Gibson GA-20

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Gibson GA-20

Postby dcblues » Sun Dec 09, 2007 10:26 pm

I bought a vintage Gibson amp today, a GA-20. I think it was made in 1955. A good friend of mine (who has so many amps now he's lost count of them!) put it on layaway with me in mind. He wanted me to buy it and let him and another friend repair and modify it. It needs a new speaker, a handle and some other things done. He had me try his GA-20. I didn't like it much at first - it was kind of muffled sounding. But when I tried it with a Green Bullet and an Astatic it sounded great.

We went and bought it and he took it home. I paid $450 for it and I'll probably end up putting another $150-$200 into it. If I end up not liking it, my friend promised he would buy it back from me for what I paid (amp and repair costs).

This amp might have some history. Apparently it was sold to the music store by the son of the guitarist from The Flamingos.

I'm hoping to gig with it soon.
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Postby jeffl » Mon Dec 10, 2007 12:20 pm

Good grab, dcb! Is that the model they used to call the "Skylark"...?
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Postby bosco » Mon Dec 10, 2007 1:19 pm

The Skylark was the GA-5, their 5 watter designed to compete with Fender's Champ. I played a 60s era Skylark last year with a Green Bullet and the tone was awesome, nice and gritty without any harshness. I wouldn't say it was muffled but it certainly wasn't on the bright side of the spectrum. Unfortunately GC wanted way too much money for it and I wasn't in the market for another small amp.

I'm assuming the GA-20 is a 20 watter with a 12 inch speaker? I like certain 12 inch speakers for harp as I have stated in my Fender Musicmaster Bass thread.

Good score DC!

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Postby dcblues » Mon Dec 10, 2007 1:33 pm

I'm assuming the GA-20 is a 20 watter with a 12 inch speaker?


I think that's it. I know it has one 12.
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Postby barbequebob » Mon Dec 10, 2007 5:39 pm

For years, Gibson amps, vintage or not, was easy to get on the cheap, but in the last 5-7 years, people have been rediscovering them and they're now beggining to fetch bigger cash now. My all time favorite Gibson amp was the 79RV (not the RVT, with the tremelo).
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Postby angerboy » Tue Dec 11, 2007 12:32 am

Don't forget to keep all of the original parts to facilitate resale value.

A friend of mine is a guitar player. He owns one of those. He said that it is similar to a Fender Deluxe in terms of output. The would be around 12W or 15W with a pair of 6V6's. He's been trying to get me to use that amp for a while. He thinks it would be a tremendous harp amp and swears he isn't trying to sell it to me.
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Postby jeffl » Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:04 am

It sounds like it fits the same bill as those old Valcos & Ampegs from the 60's.
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Postby dcblues » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:56 am

I was over at my friend's house tonight while he and our amp guru/guitarist friend were working on it, and putting a new handle on my Premiere. They had it gutted and showed me all of the original insides. They also told me to keep the original speaker, but I'm not allowed to ever sell it. :)

They're buying a new speaker for it this week, and hopefully I'll be able to use it at a gig this Thursday.
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Postby angerboy » Tue Dec 11, 2007 6:18 am

I think it goes without saying. You've got really good friends.
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Postby jeffl » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:32 pm

nothing like a new toy,dcb! I'm happy for ya'...I've been lookin' at amps again lately, and of course I have no need for another one. I've been pissed at myself ever since I sold my silverface champ (only 'cuz it was so nice and small for luggin' around, and it was a cute little fella). But, I'm guessin' that Gibson will have that unmistakable "brown" sound of most of those old horses. I hope you like it.
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Postby dcblues » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:39 pm

They're really good friends, but they would be great friends if they weren't charging me $200 for parts and labor. :)

They're also putting a lineout in my Bassman this week.
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Postby angerboy » Tue Dec 11, 2007 3:22 pm

$200 is dirt cheap to have an amp gutted and rebuilt, esp if that includes expensive parts like a speaker. It would almost be cheaper to build one from scratch out here. One of my buddies had a silverface Princeton Reverb modified to blackface specs. He also had a 12" Weber installed in a new baffle and an upgraded output transformer to put out a bit over 18W. His bill was about $600 after he bought the amp.
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Re: Gibson GA-20

Postby thebluesbox » Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:59 pm

Weather you rebuild and amp or build one from scratch its plenty expensive. The parts cost adds up real quick. Makes you wonder how the heck epi and others can build them 99.00 amps. They must get a huge parts cut and cheap labor, because the tolex and wood to make the heads on an epi jr is at least 50 bucks, the rest of the parts at lease another 50 or 60 bucks ... it just dont add up.
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Re: Gibson GA-20

Postby dcblues » Sat Dec 15, 2007 8:38 pm

They're not rebuilding the cabinet or doing anything cosmetic. The thing is beat up and worn looking. It looks as old as it is, but it sounds great.

I picked up the Gibson and the Premiere (which has been retubed and has a new handle) today. I owe them another $200. So that makes close to $900 I'm spending on an old amp to be rebuilt and another old one to be modified. I was assured over and over again by my friends that this is worth more than a new boutique, made for harp amp, and I have a money back guarantee on the Gibson. I asked one of my friends today what I should do if someone offers me $5000 for it at a gig. He said "Don't sell it."

I'll use the Gibson tonight for the first time. I'll let you know how it sounds soon.
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Re: Gibson GA-20

Postby angerboy » Sun Dec 16, 2007 4:54 am

Ouch! There's an extravagant gift to yourself. Happy Holidays.

It would be interesting to hear how it sounds. You've got a killer Big Walter sound working and it would be nice to hear it through that gear.
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