Why No Revival of the Magnatone Brand?

pcutt

Member
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1,814
Every time Magnatone (and sister) amps are mentioned here they are very highly regarded. I have a 1948 Varsity (a 5-watter similar to a Champ) that I've restored and it's a great amp, and I've heard some of the bigger units that have the vibrato, so I can vouch for their great tone.

With all the interest in tube amps nowadays, and some people declaring this the "golden age of tube amps," I'm surprised that no one has resurrected the Magnatone amp brand. I know Supro is now produced by Zinky, so I figured some amp builder, or perhaps some savvy marketeer, would try something with Magnatone. Any thoughts?
 

Free

Member
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1,304
Don't advertise this stuff! It's hard enough as it is with the vintage amp market.
 

nasonm

Silver Supporting Member
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2,054
If you are serious about getting anything Magnatoney, your best bet is the amazing Juke line of amps made in Troy, NH. The Juke Warbler is spot on for Magnatone fans. It's Duane Eddy in a box!
 

erksin

Member
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23,125
Magnatones were just about the most expensive amps available back in the day - total Cadillac model. They suffered from the same late '60s takeover madness that almost killed Gibson and Ampeg - except it killed Magnatone.

Warbler/Juke makes a Magnatone-ish circuit (Magnatone-ish meaning it has true pitch-shifting vibrato onboard), but IMO it doesn't have the super thick harmonically rich overdrive tones that the old Maggies had.

My guess is because they are expensive to build and would have a limited market.
 

SatelliteAmps

Member
Messages
6,168
Zinky is making a line of amps under the Supro name, but he is not remaking the old designs.

The main issues with remaking the old Magnatones (or any old amps) comes down to a few things. Cost to build is one major block, (the big Magnatone would probably come in around $3k or higher). The other is limited market. The Magnatones are great amps, but they aren't for everyone. Lastly, most designers don't want to just copy old designs, they want to make new ones.
 

rob2001

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16,927
Before I knew what these amps were, I saw a mint Magnatone on Craigslist. I forget the model number but after some research I found it was the Flagship model with vibrato and I think reverb also. At the time I had plenty of amps so the $300.00 price was more than I could spend!!!! (kicks self in ass) Had I known, i'd have actually used a CC to get the $$
 

phatster

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Messages
733
Every tone meister needs the maggie pitch shifting vibrato,other than that its all available elsewhere.Before I get flamed...I only own the suitcase models ,so I need to get the 40's version before I can truly say:nono this!
 

2x6L6

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
473
Every tone meister needs the maggie pitch shifting vibrato,other than that its all available elsewhere.Before I get flamed...I only own the suitcase models ,so I need to get the 40's version before I can truly say:nono this!
Disagree. The tone of my '64 440 ain't available anywhere but there, and that's not even talkin' about the vibrato. See erksin's post above.

An amp like the 440 wouldn't be incredibly more expensive to build than most, except possibly for the vibrato section. Step up to the big boys like a stereo 280 and I assume it's a different matter.
 

daddyo

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11,797
The big sell for maggies was the true pitch shifting vibrato. There is at least one pitch shifting vibrato pedal on the market with Diamond's due in the fall. Plus there is the Juke amp. So paying $3K+ for a maggie reissue when a pedal could get you there for $400 may be a tough sell.
 

mad dog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
11,207
I have a suitcase (M10A) and the 260, pre-reverb 2x12. Have to disagree on the "except for vibrato you can get these tones elsewhere." The M10A shares certain tones with other 2xEL84 amps for sure, but as a package, it really is rather different. While the 260 has a distinctive clean sound I don't quite hear in any other amp. Has touches of tweed, maybe a little Ampeg, not much like BF. Sorry man, that one's on its own.

Aside from cost, these are limited market amps. Most players don't know or care now, outside of a few curious folk. It wasn't all that different back then. Most buyers couldn't ditch maggies and ampegs fast enough to get to the Fenders. Everybody wanted SR and TR power, and maggies don't have it.
 

Leonc

Wild Gear Herder
Platinum Supporting Member
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18,704
Yeah, the stereo models--with two OTs and a LOT more circuitry--would have to be pretty expensive to build today. Also--to my knowledge--there is no one currently making the varistors that were a critical component in Magnatones' vibrato circuit, but I'm sure someone could start making some again (but considering how tiny the market would be, it's a little hard to imagine why).

