solid state amplifiers

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Linear Products Limited was founded in the early 1960s in the Electron Works building in Armley, Leeds, UK. Linear made amplifiers that were sold through the R.S.C. chain of shops, as well as direct to the customer (sometimes as mail order amplifier kits) and also rebadged for other retailers (e.g. Goldenair amps for Sona Electrical). An offshoot of this company was Futuristic Aids Limited (FAL), who made budget solid state DJ equipment.

Source: Champ Electronics - Linear Products Ltd (29 October 2018)


Futuristic Aids Limited (FAL) was a company in Leeds founded in the 1970s, UK who specialised in budget solid-state PA and lighting equipment, aimed at the moble DJ. There were also FAL instrument amplifiers and in 1979 FAL aquired the Roost guitar amplifier & cabinet company. The FAL company was founded as an offshoot of Linear Products Limited of Leeds, both companies sold their products through the RSC chain of shops as well as Sona Electrical in Leeds.

Source: Andy Duke - Roost history (29 October 2018)

Source: Champ Electronics - The Linear Products Company (29 October 2018)


J. Rusty Shaffer  founded Optek Music Systems to manufacture and distribute the Smart Light (later Fretlight) Guitar and learning system which he invented in 1987. These guitars have LED lights embedded into the fingerboard to show learners where to put their fingers. The earlier models were branded Smart Light (SL) and in 1998 Optek went into partnership with Washburn International to market the Washburn SmartLIGHT Guitar. Some of the SmartLight guitars were manufactured by Samick. Optek Music Systems has now discontinued the SmartLIGHT brand name in favour of the Fretlight brand.

Source: Fretlight website (16 October 2018)


Norma brand guitars, basses and other instruments were made in Japan for distribution by Strum and Drum of Wheeling, Illinois from 1957 to 1972 at least.

Source: Norma catalogs


Nanyo Boeki Company Ltd was a Japanese distributor of microphones, amplifiers and musical instruments.  In the mid 1980s Nanyo aquired the Sexton Guitar Company and manufactured SGC Nanyo basses and launched the Guitar Collection and Bass Collection brands. Nanyo Boeki went out of business (at least the musical instrument part) in the early 2000s and the Bass Collection brand name was aquired by the Bass Centre in London, UK.

Source: SGC Nanyo Bass Collection catalog 1993


Murph Guitars was founded by Thomas Patrick ‘Pat’ Murphy. Murphy was born in 1920 in Illinois and was an air force mechanic in the US Navy during World War II. By 1960 he had moved to California and had a family of 5 musically talented kids - they had a family singing and dancing group called The Murphys. The oldest two boys played the guitar. It was their guitar teacher who convinced Pat Murphy to try his hand at making a line of electric guitars. Murphy Music Industries began in 1965 in San Fernando in 1200 square foot building at 1817 First Street. By 1966 Murphy had a range of solid body guitars and amplifiers and had 22 workers. At this point Murphy Music Industries received a ‘cease and desist’ letter from CBS -Fender  which claimed that the body shape of the Murph Squire guitar was too much like the Fender Jazzmaster & Jaguar.

Prince (Tsushinkogyo)

Prince Tsushinkogyo Co. Ltd.  (Prince Telecommunication and Engineering) was founded in 1950  in Nagoya, Japan. They concentrated on making tuners and solid state musical instrument amplifiers which were sold under the Prince brand names as well as others (such as Memphis). The company began to use the Arion brand name in 1980 and began making guitar effects pedals. The company's fortunes declined in the 1990s and by 1997 Arion was sold to the Ueno Kaihatsu Center, who continued making pedals and tuners, but discontinued the amplifiers.


Marlboro Sound Works was a brand name of Musical Instrument Corporation of America (Syosset, New York) in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These budget solid state amplifiers were often distributed through mail order catalogs such as Montgomery Ward.

Source: Marlboro amplifiers catalogs (1979 to 1982)


The AHED company was established in the early 1970s when Phil Anderson amalgamated the various divisions of Arc Sound Company into one corporation called AHED Music Corporation Ltd. (Arc Home Entertainment Diversified). AHED sold musical instruments  pianos, organs and guitars, through Mr Music stores but were best known for their GBX, Taurus and Darius amplifiers. AHED ceased operations in 1986 due to the slow Canadian economy and changes in the music industry.

Source: History of ARC Sound Company (2 February 2018)


Loco Amplifiers and LocoBox Effects were Aria brand names. The pedals were handmade (from the late 1970s onwards) by a small team in Urawa, in Saitama, Japan who sold their pedals to Aria,  Although the main brand name was Locobox, they also produced identical pedals under different brand names including: Electra, Volz, Nadines, Cutec, Pearl, Gig, Powervoice, Studio Series and even a few Yamaha pedals.The company was then aquired by Aria who started producing Loco amplifiers as well.

Source: Loco and LocoBox catalogs 1981.

Source: Jaimie Muehlhausen's Unofficial LocoBox website (archived 2006)

Legend (amps)

Legend Musical Instruments Inc made hybrid guitar amplifiers in Syracuse, New York from around 1978 to 1985. These amps had a tube preamp and solid state power amp - and were very loud! Around 7000 were built in total.

Source: Legend Amplifiers catalogs (1981 to 1984)


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