I’ve only owned two Kay tube amps, and they were both keepers. One was a pretty standard (for its era) dual 6V6 with tremolo (a really rich and deep tremolo). It had a tone pretty close to the Silvertone 1482, its Dano-made Airline counterpart, the rare 1964 Ampeg Reverberocket with 6V6’s (wow, what an amp!) Lectrolab 600B (though this is the best of the bunch, IMO) and any number of other cheapie versions/variations of a Tweed Deluxe.
A buddy of mine (thanks, Garrett!) tipped me to this model on eBay. I’ve long been a lover of 1960’s Italian-made guitars. One of my great regrets is letting go of a Sano hollowbody that was, in all but name, the same as the hollowbody Galanti Rangemaster.
There is nothing quite a great two-guitar rock and roll band. By this, I don’t mean just any band where one guitar strums rhythm, while another player does the lead, but a band where the two guitars work together so symbiotically, they become almost a single great instrument in the band. When two guitar players are truly locked in, the give and take creates a tension that just doesn’t, can’t, happen when there’s only one guitar player.
So, once again, I got to hang out at the EASTWOOD booth at this year’s NAMM 2010 show. I wrote a report for these pages on my first trip, but haven’t done one since mostly because the show is pretty much the same every year.
I wasn’t in the market for any more amps, but how could I pass up this Lafayette LA-75? A buddy of mine (thanks Rob S.!) sent me an email, letting me know that this baby was on ebay for a really good price and that I should snatch it up. “If you love the (Valco-made) Harmony 415,” he said, knowing it was one of my favorites, “you’ll love this one. Similar output and tone, only out of one 12” instead of two.” And he was right—and then some. I do love the duel EL84 Valco/Harmony 415, but I think I like this little sleeper even more.
It wasn’t even a tour…just a few dates in the Midwest over a long weekend. But it sounded like fun. Even a short time on the road is usually a good time, and we’d be playing with our buds from Chicago, the fabulous Mannequin Men, for all three dates. And it proved to be the great time it promised to be. If you want a cure for the blues, hot the road with the Mannequin Men for a few days. They remind me while I love rock and roll—seeing them on a good night reminds me of when I got to see the Replacements on a good one. A band that’s at once tight and loose, with great songs and killer hooks. What’s not to love?
Last year at NAMM, Eastwood grand poobah Mike Robinson and I were talking about hot rods and custom jobs. He’d said one of the truly fun things he dug about motorcycle riding was tripping out your bike with custom touches that made it your own. This led into talk about custom guitars and some of his favorite custom shots people had sent in to him with their modified Eastwoods and Airlines. He sent me a couple of cool pictures at one point of wild things people had done to their guitars, and it got me thinking about a long-neglected project of mine with an old Silvertone/Danelectro. Most of the mods I do are on amps—and they tend to be unseen, unless you look under the hood—but here was a guitar job that would be obvious to anyone who saw it.
Last month, I was talking about the very cool little Guyatone 535 model that takes 2 EL84s (6BQ5s) for a clean, very chimey, shimmering tone. Plenty of British sounding chime and a great amp for 12 strings and clean tones. And this month, I’m going to talk about the Kalamazoo Reverb 12. Here’s another dual EL84 combo that gives further evidence that the circuit design has a lot (most everything) to do with the tone of an amp as, beyond sharing the same output tubes, it has very little in common with last month’s entry in the cheap amp chronicles. This amp has some great cleans, too, but they are nice dark, woody cleans—not the glassy chime from last month’s entry.
A few months back I talked about how great the Univox U-45 is. And I figured I’d talk about more vintage Univoxs this month—specifically the 305-B which is a really great amp with 6973 output tubes. And I will (promise) do a column about that model Univox, but I stumbled onto this rare Guyatone this month and wanted to share this rare bird with the My Rare Guitars world. So, while I am stepping away from the Univox models, I’m still stuck in Japan in the 60’s with this Guyatone GA-530A.
No rare guitars or wacky amps in this month’s column, as I haven’t bought anything in a while. I’m still waiting for my own bailout for the bailout we’ve paid for a few times over before I can resume buying strange amps and guitars again. So, without further delay, the obligatory TOP 10 list for the end of the year. You’ll note that most of these things were not released in 2008, nor are there only 10 of them. There are 4 extra and the price is right. Peace, all.