Category Archives: Classic Gear

Old Fender Deluxes

If you have any interest at all in old Fender Deluxe amps you need to check out this video. While there are similarities to the amps they also all have their own personalities. Fender made changes over the years to the amps, probably most notably to the phase inverter. If you don’t know what a phase inverter is don’t worry. You can still listen in and pick your favorite. It might not be the most popular 5E3 but then again, it might be…

Heritage Auctions’ $1.24+ million Vintage Guitars and Musical Instruments Signature® Auction

I found a quick summary of Heritage Auctions’ $1.24+ million Vintage Guitars & Musical Instruments Signature® Auction.


$194,500 for a left handed 1959 Les Paul and more inline with the content of this blog…

A circa 1977 Overdrive Special Dumble OD-50WC Brown Suede Guitar Amplifier, Serial # 0077, from the Estate of Point Blank Guitarist Kim Davis, a relatively early Dumble 50 watt amp, drew a good deal of attention from collectors, and spirited bidding, as it rose to finish the day at $35,000.


35 grand for a Dumble… I guess that’s about the going rate.


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McIntosh MC275

While it’s not a guitar amp, the 50th Anniversary Limited Edition McIntosh MC275 deserves a look just because it’s a tube amp taken to a level not seen too often these days. The MC275 uses 3 12AX7s, 4 12AT7s and 4 KT88 output tubes. For tube hi-fi guys (or gals) I don’t think it gets much better than McIntosh.


From the McIntosh website:

The 50th Anniversary Limited Edition McIntosh MC275 tube power amplifiers combine modern convenience and performance enhancements without altering the sound character that has made it famous for the past 50 years. A very limited quantity of the special 50th Anniversary Limited Edition McIntoshMC275 has been created for only the most discerning of audio connoisseurs. Individuals who are fortunate enough to own this timeless amplifier are certainly amongst the most sophisticated audio enthusiasts globally.

If you haven’t guessed already, McIntosh amps are not cheap. The MC275 goes for about $6500.

McIntosh tube amps are known for a unique technical innovation called a Unity Coupled Circuit. This is a circuit developed by Frank McIntosh that requires specific transformers called trifilar wound output transformers. This design allows the tubes to run cooler and provide greater accuracy in sound reproduction.

McIntosh amplifiers, both tube and transistor models, were used for the PA at Woodstock. They were also used by the Grateful Dead on tour for their “Wall of Sound”. The McIntosh website has a nice presentation about the company’s history here if you’re interested.


The Pre-Hiwatt Pete Townshend

Pete Townshend is usually associated with Hiwatt amps as immortalized in the song “Long Live Rock”. However, early in his career he used Fender amps and still has a high opinion of them. Lately he’s been sporting some Fender Vibro-Kings. has some great info on Pete Townshend’s gear and more specifically about the 6G5-A Fender Pro he used early in his career.

From the above page there is a quote from an interview Pete gave to Guitar Player magazine.

“And when I heard Hiwatt I was over the moon, because they sounded to me much more like a really good, top-line mid-’60s Fender amp. I still think it’s hard to beat Fender amps; they’re astonishing.”

I’m a big fan of Pete Townshend and I think it’s interesting how he wasn’t hooked on the Marshall amps most of his contemporaries used. As I think about it, Pete Townshend’s playing with the Who was fairly centered around chords and not just 5ths. It’s been said that he invented the power chord. Marshall users that come to mind, people like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Cream era Eric Clapton maybe used more riffs and that style might lend itself better to the more middle frequency based focus of a Marshall amp.

Of course, Pete Townshend used Marshall amplifiers briefly but that’s another post…

Vintage Rig: The Gibson EH-150

What was the first amp specifically made to amplify guitars? From what I could find the Gibson EH-150 might be able to claim that title. Introduced back in 1936, it was designed originally to accompany the Gibson EH-150 steel guitar. Later it was commonly paired with the ES-150 which is the guitar Charlie Christian used.

Being one of the first guitar amps I thought it would be interesting to see how it compares to the amps that came later.

Looking at the schematic one of the first things you noticed is that the tubes in the 1936 era EH-150 are not the tried and true tubes we know and love today. No 6L6, EL34 or 6V6 power tubes. The EH-150 wielded 6N6 power tubes. 6L6s were introduced about that time but did not make in into this amp model until later. The preamp has lesser-known tubes also; miniature tubes like the 12AX7 weren’t available back in 1936.

The amp delivered the goods through a 10 inch speaker that was housed in a tweed covered cabinet. Later versions used a 12 inch speaker.

Looking at it now I think that’s about as vintage as vintage gets!

So how does it sound? I found a nice demo:

It sounds to me like old school jazz where the guitar still has some high end.  Nice stuff!