NAMM 2013: Legendary US Amp Brand Magnatone Returns
More than 40 years after it closed its doors, legendary US amp
manufacturer Magnatone is set to return with a brand new range of
amplifiers along with a completely new line of solid boy electric
guitars. Whilst most of the details are still unknown this is a
welcome surprise and one that Guitar Interactive will be keeping a
close eye on.
PRESS RELEASE : The rebirth of the legendary Magnatone
brand is certain to be one of the true highlights of the
forthcoming "NAMM Show," (International Association of Music
Merchants') on January 24 - 27th, 2013 at the Anaheim Convention
Center in Orange County, CA.
Magnatone will be launching a full line of high-end, vacuum tube
amplifiers featuring its famous "pitch-shifting" vibrato effect,
all of which are made in the USA. The occasion marks the return of
a famous brand that has been dormant for more then 40 years yet its
stellar reputation remains untarnished by time.
In addition, Magnatone will be exhibiting a line of solid body
electric guitars. Magnatone will be exhibiting at NAMM Booth
#4794 located in Hall C of the Anaheim Convention Center.
Ted Kornblum is President and CEO of Magnatone. His music
industry career began at the age of 16, when he was captivated by
the legacy of his grandfather's and father's business, St. Louis
Music (Crate, Ampeg, Alvarez, etc.) which was founded in 1922.
As the company's Artist Relation's Director, he formed
relationships with such notable talents as Crosby, Stills &
Nash, Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead, Sting, Keith
Richards and Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, The Who, Black
Sabbath, Metallica, Ani DiFranco and many others.
With Magnatone, Kornblum's focus is on making high end,
American-made products that the artist will want to keep and use
for a lifetime. The new Magnatone line of amplifiers is 100%
tube-powered, crafted using point-to-point wiring and exceptional
workmanship. Kornblum explained,
"I've always been inspired by creative people; behind Magnatone
is an experienced group of folks with various talents that all
compliment each other most brilliantly. This makes it very exciting
for all of us to be involved with Magnatone."
The Magna Electronics team includes such talents as, Obeid Khan,
George McKale, Greg Geerling, Gregg Hopkins, Chris Villani, Dave
Hinson, and Dan Ryterski.
One of Kornblum's closest bonds is with ZZ Top's Billy F
Gibbons. In numerous conversations with Kornblum, Gibbons expressed
great respect and affection for Magnatone products.
"Magnatone is again a reality," Gibbons remarked. "We're
pleasantly amazed that the mythic Magnatone has resurfaced in such
a big way. This is nothing short of a rockin' resurrection, and the
sound is every bit as great as the look. No two ways - The Mag is
For the past two years, Gibbons has been touring and in the
studio using a prototype Magnatone Super Fifty-Nine, with 45 watts
provided by a pair of EL-34 power tubes, with two 12" speakers in a
luxurious yet very 'rock 'n' roll' looking combo amplifier. His
input, along with that of his long-standing guitar tech, Elwood
Francis, has been incorporated in the design of many Magnatone
Gibbons is not alone in his loyalty to Magnatone. In point of
fact, many other exemplary players, such as Buddy Holly, Hubert
Sumlin, Lonnie Mack, Robert Ward, Jimmie Vaughan, Tommy Tedesco,
Mike Campbell, Doyle Bramhall II, David Gilmour, Nels Cline and
Neil Young share a rich history with Magnatone.
Neil Young is one of the most visible current users of vintage
Magnatone gear, specifically the Model 280 guitar amplifier that
features the Magnatone stereo vibrato effect, an integral part of
both his studio and live guitar sound. Kornblum has been working
closely with Larry Cragg, Young's longtime guitar tech who has
years of experience repairing and maintaining vintage guitar amps,
to capture as well as upgrade the Magnatone sound.
Magnatone's roots in Southern California date back to 1937 when
the company began producing coin-operated radios and record
players, all powered by vacuum tubes and self-contained speakers.
In addition, Magnatone manufactured lap steel guitars with matching
guitar amps that are noted for their finishes such as pearloid
("Mother of Toilet Seat"/"M.O.T.S.") or 100% woven cotton/faux
crocodile, covering the exterior of the speaker cabinet.
Magnatone also manufactured electric guitars in 1958 and 1959
when they hired Paul Bigsby to design a line of solid body electric
guitars. Additionally, former Rickenbacker engineer Paul Barth
designed certain guitar models for the company.
Magnatone's invention of the electrical vibrato amplifier
circuit in 1958 was, and remains, a standard for true
pitch-shifting effects. Today's line of Magnatone models
incorporates that same vibrato circuitry which, as aficionados
know, includes silicone carbide varistors, as well as vacuum tubes,
to achieve the "true dimensional sound" for which Magnatone is so
Magnatone's invention of the electric vibrato effect, using
non-moving parts to achieve true pitch-shifting sound was called
"the golden voice" when they introduced this effect to the
amplifier market in 1958.
The difference between vibrato and tremolo is commonly
misunderstood. Many amp manufacturers in the early days mislabeled
one of the instrument inputs as "vibrato" when, in reality it was
not vibrato, but rather "tremolo". Tremolo is described as an
effect that increases and decreases the amplitude (volume) of a
given signal. Vibrato is described as the "rising and falling" of a
note's pitch. Not the same thing.
Today's Magnatone engineers have faithfully recreated their
patented vibrato circuit from 1958. They have designed the models
to include the vibrato effect as well as tremolo, as both effects
are applicable to musical instrument performance.
Kornblum says, "I plan to distribute through selective high-end
retailers to ensure the brand story is told. And who better to tell
this story then these quality retailers! Besides, the Magnatone
brand has been frozen in time for forty-four years, it needs to be
allowed time to "thaw" and for the market to get to know it as it
was and as it is today."
The Mag Is Back!