Bells Catalogue (click to download) - Watkins gear
Here's a pic of my Gibson Mercury amp that I used from 1967 to 1976 when it was replaced by a Fender twin with JBLs.I think it cost £200 which was a fair amount at the time.
Sorry about the picture of trendy coloured stacks - certainly not what you found in the back of the Commer.
Marshall PA Cabs
Now there's a PA cab for you - 4 x 12 inches of pure grunt! Nail a few wooden runners on the side for protection and you have a pair of portable power houses - plus a good seat for the poor suckers in the back of the van with the gear.
And none of those sealed back things with horns!
Originally called MATAMPS, after their developer Matthew Mathias, Orange gear was certainly different - their colour scheme adding to the psychedelic trend of many bands in later 60s.
Selmer amps were popular and had a huge range - although I always felt the PA cabs were feeble even for the time. Compare the cabs on the left with the Marshall PA! No choice!
So .... why did you get rid of the mighty Marshalls for the silly Selmers, Les? Its been over 30 years but I still feel it was a major mistake - not that I hold grudges :-)
You can tell I am not a guitarist, or there would be heaps of stuff about this baby.
The VOX lean-back speakers were called a VOX LINE-SOURCE column speakers,the amp used to feed them was a Vox AC30 Head, classic! Great sound, especially with the old Shure 545 mike and Reslo double sided mike.
Shure Vocal Master
This is a Shure Vocal Master mixer amp; you were working a lot I guess if you owned one of these, they weren't cheap.
Shown with a pair of Vox columns and a Shure Unidyne III 545, which I reckon took over from the Reslo ribbon mic and was widely used alongside the Shure Unisphere 1 565 (the Freddie Mercury favourite!) up until somebody had the sense to take a Shure SM58 out on the road.
Even in today's retro market, the Watkins Dominator (on the left) could not be classed as attractive.
However, Watkins gear helped out many a band - many upgrading from the Dominator to the Westminster (pictured right) prior to the HP account at Reno's for the Marshall.
I think it was about 1959 when Watkins introduced their Copycat Echo Unit and if memory serves me correct, they cost £37-50.
What a wonderful piece of kit, now every lead guitarist could sound like Hank Marvin, Duane Eddy or the bloke out of the Ventures.
Because the unit had two jack imputs the singers soon discovered that if they plugged their mike into it and the whole lot was put through a Vox 30, it gave them a far better sound, in fact it was far better than most of pub and club PA systems at the time.
Other manufactures soon stepped in to produced echo units Vox, Selmer and Dynacord but all a lot more expensive.
I believe that Watkins are still in business today and there is a strong second hand market for their echo units, just take a look on Ebay and see the prices that forty-five year old units are going for, endless loop tapes are still available.
I often use this amp, its a 70`s WEM Dominator 25 Watt " all - purpose", valve driven, powered by two EL84s (valves).
It still has a sticker on it that reads "Mamelok Ltd 192 Deansgate Manchester".
It's got that British valve sound, because that's what it is.
We have to mic it up for gigs though, but that's ok. Old amps like this are often a simple amplifier with no colouring effects at all, "dry" as it's known.
Pictured atop is my WEM copycat (echo unit) which was sort of an industry standard at one time, great to add depth (or in my case slapback echo) , very versatile, very popular, at one time you'd see them on nearly every stage.
"Round about 1969 we got rid of the mixture of speaker cabs and obtained the Marshall PA cabs we craved for. To run them we bought a really fancy amp - no valves, solid state. It was a Triumph 100.
Never liked it. "
Our bass player had an Acoustic rig - huge bloody thing that no one wanted to hump. Took years to sell, everyone admired but no one would buy.
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