My weird, vintage, rare amp

Discussion in 'Amps/Cabs Tech Corner: Amplifier, Cab & Speakers' started by ecvMatt, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. ecvMatt

    ecvMatt Member

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    Hello all. i am new to TGP and would like some input on one of my amps. It is a St. George. The model is the Squire head. It has 2 6V6 output tubes and 3 12AX7 preamp tubes. It has a wonderful sounding tube tremolo, very mellow. Here is what I have gathered about the amp so far. It was made by Massie electronics in Los Angeles, St. George was a distributor at the time who put its badge on there. Massie was Leo Fenders amp designer for many years before he went off on that endeavor. Since purchasing mine, I have seen 1 other appear on ebay, unfortunately i didn't follow it to close so I have no idea what it sold for. My best estimation dates this amp to the late 60s though I could be way off. Does anyone know anything about St. George amps? Is the circuit similar to any of the fenders of the era( I am sure it is, just wonder which?) I like the amp, it has a great tone with my tele, the tremolo works which seems pretty cool since both that have been reviewd on HC as well as the one I saw on Ebay were listed as not working.


    I know this is a shot in the dark but........anyone?

    :RoCkIn
     
  2. ecvMatt

    ecvMatt Member

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    and i know
    :worthless

    I'll try and get a few up after work
     
  3. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    I have two of them. Amp is a good amp. I've heard the same story, but I have never seen anything to back up any info that the amp was made by anyone who worked for Fender. George's Guitars in Hollywood is actually the company that had them made, and distributed them. They also had guitars, mandolins, and drums made in Japan and distributed in the US under the same name. Similar to most lower budget Teisco stuff. The mandolins pop up sometimes, and are extremely cool looking, almost like an old Bigsby.

    The amp has more tubes than what you listed, but I don't have them all in front of me right now. The cabinet is a rear sealed cabinet, usually stuffed with fiberglass insulation. There is also a matching solid state reverb unit, that is switchable, low, medium, and high. There were at least two other models made by the same company that use 50C5's as power tubes. I have one of those, but not both. All of the amp versions pop up fairly regularly. Value is usually around $400-$600 (sometimes more, but not often). Just not a lot of demand, but a fairly cool amp.

    And the thread isn't worthless without pictures, but the eye candy is always nicer.
     
  4. OOG

    OOG Member

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    in the '60s
    bands/guys who couldn't afford Fenders used St George's
    very common back in the day in So Ca
    especially in garages

    many were used but not very many at all seemed to have survived considering their ubiquity

    somewhere around here i have a ST George strap
    tres retro chic
     
  5. ecvMatt

    ecvMatt Member

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    Mine is labeled Massie Electronics, Los Angeles and I was told that this was Ray Massie who was Leos amp designer in Fenders early days. Of course it is all heresay. I might actually be trading it this week. It's a great amp, but it is way to heavy for me to lug around(My cab) and it sees very little use. I have an offer of a 1981 Fender 30 1x12 and, after playing it of course, might just go ahead and make the swap.

    Thanks for the info!!!
     
  6. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    The Ray Massie story has been floating around for a while, but no one seems to be able to actually verify it. They all say Massie Electronics, Los Angeles. There were a variety of amps built in the 60s & 70s in Los Angeles that were made for individual stores. Most are pretty good. The Gene Leis amps are very similar and probably made by the same company.
     
  7. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    The book you reference is Ray Massie, not George Massie. The pictures of your own amp are nice, but also do nothing to prove a connection between the two people. This has been a rampant rumor about St. George amps that has never been connected with any proof.
     
  8. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    Larry,
    This isn't news. Nor is it something to chew on or contemplate. That schematic has been floating around for quite a while, as have others. The schematic itself does not say Ray Massie, it says Massie Electronics. It was also used by a company called Zorco, before it came out as a St. George. (Zorco made a fiberglass upright electric bass to go with the El Basso amp).

    The only thing that will help prove any of this is to find something that actually connects the Massie Electronics with anyone specific, be it Ray, or anyone else. Otherwise it is just hearsay and guesses (which includes Schematic Heaven labelling it under Ray Massie Amplifiers.)
     
    srwest likes this.
  9. Prairie Dawg

    Prairie Dawg Member

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    Interesting stuff. Just as a lark I searched the California corporations database and TESS and I came up with nothing.

    One of the interesting things that TESS can do is tell you who owns a trademark and when they acquired it. It gives a whole new dimension to the subject of trademark squatting on abandoned trade and service marks-Tung Sol, Mullard, Gold Lion, and Supro, among others. Arcturus is still available by the way.

