Monday, April 10, 2017

The Lesmann Amplifier Project

If you've been here before you know of my weakness for orphan amps with fifteen inch speakers, and this one seemed to fill the bill on all counts: 15 inch speaker, about 25 w, made by who knows, and general adaptability to other chores.

Behold the Lesmann amplifier which, I think, was built to accompany Lesmann's other big gun, the Accordio-organ (which seems to be a hybrid accordion with electronic organ features).

All I have been able to dig up on this amplifier is the following. I believe the amps were built in West Allis, Wisconsin, as there was a Lesmann Corporation that existed there for a time. In addition, the Accordio-organ was patented (2,983,178) in 1961 by Fred N. Searles and Ralph G. Studemann and assigned to the Lesmann Corporation of West Allis, Wisconsin.

I did find a tantalizing lead on The Accordionists Forum in which the daughter of Fred Searles states that the company came from the two names, searLES and studeMANN. There was no further information

She also states that her father worked at "The Music Shop", which may be connected to Ralph Hanzel's Music Store in Milwaukee which was a powerhouse in the trade at one time. The proprietor was a steel guitar player I believe, and is credited as the co author of a country song entitled "This Is Honkytonk".

I hope that someone finds this information and  adds to the general fund of knowledge. I've been theorizing that there was an interesting music scene in the Milwaukee area during the fifties and early sixties that was heavily into country and accordion music-Flotatone was doing business at the time in the same area, and they were involved in amplified accordion music.

There's a little more about Flotatone on the internet, and I do know that others made and sold accordion amplifiers-Ampeg, Sano, Danelectro and Magnatone, among others.

Well then. Now, to the amp.

It's about the same size as a narrow panel tweed Pro, but I have not as yet drawn out a schematic or done any circuit analysis. This one's relatively untouched, and has the (mostly) original Aerovox capacitors and  Northlake Engineering transformers. Northlake is in Wisconsin and is still in business. I did not check the chokes for manufacturer's dates and codes.

A casual look inside reveals some strange vibrato stuff going on with a couple of neon bulbs but that's about as far as I've gotten. Here are the pictures so far.


  1. I've got a very similar Lesmann Amp (not working) I'm looking for more info (schematic) but as you know there isn't much out there. Is your amp working?

  2. I just bought one of these amps at a shop in Milwaukee called Gearheadz. They have a few of these and the owner of the shop knows more about them.

  3. I just purchased a Lessman 500-P today. It has recently been serviced, but I'd love to acquire a schematic. Please share or point me in the right direction?

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  5. Have you made any advances with the schematic? I have a Lesmann 500-P and the filter cap section has been greatly modified... The pics you posted have given me some good ideas (and thinking of the general Fender approach) but I'd be very grateful to see some more information if possible. Thanks.