Very Funky New Guitar/ Amp Combo Day

Discussion in 'Guitars' started by guitaro, Mar 19, 2019.

  1. guitaro

    guitaro Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I was recently browsing CL like I'm apt to do when I saw this pretty cool looking no name vintage Japanese guitar in the style of a Gibson melody maker right down to the sunburst finish but with a bolt-on neck. Guitar was listed as having a single gold foil pickup and for 125 bucks. It was interesting but not enough to get me to follow up.

    Then I saw the ad again today but noticed it was now listed as coming with an vintage amp that was from a US company called Wollensak, and was actually a "Magnetic Tape Recorder" that for some reason came bundled with a 4 tube amp. So seeing the guitar with this funky converted vintage Amp (the tape recorder part has been gutted out and possibly other mods to make it a straight amp now) was more than enough to get attention so I called him up and asked, how about 100 for the guitar and amp and he was like, sure if you can come over now. So I hauled ass over there and came home with this:

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  2. Spike

    Spike Well-Known Member

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    Cool find. Congrats.
     
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  3. guitaro

    guitaro Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I haven't really had much time to mess with either much yet. I do know the amp works somewhat because he had it hooked up when I came over but all he had was a small battery operated speaker hooked up to it and the battery went dead just when I was trying to tune the guitar.

    The guitar is pretty strange. It has the old 60's style Japanese Teisco bridge and tailpiece that are pretty much crap from what I can gather. The pickup does look like gold foil so that by itself might be worth most of the 100 bucks I paid. The guitar is really light and has a ply cap on the top and back with a solid core. The neck is huge, frets look to be in very good shape, and are discolored golden color from age. Not sure if that means anything about the fret material or what. It has a zero fret but the nut has been changed with a large plastic one so the strings go above the zero fret so I'm sure the intonation is way off and not adjustable so I will probably change the nut. The guy I bought it from said he used it for slide and it sounded really good for that, but the action isn't actually that high even with the large nut.

    The main reason I bought it was the amp because I was intrigued by this vintage amp. I have seen some similar or the same selling for 200-300 bucks. Looks like 4 tubes, 2 preamp and 2 power tubes I take it. I have very limited knowledge on this stuff so hoping some of you guys can fill me in on what you think of this and what would be the best way to utilize it. I unfortunately don't have a cabinet currently since all my amps are combos so can't test it. I'm wondering what kind of cabinet would be appropriate, like what size speaker, how many ohms, etc. I'm thinkin replace the tubes maybe, but then again maybe that's already been done. How would I tell?
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  4. bc rich

    bc rich Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Great 'cool funky ' score , definitely not funky funky .

    Wollensak had a great reputation for innovative tape recorders back when they were made in the USA, and that guitar is a trip.

    Awaiting to hear how they play.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  5. tvvoodoo

    tvvoodoo Well-Known Member AGF Registered Dealer

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    Definitely a NWGD weird gear day! Congrats... sometimes a guy has to go off the beaten path, and it didn't break the bank, heck maybe you'll come out ahead
     
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  6. guitaro

    guitaro Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Yeah man, I'm sure I could sell the amp for significantly more than 100 on reverb without much trouble but I want to keep it for now. It's a little tank, no plastic in this thing.
     
  7. golem

    golem Well-Known Member

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    Awesome. I love funky stuff like this!
     
  8. bc rich

    bc rich Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Even the cooling fan is art deco .
    It looks like it has pre amp out as well as a speaker out
    From the web

    Also they used a magic eye tube for recording levels





    United States of America (USA)
    Manufacturer / Brand: Wollensak 3M; St. Paul, Minnesota
    Year: 1957 ?? Category: Sound/Video Recorder and/or Player
    Valves / Tubes 4: 12AB5 12AB5 12AX7 12AT7 Neon_Indicator
    Main principle Audio-Amplification
    Wave bands - without
    Details Tape Recorder
    Power type and voltage Alternating Current supply (AC) / 117 Volt
    Loudspeaker Permanent Magnet Dynamic (PDyn) Loudspeaker (moving coil) / Ø 13 cm = 5.1 inch
    Power out 2.5 W (unknown quality)
    from Radiomuseum.org Model: Magnetic-Tape-Recorder T1500 - Wollensak 3M; St. Paul,
    Material Metal case
    Shape Tablemodel, low profile (big size).
    Dimensions (WHD) 10.3 x 6.5 x 11.8 inch / 262 x 165 x 300 mm
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
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  9. guitaro

    guitaro Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Great info man, thanks. So only 2.5 W? What determines the power output? Is that something that can be moded to increase the output? Actually 2.5 W could be perfect actually to allow to crank it and still stay at respectable bedroom volumes.

    What is the significance of the Pre-amp out?

    Thanks again.
     