    I give Matthews credit-he picked up some serious brand value for little or nothing considering the use he's put it to.
     
  10. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    Larry,
    Just because a bunch of internet opinions think it is Ray Massie (or also pointed to as George Massie) doesn't mean it is. All anyone asks is a single shred of proof. If you open one of the Massie built St. George amps you will see that there is nothing inside that is similar in design, or build quality to a Fender. If anything, it looks more like a Rickenbacker of the same era. I am much more convinced it was someone in the FC Hall bunch that had something to do with it. (And yes, I know the FC Hall connection to Fender as well).

    There is nothing to show that Ray Massie ever went out on his own to produce amplifiers. I've asked the St. George family, but no one remembers well enough. It doesn't mean Ray Massie isn't the guy behind it, it just means there is NO PROOF that he was the guy behind it. The best connection anyone has is the word Massie.

    The bottom line is this. The only way to prove that Ray Massie is the person behind Massie Electronics is to find something from that era with his name on it, a business license connecting him to it, a business card, a receipt, etc. Without that, it is just rumor. And just because a bunch of people on the internet want to believe something does not make it true.

    I would further like to call you out on your info. Who are the reputable people you are quoting that are sure it is Ray Massie behind Massie Electronics? Most references from "experts" usually say it was George Massie, not Ray (which is most likely come from George of Hollywood who was the licensee behind the St. George name). Could there have been another Massie? Yes, there could have. There were two Tavares, both associated with Fender. A lot of families were in similar businesses back then (Dopyera brothers?).
     
  11. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    Now that is a good possibility of proof. I'll give him a call tomorrow. Thanks for the heads up.
     
  12. Nasty

    Nasty Member

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    Hello All, This discussion has been going on for a lot of years and predates the internet as we know it. I bought my first Massie amp in 1990. I own nine of them. Back then, the Compuserve forums were close to what we now have with Gear Page, et al. But without the poseurs. I wish I could find some of the forum posts from those days. A number of them acknowledged that Ray Massie had been the designer of the Dopyera Brothers amp for their Baby Bass. When I opened up the first St. George Lancer I bought and found the schematic pasted to the inside of the baffle board indicating it to be the Dopyera circuit, I was convinced. I remain convinced. The time line of Massie's having left Fender in the late fifties and the Massie Electronics amp for the Dopyeras at the same time makes perfect sense. Massie's designs are straight out of the Western Electric amp design books. As were the seminal designs of Fenders with alterations for specific uses. Massie had been Fender's tech in his radio shop and certainly would have been intimately familiar with the electronic designs of the 30's and 40's. The St. George labeled amps all harken back to those Western Electric designs. The major departure from Fender designs was the exclusive use of closed-back, ported speaker enclosures. Now, any amp designer knows that to get the maximum volume and bandwidth out of a low power amp you have to tune the enclosure. Massie's bigger amps for St. George are basically tweed deluxes, which was the basis for his Dopyera amp. The ultimate was the piggy-back 2-12 model with the tweed tremolo. I've only seen one of them and I own it, though I have a separate head in blond. Massie had to build all of his amps for St. George at a price point, but they all were elegant designs. All had speaker enclosures isolated from the chassis, and all had Jensen speakers. He didn't compromise. Even the single tube 6BM8 with a 6" speaker was the same. This was an amp designer with deep experience. Perhaps it was not Ray Massie. I wish I could prove that it was, but Ray Massie seems to have disappeared off the radar. There are rumors that he died of the effects of Alzheimer's. I would love to put this question to bed, but I don't have the time or the resources. I have been a tube amp tech for over forty years and can recognize footprints. Massies demonstrate a very long history with the technology and I don't know of anybody but Ray that has that. Adam, I'd love to hear what you found out from Scollan. Ray Massie created all the Fender amps up to the late fifties and I don't think he's ever received the respect he's due. Perhaps that's why he left Fender. We simply don't know. There must be those out there who do. It's time. By the way it was I who posted the schematic. So far as I know, it's the only St. George schematic and I thought it was important. My single substantiating evidence is a forum reply I received years ago from a fellow claiming to be the son of Paul George of St. George music. He was correcting a post, not mine, that indicated St. George was owned by George Massie and I think the original post using that name. He related that he knew Ray and that he was hired by his father to build amps. He also said that his grandfather had owned St. George Music in New York. I have seen perhaps two of the New York amps come up on Ebay. They are quite different and appear to be of Canadian origin. Please, anyone who might have pertinent information on these amps, do chime in. I have bought most of the St. George and Massie amps, yes there are Massie badged amps, that have come up on Ebay in the last ten years. I am not looking for provenance, my amps are not for sale. I bought them because the were going begging and I have a large respect for the builder, they make me happy to be an amp guy.
     
