What non traditional tube amps are you using for guitar?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by straightblues, Mar 25, 2020.

  1. straightblues

    straightblues Member

    Messages:
    9,390
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Location:
    The LBC
    I have heard about old PA Amps, Tape Recorders, and Film Projector amps being used for guitar amps. Some with mods and some without. What are you guys using?


    I recently got a Wollensak tape recorder and it sounds pretty darn good in its stock form. It is about 10 watts. I paid $25 for mine. Here is a video clip from another member here.




    I have an At Mars amp which uses a Bell & Howell Filmosound 179 movie projector as a starting point. It is modded pretty heavily but uses the original transformers and some other parts.



    I also have had a Bogen PA amp converted to a Fender Harvard for a long time and it is amazing. Sorry no clips of this one.
     
  2. drbob1

    drbob1 Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    25,488
    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2004
    I don't have pics right now:
    Ampex film projector sound amplifier
    Roberts/Akai 2 channel tape recorder
    Filmsound
    Several old PA heads I use to drive Leslie cabs
     
  3. Baxtercat

    Baxtercat Member

    Messages:
    12,468
    Joined:
    May 11, 2009
    Location:
    just west of Monterey, CA
    Geez, I now have a shed full of garage sale & salvage-freebie homebuilds I rotate thru for gigs [which really dried up recently].

    I hacked a tossed organ down into a 1-10 combo, powering it now w/ a little Eico-12 tube phono amp.
    [​IMG]

    I used that organ's two EL-84 reverb chassis for this mini-twin with two 6/12 in speakers.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    This build uses an old Baldwin organ chassis w/ two 6L6s.
    [​IMG]

    Grandma's Radio Amp uses a two-6V6 Bell phono amp & a ten inch speaker.
    [​IMG]

    Most useful is this Bell-35 PA I found with two blackplate 6L6s. I made it into a combo box for 1-10.
    [​IMG]

    I still have trannies, speakers, and chassis freebies to go.
    Guess I better stitch something else together. :)
    My wife's all 'What do I do w/ all this stuff in 20-yrs when yr gone?'

    ...and I hacked my Dad's old Akai [which was my 1st 'amp'] into a cheezy thing for one of my daughters to run her guitar through.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2020
  4. donfrantz

    donfrantz Yo! You stealin’ all the cool. Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,224
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Location:
    down in the valley

    Posted this a couple times--Bill Sundt (Soldano) prototype built from a 1940's RCA PA with original transformers.
     
  5. blackba

    blackba Supporting Member

    Messages:
    10,649
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2005
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I have my late grandfather’s Masco ma50 from the mid 1940s. The heaviest lunch box looking amp I have seen. Sent it to skip Simmons a little over 10 years ago. The mic channels are now one dark and one bright, both break up super early, so I am looking at tweaking it to get some more clean out of it. I originally planned to use it as a bass amp, but the output transformer doesn’t have a good enough low end response for bass.

    Recently I have discovered that the phonograph channel works awesome for running a preamp through. Running a Kingsley Maiden blackface preamp through that sounds great.
     
  6. straightblues

    straightblues Member

    Messages:
    9,390
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Location:
    The LBC
    Wow, what some cool stuff. I bet people freak out when they see your amps. Great work.

    What I have found, is these amps can be spectacular in terms of tone. The fact that they can be had cheap, and look so cool is awesome.
     
    LordByron and Baxtercat like this.
  7. straightblues

    straightblues Member

    Messages:
    9,390
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Location:
    The LBC
    Skip Simmons is one of the pioneers of re purposing these non traditional amps for guitar use. Not sure if he is doing it much anymore, or at least he wasn't awhile back when I tried to get him to do one for me.

    http://skipsimmonsamps.com/
     
  8. 56Tweed

    56Tweed Sub-Octave Member Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,382
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2003
    Location:
    Cary, NC
    A long time ago Trace at Voodoo Amps had an old surplus military radio he turned into a guitar amp. Single 6v6 volume and tone so its was described as a Champ. Still plays and sounds great. I play it through a large detuned cab with a 12" weber blue dog. It stays pretty cleaned even when dimed. It will get a little richer with some chime, but doesn't really distort without pedals. I'm not into heavy distortion anyway though so I tend to play it at the edge of breakup or with a Sun Face. I have gone my money's worth from that amp 1000x over.
     
    wrathfuldeity and LordByron like this.
  9. 56Tweed

    56Tweed Sub-Octave Member Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,382
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2003
    Location:
    Cary, NC
    Here are some additional details and pics of mine.

    single 6v6
    single 12ax7 preamp
    6x4 rectifier

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    img]
     
  10. GibsonGeek

    GibsonGeek Member

    Messages:
    811
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2018
    Hi have a trashed old 1940’s console radio sitting on my front porch. Any useful parts in there?
     
