Sunday, March 30, 2008

Review: Masco ME-18 Amp built by Harp-L member Jim Rossen


I'd like to report on the Masco ME-18 amp I bought from Harp-L member Jim Rossen. These old 1950s-era Masco PA heads are legendary harp amps, and Jim's work on it is first class. He completely serviced the amp, including replacing all the capacitors and b+ dropping resistors. He redressed the wiring and used shielded cables to minimize noise and maximize tone. It came with a quarter-inch input for a harp mic, two quarter-inch speaker outputs (4 and 8 ohms), and two big 6L6 Coke bottle power tubes. The amp is in overall beautiful condition. When Jim shipped the amp to me it was packed better than any piece of gear I have ever bought, new or used.




I consider myself very fortunate to have this amp. Jim does not crank them out… As I understand it this is more of a hobby.

How does it sound? It sounds exactly as Jim said it would: Huge bottom end and fat, textured tone. I would stack this amp up againstany other, bar none.

For several years I lived within two miles of Skip Simmons. I've been to his farm a few times. I've even met with Skip at his bridge. Skip did some work on my vintage tube amps, and he loaned me a Newcomb E-10B tube amp he had built for harp. I've played his Masco amps, and they sound fantastic. The Masco amp I bought from Jim Rossen is at least equal to Skip Simmons's amps in sound and performance. It is one of the best-sounding harp amps I have ever heard.

I bought the Masco from Jim for a fraction of what you would normally pay for such a fine amp. I added an Avatar 2x10 closed-back cab, Weber and Jensen speakers, and Weber Beam Blocker diffusers. This harp rig blows away most boutique combo amps costing 2 to 3 times as much.

Of course, I have no connection to Jim Rossen's amps except I am a very enthusiastically satisfied buyer. Jim is not aware I am writing this. I hope he does not mind.


Thank you, Jim. I strongly recommend Jim's Masco amps to anyone thinking about moving up to an elite harp amp, for a lot less money.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

how much to buy one of these babies, I seen one on ebay

Rick Davis said...

Jim Rossen will periodically announce on Harp-L that he has a Masco amp for sale. He sells amps only when he needs bench space for new projects.

How much? Overhauled and tweaked Mascos from boutique amp dealers can run up to $1000. The one I got from Jim was a lot less. If you happen be in the right place at the right time to get one of Jim's amps, you are one lucky harp player. I know I am...

Joe said...

I've got a Masco loaner from Skip sitting in my living room. I tried it out last night at a jam. I had it plugged into a friend's 15" speaker cab. It sounded killer.

I'm planning on plugging into my Double Trouble's speakers this weekend. I'm interested in hearing how it sounds.

I'm not sure I will be buying it as cash is tight right now, but one never knows...

Rick Davis said...

Sweet! Which Masco is it?

Man, I can just imagine that honkin' Masco pumping into a 15 inch cab. Fat city...

jbs5280 said...

I own 2 Mascos that I use mainly for acoustic guitar. The models are ME-36 and ME-27, both restored to more original than modified other than connectors. Whoever owned the ME-27 before me put a toggle switch for off/on bypassing the knob on front. It now works only as a treble control. The tone of these are unbelievable. I own a couple of Stromberg Carlsons and Newcombs and they are along the same quality, although the Mascos are a definite cut above most all of them in tone. My ME-36 is the identical chassis, cage, and color design of your Masco. Here's a real funny, my Dad found it in an estate sale about 10 years ago for $3. thanks, jerry Denver, CO

jbs5280 said...

Rick, I posted right above this about my 2 Mascos. As of yesterday, I acquired the exact model on your page, ME-18P. I saw the write up reference the ME-18 and from the first pic, couldn't tell the turntable had been removed. I looked at the front shot again and saw the P. The one I got was brand new, in a box from Nov. 1, 1957. I quickly soldered a 1/4" connector for the speaker out and tried it out on my Seagull. Ageed all around with the comments about real low end. I can see why harp players would dig it. Once I ran thru an small Yamaha mixer and EQ'd my guitar a little, it was a great sounding amp. Even with the turntable on top which I bet works, it's a cool amp. thanks, jerry

Jimmy said...

hey i've got a masco ma-17n amp in AMAZING condition. The thing is great, bought it from the original owner a few months ago. Everything works great with this, even came with the matching speaker cab pair! now, i'm trying to sell this amp. i've never even seen one in better condition in pics online. This is THE harp amp, plain and simple. check it out here:
http://nh.craigslist.org/msg/1316912541.html