Who has a Valco amplifier? You know the ones I’m talking about. Valco, Supro, Gretsch, National, Oahu, Airline, etc. These are cool old amps but have their challenges with servicing them. I had two different people bring me 3 Supro amps each on the same day to the 300guitars Shop. I also have a 1950’s tweed Supro model that my man Joey DeMaio from Shorefire Studios upstairs gave me to re-cap…7 pieces of Supro gear in one shot. In all my years I have never had this many in one place at one time..!!
As I was saying these are cool old amps and have their own unique vibe to them. They record really well from what I’m told. In fact 3 of the amps belong to Monster Magnet guitarist Phil Caivano. He lives nearby and used his Supro’s for much of the album recorded at Shorefire Studios.
But with their unique vibe comes a price. That price my friends is actually a few things; They were built “on the cheap”, designs were changed often and existing schematics do not reflect the changes, some parts are impossible to source and there is not a lot of information available about them as compared to say Fender or Marshall.
One of the pieces I’m working on is an Airline Reverb Unit. The reverb effect is just not working and I have narrowed down the issue to the actual reverb tank’s input side transducer. The coil part is reading at about 1M and if I compare it to Caivano’s matching reverb tank from his Supro Tremo Verb the input side reads about 2.7 ohms and works like a charm with both his amp and this old reverb unit. My questions are; What was the original impedance supposed to read? (many of these values drift over time), What was the original gauge wire used to wind the transducer coil? Who made this Flintstone’s looking unit? Are there any parts at all available for it? Is there a modern reverb tank such as an Accutronics or perhaps a MOD tank from Amplified Parts that would be a suitable replacement? Lot’s of questions..!!
My first call was to the “kings of all things transformer” Mercury Magnetics. Paul and Patrick both told me that the little bugger could probably be re-wound but before I got too deep I should contact “Mr. Valco”, Terry Dobbs. Who even knew that there was a guy so into these old more obscure brands and was actually dubbed with one of the brand names! Calling Terry was the best move of my day. He is a great source of information and a super nice guy to boot..!! I got most of my questions answered and because of him I have a few avenues to check out so I can get this old Airline “reverbing” again.
So if any of you guys have an old Valco or associated brand of amplifier that I mentioned earlier in this post visit Terry’s site valcoamp.com. There is a bunch of information there and even more from the man himself. He repairs and restores these old gems and check out his tagline: “The Place to be when you’ve got a Valco, or just gotta get one”! Thanks Terry..!!!