  10. nomadh

    nomadh Well-Known Member

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    Outstanding score
     
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  11. bc rich

    bc rich Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    With the pre amp out you could plug your guitar into the input 'microphone' jack and then from the pre amp out run a cable to your combo amp .
    You would only be using the the low level amplification stage that would otherwise feed the the power tubes if a speaker was plugged in .
    You mentioned that they tried to use a powered speaker for the demo , meaning they were most likely using the pre out .
    If the power tubes were working they could have feed it straight to a speaker cab .
     
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  12. RiverDog

    RiverDog Well-Known Member

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    That's such a school score. Congrats!
     
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  13. guitaro

    guitaro Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Quick update. First on the guitar I've only got as far as cleaning it up and testing the truss rod, which works, gave it a small tightening even though not sure it needed it. Electronics look fine. A couple full size pots, a green cap, and a jack.

    Main issue is I still have to decide if I'm going to string it the way it is before messing with the nut. I had an idea of maybe keeping the current nut (which is glued in) and filing the string slots low enough for the strings to reach the zero fret, but when I started I realized that's going to be a helluva lot of filing. I'm also wondering if the reason for the tall nut wasn't just to make it more appropriate for slide (which is what the seller said he set the guitar up for) but maybe it was getting dead frets and buzzing with the strings sitting on the zero fret. It is taller, but not a lot taller than all the other frets.

    Here's some pics. Tell me what you think.

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  14. andrewsrea

    andrewsrea Well-Known Member

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    I think my friend's dad had one of those recorders from the 50's. His was a wire recorder, instead of tape and it still worked (sounded very lo-fi)
     
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  15. guitaro

    guitaro Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    On to the amp. So I remembered that one of my Amps has the speaker connected with a 1/4 inch jack rather than directly wired even though it's a combo amp so I unplugged the speaker from my amp, put the Wollensak right on top of it and the speaker jack reached . I tried it with both the speaker out and the preamp out and on both it did amplify the guitar but just slightly and it seemed to be the same volume with the speaker out and preamp out. So I guess that suggests the power tubes aren't working (or the wiring is jacked up, which I'm hoping isn't the case.

    So would you suggest starting with replacing the power tubes or maybe replace all 4 tubes?
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
  16. Mickey

    Mickey Gandalf the Intonationer

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    The 12BA5's are a distant cousin of 6V6's with slightly lower voltage capability, thus slightly lower power out.
    I would guess more like 10 or 12 watts for a couple of them in push-pull. Tho it could be less, but I shouldn't think much less.
    They are apt to be relatively difficult to find today should you need a replacement.

    And do not forget the electrolytic caps probably need replacing. They can go off like cherry bombs when you are least expecting it.
     
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  17. guitaro

    guitaro Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    English please. I understood cherrybombs LOL. Okay, surprisingly the 12AB5's are available and pretty darn cheap although haven't checked out shipping yet.

    https://www.tubesandmore.com/products/12ab5-tetrode-beam-power

    The 12AX7 and 12AT7 are also available from the same seller with multiple options for the AX7 listed here:

    https://www.tubesandmore.com/search/node/12ax7

    Here's the options for 12AT7. Apparently these are still popular despite being 60 year old technology with folks seeking that vintage tone:

    https://www.tubesandmore.com/search/node/12at7

    SO it looks like getting the tubes is no problem but I have no idea how I would evaluate the status of or replace the electrolytic caps you refer to. As far as I can tell, the only access to the innards of this puppy is shown in the image above. Can you explain what would be involved in replace the electrolytic caps?
     
  18. guitaro

    guitaro Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Also, what does push-pull refer to if you would be so kind?

    One more thing, why do two of the tubes have a metal sleeve around them? The sleeve seems to be on a spring when I pushed down on it. How would do you remove this? Push and twist I suppose?
     
  19. Mickey

    Mickey Gandalf the Intonationer

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    The metal covers are there to provide shielding, thus cut down on hum. Usually done on high gain (read: preamp) tubes as they tend to be a hum source.
    Ok, push-pull amps: you take two identical twin (read: balanced or matched) power tubes and wire them such that when one tube is pulling the other is pushing the signal.
    That way if you have a tube that is capable of say 2.5 watts, using twins in push pull you may get 6 or 8 watts instead of 5 watts out of them.
    My best guess is the two 12AB5's are wired this way being beam power tubes.

    12AX7 and 12AT7 are essentially identical except the AT provides less gain than the AX does.
    There are several tubes in that family that can be interchanged should you wish to experiment. :)

    Have you never heard of someone having an amp "re-capped" ??? Electrolytic caps are essentially POWER caps
    in that they tend to be used in places where there is relatively high power in tube amps. Other types of caps are used in
    the lower power areas. Anyway, as electrolytic caps age they dry out inside (they have a sort of oil inside them.)
    When this happens they can cause all sorts of hummmmmmmmmmmmmmm problems and worst case, go off like cherry bombs
    scattering metalic confetti all over the inside of your amp.

    Is that "English" enough? :)
     
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  20. dearlpitts

    dearlpitts Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I have used a few old tube reel to reels. Abd have found them to have great tone.used to get for like 5 bucs at thrift stores, not no more
     
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