able to track one a schematic for the tube version of the 1422. I recently ordered the repair sheet and schematic from Sams Photofact, but what they sent me is for the solid-state model.

Did you try replacing the 12AX7 tube that drives the tremolo circuit? If it’s not the tube, then the problem might be a capacitor in the circuit. I fixed the non-funtioning tremolo on my 1421 amp by replacing one of the caps. I think it was one of the caps that was soldered to either the Speed or Depth knob. Now it works great.

REPLY

Jim Cord January 16, 2015 at 9:52 am

I know this is an old post, but I’m wondering if by chance if you still have it, could post the SS schematic you were sent in error?

I just (mistakenly) bought the SS version, because I was over zealous in my blind compulsive buying mode and failed to examine the photos throughly enough; had I done so, I wouldn’t have overpaid for this tube-wannabe.

REPLY

alex January 16, 2015 at 7:34 pm

Jim,
I will see what I can do to send that to you.

~alex

REPLY

Steven March 5, 2016 at 10:00 pm

Any chance I could get the schematic for the solid state?

REPLY

Steven March 5, 2016 at 10:02 pm

I’d love a schematic for the solid state if possible

REPLY

john January 20, 2014 at 10:49 am

Also, would the tremelo circuit be the same in the 1421, or 1423 ?

REPLY

alex January 20, 2014 at 9:45 pm

No. The circuits for the 1421 and 1423 are entirely different. The 1421 is all point-to-point hand soldered. The 1423 is solid-state; so no tubes at all. The 1422 is a hybrid because it has a printed circuit board and tubes. That makes it unique in that series.

Did your tech remove the printed circuit board and test all the caps, resistors, and solder traces?

REPLY

john February 4, 2014 at 11:18 am

Yes. Looks like a cap, so I told him to replace all of them.

REPLY

john February 6, 2014 at 8:55 am

Caps replaced, tremelo circuit still distorting. Any other ideas ?

REPLY

Jake March 4, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Nice specimen!

I just received a 1422 off ebay today and noticed that instead of original tubes (which the seller stated they were) it has 2-EL84s replacing the 7189s and ECC 83S in place of the 12AX7s, all JJs. I read somewhere that the EL84s and the 7189s are used for different voltages in the circuit and shouldn’t even work when added. The seller is playing dumb and I can’t find out if something was modded, or everything is fine, or something seriously bad is going to happen if I don’t make sure the voltage was adjusted.

Any thoughts?

REPLY

josh June 20, 2014 at 2:10 pm

I just purchased a solid state 40XL. I haven’t received it yet. Are they compatible with modern 2-button footswitches? I have a 10XL with the original tremolo footswitch but I want to control reverb too.

REPLY

alex June 21, 2014 at 7:16 am

Josh, congrats on the new 40XL! The 40XL uses a two-button switch to control reverb and tremolo, and has a single 1/4-inch two-conductor plug. Like a 1/4″ stereo headphone plug. See it here: http://www.tonegems.com/silvertone-1422-footswitch/

~alex

REPLY

alex June 21, 2014 at 7:43 am

You can purchase a similar foot switch online or in music stores for around $50. Or you could buy the parts and build one for about $20.

~alex

REPLY

Fran December 6, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Hello,

I just rebuilt a Sears Silvertone XL40… cabinet mostly and professionally done on a CNC. Will post pictures. I, too, am getting a screeching trem and the reverb is’t working, although the verb does boing when moved… so some further scrutiny is necessary. The finish of the cabinet is wood, stained and toned. I made it a little larger than the original and also plan to make another the same size as the orignal with tolex covering. I also remade the control panel graphics. Looks real nice and a lot of tube power. Just have to get the trem and reverb right. I recall, trem and verb were working before I tok it apart. All for now.

REPLY

alex December 7, 2014 at 7:44 am

Fran,
That’s great! Please keep us posted. Send some photos of your project; we’d love to see how the cabinet turns out.

~alex

REPLY

Fran December 12, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Cabinet is almost done… working out some bugs in the circuitry… probably needs newer tubes… all else seems to be clean and intact. Assemling this weekend and then will take pictures. Note that I enlarged the cabinet some; however, I have recently redigitized it to spec. I will make a second cabinet with a tolex wrap and make the electronics (or head) a separate entity. Thanks.

REPLY

Fran December 24, 2014 at 10:37 am

Emails with pictures sent to your addy and a question. Let me know if you received them, Alex. Have a very Merry Christmas. BTW, I was with the owner of the Danolectric tradename last evening. What a great fella!

REPLY

alex December 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Fran,
Happy New Year! I did not receive your photos :-( Please try again.

