Any fans of Kustom amps?

Messages
350
I've always considered them to be low-end solid state amplifiers that you'd find in mom and pop music stores. But I've been intrigued by them lately. I was watching a YouTube video of a recent (2013 or so) Ted Nugent concert, and he had the usual 6505 half stacks behind him, but sandwiched between them was a solid state Kustom combo, and that is what has the mic on it. It seems that the half stacks are there simply for his own enjoyment, but the mix is carrying the sound of that solid state Kustom. I am more into an overdriven tone than a clean tone, most of this video focuses on the clean, that he does use the overdrive later on and it sounds pretty much what I've seen in the Nugent concert videos. Looking on the used market, these amplifiers can be had for very little money.

 

barber76

Member
Messages
87
Bland noisy gain channel, weird limited FX options...
But price and FX loop may justify it. IF they are reliable, which I have no idea about, then 100W head for $200 is a reasonable investment even if used as a poweramp only. And decent clean channel is a bonus.
 

slavenoid

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
348
In the sixties it was common to order the 4 x 12 pa columns with a 200 guitar head. I used this rig in high school. Still have left ear tinnitus from that first summer. Some guys added a small cab that Kustom made on top of the pa cabs that had two 8 or 10" horns. Ridiculous. Still have a 100 tuck and roll head somewhere around here.
 

bigtone23

Member
Messages
7,524
Not really a fan of the amps, but I do love the classic, Tuck N Roll cabinets. My 1968 charcoal sparkle 2x12" cab was originally loaded with a pair of square back CTS. It was OK. Once I put in a Scorpion and Hartke Hydrive 12", it hits really hard and low with either guitar or bass.
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AndyMander82

Member
Messages
385
I have an 80 watt KLA -80r I think is the name sitting in a closet in my parents house and have not turned it on in about 15 years. I remember the clean channel being very good but the gain on it was horrible. I have been meaning dig it out and give it a play but never get around to it. The one I have came out before the ones in the videos I think and are possibly Kustoms most low end amps. It cost me 80 pounds in about 1997/98
 

Hamer95USA

Member
Messages
3,219
I'm interested in either the Kustom 36 Coupe 1x12 combo tube amp or the 72 Coupe 2x12 tube combo/ tube amp head designed by James Brown (amp designer of the Peavey 5150 amps). Those sounded decent for a work horse amp and seems to be affordable for the working musician.

Guitar George
 

bigtone23

Member
Messages
7,524
I'm interested in either the Kustom 36 Coupe 1x12 combo tube amp or the 72 Coupe 2x12 tube combo/ tube amp head designed by James Brown (amp designer of the Peavey 5150 amps). Those sounded decent for a work horse amp and seems to be affordable for the working musician.

Guitar George
I have nothing but respect for James Brown's designs. If he had a hand in any amp or pedal design, it has to be good!
 

angelsvictory

Member
Messages
426
I own a Kustom Defender 15 watt head, and it is a Class A tone machine, with really good clean headroom, creative tone controls, and pedals sound great into it. It has a 4 watt switch, and an emulated direct out.
 
Messages
502
I also have a Kustom Defender 15, which I love. Wonderfully dynamic el84 grind. Not to crazy loud either. It sounds good through its own cab, but turns into a fire breather plugged into my 2x12. I bought this amp when I was a teenager, and it taught me how to play NMV amps.
 

MrShake

Member
Messages
70
I felt the same way about them for a long time. I grew up near their parent company, so all the mom and pop shops around sold more Kustoms than Crates in the late '90s. My wife had a little practice amp we'd jam with. Perfectly suitable, decent spring reverb in the era before digital effects in cheap amps.

In college, I ended up playing through a loaned tuck 'n' roll 4x10 combo for a year or so and really liked it, then fell in love when I saw a blue sparkle head with a pair of 3x15 cabs. So I'd always wanted one, they're kicking around basements in the Midwest.

A year or so ago here in Boston, my favorite local guitarist gave me a K200B head that wasn't working. It meant a lot. It's a mid-1969. I found a cab that seems to be a super-early one (1965-1966) based on some forensics, but the speakers are replacements from 1970.

I learned how to fix it. It had been worked over with insane work from a place called Time Electronics in NJ, so says the tags. Somewhere along the line, someone even installed a 2lb fan -- jumpered from the the wall power cable, -- whose only job seemed to be packing dust into one of the preamp boards. Somebody fixed some structural damage to the cabinet then painted black over the champagne sparkle. It has two extra speaker outs poorly drilled, and an extra preamp out.

