Monday, January 30, 2017

Mystery Amp: The Epiphone Kent-or Maybe Asta.

Here's an interesting small amp I acquired recently and it was no stranger to me. I'd been at an auction a number of years ago and bid on it but failed to score it. So I consoled myself with a dolphin head Danelectro guitar. The amp itself showed up on craigslist on Saturday and I made my deal over the phone and picked it up yesterday. It was considerably less than it sold for at auction, plus it had been updated with a grounded power cord.

So then, the question was, what is it?

The unofficial New York Epiphone Registry thinks it is an Epiphone Asta, of which no catalog pictures exist. The amp they show on their site has four tubes-two 6V6s in series no doubt, a 6SL7 preamp, and a 5Y3 handling the rectifier chores.

I have my doubts. It looks awfully similar to the Epiphone Kent shown above from the 1950 Electar catalog, pictured in Epiphone: The House of Stathopoulo  by Fisch and Fred from 1996. This is described as a three tube amp developing 6-1/2 w and a single volume control.

The serial number on this amp is 2136. It's covered in tweed and has a 10 inch Rola PM speaker with a production date of 1949. It also carries a Freed power transformer which suggests that it was made in the New York area.

The extra large sized mud dauber nest is an extra cost option.

Nat Daniel made amps post war for Epiphone but according to him he and Epiphone had parted ways by 1946.

I would respectfully suggest that that is inaccurate, because the redesigned Epiphone amps in the 1955 catalog are quite similar in the panel control placement  and graphics to contemporary Danelectro amps including the placement of the pilot light . Nat Daniel was also known for using Freed transformers.

There is a legend on the later amps that says "distributed by Continental Music Champaign, IL-San Francisco CA-Atlanta GA". In further research, Billboard's list of exhibitors at the NAMM convention for 1951 in Chicago shows Continental Music, a division of C.G. Conn four doors down from Danelectro.

Fisch and Fred go into some detail concerning the relationship between Continental Music and Epiphone. which began in 1952 and continued to the end of the line.

I've yet to examine one of the middle fifties Epiphone amps closely, but I suspect not too many were sold because The House of Stathopoulo indicates that by 1957 Epiphone had become moribund and was acquired by Gibson.

If you have a schematic for an Epiphone Kent you can send it right along.

1 comment:

  1. I bought one of these yesterday with a later serial number. Any clue on the proper filter cap values? That's the only thing that really seems to be wrong with it aside from a couple shitty wax and papers off the cathode.

    I know the electar uses 8 mfd, but I don't really see why the 5Y3GT would really be hurt by more.