What’s this I hear about converting old public address amps into guitar and harp amps?
During the last 15 years or so, I have spent a great deal of
time restoring and modifying vintage PA amps for use with
guitar and harmonica. Rather than being just a cheaper
alternative to classic tweed-era Fenders, they have evolved
into amps that hold their own against any traditional guitar
or harp amp and offer unique combinations of looks and
sound. I am lucky to have a steady stream of great players
that have contributed essential skill, knowledge, and
experience to these projects.
For instance, when I began building Masco amps especially
for harp players, my first customer was Rick Estrin, of
Little Charlie and the Nightcats. It was a tremendous
advantage to have one of the finest harp players on the
planet help with the designs and circuits that I use today
on my harp amps. Needless to say, when Rick said, “It
doesn’t get any better than this,” I knew I was on the right
I realize that plenty of people are “re-capping” and trying
to use old PA amps these days, in hopes of having a cheap
tube amp. That’s not what my amps are, and don’t expect an
old PA amp that you picked up on eBay to deliver the goods.
I build amps for serious musicians, and the input that I
have received from great players, the experience I have
gained from building and modifying hundreds of old PA amps,
and my well-known obsession with detail and craftsmanship
put my work in a different class.
If you would like to own one of my vintage PA heads you have two ways to go:
If you already own a suitable amp, you can ship it to me for restoration and modification. If the amp is in decent shape, most amp builds will run $200 – 400. This is not just “fixing” it or installing quarter-inch jacks. Rather it means that I will do everything I can to optimize the amp for your particular needs.
The other option is for me to pick out an amp for you from my own stock. The advantage is that the price will be fixed, without any unexpected costs that can occur when I’m restoring an amp that is sent to me. Again, the amp will be custom-built specifically for your needs. Prices will run $400 – 800, depending on model and cosmetic condition, but currently most models are around $600.
Who has one of my vintage PA amps? Rick Estrin, Paul Oscher, John Vanderslice, Eric Ducoff, Howard Willing, Dave Zirbel, Rick Holmstrom, tiny telephone studio, Bayview Studio, Thomas Troussier, Helge Tallqvist, Lee Roy Parnell and a bunch of other people that love old amps.
For more information about getting one of Skip’s PA heads, or shipping your PA head, contact Skip.