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Late 50's Gibson Gibsonette Amplifier

Messages
40
Just bought a late 1950's Gibson Gibsonette Amp on eBay. It just has a volume knob, no tone control, stock jensen speaker. Could anyone who owns or has tried one of these amps please tell me what you think of them. Do they sound like a little more powerful tweed champ? Have you done any mods to them, speaker etc.? Thanks for your help.
 

cugel

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,533
Just bought a late 1950's Gibson Gibsonette Amp on eBay. It just has a volume knob, no tone control, stock jensen speaker. Could anyone who owns or has tried one of these amps please tell me what you think of them. Do they sound like a little more powerful tweed champ? Have you done any mods to them, speaker etc.? Thanks for your help.

visit the southbay amp works webstie and you can read some stuff there
i am pretty sure that if you emailed him he could give you information
all of his posts here are very informative and always helpful never condescending
 

Scumback Speakers

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,873
I've got four of them, and their vol/tone channel version (yours must be pre 1957) is one of the channels I offer on my production amp, the Major Crunch.

Basically it's a single ended Class A amp running two 6V6's in parallel. Around 9-10 watts clean, 15-20 dimed, depending on the health of your tubes, etc.

I would guess you have the 1957 or earlier model, which looked like this:





They gain up pretty quickly, usually around 3, but get very fat, lush and rich in distortion & harmonics around 6. They also have an output tranny that will compress by 9, so you get the best choices of OD from 6-9.

I've had mine totally rebuilt by Jim Foote of MusicWorks to my specs (basically a bigger OT, dual speaker output jacks, 4/8/16 ohm switch, more gain, and just bigger sounding), but I left one stock, but recapped, etc.

If you need some help or want to know how to upgrade it, shoot me an email. I love these little firebreathers... :drool

This is what happened to mine...before (like yours):



and after...
 
Messages
40
Thanks for your reply Jim, I noticed that in those before and after pictures the unit (not sure of the correct name) that holds the tubes and circuitry looks completely different on the rebuilt amp, (tubes in different places and a couple more knobs on top). Is that the same unit or was that changed? The amp I purchased has blond tolex and brown grillcloth with a gold gibson logo on the top center and the cabinet looks more like a later fender tweed style cabinet than the newer gibson cabinet that yours was. Anyway, would you know if there is a big difference between the older models with no tone control and the newer ones like yours that have the tone knob? How would you describe the sound of these amps compared to other tube amps of that period? Thanks again.
 

Scumback Speakers

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,873
Sorry, been doing NAMM prep stuff and didn't see your reply.

This GA-8 got the entire enchilada done to it. 3 band EQ tone stack installed with appropriate extra pots for that upgrade, plus the "NUKE" mod (which necessitates a 2nd 12AX7 to be installed, drilled out). The client then had us build him an entirely new cab that was like my production 1x12 cabs, 11.5" deep, 20" wide, 18" high, with a 12" baffle board, gold piping, etc. The second 12AX7 went in where the 6V6 was previously, and a 2nd power tube socket was installed close to the first one. That's why it looks different to you.

The GA-8 amps with no tone vs tone control have less flexibility, of course, in tone shaping. The tone control on these did work fairly well, but these amps become so fat and rich in harmonics above 6 on the volume knob that the tone control basically shapes your treble response from creamy to bitey at those volumes, and perhaps you can add a touch more bass, too.

I prefer the ones with the tone control (I've had both).
 
Messages
40
Got the amp and it sounds great, although you're right, having a tone control would make it more flexible. The sound seems to have so much character that you really don't want to add much in the way of effects. It does have a lot of gain very early on which is great because you can get a just breaking up sound at a low volume(I'm mainly a home player). I did notice that when I turn up the amp much past 3 or 4 and/or the guitar volume up, the original jensen (I think its original, looks like it is) speaker sounds like it might blow, it gets real farty sounding. Does anyone have any speaker recomendations? Looking for older blues sound mainly. Also, what guitars/pickups do you think sound best with it to get (as the previous poster mentioned, the chess blues sound). Thanks again for the helpful information you all have provided, really appreciate it.
 
