Gibson Amps, Fender tweeds in disguise?

Discussion in 'Amp Central Station' started by imsilly, May 21, 2009.

  1. imsilly

    imsilly Friend of Leo's

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    Edit/update:

    Well I went and bought the a Gibson GA-5, sounds great. Seems well put together, solid cabinet, tube sockets, handle and tolex. Very quiet the only noise it makes on full volume is the hum from my single coils.

    The dinky 8" Jensen speaker farts out a littled when the volume on both amp and guitar are maxed, but that is to be expected really. I would love to run it through an extention cabinet with a single 12" Alnico Blue, but I don't like to mod old amps and sticking a jack input into the amp would be doing just that.

    I love the character of the break up on these 1950s amps, who needs master volumes these things snap, crackle and pop in the most beautiful way when pushed.

    I dunno if paying £300 was exactly a bargain for a blonde 5 watt Gibson amp, but I know £300 pounds wouldn't get me far in modern amps anyway.

    I don't think any amp at the moment will beat my 62 Bandmaster (well none I can afford) for pure ballsy tone, but it's nice to have an amp you can play at max volume at home without having the police called around.

    I have the opportunity to pick up a 1950s Gibson GA-5 (Skylark) and I heard that they were based on the early Fender Champs 5C1 or something.

    My question is that are they decent little practice/recording amps?

    They seem to be only a fraction of the price of equivalent Fender amps, why?

    Is £300 uk a decent price?

    [​IMG]

    P.S.

    What are the Gibson EH amps like, those ones that went with their Electric Hawaiian guitars?

    They are purdy and I am sure they were big with the jazz players like Charlie Christian, but never heard them play anything overdriven. Do they have nice sound when pushed hard?

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2009
  2. Tim Swartz

    Tim Swartz Friend of Leo's

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    Mid - late '50s Gibsons are every bit as fine as their Fender counterparts, some even finer. The early '60s ushered in some bean counter influence and by the mid '60s they are for the most part horrible and remained that way until they slapped their name on a couple Trace Elliot offerings about 15 years ago or so. '30s and '40s Gibsons are at least interesting and most sound pretty good once serviced.
     
  3. JohnnyCrash

    JohnnyCrash Doctor of Teleocity

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    Gibson often beat Fender to the punch in circuit design. "Based on" Fender is sorta inaccurate. Gibsons are great old amps, every bit as good (and sometimes better) than Fenders during the same time period.

    Its hard to say who "borrowed" from who, but often bare circuits were available in tube receiving manuals, tube manufacturer literature, and other sources.
     
  4. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    the Gibson and Gibson-era Epiphones i've played have all had a unique tone, somewhat different from the Fender vibe. both get some pretty snazzy old-school tones, but the Gibsons snarl a little more on the top end with less definition in the low end. ... the Falcon is a dream living-room-jam amp, and it mikes well.

    a lot of the Gibson/Epi amps used tubes you don't hear about much these days, like the 6BM8. some of the smaller ones used those as both preamp tubes and power tubes ... they get a grind unlike the Fender tweed grind. i always toyed with the idea of replacing the speakers (which, in my experience, ain't much) but i was afraid i'd lose the mojo.
     
  5. Teleasat

    Teleasat TDPRI Member

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    A big +1 on that. I recently was able to locate and purchase a tweed GA-19RVT and it's wonderful. It has a very lush reverb and the only way I can convey the strength of the tremolo is to compare it to the feeling you get when you stare at a strobe light too long! I haven't tried it yet, but this thing has a "monitor out" output that I think you can run the signal to another amp. This opens up a lot of possibilities.

    You can do the Duane Eddy thing with ease on this one. It seems to love any pedal I hook up to it. Like I said before, someone with the knowledge could make a very nice living selling a clone of this circuit!
     
  6. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I have yet to play a Gibson that sounded like a Fender. Some of them do grind a bit more...I call it 'rip'...than say a Fender Deluxe. Some of them, like the GA-6, have a mellower, smoother tone and distortion than a Deluxe.
    Speaker change? I have a '63 Epi Devon that was dead to the world until I slipped in a Celestion-built Vox 'silver bulldog' that I pulled out of a dead Super Beatle. Magic chime and very Vox-like. Supposedly, Dick JEnnings who designed Vox amps took some hints from the Gibson amps that preceeded his designs.
     
