Gretsch Amplifiers history ? Gretsch - Best Models ??

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Groovey Records, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    Vintage Gretch Amps ?

    What kinda afficianado's we got going around here.

    Teach me a thing or too. Especially ones Ray Butts might of had a hand in.

    Thanks
    Enjoy the Music

    GrooVey Records
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2008
  2. 908SSP

    908SSP Supporting Member

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    I have one from 1960s built for Gretsch by Valco same company that built Supro amps. Too bad I modded it when I was a kid. I really need to find some original grill cloth but I have never seen anything like it for sale.
     
  3. nmiller

    nmiller Drowning in lap steels Silver Supporting Member

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    All Gretsch amps were built by Valco through '68. Valco amps have a sound of their own - it's raw and warm, with a lot of midrange growl. They were well-built but rarely well-cared-for, so they often sound great but are cosmetically dingy. Very few were built over 20W, but there are a lot around that make great studio or recording amps. The cleans are very warm and the overdrive is incredible!

    They are similar to other Valco-built amps, such as National, Supro and Oahu amps. One Gretsch model worth mentioning is the 6152; as far as I know, it's the only 5W amp from the '60s with onboard trem and reverb. I used to have one, and it sounded amazing considering it was a student-level model. In keeping with its price point in 1964, the reverb tank was made of cardboard! The tremolo was superb. I regretted selling my 6152 so much that I had a clone of it custom built, with some modern features thrown in and higher-quality components.

    The most highly-sought Gretsches are twins from the '50s with oval Jensen and Rola speakers. Pretty much all Valco-built amps sound similar, in the sense that classic Fenders, Marshalls or Magnatones have an identifiable sound. The current Gretsch amps are made by Victoria and consequently sound a lot like Fenders.

    As for Ray Butts, I've never heard of him having a hand in Valco designs. I think he did some work with Magnatone, though. If you're not familiar with Magnatones, check them out too - very different sound than Gretsches, but really super for '50s rock and roll.
     
  4. Blauserk

    Blauserk Member

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    I'm nowhere near as knowledgeable as nmiller is. I'm a Gretsch guitars fan and came across a wonderful mid-60s Gretsch Amp called a 6159 (always the numbers with Gretsch!) "Dual Bass." 2 6L6 amp, I think 4 12AX7s with a single Jensen 12" speaker. I was impressed at what good tone I could get out of those tubes at reasonable volume, and the guys in the shop I believe attributed it to an inefficient output transformer. It sounded great; I thought at the time it would make an outstanding blues amp. It was super clean and had a bunch of the great G-arrow knobs that are also used on guitars. But I waited a week to call back and it was already gone. I still kick myself for that one.

    But I've never heard of Ray Butts being involved in the amps side either. I got the impression Gretsch more or less had Valco repackage whatever they were making and didn't take an active role in amp design.
     
  5. Jacobpaul81

    Jacobpaul81 Member

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    I just got done speaking with Terry Dobbs about these the other day actually.

    Check out his website: http://www.valcoamp.com/index.html

    Advice he gave me: All the old Gretschs are cool amps. Make sure the amps haven't been tampered with. A lot of the old Valco amps were hard for techs to work on, and they botched things up. The most chased after models are ones that use the 6973 power tubes, these are what we associate with the VALCO tone.

    The amps he really praised were the National Vibro-Verb (may be spelling it out wrong) and the Supro/Gretsch 1605 Reverb (theres a discussion of this model on his site), and of course, the readily
    available Supremes. I've seen supremes with Valco, National, Supro, Mckinney, Benson, Oahu, all the same amp.

    After seeing/hearing some of Terry's collection, I'm on the lookout for one or two of the smaller gretsch amps for myself. =)


    PS: 6150 on Ebay. I think this is the equivelent of the Supro Super: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dl...Track=true&ssPageName=VIP:watchlink:middle:us
     
  6. CthonicEwes

    CthonicEwes Member

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    Butts designed the Filtertron pickup, didn't he? Did he do the ecco-fonic? Did he have anything to do with Standel amps? I've always heard the Gretsch amps were built by Valco...
     