Messages
40
I paid 381.00 for it on eBay and just got a later one with the tone knob (also from eBay, still waiting for it to arrive). It cost 523.00. Prices don't include the shipping which was approx. $45.00 for each one.:) Sorry about the delayed response to your question.:worried
 

capnjuan

Member
Messages
98
I just bought one too; two-knob model, paid mid-$400s. Tatted like the original in the pic above and in need of new ps resistors but lush, creamy tone. I have a near-mint, perfectly stock GA18 that does the brown thing; the GA8 makes the GA18 sound like a transistor amp. Stunningly thick, meaty output.

John
 

Scumback Speakers

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
10,873
The thick meaty output is the surprising part. I based one of the channels of my Major Crunch on that simple vol/tone stack setup. But with four 6V6's it goes places the GA-8 can't get to, like playing with a drummer at a club.

Nice controllable harmonics and feedback on these old GA-8's, too. :AOK
 
Messages
40
Received the later model with the tone control and have been playing it today. Gain comes on a lot more gradually with this one compared to the older model without the tone control and the tone control enables the amp to be less bright sounding as well. It really sounds great. One problem though is that there is a lot of hum from the amp, a lot more than the older model (both have their original 2 prong cords). Could someone tell me what might be the cause of this? I checked the tubes in the back and they all have a consistent glow, no flickering, so I don't think it is a tube/tubes, but I don't really know:(:worried. Thanks:)
 

dewman

Member
Messages
5,750
fantastic amps. I used to have a tweed Gibsonette. Dropped a vintage 10 in there and it ruled. very swampy with strats and when cranked very marshally. highly recommended!!!
 

seven

Member
Messages
214
Sorry for the uber necro on this thread, but starting to get into these amps.

I looked at the schem for the volume-only version and the volume/tone version.

The only difference seems to be the tone pot... looks pretty simple, just hangs off the volume pot...? Does it load the circuit somehow, affecting the gain? Sorry for the newb question, trying to learn.

If so, could one use a DPDT to pull the tone pot out of circuit to act like a volume-only version with quicker gain onset?

Received the later model with the tone control and have been playing it today. Gain comes on a lot more gradually with this one compared to the older model without the tone control and the tone control enables the amp to be less bright sounding as well.
 

SwampTwang

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
25
I have owned three of these with tone controls, none that were volume only. I don't recall the tone control robbing gain, just rolling off treble.
 

seven

Member
Messages
214
Thanks for your feedback (sorry for the pun... :rolleyes: ).

OK, good to know the amount (i.e., how much) of gain is not robbed. But for others that have had both versions: What about the onset (i.e., when), does the version with tone control bring the onset of gain more gradually than the version with just the volume control? Or maybe for that OP if there was some other difference between the two amps (different/replacement speaker, etc.)? I'm interested because if I am a fan of early breakup - the earlier, the better. :D

Attached the schematics as a reference. One on the left is the later version with tone (1M LIN), and on the right - without:

 
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bdm

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,425
There was one of these at Electrical Audio in Chicago the time I went to record there. Ended up using in on at least half of the guitar tracks either blended with my Friedman Dirty Shirley or on its own. The one they had sounded mean like a tiny little Marshall. 1x10 and 2x 6v6 if I recall correctly. volume and tone. It’s on their website. Bad ass little amp. Not very loud but sounded like a happy medium between a Tweed Fender and a cranked old Marshall when mic’d up and recorded.
 

teleking36

Member
Messages
3,948
I've got the Epiphone version of the GA-8 Gibsonette, called the EA-35 Devon. 1959. single-ended parallel 6V6s, one volume control and that's it. I've got an Alltone 10" ceramic in mine. It's an absolute beast of an amp. Here's what it sounds like with a junior-style guitar plugged straight in and turned up to about 1:00 on the volume...

 




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