Can you identify the Cramp’s Poison Ivy’s pickups?


Lektriz When I looked at the Maxon pedals about 4 or 5 years ago, they were REALLY expensive. I could be mistaken but I think they were somewhere between 300 hundred and 500 dollars. I see that Maxon is selling what looks like a different analog delay pedal for about $200. Those expensive Maxon pedals like Ivy used may have been worth the money but I couldn't afford one at the time so I bought a Hofner analog delay. Then I upgraded to an Electro-Harmonix Memory Toy and then an MXR Carbon Copy. If I were a pro and made albums, I'd probably buy the same Maxon pedal that Ivy used but I don't need top of the line stuff for playing at home.

With respect to Valco amps, I'm sure you heard that someone is now making amps under the Supro name. I don't know how close they are to the Supro amps of old. From what I've read, Vintage47 make amps that are as close as you'll get to those Valco amps from the 40s, 50s and 60s. Ivy also owned some boutique amps that were supposed to be clones of old Fender amps but Lux died before she got to use them in the studio. (I can't recall the maker's name offhand but you should have no trouble finding out who it is, if you're interested.)


Went through all the models on the vintage47 site and the suitcase and oahu seem to fit the bill.

Love the tone in my 5watt ampeg in my home studio, but next time I will place an order with vintage47.

Also looked at the valvco amp page but can't figure out which 10' amp with reverb she used.

Have to gather some courage before asking Sean Ysult a question.


Lektriz, Vince_Ray said Ivy's description of her amp having a 10" speaker, reverb and being made in 1959 or 1960 makes no sense. He said there weren't any amps fitting that description made in 1959 or 1960. So it sounds like Ivy was mistaken about the vintage of her amp when she gave those interviews. Stay in touch with Vince _Ray and see what he says if he speaks to Billy Zoom or Sean Yseult.


I seem to remember that Billy did indeed reply to the enquiry before and said he serviced just the Fender Pro Reverbs that she used live.

I’ve been curious about the recorded amp for a while now and have run out of clues.

Funny how no studio photos have turned up, I know Lux liked his photography


Vince_Ray See my comment addressed to you above about asking Ivy via Sean Yseult.


Yes, you can do that if you think it's a good idea. As I mentioned, Ivy has stepped way back from being in the public eye, I dunno, it just feels a bit like we might be invading her privacy and friend network. But I'm just like you, I'd love to know more!


Vince_Ray I understand what you mean. That's why I didn't download the photo of Ivy and Sean and post it here or post a link to Sean's Facebook page. I just figured I'd toss the idea out there and leave it to you to decide what to do, if anything.


No worries odyswood, we seem to think the same thing. The Cramps have always been steeped in mystery and legend and it looks like that will continue! Plus it's part of the appeal, they come from a time when we used to have real stars instead of the the fake versions that are current!

So, I did find this. Chopper told me the amp was a small old white amp. This pic shows Ivy next to a small white amp that I think may be a Oahu Tremo Verb (which did have reverb and a 10" speaker) but was a more mid 60's model. Cute though.


And maybe the amp. There's a few white Oahu models, note the position of the bolts on the side of both amps. Made by Valco of course and there's a Tremoverb model in the current Supro range so I guess that sound would be in the ballpark. Demos of that model on youtube sound great


Vince_Ray I think you've figured it out. It sounds like the Oahu Tremo-Verb is the one. I think Ivy may have just gotten the year of manufacture wrong. It's possible that the party who sold it to her didn't know what they were talking about. It's possible the person who sold it to Ivy inherited the thing and someone told them it looked like a '59 or '60 and that guess was conveyed as a fact. It wouldn't be the first time somebody sold something without knowing what they had. Or some guy who owned a pawnshop could have mistakenly believed the amp to be a '59 or '60 and said as much to Ivy. There are numerous ways the correct vintage could have gotten lost in translation without it necessarily being Ivy's fault. In any case, I think you've figured out which amp she used. Even if you're mistaken, you're probably going to sound good even if you're not using the exact amp she used. As far as I'm concerned, just about any guitar with single coils, mini humbuckers or Filtertrons mated with a tube amp with a few pedals will sound good. Some will think this is blasphemy, but I think even solid state amps can sound good. It just depends on how the amp was made and how you tinker with the settings. One of my all time favorite guitar tones--The Beatles' "She Said, She Said"--came out of a hybrid amp--some VOX with a solid state pre-amp and tubes in the power amp. And virtually everything CCR released was recorded with Kustom solid state amps. Everyone from Leo Fender to Sir William Zoom have said that a solid state amp can sound good if it was designed well. Anyway, I'm sure you'll have a good guitar sound even if you don't find the Holy Grail but it sounds to me like you DID find it.


