Other Amps

hey (gigging) vintage amp dudes


Is your 1950s/60s tube amp so restored, serviced, tweaked etc that you will gig without a back up amp? Or are you concerned that one little antique component somewhere in the circuit will cause issues at the worst possible time...

All tweeds (1959 the last full year...) except for Champs.. are now at least 60 years old and all black panels 50 years old -- same with blue check Ampegs @ 50 years, etc. Some purposely leave their cool restored vintage amp at home and just use commodity stuff on the road or single gigs.

So who is confidient enough in their 50+ year old amp to take it out and hammer on it with no backup amp?


I use a '65 Princeton Reverb, a '68 Deluxe Reverb, a '38 EH150, and a '55 Tremolux these days, and haven't ever toted a spare amp. Once I had a solder on a speaker wire break, but I made it work.


Properly serviced, they should be perfectly reliable. I carry spare tubes and fuses, but have never needed them.


Is your 1950s/60s tube amp so restored, serviced, tweaked etc that you will gig without a back up amp?

Yes. Various brown and blackfaces and mid 60s Valco and Gibson.


I remember a guy here saying....if someone shot a gun at your old valve amp, it could be repaired. If he shot your pcb digital amp thing, it'd be pretty much useless. I remember asking what the hell kinda places did he play for that to happen, but I saw his point.


I fear for the life of my newer version Hot rod Deville on gigs because of the circuit board. So far, no issues but traveling with these makes me nervous. I don't even really have a back up amp anymore either.


I entertained myself one night watching a Joe Bonamassa documentary. He has a collection of old Tweed Fenders that is quite impressive.

He joked that after a tour usually the only amps still working are the old ones...


I fear for the life of my newer version Hot rod Deville on gigs because of the circuit board. So far, no issues but traveling with these makes me nervous. I don't even really have a back up amp anymore either.

– Suprdave

Same here, if I use the Supro reissue amp here, it's always at the back of my mind that the tubes mount into the printed circuit board...and there's no grill/cage to protect them when a chump throws them into the van along with those nasty drum stands


All of my tube amps are modern pc board amps except for one, and it’s just a small vintage harp amp.

Because of this, I always carry a ss Crate Powerblock head as a backup on every gig. Fortunately, I’ve only ever had to use it once, and that was only because the venue’s power was extremely noisy and nasty.


I've never had an amp go bad on me. Guitar, keyboard, and all of the massive PA rigs I've worked with over the years have all worked well. Maintenance is important. Always give a tube amp time to cool down before hauling it outside in freezing weather, and try not to bounce a hot amp around as well.


There's a reason the Russian military still makes tubes. In the event of an electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear bomb...it's the only type of electronics that are reliable.


Other than a couple of homebrews, the only amps I've gigged with over 25 years have been JMI-era Voxes. I've never had one crap out on me and don't worry about it in the slightest. Like JB, I carry spare tubes, but haven't needed to use one yet. For the last 12 years, it's been the same '64 AC30. When I got it, I replaced all electrolytics, a few way out of spec resistors, the power tubes and maybe one or two preamp tubes, and replaced any caps that had previously been replaced with NOS Wima or Mullard caps. Not a single problem since. And I don't baby it or transport it in a road case. During that same time period, the other guitarist has had two or three modern amps fizzle out mid-gig. But that's fine. My AC30 has six inputs.


My 58' deluxe has seen it all. I don't leave home without it.


Same for me except I've had mine since it came direct from JMI in Kent in 1965. Apart from a full service by Vic Mason at Mojave Amp Works in Victorville, CA in 2000 it has been unbelievably reliable for 54 years.

I have found that once the OEM Mullard EL84s expired years ago that modern power tubes do wear faster but I've never had one fail in use.


I've gigged regularly with my '63 Fender Showman and Reverb since 1994. The only vintage amp I'm a little worried about gigging with is my '67 Thomas Vox Buckingham, just because it's a rat's nest inside, though it's never actually been a problem.


This is a timely thread for me.