~alex

REPLY

Fran December 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Note, photos coming from another addy and just sent 4:06 EST 12/27/14. Also, could you elborate on the wire near the transformer that was causing the 60 cycle hum and all you did to resolve that. I, too, have the hum. I do not plan to make my unit 3 wire because I like the flexibility of reversing the plug polarity with a 2 prong…. unless I add a switch for that, or go to 3 wire and use an adapter. You ground to chassis, right? Someone told me the problem with my trem could be caps and not the tubes. Any opinion on that? Still waiting to test the tubes. I have a vintage tube tester now, but I may have to change some resistors to get it working. properly… as it’s been sitting for a good many years.

REPLY

Fran December 31, 2014 at 4:59 am

I have decided to take inventory on the PCB components and, also, draw up a new PCB and etch a new one for the beast I’m working on. When I’m further along, I will post or link the data and PCB drawing. For now, there are two blue-ish colored capacitors and on the south end appears to be some sort of (tan) washer that I thought might be the cap bleeding. There are no pictures above of the component side, but if anyone knows anything about these two caps, let me know if what I am seeing is a bad cap (I have not tested it). Alex, I sent you pictures of the solder and component sides. Caps I am referring to are labeled C2 and C17 respectively. Thanks.

REPLY

Jim Cord January 16, 2015 at 9:39 am

Just got a smack in the face; bought a 40xl from a charity auction, was all giddy because I (thought) got a great deal on a coll retro (I thought) tube amp.

Well, in my blinders-on compulsive buying madness, I failed to note the language on the warning lable (which was pictured in the listing) stating:
“…..does not contain any tubes or user serviceable parts…”

Yep; instead of a great deal on a great little tube amp, I overpaid for a Solid State door stop.

I guess that may be a bit harsh, as I’ve just umboxed it at work, and haven’t actually plugged in yet.
I did pop the back and examine the innards (through the nest of cobwebs) and it looks like a nice wiring job, and if nothing else, probably some good vintage parts to harvest for one of my upcoming pedal builds.

Anyone own the SS version? And if so, what are you’re thoughts on it?

I plan on giving it a good clean up, and see how it sounds.

If it’s as underwhelming as I’m pessimistically assuming, it might actually be the perfect opportunity to take the next step in my DIY education and take a shot at gutting it and building the original tube version.

Now to poke around here, and everywhere, to try finding the schematic for it.
I’m guessing it can’t be too complex; but I’ve been wrong before… recently in fact

REPLY

alex January 16, 2015 at 7:42 pm

Well, the SS version is nothing like the tube version, but might have an interesting tone all it’s own. I believe it’s an early use of the printed circuit board, but with full size components (capacitors and resistors) on the board. Kind of a solid-state dinosaur.

~alex

REPLY

Michael November 9, 2015 at 2:16 pm

I realize this might bit too late, but Jim… don’t trash that SS 40XL. Sure it doesn’t have the same warmth as the tube version. But with the right guitar, and couple of well chosen pedals, you can get some very pleasing tones from it.

I’m playing an Eastwood P-90 Special through my SS 40XL. And with just a touch of distortion, from my Boss DS-1, it sound pretty damn good.

REPLY

alex November 9, 2015 at 10:54 pm

Thanks Michael!
~alex

Modified Silvertone Model 1421 Amp – Part One, The Tear Down

Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Original Speaker and Baffle

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.

1970 Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421

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).

1970 Sears 10XL Silvertone 142 Control Panel
1970 Sears 10XL Silvertone 142 Control Panel

Front view showing the replaced grille cloth over the original baffle board and speaker.

Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Front

Rear view of cabinet. You can see the new grounded power cord that I added.

Sears 10Xl Silvertone 1421 Back Cover
Sears 10Xl Silvertone 1421 Rear

The Sears product label on the rear panel showing the model number and vacuum tube layout.

Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Label
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Label

A view of the chassis through the back panel vent.

Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 View of Chassis
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 View of Chassis

Photo of the cabinet interior, showing the chassis and the original 8-inch speaker made by CTS.

Inside Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421
Inside the Cabinet

A closer view of the chassis.

Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Chassis and Speaker
Chassis and Speaker

The 8-inch speaker with ceramic magnet made by CTS (code 137).

Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Speaker
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Speaker

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.

Chassis and Tubes
Chassis and Tubes

Here is the baffle board removed from the cabinet. The board was nothing more than 1/8″ thick Masonite.

Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Baffle
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Baffle
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Original Speaker
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Original Speaker
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Original Speaker and Baffle
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Original Speaker and Baffle
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Original Speaker and Baffle
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Original Speaker and Baffle

Here is the cabinet with the baffle board removed.

Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Front Baffle Removed
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Front Baffle Removed
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Back Cover Removed
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Back Cover Removed

The wiring is hand-wired and soldered.

Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Chassis
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Chassis
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Chassis Components
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Chassis Components
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Chassis Components
Old School Resistors and Capacitors
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Chassis Components
Orange Drop Cap and Fuse Assembly
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Chassis Components
Orange Drop Capacitor
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Chassis Components
Old School “Chiclet” Capacitor
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Chassis Components
Sears 10XL Silvertone 1421 Chassis Components

Silvertone 1421 (Sears 10XL) Tube Amp

Vintage 1971 Silvertone 1421 (Sears 10XL) Combo Guitar Tube Amp

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!

Quick Info

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!).

Specifications – Silvertone 1421 (Sears 10XL)

SILVERTONE 1421 (SEARS 10XL)
Model Number 257.14211000
Serial Number None
Manufacture Date April 1971
Type 8″ Combo
Output (Peak or RMS) 10 Watts, Peak
Pre-Amp Tube(s) 1 x 12AX7
Tremolo Tube(s) 1 x 12AX7
Power Amp Tube(s 1 x 7189
Tube Rectifier 6X4
Speaker Oxford 8″ Alnico
Speaker Code 465-7118
Speaker Configuration 1 x 8″
Baffle Board 1/8″ Masonite
Impedance 4 Ohm
On-Board Effects Tremolo
Footswitch Yes
Controls Volume & Tone
Inputs 2
Channels 1
Cabinet Construction 3/8″ Pressed Board
Cabinet Covering/Color Vinyl / Black
Dimensions (WxHxD) 14″x17″x6″
Weight 10 lbs.
Power 120V AC

Schematic for Silvertone 1421

Schematic for Silvertone 1421

Schematic Courtesy of SchematicHeaven.com

Additional Resources

More info to come…

Silvertone 1421 (Sears 10 XL) Guitar Tube Amp

Sears 10XL. Silvertone 1421.


NOTE: This great little amp now resides happily with its new owner in Charleston, South Carolina.

Vintage 1971 Sears 10 XL Silvertone 1421 Combo Guitar Tube Amp

The Sears 10 XL was sold through Sears and Roebuck in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. The 10 XL is a single channel, 10-watt (peak) combo amp for electric guitar with a very cool built-in tube-powered tremolo effect.

This little amp first appeared in the 1969 Sears Catalog as a 10-watt tube-powered amp and, transformed into to a solid-state amp around 1972, and then discontinued in 1973. The label on the rear panel identified this model as Silvertone 257.1421100.

The photo of this little amp looks innocent enough. But don’t let the its appearance fool you! This is a serious sleeper of a tube amp, and sounds fantastic. Perfect for your next garage band. And you won’t usually find them as nice as this one!

Quick Info

Summary: A 10-watt tube combo with tremolo and 8-inch speaker. Hand-wired. Lots of midrange growl that transitions into a saturated 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 1960’s tube sound in an affordable practice amp package. Compact and lightweight.

Minuses ( – ): Lightweight constructed cabinet and vinyl covering (it’s a Sears amp!). The original fabric grille cloth was fragile, and therefore most are completely deteriorated by now. Not really loud enough for a big venue, but still perfect for those small and intimate gigs (i.e. coffee shop).

Surprises ( ! ): 1) The 7189 output tube! This is the higher plate voltage version of the EL84 tube found in famous British valve 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 (beat up and not working) to as high as $500 (too much!).

Similar Amps: Unique, nothing else in the Silvertone line is similar. Preamp tube (12AX7) and power tube (7189 version of EL84) used in the 1960’s Vox AC4.

The Sears XL Story (as best I know it)

Sears 1969 catalog, page 928, guitar amplifiersThe Sears 10 XL was a member of the Sears XL Series of amplifiers that first appeaed in the late 1960’s and ran through the mid-1970’s. The XL Series followed the venerable Silvertone 1400 Series (1472, 1482, 1483, 1484, 1485) from the early to mid 1960’s. The XL Series ranged from the little 5 XL (3-tubes, 3-watts) to the giant 200 XL (200-watts solid-state).

Before the XL Series, the Sears Silvertone 1400 line up of amps was designed and built by the famously efficient and economical Danelectro Company of Neptune, New Jersey. Danelectro was founded by the pioneering electronics engineer and builder Nathan Daniel. Nate Daniel specialized in building quality musical instruments and gear at reasonable prices. Danelectro built and supplied all the guitar amps to Sears and Roebuck from about 1958 to 1968. In 1966 founder Nate Daniel sold his company to MCA, and unfortunately by 1969, MCA had to shut down the operation and thus the original Danelectro Company no longer existed.

From about 1968 to 1972 the smaller amps in the Sears XL Series (the 5 XL, 10 XL, 40 XL) continued to be hand-wired tube amps. But by 1973 the entire XL line – except for the little 5 XL – had transitioned to all solid-state electronics. Exactly who built these XL amps for Sears remains a uncertain. We have speculated that the 5, 10 and 40 XL’s were still built in New Jersey with left-over parts from the defunct Daneletro.