  13. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    Sounds like a nice collection. Would love to know more about which models you have. I've currently got four, and have had three others. The biggest I have is the Squire, which for some reason a lot of people try to compare to either a Deluxe or anything from the tweed era, but the circuit is like neither. Most of the circuitry from the Massie era of St. George (not the japanese era) looks closest to the FC Hall era Rickenbacker stuff. The layout, parts, and wiring are almost spot on identical. As are the grill cloth, some of the coverings, etc.

    I would love to put Ray Massie as a 100% definite guy, but as of right now, there is still nothing that proves it. He is the most likely candidate though.
     
  14. OnlyVees

    OnlyVees Member

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  15. Nasty

    Nasty Member

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    Adam, I've got 2 Squires, 3 Lancers (1 blonde), 3 Valiants, and 1 Compact. Lancers are the Dopyera model in a combo about the size of a Fender Concert, but thicker and without tremolo. The circuits, as you say, are very much the same as the Ricks. But Massie's cabinets, while similar in construction, never had removable back panels. Always front mounted chassis and baffles attached with side screws. The remarkable thing about the massies is the attention paid to the speaker enclosures. The Lancer's enclosure is very large for a single 12". Two of my Valiants are 8" and one 10". The 10's enclosure is half again larger than the 8's. The Compact's 6" enclosure is even larger than the Valiants 8", to squeeze every last drop of tone (with no control), bottom end, and volume out of a single-tube 6BM8 design. I've never seen a Massie open-back cabinet. I always imagined that if, in fact, it was Ray, building open-backs for Leo, at a time when they were becoming powerful enough to go behind the players and not in front, must have rankled the crap out of him. And he must surely have known that Jensen P*R's & Q's couldn't handle the power without paying attention to the T/S's, and they didn't. I've also never seen a Massie 6L6 circuit. Someday I'd love to have the time to map the circuits of the models I've got. They should be out there. The Squire with it's 2-12 bottom is certainly a different beast from a Deluxe, both circuit-wise and sonically.

    Perhaps if we both keep digging for Ray and, thank you, demanding facts, something will turn up. I've even web-searched for an obit and found nothing. Even if Massie Electronics wasn't his, I think his place in the development of amplification needs telling.
     
  16. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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  17. teleharmonium

    teleharmonium Member

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    As a small piece of information to go along with the previous posts by SatteliteAmps and Nasty, the book Ampeg: the Story Behind the Sound has some history of the Baby Bass on page 101 which substantiates that the fiberglass bass was developed and patented by Rudy and Ed Dopera, working out of El Monte CA and with the bass originally marketed under the Zorko brand. So the Dopera Brothers = Zorko connection is solid.

    They sold the rights, parts, and tools to Ampeg on 11/5/62 and also worked with Ampeg as consultants afterwards on that project.
     
  18. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    Played one Zorko "El Basso" amp once. It was awesome, but not for sale.
     
  19. milobender

    milobender Member

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    Hi all,been following this thread for years but never joined the forum till now.I have though emailed Adam before and am not an expert,but have bought(Bidded on?) about 8 St George amps in the last few years myself.Many are working,some not,some not fully......and a couple are hard to identify the models.My first was a Valiant,then a Lancer,a Viking,a piggyback in white which ROCKS with one 12,a 2x12 combo(might be japanese per Adam)a non working Squire black head,non working Challenger,another Lancer and a recent addition which is a small white combo with a 10 which may have originally had an 8" and is LOUD.....works good too.All are I believe St George and not branded Massie.But most were made by Massie Electronics.
    I am super happy to hear of an amp tech in Seattle as I am an hour north in Bellingham so can hopefully get them all up and working properly,plan on calling him tomorrow. Just wanted to add my two cents,Nasty......where are you located?Will be following this thread .......Milo
     
  20. SatelliteAmps

    SatelliteAmps Member

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    8 is pretty amazing. I'm glad the info is spreading about these great amps. I've got one of the Japanese ones still, and it is nothing like the Massie Electronics ones. Not a bad amp, but not nearly as cool as the Massie stuff. (I also have one of the Japanese reverb tanks. That is very cool, and sounds great, but the build quality is like the Japanese St. George's.)
     

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