Three Hours Past Midnight: Johnny “Guitar” Watson

10 10 2008

Johnny “Guitar” Watson rips it up in 1956 by taking the low volume Lowell Fulson approach and injecting a bit of Guitar Slim into it. No Guitar Slim videos seem to be out there or even any 1950’s Johnny “Guitar” Watson clips but this audio track does the business.


Ladies And Gentlemen, The Great Lowell Fulson

10 10 2008

Okalhoma born, California guitarist/songwriter/singer Lowell Fulson was perhaps the top bluesman of the late 1940’s and into the early part of the next decade. Here he’s doing “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone”, just one of his classics, in what looks to be the early 1950’s, playing through possibly a Gibson amp?

Gatemouth Brown Live With Canned Heat From 1973

15 08 2008

The legendary Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown james live with Canned Heat at Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1973. Gatemouth makes an Acoustic amp sing like a vintage Fender as he teaches Canned Heat a thing or two about showmanship.

Full Whack

19 02 2008


 If you haven’t already figured it out, this amp is a Silvertone 1470. There’s hardly anything on the ‘net about this model, just two entries of small substance on Google the last time I checked. The only way I knew what it was is that it still has the schematic pasted on the inside of the cabinet.

At 100% volume, the little guy starts to roar a bit on the chords but still with a lot of touch sensitivity and it won’t bother anyone in the next room, let alone the neighbors. The bridge pickup sounds like a razor when you chop hard on a chord fragment or bluesy seventh chord while it’s a bit duller but still crunchy on the neck pickup. Single note lead lines are downright ratty and a bit harsh (probably has a fair bit to do with the Realistic speaker) on that bridge pickup while they sound gritty but definitely smoother on the neck pickup. It’s a good setting for moderate electric blues leads or gutty sixties rhythm guitar work but if you want to produce anything that packs a real punch, a stomp box would be a must.

I bought it from the music store I described a few entries ago, along with another small 60’s tube amp, which was even more obscure and that I’ll profile in the near future, for a grand total of $200 for both amps. I met the guy who owned it previously, he’s in his early sixties I think, and he had it for a long time and had no idea (or interest) on it’s history before he got it; he just played blues harp out of it.

I’ve run a ’74 Les Paul Recording (pictured below) through it at band rehersals and mic’ed it through our small pa, with a old early 80’s DOD 250 Overdrive for leads and it’s impressed people with what it puts out given what they think when they look at it.

To be honest, it’s a good amp but not a great one. For what it is, a tiny, quiet student practice amp with one nob, it’s pretty amazing but don’t get the idea that it’s anything other than a tiny, quiet student practice amp with one nob. If I can get it together to post sound clips here, I will.

Judging from other Silvertones, the graphics on the faceplate of the amp lead me to believe that it’s born on date is sometime between 1966-68, at the tail end of the Danelectro manufactured era and about the time when Sears started to phase out tube amps in favor of solid state technology.

I’m amazed that it still works after 40 years and works well. It was made out of the cheapest available components at the time but clearly manufactured with a lot of ability by Danelectro.

Winding Up The Wick

14 02 2008


Going up to 75% volume, the tone of the amp doesn’t change that much from when it was halfway up, it just gets a little bit louder. Things do get a bit more crunchy on the chords as expected but the single notes are starting to have more sustain. On the neck pickup, lead lines are starting to have a bell-like initial attack while the bridge pickup drives the amp into producing the spikey, ratty tones of the early 1960’s of Buddy Guy but without any of the lows produced by his glorious Fender Bassman.

Let ‘Er Rip

11 02 2008


Going up to 50% volume, the amp starts to bristle; chords get a warm, metallic sheen and have a lot of note definition. Single notes start to get a bit of sustain but it’s still in the realm of clean, although clean with a feeling, if you follow me.  Overall volume level is still really quiet but in my situation, that’s a definite plus.

First Impressions

10 02 2008


It worked perfectly. With the volume at 8 o’clock, the amp was crystal clear and just amplified the guitar with no coloration at all. It sounded much like the guitar did acoustically with no amplification, just louder. But make no mistake, this is a one watt amp and it never actually gets “loud”.  My guess is that the engineers who designed the amp, envisioned school age kids playing at this volume. You could defintely hold a normal conversation with someone while playing at this level.