The Chassis

The chassis of the 10 XL is all hand-wired point-to-point electronics with a 6X4 tube rectifier, a 12AX7 preamp tube, a 12AX7 tremolo tube circuit and a single 7189 output power tube. The amp has volume and tone controls, Tremolo speed and intensity controls, two 1/4″ guitar input jacks, and one 1/4″ tremolo foot switch input jack.

The Speaker

The loudspeakers that came in the Sears 10 XL varied throughout production. All speakers were 8-inches in size. But the manufacturer and type of speaker varied. This particular model has an 8-inch speaker made by Oxford with an Alnico magnet, which perfectly compliments the lower output level of the 7189 power tube, and sounds great in this amp. Some other 1421 models were made with speakers from the CTS or Fisher factories, and by my account, those all had ceramic magnets instead of Alnico.

The Baffle Board and Grille Cloth

The baffle board is typical Silvertone quality: 1/8″ pressed board (Masonite). That just helps to establish this amp’s personality. The original silver, gold and green sparkle fabric that covers the baffle board is quite delicate, and in most cases rotted away over the years. Thankfully, somehow the original fabric survived on this model.

The 10 XL Photo Gallery

This 10 XL is in fantastic condition for it’s age. It even came with the factory original vinyl dust cover and tremolo foot switch. 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 in the original grille cloth (not by me, it came that way!).

Specifications – Silvertone 1421 (Sears 10XL)

SEARS 10 XL (SILVERTONE 1421)
Model Number 257.14211000
Serial Number None
Manufacture Date April 1971
Type 8″ Combo
Output (Peak or RMS) 10 Watts, Peak
Pre-Amp Tube(s) 1 x 12AX7
Tremolo Tube(s) 1 x 12AX7
Power Amp Tube(s 1 x 7189
Tube Rectifier 6X4
Speaker Oxford 8″ Alnico
Speaker Code 465-7118
Speaker Configuration 1 x 8″
Baffle Board 1/8″ Masonite
Impedance 4 Ohm
On-Board Effects Tremolo
Footswitch Yes
Controls Volume & Tone
Inputs 2
Channels 1
Cabinet Construction 3/8″ Pressed Board
Cabinet Covering/Color Vinyl / Black
Dimensions (WxHxD) 14″x17″x6″
Weight 10 lbs.
Power 120V AC

Schematic for Silvertone 1421

Schematic for Silvertone 1421
Silvertone 1421 Schematic Courtesy of Schematic Heaven

Additional Resources

Links to additional information.

More info to come…

Previous comments

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

dave carter June 8, 2012 at 4:06 pm

have one in perfect condition,with the foot petal.no dust cover.ready to sale

REPLY

b d brown February 2, 2013 at 6:10 pm

the other maker of sears guitar amps was electrnic sound corp of chicargo ill during the 1970s to about the late 80s. they used oxford, and quam speakers and maybe cts or some utahs. the also made cabents for the game manufactuers wiaims/bally/ etc.

REPLY

alex February 3, 2013 at 9:03 am

That’s great info! Thank you. I will look into that further… ~alex

REPLY

alex February 3, 2013 at 9:11 am

The Silvertone 1420 (Sears 5XL) is identical to the older Danelectro built model 1459. After Danelectro was no more, do you think maybe they built the 1420 for Sears from old Danelectro parts, or maybe just copied the Dano design? ~alex

Link: http://www.tonegems.com/sears-5-xl-amp-silvertone-model-1420/

REPLY

Allan Kidd July 25, 2013 at 12:50 pm

looking for schematics for sears 1422/ 40XL Tube amp

REPLY

1960′s Silvertone 1481 Amp New in Box?!


Holy crap! What an incredible find. Someone is selling on eBay a mid-1960′s Silvertone 1481 tube amp, brand new in the original box. That’s crazy! Original Silvertone tubes inside. Complete with original papers and Owner’s Manual. Even has the original shipping label on the box from the Danelectro factory in Neptune NJ to Sears Roebuck store in Newington Connecticut.

The 1481 was the smallest combo tube amp of the Silvertone family at that time. It was the poor man’s version of the Fender Champ, with one 6V6 tube putting out 7-watts to a single 8-inch Alnico speaker. According to Silvertoneworld.com, the 1481 was a cosmetic replacement to the earlier 1471 and was offered in the Sears catalog up through 1968. It was made in Neptune, New Jersey by Danelectro.

Link to eBay auction: 1960′S SILVERTONE AMP MODEL 1481 NEW IN BOX DAN ELECTRO

Original shipping label from Neptune, New Jersey:

 

UPDATE: This auction has ended. The amp sold for $610.