The detective work is all part of the fun these days! But I guess we should remember that when she was recording with the amp, it was a long time ago, even before the internet was awash with this kind of info. If we want to check out an old Valco amp now, it just takes a few moments on the web to find out everything. Twenty years ago, it would have just been an obscure little amp that had a reputation amongst 'folks that know' and she'd have just plugged in and thought, wow, this sounds cool.

It was only fairly recently that folks started banging on about Jimmy Page and his wee Supro. Before that, you'd look at those big Marshall and Hiwatts and assume that was what he recorded with. So people bought them and blew their flared pants off with one power chord!

Small amps rule!


Vince_Ray I was thinking earlier how amazing and cool it is that if we want to find out what a specific amp sounds like, we can go to YouTube or elsewhere; or how we can find some old guitar catalog online; or you can actually send an email to someone like Billy Zoom and have him talk directly to you, whereas when I was a kid in the '80s he was someone I saw on USA Nightflight or Fridays and never thought I'd meet.

I remember being 16 or 17 and reading an interview Jimmy Page did with Guitar Player magazine years earlier where he talked about recording with Supro amps. I remember him saying he recorded with small amps and placed the mics some distance from the amp and that it was better to use small amps in the studio and crank the volume than to use large amps. It was in some collection of Guitar Player interviews that I stole from my high school library when I was a junior or senior. That was the first time I ever heard of Supro amps.

Everything was so much harder then. If you wanted to know what a certain model of amp would sound like, you'd have to (1) locate said amp and (2) arrange to go where that amp was located and try it out. When I was a kid growing up in Northeast Pennsylvania, one of my guitar playing friends would pick me up and we'd go in his car to a music store in Pittston, Pennsylvania. I didn't know it then, but that was where the Bufalino Crime Family originated and had most of its members living. Russell Bufalino was the mob boss who most likely had Jimmy Hoffa killed. And this guy literally lived within 3 miles of me during the first 25 years of my life.

Anyway, my friend and I would go to some music store on Main Street in Pittston and carry on like Wayne and Garth. That store would have carried the latest Fender or Crate amps but if you wanted to try out a Supro amp or a Silvertone or some other vintage amp, you'd probably have to drive to Philadelphia or New York City and go to all the music stores and pawn shops you could find and hope you'd find something good.

As I said, everything from acquiring gear to learning about it involved an unreal amount of time and effort compared to now. There are plenty of worrisome and depressing aspects about being alive right now but there are also a lot of things that make me think that there's never been a better time to be alive. Kids who never knew a time when the internet didn't exist have no idea of how fortunate they are to have it. I wish it was available when I was a kid. Oh, well. That's just the way it goes. At least I wasn't born when most people died before they were 40.


Thank you so much for solving the riddle!

I have to agree on the soldstate amps, some old peaveys and musicman amps are great value and sounding amps, solidstate or not.

Most of the gear in my studio is secondhand from the 80's good value and quality.

25 watts is to much for my tiny studiobut the vintage47 5watt with the right reverb pedal would be nice ifI could scrape together some extra cash one day.

Great band, great tone, wonderfull woman andgreat thread!

If you cant get the tornado ovation pickup witch modern dearmond style pickup would you guys go for?

