Dating valco amplifiers

Popping off the back panel reveals circuitry that has remained untouched since this amp was built.

Using a combination of tag strip and point-to-point wiring, Valco’s construction practices may not provide the easy serviceability and logical layout of a tweed Fender, but the build quality is impressive nonetheless.

These power tubes may or may not have been fitted in Jimmy Page’s fabled Supro, but we like them a lot.

They were mostly used in hi-fi and jukebox amps rather than guitar amps, and although the 6973 looks like an EL84, it’s quite different.

It must have appeared more modern at the time, too.

The textured covering epitomises mid-century chic and the contrasting white (now cream) piping is a classy touch.

It’s probably no coincidence that 6973s are found in Gretsch and Supro amplifiers, because Valco built amps for both brands.

The way that the cut-out continues around the front-right corner is possibly the defining motif of Gretsch amps.

Given that it’s a mint example, it’s reasonable to compare the build and finish to Fender amps of that era.

As much as we admire vintage tweeds, this Gretsch looks and feels like a higher quality amp.

We haven’t encountered this on an amp from this era before, but it’s commonly seen on modern amps.

Strictly speaking, a 5Y3 rectifier valve means that standby mode isn’t necessary for the 6156 circuit, but opinions may differ. At first sight, it appears like a nondescript dome of white plastic; but when illuminated, mouldings on the underside help to turn it into a pearly, iridescent shell.

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