NAMM 2015: Vintage Magnatone amps enjoy a great reputation among tone hounds, so we were intrigued when this once-forgotten brand, which originally made amps from 1937 until production halted in the mid-1970s, was revived recently.
Since then some seriously cool new amplifiers, with retro looks and gorgeous tones, have started rolling out. We caught up with Magnatone's chief engineer, Obeid Khan, to talk about two small but juicy new amps from the company that have been launched at NAMM 2015.
Lyric combo with 12-inch speaker
"So, we had a Lyric amp already - a 10-watt, single-ended amp with 6L6 valves and a ten-inch speaker, a Jensen P10R. But with this new Lyric amp we've added a 12-inch speaker and a slightly larger cabinet.
"Adding that 12-inch speaker made a huge difference - this thing is now big and beefy and useable in a club situation, whereas the 10-inch there were situations where it wasn't quite enough for that. It's still 6L6 single-ended, but you get a nice thick class-A tone with lots of midrange and colour to it. So this is new. It's on our price sheet at $1,699."
Varsity Reverb combo
"The next one up from that is our Varsity, which is $1,799 but new this year is the Varsity with reverb.
"So we added all-tube, long-pan spring reverb and kept the circuit the same and the whole vibe of the amp - you know that Varsity is a fun, bouncy little thing and we didn't want to kill any of that character, so we managed to get it in there and it sounds really, really good.
"It's 15 watts and it has two EL84s. Everybody loves EL84s because they compress and they bounce back through the amplifier, through the cable. It also has the same 12-inch speaker that we've been using."