  7. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    Thanks for all the cool info. Yes Ray Butts did design the Filertron Pickups for Gretsch. Prior to that as you may know he had his own Company that custom made Amps.

    The Echo-Sonic was used by Atkins, Perkins, Moore and a host of other Rockabilly Boys. This Amp had its own tape loop echo built into the Amp. It was installed into a Gretsch Cab as a demo model but Never became a production model in early 1960.
    I was wondweing if any other models were adapted by hin or used his echosonic loop.

    Scotty Moore Still uses his http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=353533
     
  8. bunuel

    bunuel Member

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    Had many & all of the valco built ones rocked. It's sorta bizarre that the Supro badged versions w/ the exact same circuit sell for a bunch more than those with gretsch or airline badges, but that's a prime example of the stupid excesses of the free market, mainly driven by ill-informed non-rational consumers chasing fetishized commodities. I've never played thru a one I didn't like, though I liked some more than others. The "compact reverb" models previously referred to are amazing. While the valco verb-in-a-box ain't that stunning verb-wise, the amps just deliver, especially in the realm of the link wray lo-fi ragged tone. The 6162 twin reverbs are also amazing & are a bit of sleeper. The ones that valco made, powered by el84s for Harmony, are also killer, but unfortunately, the words gotten out on those. I wish I'd bought 20 of 'em 10 yrs ago when they were cheaper than cardboard.
     
  9. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    I Just read Ray Butts Original Amp may of gone to Rickenbacker but was never in production.
    This is one important Amp maker he did the Amp Scooty Moore played and shared with Elvis in the studio and on the road that scotty still uses till this day besides his pick ups for Gretsch(Chet Atkins)

    Any more info on the work he did for Gretsch.

    EnJoY ThE MuSiC
    GrooVey Records
     
  10. Doug's Tubes

    Doug's Tubes Member

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    For kind of the same reason the Fender champ sells for many times what a Gretsch 6150 does. I've owned both, and lets say I sold the Champ and hung on to the Gretsch.
     
  11. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    First things first get that sheep dog a hair cut

    Second thanks for the link

    Still looking for more info on Ray Butts work with Gretsch
     
  12. Bananafist

    Bananafist Member

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    The Chet atkins model Gretsch/Valco amp (6160?) was the one I lusted after when they first appeared in the UK in about 1962. 162 guineas in the UK (=$300 then).Ray Butts was not involved in these amps.

    More info on Butts can be found on Gretsch Pages, The Chetboard on Mister Guitar site, Chets book, Me and My Guitars, (worth buying for the photos of guitars alone).As well as the filtertrons, he designed stereo pickups for Chet, and his version of filtertrons to retrofit on the Gibson Country Gent.He came up with the humbucker principle at the same time as Seth Lover for Gibson. Clever man who's importance is under-rated. I heard someone from his family is writing a book about him, but don't know more.

    Standel amps were Chets recording amp for 40+ years. I don't think he ever used the amp named for him by Gretsch.
    ;)
     
  13. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    Thanks a heap I would give my right big toe for a chance to play a Standel, probably the first boutique amp.

    Given Ray's own Legendary Amp, the Echo-Sonic. I find it hard to believe he only did pick-ups for Gretsch.

    Ya Know I must of driven by the Gretsch Factory in Brooklyn a million time and I never thought for a second it was the Guitar Company

    EnJoY ThE MuSiC
    GrooVey Records
     
  14. CthonicEwes

    CthonicEwes Member

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    Hey Groovey, have a look at this thread on the Gretsch pages: http://gretschpages.com/forum/dan-duffy/echosonic-37-amp-originaly-sold-to-gretsch/12782/page1/

    I have the 6160 amp--it's cool, but I don't have the refrigerator handle--now where the heck would I ever find one of those? Anyway, feel free to ask specific questions about the amp.

    As far as the Standel amps go, who designed them? I probably was wrong above about the Butts' connection.

    Also, did Butts make the Echo Fonic tape delay, or was that someone else? I'm thinking it was someone else, since that delay was, I believe, oil-drum based, whereas the delay shown in the pic from the thread from the Gretsch Pages is tape-based....
     