    LordByron likes this.
  11. straightblues

    straightblues Member

    Messages:
    9,390
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Location:
    The LBC
    Look inside and see what tubes are in it. Report back.

    Or just try to plug your guitar into it and see what it sounds like if it is working.
     
    LordByron likes this.
  12. GibsonGeek

    GibsonGeek Member

    Messages:
    811
    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2018
    The tubes are gone. This thing would be for parts at best.
     
    LordByron likes this.
  13. plumberstrummer

    plumberstrummer Fatal3Records.com Supporting Member

    Messages:
    1,150
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2015
    Location:
    Oakland, CA
    I have a bunch of skip Simmons and Bill Krinard modded amps like this, and love them more than most real amps. There are some funky and uniqe tones to be found in these! I'll get a list together, have a few pics too...

    Glad there's a thread on this now
     
  14. Baxtercat

    Baxtercat Member

    Messages:
    12,468
    Joined:
    May 11, 2009
    Location:
    just west of Monterey, CA
    ^pics!

    Pics, por favor.
     
  15. QuickDraw

    QuickDraw Member

    Messages:
    1,311
    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2005
    i've got an old hammond reverberation unit that was wired to be a matchless spitfire circuit by a friend.
     
    LordByron, Zonk and 56Tweed like this.
  16. straightblues

    straightblues Member

    Messages:
    9,390
    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Location:
    The LBC
    My latest project is the tube amp from a Kalart Victor Model 70-15 movie projector. It works well for guitar with just one little minor mod. You just pull out one resistor. It has a baxandal active tone stack. The power tubes are 6973. They look like EL84's but they sound and are similar to 6V6. It has a 5y3 rectifier and 12ax7 preamp. I put it in an very old home made cabinet (built in the 1940's) and put a Plexiglas front and back on it. It is about 10 to 15 watts. Sounds really good for low volume restaurant gigs.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    Here is a video that inspired me to get one. (not me) These were made for many years and although they look different through the years, the amps internals are virtually unchanged.

     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2020
  17. Zonk

    Zonk Member

    Messages:
    667
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2015
    Location:
    Ring bell for service
    Look like you could do an Art Exibit with your amps, they're all very interesting, the electric blue snakeskin one is completely off the hook, love it.
     
  18. Laurence

    Laurence Silver Supporting Member

    Messages:
    7,036
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2006
    Location:
    OK in the CA
    Masco PA (octal front end, 2x5881 power). Two Roberts/Akai reel-to-reel recorders. Stereo, 12AX7 and 1xEL84 per side.

    EDIT: The Roberts/Akai recorders also do have EF86 tubes, but they're in the recording path for the tape heads, and not in the playback audio path.

    Mr. Simmons also did some work on my Masco.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2020
  19. LordByron

    LordByron The Dude abides!

    Messages:
    9,085
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2016
    Location:
    An eastbound man, in a westbound lane (ATL)
    I've got an At Mars Specialist and a couple of Tex amps (an EF86 and an EL90 Mini), all of which I absolutely love.

    I'm really interested in trying some direct conversions of a few of the Filmosound varieties.

    The various amps in this thread are absolutely awesome.

    Keep them coming, boys!
     
    straightblues and 56Tweed like this.
  20. Daytona57

    Daytona57 Member

    Messages:
    1,649
    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2017
    Fender PA 100 head, 70s 100W tube public address amp. It has four channels with individual volumes and master volume and reverb. I run it with a custom Avatar 2x12 cab.

    It will handle guitar, bass and vocals. The PA100 is great jam amp for a couple of electric guitars, acoustic and vocals. They can be found used for a fairly reasonable price.
     
    LordByron and straightblues like this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice