solid state amplifiers

product rdf: 


Ruby Amp in a Magic 8-ball

Ruby Practice guitar amp housed in a magic 8 ball

The Ruby Amp is a great little battery powered solidstate practice amp. The design is based on the Little Gem design which in turn comes from the Smokey Amp designed by Dave Stork on The design uses relatively few components and is a good DIY project. Cigar box guitar maker J.K. built a Ruby Amp but found himself hunting for a suitable enclosure for it. Then he noticed an old magic 8 ball that looked just right with a perfect sized hole for the speaker.

Is this a good amp? ...<Shakes ball vigourously>... Signs point to yes!


Watkins Electric Music (WEM) is a British company founded in 1949 by Charlie Watkins and his brother Reg. WEM started as a record shop in Tooting Market, London, later moving to a small shop in Balham where the brothers began selling guitars and accordions.

From the 1950s to the 1970s WEM manufactured guitars, amplifiers, PA systems and the famous CopiCat tape loop delay. The company still existed in  2011 and was still run by Charlie Watkins at that time, focusing on accordions and a new version of the CopiCat. Charlie Watkins died in 2014.

Charlie Watkins was the amp expert, while brothers Sid and Reg made the guitars in the Watkins factory in Chertsey. In 1969 they decided to separate the product lines into separate companies, the guitars were made under the Wilson brandname, Wilson being their mother's maiden name.



The Luna brand name is a Dean Guitars (Armadillo Enterprises) derivative originally fronted by Yvonne De Villiers a stained glass artist. De Villiers designed some inlay patterns for Dean and and they were spun into a product line of guitars. Many Luna guitars feature laser etched designs. De Villiers left the company in 2015. Circa 2018 the Luna range included guitars, basses, ukuleles and bluegrass instruments.

Source: Luna Guitars website (22 January 2018)


In the early 1960s the Unicord Corporation, a manufacturer of electronic transformers purchased the Amplifier Corporation of America of Westbury, New York. They began marketing a line of amplifiers under the brand name of Univox. The company was purchased by Gulf + Western in 1967. Guitar making operations moved to Japan in 1975 where they continued making guitars until 1982. Production under the Univox name was halted after a fire at the Matsumoku factory. After this time instruments were made in Korea under the name Westbury. The Unicord Corporation was purchased by Korg in 1985, effectively ending the line for good.


The first Goya guitars were made in 1950s Gothenburg (Goteborg), Sweden by the Levin company. Levin used the Goya brandname on guitars exported to America through the Hershman Musical Instrument Company in New York. Goya and Levin guitars models are essentially identical. The distribution of Goya guitars then went to Kustom Electronics Inc. and then to Dude Inc. sometime in the early 1970s. Levin-Era Goya models have an interior paper label with the Goya trademark in a script style, reading "Made by A.B. Herman Carlson Levin - Gothenburg, Sweden".

The Martin Guitar Company took over the Levin company by 1975. By the late 1970s Martin Guitars started making the Goya guitars in Japan then moved manufacturing to Korea during the 1980s and finally to Taiwan during the 1990s. Martin stopped making the Goya brand guitars in 1996, although it still owns the brandname.

Make a cracker box amplifier


This is a sample project from MAKE magazine, which shows you how to build a cracker box guitar amplifier for around $5 . It only shows the first few pages of the project, but it gives the schematic for the circuit and you should be able to work out how to finish it yourself. For the full article you will need to buy issue 9 of MAKE. Or why not subscribe: it's an excellent magazine for would be inventors and often features music related projects.

Make a wooden practice amp


This is a photo gallery of a project to build a practice amp out of a solid block of quilted maple. Every part of it is hand crafted, he even makes the control knobs on a lathe.

The end result looks great, you can see that this guy has a talent for 3D design - there are curves everywhere. The amp turns on when you plug the lead in. The green light gets brighter as you play, depending on the volume of the input from the guitar. It also pulses if two strings are out of tune to help you tune your guitar.



The Marshall MS-2 is a fun mini amp, made in Korea or Vietnam. It has classic Marshall looks with the Marshall knobs, grille cloth and logo.

With a 2 inch speaker it can be powered by a 9V battery or by 9V DC. There are 3 control knobs: a volume control, a tone control (best ignored!) and a selector switch (ON-OFF-OVERDRIVE). Round the back is a belt clip and at the side a headphone socket.

Read more ...


Oregon-based Sunn Musical Equipment Company was formed in 1965 to provide rock and roll musicians with loud, roadworthy amplification. Sunn amps were used by such '60s bands as Mountain, The Who and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Sunn also sold budget Strat style electric guitars in the 1980s and 1990s under the Sunn Mustang brand name. Sunn was ultimately acquired by Fender, who discontinued production of the line in the early 2000's.

Source: Sun Amps website (archived 2000)


Bob Crooks founded the Standel Company in Temple City, California in the early 1950s as a custom guitar amplifier company. In the late 1950s Standel expanded their product line to include electric guitars, with a telecaster style instrument made for Standel by Semi Moseley of Mosrite. In the mid1960s another collaboration with Moseley led to a Standel guitar with a reverse bodied stratocaster style body (like the Mosrite Ventures model). The Standel Custom model was made from 1966 until 1967 by Joe Hall at the Bakersfield factory - its low output pickups were desgined to be matched with a Standel amplifier. In 1967 there was also a line of 10 semi-hollow body and arch-top guitars, five acoustic models (with 12-string variants) and two basses. These were designed and made by Sam Koontz and The Harptone Manufacturing Company.


Thomas Garnet Gillies (Gar Gillies) founded the Garnet Amplifier Company in the mid 1960s in Winnipeg, having worked in the TV and radio repair business. By the early 1970's Garnet Amplifiers were firmly established in the Canadian market and began to export to the USA. Although Garnet was best known for its Canadian made valve amplifiers there were also Garnet electric guitars and basses which were made in Japan in the 1970s. Garnet Amplifiers ceased trading in 1989.

Source: Garnet Amplifiers website (7 July 2017)



Founded in 1959 by Stuart and Sheila Mercer, in the English town of Nottingham, Carlsbro is among the very oldest British guitar amplifier companies, along with the likes of Vox, Selmer and WEM. The company even sold its famous 50 TOP valve heads to Jim Marshall’s guitar shop before Marshall made amps of his own. Stuart’s first designs were hand made for bands like Shane Fenton and the Fentons, on the kitchen table. In fact almost all early Carlsbro amps were made for and sold directly to musicians. Demand grew throughout the early 60s, such that production moved from the kitchen table to the garage, and by 1968 Carlsbro amps were being used by the likes of Herman’s Hermits, The Hollies, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.


AXL guitars is a brand of guitars, amplifiers and effects made in China distributed in the USA by Music Link. In 2011 AXL introduced the USA Series of instruments which are assembled from imported parts in the AXL USA workshop in Hayward, CA and include the 1216 Artist and Classic models (the Artist with Seymour Duncan Seth Lover pickups), the SRO Artist and Classic models (the Artist with custom-wound Lindy Fralin single coil pickups) and the AXL USA Bulldog, with a single Lindy Fralin P-90.


The Yamaha Corporation is a multinational Japanese company with large musical instruments and electronic interests. Yamaha was established in 1887 as a piano and organ company and has grown to become the world's largest manufacturer of musical instruments.

They produce a wide variety of guitars and have a reputation for good quality control standards. They have some good beginners guitars as well as some great high end instruments.


Warwick was founded in 1982 by Hans-Peter Wilfer as a premium brand with a small range of models. Warwick basses were made from exotic tonewoods with Neck-through design. Warwick also produces budget versions of the original models with less exotic woods and different finishes under the Rockbass, Pro and Artist brands. Rockbass are made in China and the Pro & Artist series made in South Korea.


Subscribe to RSS - solid state amplifiers