  15. mad dog

    mad dog Silver Supporting Member

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    Best one I've heard is the 6165, variety plus. 2x12, maybe 35 watts, 2x6L6, split chassis. Reverb pan in a wood compartment under the amp section, bottom of the cabinet. Has the closest thing to magnatone vibrato which actually isn't. It's trem, but a most beautiful one. I had several chances to buy it, and inexplicably passed. The 6166 was the Fury, same amp basically but with 4 6L6s. Wish I could find one of those.
     
  16. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    Mad Dog

    Search Standel I'm hoping to find more info on Ray Butts and his work for Gretch besides the Filtertron

    Standel Amps were made in a garage originally, in California, by Paul Crooks.

    The First Boutique, Handwired, made for professionals only, built to order Amp.
    Those Original 25 watt 15 " JBL Speaker Garage Amps are Holy Grails, one recently went for $14,000 rumoured to Deke Dickerson. The whole production of those Original Amps was maybe 60 amps or so.

    EnJoY ThE MuSiC

    THE STANDEL STORY
    by Deke Dickerson

    The story of the Standel Amplifier is one of the best kept secrets in the music business. Our ears are very used to hearing Standel Amplifiers, and yet probably only a select handful of our readers even know about their existence!

    Yes, Joe Maphis played a Standel Amplifier, and so did Merle Travis, Speedy West, Chet Atkins, Hank Thompson, Grady Martin, Hank Garland, Larry Collins, Barbara Mandrell, Ralph Mooney, Noel Boggs, Buddie Emmons, Wes Montgomery, and many more of the top session musicians of the 1950's and 1960's. Standel amps were used to cut hundreds of hit records and literally thousands of other recording sessions. Here in our short space we'll try to tell a little bit of what makes them unique.

    more The Standel Story
     
  17. bunuel

    bunuel Member

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    I hear ya & I heartily agree! But in the case you mention, at least the Champ was built by a dif. company. Many of Gretsch (or airline) badged amps have the exact same circuits as their Supro-badged counterparts. They're all great amps, but it's crazy that the Supro's run so much more.
     
  18. Bananafist

    Bananafist Member

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    I played a re-issue Standel a couple of years ago, have to say I was not very impressed, but I'm probably too Fender oriented. I couldn't get any nearer to a Chet sound than I can with my Vibroking or VVT Lindy Fralin! Thats probably me rather than the amp.
    Paul Yandell, who played with Chet for 30 years or so had Butts pickups in his Gibson CG. It could be worth a question to him on the Chetboard as to whether Butts had any other input into Gretsch than the pickups. The stuff I've read seems to suggest that he only designed the filtertron for Gretsch. I think Paul mentioned a while back that Butts was hoping to get a deal to fit his pickups to the Gibson CG, but it never happened.
    :cool::horse
     
  19. Jacobpaul81

    Jacobpaul81 Member

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    Whats crazy is that Supro amps are often more than National brand amps. National were the top of the line Valco amps. Not Gretsch. Not Supro. Supro and Gretsch are of similar quality, but National had a higher level of construction, and yet, you can normally pick these up for much less.

    Why are the supros so much more expensive? I suspect two reasons: Hendrix and Page. Seriously, that's the only reasons I can come up with.

    Me personally, if I were to buy any, it'd be a gretsch... I like the aesthetics the best... cept for the Supro Comet. Those are wicked lookin little tweeds.
     
  20. Groovey Records

    Groovey Records Member

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    Don't want to turn this into a Standel thread (already did one)

    Just will say that a reissue Standel is not a resonable facsimile. I know one guy (see above thread) who has done exact reproductions of both the Standel and EchoSonic using the bones and skeletons of negelcted Originals.

    Doesn't think it's possible to do again. The Standel and the Echo-Sonic are Karmicly connected because of Chet owning and using both early in his career. I would finely say the Standel is a hign fidelty amplifier and the EchoSonic is not.

    Ray Butts made his reputation in his TV Repair shop building those amps and its hard to imagine the filtertron and other PU's were his only involvement with Gretsch.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2008

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