Gibson vintage amps

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by DetourMS, Oct 24, 2005.


  1. DetourMS

    DetourMS Guest

  2. nsriley

    nsriley Member

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    I've got a '64 Gibson Skylark GA-5T. It's a Tremelo model. Just has three knobs: on/off, volume, and tremelo on/off/rate. Mine is all original except for a three prong cord and to spec cap job. It sounds sweet!!! Nice warm clean tone at low volume and just grinds like crazy the louder you turn it up. For a 5 watt, 10 inch speaker amp, it's LOUD cranked up! But get's you into that Billy Gibbons grind when you crank her with a Les Paul. Take pedals very well too. There are a lot of them to choose. Depends what you want. I wanted a mostly original one that was in decent shape for being 40 some years old. Good luck hunting.

    -Peace
    -Nate
     
  3. 908SSP

    908SSP Member

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    I have a couple. The oldest is a 1952 it is around 52 so I call it a 52 so it matches my age. It has a field coil speaker with the output transformer mounted on top of the speaker itself and uses a metal bodied preamp tube and a single 6V6 power tube. I can play it flat out and it sounds great has a terrific blues sounds and it wont kill your hearing, very cool vibe.

    [​IMG]

    The second one is a Falcon early 60's. It doesn't have much of an overdrive sound but the clean is very nice and the tremolo and reverb are out of this world. I does great surf and Hawaiian type sounds. I bought this one off the forum it is in terrific condition for its age and has the original foot switch. It use two 6V6 power tubes.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. plexi67

    plexi67 Member

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    GA40 les Paul..and GA77 vanguard..
     
  5. erksin

    erksin Member

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    The Atlas you linked is a transitional '65 model, and was meant to be used as a bass amp FWIW...

    My main amp is a '63 GA-19RVT Falcon and it's the best combo amp I've ever owned. Killer cleans, and the overdrive is really huge and fat sounding. Nowhere close to a '60s Fender type sound - rich, rich, rich. It is the only vintage amp I own out of 8 that will never leave my hands - it's the perfect 6V6 combo IMO, and I've owned a '65 BFDR, a '62 Magnatone 440, and currently own a '65 Ampeg Reverberocket and '64 Fender 6G2 Princeton...

    The Atlas you linked was part of the 'Crestline' series of amps from 1962-65. The reverb on these amps is comparable to Ampegs and Magnatones of the same era - deep Hammond 3-spring. The tremolo is cool too, very swampy. Pre-'64 amps all come with Jensens - post '63s come with Gibson-branded CTSs.

    They take pedals extremely well, too.

    The downsides - they aren't roadworthy, the tolex and cab are nowhere near as sturdy as the Ampegs and Fenders of the time. They are also a pain to service (says my tech - who wanted to buy mine after the tune up). They are also quite ugly...

    My next amp is going to be a '63 GA-17RVT Scout (2-6BQ5/EL84) - just gotta find the right one!

    [​IMG]
     
  6. zachomega

    zachomega Member

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    I'm a bit of a Gibsonophile.

    My main amp is a 1954 GA77. Mine is a transitional model though so the schematic doesn't exist other than the one I drew.

    I also have a 1949 GA30 I got from ebay a while ago and a 1960's GA25RVT Hawk project which needs a lot of loving.

    I also used to have a GA20RVT Minuteman. That was a cool amp. I sold it for next to nothing too.

    Most of the Gibson stuff is really under-rated and the quality is usually amazing.

    -Zach Omega
     
  7. erksin

    erksin Member

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    Zach -

    Is your Hawk a 1-15" or 1-10"/1-12" model? Those are KILLER amps, IMO - either version - does yours have 6V6s or 7591As?
     
  8. zachomega

    zachomega Member

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    Mine is a 2x10 model. When I got it, it only had 1 12" speaker half bolted in.

    It also has the 7591's. I stupidly thought it was the 6v6 version (and should have actually checked the pinout on the power tube sockets) and stuck a set of 6v6's in it. Funny thing about the 6v6 and 7591 is that they share 3 common pins. The heaters and the plate. Basically the tubes fried almost instantly. Sparks were shot.

    Mine is also SS rectified. I noticed a bunch of them are tube rectified. I can't find a schematic that matches the amp either. Once again, another transitional model.

    The construction is pretty solid, but I'm not looking forward to the needed recap job. There are a lot of under the board wires that look like it could get messy. The thing is coated in rust too.

    -Zach Omega
     
  9. decay-o-caster

    decay-o-caster Member

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    I just recently scored a GA79RVT. It's 2 x 15 watts in stereo with reverb and trem and two speakers mounted at 90 degrees and much yumminess in the tone. :)
     
  10. erksin

    erksin Member

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    Nice!

    The 79 is the only Crestline that a lot of people seem to know about, due mostly to Aspen Pittman's book. The prices on those can get pretty nuts...
     
  11. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    Gibsons can be very cool amps. My beat but sweet '60 GA40 is a case in point. This is one of the two tones, which generally are the ones I like best. They're between the earlier, sometimes field coil models, and later, very different Crestlines.

    The GA40 is a pretty rude amp for only 16 watts. In your face, dark but quite lively presence. Jumpering inputs gets the amp all excited. It's a tweed sound somehow, but not Fender at all. Darker, but somehow really hot at the same time, soft, thick compression as you turn it up. Sorta like the tweed deluxe, in that it's not about clean, and it will scream. Mine has a non-original ceramic speaker, which works so well with this amp. I heard one with the stock Alnicos and didn't like it as much.

