Thursday, April 3, 2008

Ampeg Regrets

One of my first tube harp amps was a 1965 Ampeg B-15, exactly like the one pictured above except it had 2 cabs. It was a Flip Top STACK, baby!

I was living in Lansing, Michigan, in 1980 and a bass player whose wife was friends with my wife bought himself a new bass rig and was looking to unload his old Ampeg. He offered it to me for…. now get this… Fifty Bucks! I thought about it for a microsecond and then forked over the cash. I bought an Astatic JT-30 mic at Elderly Instruments for $70 (more than I paid for the amp) and I was in business.

Shortly thereafter we moved back to my home in the Rocky Mountain West and I hooked up with a blues rock band playing ZZ Top, Zep, Billy Idol, etc. The big Ampeg was plenty loud enough to keep up with the headbanger guitar player and drummer in the band, and I thought it looked very cool in a funky kind of way. I had the hippest harp rig around.

But as I moved more toward a traditional blues tone I became less satisfied. The Ampeg was just too stiff. I could not get that monster to break up no matter what I tried. Well, I didn’t try much, because I didn’t know jack about tube amps back then. The tubes were some obscure relics I’d never heard of and had no idea how to tweak. Finally one day the Ampeg just refused to honk anymore, and since I was a poor ignorant harp player I had neither the means nor the knowledge to fix it. So I junked it, scavenging the two 15-inch drivers (which went into the PA bottoms) and giving the rest away. What a tragedy…

I’d love to get my hands on another one, but now they are WAY expensive. [Kicks Self] It would be fun to see what I could get out of one of those monsters today.

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