Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Further Adventures From The Tonal Fringe: The Baldwin Professional "Willie Nelson" Model

Here's a chunk of vintage solid state gear that followed me home the other day for a rather modest fifty bucks.

It was crusted with the remains of a million Marlboros and Camels, and it stank up the cab of the pickup all the way back home. A couple hours scrubbing, a bottle of 409, and a roll of paper towels later this is what was revealed.

It's a Baldwin D-1 Professional guitar amplifier with-a drum roll, Maestro-Supersound, which consists of five different voicing selections that can be used singly or combined with the standard voicing.

It's an interesting piece of gear, and it dates from the early days of solid state amplifiers. It was hand wired on perforated phenolic boards, which seems to suggest that the production was pretty low. I've never seen another like it.

It was made by the folks who make Baldwin organs when they took a brief flyer in the amplifier field in the heyday of sixties guitar mania.

Tonally, it's smooth and mellow, and getting clear tone requires something with single coil pickups like a Telecaster. No humbuckers need apply. The nonoriginal speaker's nothing to write home to mother about but a Weber Chicago has been obtained from Gregg Levy and will arrive soon. That alone ought to provide a quantum improvement in tone.

The vibrato is lush, but the reverb is a bit of a disappointment. It's adequate, but that's all. Overdriving the preamp with a Tubescreamer is better forgotten about and yields little improvement of the kind that can be gotten with similarly smooth sounding tube guitar amps.

It is said that Willie is enamored of a Baldwin that he is known to use, and I can see why. It's easy to love and makes no great psychic demands.

Output? Allegedly 75w peak, which really means 25 or 30 on a good day when all the planets are in alignment.

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