    I doubt Gibsons have the reliability and road-worthyness of Fenders, but don't know this for sure.

    I've heard many other good ones. Heard a guy named Chris playing what looked like a 2x10 GA35RVT with Dennis Gruenling's band some time ago. He was tremendous, and his tone was as good as I've ever heard live. So of course I want one of these.
     
  12. Babaji

    Babaji Member

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    ...Having explored the whole Gibson amp line over the last fifteen years(my first amp was a used Gibson Falcon), here are my observations...
    The best period IMHO is 61-62. These were the first Gibsons with reverb. Gibson in the late 1950's tried to copy Fender's tweed style look(chromed chassis facing up in the top rear of the amp), but the amps don't compare favorably to a Fender of that period. In 63 they switched over to the "Stove top" design control panel...And it was downhill from there. They used oddball tubes(as in unusual and harder to find) and the circuit designs were equally wierd. The standouts are the tweed Gibsons from 61-62. The reverb is outstanding(the world's deepest!). You can turn the channel volume off and turn the reverb all the way up for a glorious, distorted, deep reverb only, guitar tone. An important but little understood feature of some of these amps is as follows. Some of these amps have a fifth "Monitor" jack located in the middle of four jacks on the control panel. Plug a guitar chord into it and then run it into a Fender(or an amp of your choice) input and prepare yourself for the Tone Of Doom! Gibson was ahead of it's time in a number of aspects. The Ga-79RV and RVT stereo amps stand out. These amps were stereo, had shock mounts on the preamp and power tubes(sadly they are now dry rotted allowing the tube sockets to flop around) had reverb, and had phono inputs on the chassis for your record player! Gibson's Epiphone amps from the same period are also great sounding(but rare and hard to find due to very limited production). Another Gibson worth mentioning is the "Gibsonette GA-8" . No reverb, but very good sounding and simple. I've had brand new(mint) examples of later Gibson amps that once repaired(fresh filter caps) were virtually toneless and didn't even come close to Fender amps of the same period. The only Gibsons worth having after 1962 were the handfull of Ga-79 RVT amps that were made as late as 1967. The Gibson made "Maestro" amps from 61-62 are also worth looking at as long as they have reverb. And there it is...
    Bill
     
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  13. garfight

    garfight Member

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    gibson 62ish ga17rvt and white face ga-5. love em to death will post some clips later....
     
  14. zachomega

    zachomega Member

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    You might change your mind after you heard my 1954 GA77. It is hands down the best amp I have ever heard. I had it side by side with a friends AC30 and even he was forced to admit it.

    Sometime back I also found a site that had some documentation stating that the GA77's tone circuit was the basis of the AC30's.

    It is a damned cool amp.

    -Zach Omega
     
  15. zachomega

    zachomega Member

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    Don't sell Gibson short. Those amps are built like tanks. Lots of point to point wiring which seems to hold up very well over time.

    Think about it, you still can buy Gibson amps from the 30's which still work.

    -Zach Omega
     
  16. erksin

    erksin Member

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    Bill -

    The '62 and '63 brown Crestlines are pretty much identical to the '61-'62 tweeds circuitwise. The changes didn't really start happening until '64 (the oddball tubes like 7199 and OA2, CTS speakers, etc).

    Yeah, I forgot to mention - many of the exact same Gibson amps can be found under the Maestro, Epiphone, and Bell names - I've compiled a cross-reference of all the models from the Crestline era if anybody needs a model description...
     
  17. 2x6L6

    2x6L6 Supporting Member

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    1953 Gibson GA-20 (just like the top one in Mr. Ortner's post). Screaming chunky grindage tweed tones (loud!) and cool smoky jazz tones. What a very cool amp. Got it real cheap 'cause it had non-original speaker, needed a baffle. Its overdrive tones have to be heard to be believed.
    Also had a '68 Lancer GA-35RVT that was not at all my cup of tea- it sounded... not so good. Transformer phase-inverted which is a little odd. I would not buy a Gibson from that era, but definitely would like to score an early 60s crestline.
     
  18. Greg

    Greg Member

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    About the EL84 Scout, does any know what it sounds like? I'm in search of a chimy Voxy EL84 amp (already have a Falcon) and this may be the ticket.
     
  19. erksin

    erksin Member

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    I haven't heard one in person, but I'd guess it has less gain than say an AC-15 due to the reverb circuit.
     
  20. Babaji

    Babaji Member

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    ...Yes, I should amend my post to include some of the earlier 1940's and 1950's amps. The 185's(the fliptops...I think that was the model#)and some from the early 1950's. Sadly, as a vintage dealer, I tried to get people excited about some of these amps(I thought they were great!), but everyone seemed focused on Vox-Fender-Marshall. One of the other things that Gibson did was couple 12" with 8" or 10" speakers. Sadly the original speakers were never meant for full continuous output power(Rock&Roll) and are usually near death at this point. It is also hard to get Field coil speakers reconed...Be carefull! My biggest objection to the early ones is the octal preamp tubes. Opps! Looks like I stepped in something! Don't get me wrong...Octals do sound good in some amps, but it is hard to find glass versions that are not microphonic. Once 9 pin preamp tubes appeared(1954 was the transition year for Fender) it became easier to deal with vintage amps from a repair and functionality standpoint. Sonically, my favorites are still the Tweed 61's and 62's with reverb. After that I think Gibson kind of lost its way ampwise.
    Do your own comparrison! Visit a local music store or Guitar show and plug into as many examples as you can. There are cool versions from each period...Be aware that some are easier to fix than others, and that some are not worth fixing!(IMHO)
    Bill
     

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