Also, just MHO, but the Jukes do not sound the same as the Magnatones I've owned and played. The Juke 1210's tonal orientation is quite different (no value judgments here...they're just different) from the late 50s and early/mid-60s Magnatones (and variants, like Twilighter, PANaramic, et al), the reverb circuit is also entirely different from several "popular" Magnatones that have reverb. Add the Juke's pine cab and weber 12+2x10 speaker config and you've got a very different beast. Sold the Juke...kept my Magnatones.
 

Leonc

Wild Gear Herder
Platinum Supporting Member
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18,704
Also, I have to agree with those who stated that Magnatones generally don't sound like other amps. They have their own sound. Of course there are some similarities...but there are definitely some unique qualities as well.
 

mad dog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
11,207
And a note on pedals: I had the Austone Vibrostomp, and liked it a lot. Good as it was, not quite the same as the in-amp effect. Hard to describe the difference, but I can hear it. If someone can ever equal it in a pedal, count me in. but bottom line on these amps for me -- especially the 260s -- doesn't come down to vibrato. I mostly play mine without vibrato. The magic lies in the basic tone and warmth of the amp. No pedal is going to deliver that.
 

Warbler Muse

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
61
I'm surprised that no one has resurrected the Magnatone amp brand. I know Supro is now produced by Zinky, so I figured some amp builder, or perhaps some savvy marketeer, would try something with Magnatone. Any thoughts?

Generally players don't realize the the costs involved in amp building.

The bottom line for cloning an amp is the originals value as a collectible. The cheapest hand built clones are based on kits amps with the amp builders providing there own control panels, logos and circuit tweaks. A good example is the Princeton Reverb based amps which can be purchased for around a grand on line, which is close to the cost of a used silverface.

Cloning a Magnatone 213 would run about the same maybe a little more if one copied the rats nest wiring and the layout exactly. but you can get a real 213 amp for half that.

St. Louis Music filed for the trademark in the mid 90's but abandoned the project. Vibroworld's Greg Zaccaria purchased all my surplus maggie varistors for his clone projects in 2001 but hasn't moved forward, yet. Expect he's waiting until the Magnatone / Valco Group grows larger enough to push the price up.


They suffered from the same late '60s takeover madness that almost killed Gibson and Ampeg - except it killed Magnatone.

D.L. Bonham was responsible for the failure of Magnatone / Estey !


If you are serious about getting anything Magnatoney, your best bet is the amazing Juke line of amps made in Troy, NH. The Juke Warbler is spot on for Magnatone fans. It's Duane Eddy in a box!

Juke Amps are not based on Magnatones designs though a version of the Bonham vibrato modulator is incorporated in the Warbler design.

Maggies are design with negative feedback in every amplification stage of it's circuitry, tone suicide in late 50s & 60's when Rock N Roll was born. The Juke is basically a tweed E-Series Bassman / Super Amp type circuit, with my tone stack, reverb and vibrato designs which were bits and peices of Valco, Ampeg and Gibson.
 

teemuk

Member
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3,946
D.L. Bonham was responsible for the failure of Magnatone / Estey !

???

As far as I understand, he was not. Estey was still doing great when it was sold to Electro Learner Corp. in 1966. I believe Bonham was sacked because the company totally changed direction and began to make solid-state amplifiersm which were what the public wanted those days.

Bonham tried his luck with Audio Guild (continuing to make Magnatone -styled tube amps) but I think he never gained any remarkable success with that venture.

As for prices, I've seen OEM products of both Magna Electronics, Estey, and Audio Guild going very cheap because they might have some unfamiliar brand and people don't know what they are and assume they're worth next to nothing.
 

Warbler Muse

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
61
???
As far as I understand, he was not. Estey was still doing great when it was sold to Electro Learner Corp. in 1966.

What kept Magnatone / Estey afloat from '56 to '66 was the accordion amplification, Bonham's amp designs didn't appealed to many guitarists so when the British invasion occurred the accordion industry tanked and the guitar industry exploded. There was no bright future for Magnatone / Estey. Electro Learner wasn't willing to pay royalties to Bonham for designs that hadn't found favor in the guitar market, so they designed the MP series to be more like the highly successful Fender amps, but by then the brand had a bad reputation so it didn't matter.

Bonham was obsessed with the Hi Fi approach to music amplification which didn't work for guitar. He created the amps and their reputation. The amps built after Magnatone / Estey were the same designs so of course they never had any real success !
 




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