It needs a tune-up from a professional, but brings the noise admirably. That weird, vintage, "smoky"/"woody" solid state tone. It's really pretty awesome.



I hear that some of the modern tube designs (Defender, Coupe) were pretty great. The brand just doesn't seem to know what to do with itself anymore.
 
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Tweedledee

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,472
I'm interested in either the Kustom 36 Coupe 1x12 combo tube amp or the 72 Coupe 2x12 tube combo/ tube amp head designed by James Brown (amp designer of the Peavey 5150 amps). Those sounded decent for a work horse amp and seems to be affordable for the working musician.

Guitar George
I had a Coupe 36 and it was a fantastic amp. All it needed (for me) was to have the speaker replaced. The stock speaker had some high end sizzle that I couldn’t dial out. I put a Cannabis Rex in it and it was a perfect match.
 

Wyatt Martin

Member
Messages
3,837
I have a 72 Coupe 212 I bought used in '08. At the time it was everything I wanted a Twin Reverb to be. Great clean channel, effects loop, reverb, tremolo, adjustable/foot switchable volume boost, spot on direct out that was voiced to the stock speakers (kind of useless if you didn't like the sound of the stock speakers though) and an actual useable lead channel. Clean channel has its own gain and master volume where you could dial in a little dirt on the clean channel. In my opinion it was an amp full of extremely useable pro features. The amp's foot switch was about the only pedal I needed.

I would have to say it's been probably my favorite gigging amp I have ever used in the over 25 years I have played gigs. But... it became prone to the heat as the heat from the quartet of 6L6's goes straight up to the vertically mounted PC board above the tubes and I began having some component failures over time. I fixed it a couple times, even put a small fan in the back of the amp but when Kustom lost James Brown and they began reverting back to a cheap, entry level, imported gear company again the replacement components for the Coupe amps began to become hard to find if not obsolete.

Right now it sits out in my garage as the smoke has been let out of it again. Even if I fix again it's just too unreliable to gig with in my opinion. We did have several good years together though.
 

MrShake

Member
Messages
70
Bump.

Took the Kustom 200 to practice for the first time, finally gone full up. It's got one trick, but it's so good.

A big, blastoid, fat, raunchy bark, it starts to crunch at about "5". It doesn't overdrive, it fuzzes. Volume and bass to full, treble to 1 o'clock - the Jon Spencer setting. And it does sound like the JSBX. It's a roar, and better with a pair of 8 ohm cabs.

 

teemuk

Member
Messages
3,746
The brand just doesn't seem to know what to do with itself anymore.

Agreed. The concept was great initially: high quality transistorized amps in unique cosmetic packaging. But then they kind of lost direction after
Bud Ross sold the company, tried to change the concept, and offer a little bit of everything for everyone. Ultimately failing. The amps just became, well, "generic".

The trademark has changed owners several times since then and none of the owners has seemed to be able to differentiate them from the competition, obviously just exploiting the old cosmetic styling ideas isn't the answer.
 

MrShake

Member
Messages
70
Call me crazy, but I think a line of recreations of the unique effects in the early heads would be a modest success. The "Harmonic Clipper" fuzz, a passable approximation of their tremolo, a "Selectone" EQ pedal, etc, - all done in a sparkle paint. Low cost to R&D, cheap to manufacture, and a link to a mysterious brand seen in vintage photos.

But yeah, there's something to be made of the brand, I just hate to see a cool and unique part of amp history (workhorse early solid states, pre-digital) get forgotten as we get farther and farther away.

Maybe I'm just enamoured of that Second Generation of American amp makers who saw Fender and said, "By god, I can do that too!". '70s Peavey, Bud Ross with Kustom, and stuff like that.

I opened it up before practice to put some loctite on a ground connection bolt, just to be fully sure it was on there before taking it out and rattling the walls. This thing is built like a TANK on the inside. Thick boards, crazy solid connections and components, really made to take a beating. All I'd really done to it was clean the pots/jacks/switches, and replace the power cord with a 3-prong.

And for real, if you have the opportunity to play one of these at full tilt, it's loaded with big fat germanium transistors, for a big, thick, fat, fuzzy punch.
 




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