I took another listen to the cramps clip you posted, sometimes that grindey cold tone is a combination of Ivys guitar blended with Byron Gregory's polkadot flying vee and maybe not just her oahu..


Or get something made? I just put a video up in another thread called Spooktator. The amp was based on the Valco/Supro Spectator and has that kinda sound. Around 5w and great either clean or turned up to break up.

The maker has another for sale I think. He’s on the forum here with the user name of Powdog


Lektriz, I'm glad I could help. If you really want to get the sound Ivy got on those early Cramps albums, I'd suggest you get an Ovation Tornado or try to get a pair of pickups from an Ovation Tornado or an Ovation Hurricane. I posted photos of those pickups above. Every so often someone puts them up for sale on eBay or another site.

You could also try to couple those pickups with the same kind of amp she used for recording. It also helps to use the same strings she used as well as the same kind of pick (a gold Herco one). It's amazing how much the thickness of a pick can change your sound. I would switch between a thick Herco jazz pick and a thinner Herco gold pick and the difference in my tone was really noticeable. The thinner pick was markedly brighter.

Finally, instead of using a slapback echo, try using reverb--either the reverb on your amp (if it has it) or you could get something like the BOSS pedal which is supposed to simulate a Fender Reverb amp.

– odyswood

Not mine, but I could check it out if anybody's interested. Link


When I saw the pic of Lux and Ivy I thought the amp might be a Gretsch princess amp; it's essentially a Gretsch (made by Valco) 6150(with a "T" for tremolo). Probably the same as the Oahu.


Hello again friends!

I've been reading "A journey to the center of the Cramps" I've been pondering on which guitar tracks on the first two Cramps albums ware actually Bryan Gregory/Kid Congo and not Poison Ivy at all?

Ivy says that to compensate for the lack of a bassplayer they detuned Bryan's guitar! Could some of that low end grind not be a the gold foil equipped Bill Lewis but just Bryan or Kid Congo's Gibson's?

Listen to the rythm/intro guitar track on goo goo muck for example.



Lektriz, my friend, am I happy to be helping you with this one. I specifically registered for this site so I could answer your question. I can tell you EXACTLY where the pickups on Ivy's Lewis guitar came from and who made them. She or a prior owner apparently took those pickups out of a late '60s Ovation electric guitar from their Electric Storm series--specifically, the Tornado or 12-String Hurricane model. According to the wikipedia entry for Ovation Guitar Company, "The pickups for these instruments were manufactured by Rowe Industries, who produced DeArmond music products in Toledo, Ohio. Production stopped in 1969."

You see, I too love The Cramps and--like you--I've always preferred the sound of the recordings Ivy made with her Lewis guitar to the ones she made with her Gretsch. (I know--blasphemy to those who come to this site.) Anyway, like you, I wondered about those pickups. So I did some digging and found the information I gave you. Take a careful look at my avatar. It's a closeup of the type of pickups used in some of Ovation's Electric Storm series guitars of the late 1960s. Compare it to a pickup on Ivy's Lewis guitar. You'll notice each pickup has 2 rows of 6 round holes or pole pieces. You'll also notice something that resembles a minus sign under the E A and D strings near the upper row of holes or pole pieces and another "minus sign" under the G B and E strings by the lower row of holes or pole pieces.

Also note that there are 2 pickup height adjustment screws on the left side of the pickup but only one such screw on the right. You'll see that the same is true of the pickups on Ivy's Lewis guitar. In short, the pickups on Ivy's Lewis guitar look identical to the pickups used on those late 60s Ovation guitars. Anyway, if you'd like to look into it, here are some links:




And here's two closeups of the pickups used in the late '60s Ovation Tornado or the Hurricane 12-String and a closeup of Ivy's Lewis guitar. There are much larger versions of these photos online. Unfortunately, they somehow shrunk when I posted them to this site. The first two can be found with a Google image search of "ovation storm series" and the last one can be seen in a much larger form on flickr.

– odyswood

I think actually you'll find they are Schaller pickups. I can't find a picture of the exact one but here is a floating pickup they made that is very similar but without the mounting ring

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