I have some gigs coming up where I’m on drums for part of the gig and guitar for the rest. I’m feeling my deep shade of green-ness with regards to which of my amps I should take. I’ve caught myself being a little embarrassingly precious about some of them, like the SF Deluxes. I’m guessing that the ultimate in durability would prob’ly be the JC-120. Certainly more than enough juice than I’ll need but OY! The footprint! So something modern should get the nod. Down to the aforementioned JC-120, ‘65 RI Super Reverb, ‘68 RI Twin Revoib, or maybe the AC-30cch head and 2x12 cab, or Custom Vibrolux Vererb. (Looking at that list, I wonder if I shouldn’t look for maybe a 50-watt 1x12 combo.)

Sorry for the drift. It’s great to hear the experiences of veterans using their classic gear in the heat of battle so maybe I can gain a little insight. Bless ya for this thread!!!


Amps can be made pretty bulletproof. That being said, I had to work on a John Mayer signature Two-Rock when it was only a couple of months old. So anything is possible.


I gigged with my '64 Blonde Bassman head and cab for years without a backup. I would still be doing so until I recently had a custom 6G6-B circuit amp built that's a bit smaller and easier to travel, but I never had any issue with the old amps, only the new PC board ones.


I’ve been gigging for decades and used to use Twin Reverb’s, Vox Super Beatle, JC120, HotRod Deluxe (all pre-owned when I bought them), various Fishman Loudboxes for Acoustic... some decades I had roadies, and I don’t remember an amp breaking down on the gig ( we used to carry a Champ as an emergency amp, but it only made it to the dressing room). They used to make them pretty darn road-worthy! Theses days, only playing out once or twice a week, no roadies, no “ band truck”. I’m using Quilter and it sounds great, half the weight, one amp for both acoustic and electric, and reliable.


I have been gigging with vintage amps since the 80s. I have never (and I'm knocking on wood now) had any problem with a vintage amp. I had a RI Deluxe reverb for a little while that gave me some trouble.
I used a 1963 White Bassman from around '88 until I about 15 years ago. Never had one problem with it and I played it a lot. After that I always gigged with my 1960 Tweed Deluxe. Always been good to me.


The only amps that ever really gave me trouble onstage were non-vintage.


My tube amps are Leo's work but not tweeds. I have a old silverface twin (73), but gigging amps have always been Music Man amps from first 3 years...(c.'73-75). Leo was barred by his "non-compete" in his agreement with CBS not to make amps again for 10 years...but he fudged a little and started making the Music Man amps a little early. The first 3 years of the 130 watt reverb amps were superb. Similar to the Twin Reverb, but using EL34's and a few other changes to get around patent infringement of his own earlier designs owned by CBS. After 1975 Ernie Ball Co. bought MM and introduce a solid state pre-amp,,,,which basically killed my interest in the newer models.

So I have a few of the old ones that I keep in good shape. I've never had an amp fail me at a gig. Worst that's happened is we all got soaked in a Florida downpour and the PA filled up with water....but the amps still worked! I prefer to play with two amps and an ABY switch to go from rhythm to lead, buts that's just me. Only drawback is my arms are about 3" longer than they are supposed to be from lugging them around. They weigh a ton. I think if anybody starts shooting I'm hiding behind the amps...I think they're already bulletproof. And as GuitarCapo pointed out....they'll still work after a nuclear blast....if you can get electricity!

I suspect this ramble didn't really help...old tube amps....reliable....yes....



I sympathize with the stretched arms! My experience with Music Man has been excellent too but these things make an original AC30 seem like a lightweight!

Even the RD/50s weigh about half a ton especially with the optional EV speaker. Oddly enough, despite its' solid state preamp, I've frequently been told that my Music Man is the best sounding amp that I use regularly........well apart from my Carr Rambler. Both are exactly as they came from the makers, apart from all of the power tubes and a few pre-amps too.


All cogent replies, suited to everyone's different scene. The recent ones won't be on the scene 50 years from now.

Register Sign in to join the conversation