  7. Sterling Indigo

    Sterling Indigo Friend of Leo's

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    I've come very close to buying one on several occasions. They sound great and I like how the tubes sit upright with the chassis on the bottom. I still want one... Along with a Les Paul Jr. :) I'm at a loss to explain why they don't command the same price as the Champ. No tweed maybe?
     
  8. refin

    refin Friend of Leo's

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    If you listen to some of Charlie Christian's work,you can hear a real throaty mild breakup in his tone.
     
  9. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    dang, Wally, i've got a '62 (i think — SN 102014) Devon Tremolo sitting in the corner waiting to be fixed ... great practice amp when you wanna crank it out at low volumes. now that you mention it, the chiminess is reminiscent of a Vox.

    the 12" speaker is the old blue-label Jensen Special Design with a horseshoe magnet about as big as a postage stamp. however, the magnet is less than an inch from the tip of one of the 6BM8s and it looks like a modern speaker with a deeper magnet would have a hard time fitting ... :confused:
     
  10. ruger9

    ruger9 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    just curious, does anyone make "clones" of these old Gibsons? I've been intrigued with the GA-19RVT for quite awhile now.
     
  11. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Woodman, mine came to me with the original CTS in it....and that speaker had no bottom, no highs, nolife. The Silver Bulldog woke it up. Of course, the sepaker is probably worth more than the amp on the market. Together, they become much more.
    Ruger, you should check Buffalo Amplifiers. He is the Dallas, TX area and does great restorations of Gibsons and builds some clones as well. I don't know that he has done a GA-19RVT as of yet. Victoria Amps has recenetly started cloning Gibsons, also.
     
  12. ruger9

    ruger9 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    oooh yeeeah..... Buffalo. Now I remember looking into them awhile back. I wonder if they're even still around? Every once in awhile, on of their Falcon clones (new, direct from them) would show up on ebay.
     
  13. bradpdx

    bradpdx Friend of Leo's

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    I have serviced many old '50s Gibsons, and often found build quality to be very poor compared to Fenders. The designs weren't terrible and some were really good - the GA-20 is very close to a 5E3, for example. But the parts were just awful and often I had to gut the amps to make them work at all, saving only the transformers and tube sockets.

    In general, the Gibson amps were like the guitars in tone - much less treble than a Fender and much harder to "cut" above others at a gig. Not a bad thing, necessarily - but very different.
     
  14. woodman

    woodman Grand Wazoo @ The Woodshed Gold Supporter

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    i'll second that ... the tube sockets in my Epi wiggle like a loose tooth.
     
  15. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Hmm.....my ancient GA-20, GA-30 and Ga-40....all from the mid or early '50's....work like charms. I find these amps work best with P-90's or humbuckers. I prefer Gibsons from the early '60's on back. THe single angle front control Gibson/Epi amps from say '62-'63 can be good. Sometimes I find a double angled Gibson/Epi from the mid-60's that has decent sonics...but those are not my favorite Gibson/EPi's.
    Rob, the fellow who does Buffalo amps, is a one-man operation. I do know that he cut back a bit in the winter. Rob sometimes posts here.
     
  16. mad dog

    mad dog Friend of Leo's

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    There are some similarities. But more differences. My '58/59 GA40 is in some ways equivalent to the tweed tremolux ... big box, 2 6v6, cathode bias, 14 watts or so. But there's this hot, dark thing going on in the Gibson I've never heard in a Fender. Hard to explain. Swampier than the deluxes and such. Less treble, yes. Turn the tone knob down far enough on some guitars, and volume up far enough, and it gets this scooped, gainy howl. The GA40 is something special (and I really like Fender tweeds too, the Pro most of all.)
     
  17. xjazzy

    xjazzy Friend of Leo's

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    No one posted this?
     
  18. ruger9

    ruger9 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    I did, but not in this thread! :)

    I'd like to see some actual "shootouts/comparisons" using that chart!
     
  19. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Those comparisons in that chart don't work for me. IF there are simularities in circuits, those simularities are not enough to bring the two makers' results into the same sonic arena, ime. I hear no Fender-type soncis in the Gibsons that I have had or still have. They are simply different animals. The worst comparison is the GA79RVT to the BF Princeton. Different worlds.
    The chart does get it correct on the GA-100.....I have heard nothing else like my
    Ga-100....nothing even close. IT is the best amp for electri/acoustic that I have ever heard, despite the fact that it is a bass amp. IT is hi-fidelity, and the tube compression works...subtly and effectively.
     
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