Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

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Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

Postby Rigby on Thu Dec 01, 2016 8:32 pm

Hi,

I've been looking for an amp that can drive a 3.5 Ohm load for my Leslie Model 16, and just picked one up on eBay fairly cheaply. However, the manufacturer is very obscure and has one of those names that's impossible to Google usefully, so I was wondering if anyone here might know anything about it. It's a 50W non master volume valve head, presumably from the 1970s to judge by the cheesy front-panel font. The amp was made by a company called Center Electronics, based in Rayleigh, Essex and is simply labelled 'Mk2 50'. I've never heard of Center Electronics, but it does have a serial number so presumably is a production model rather than a prototype or a one-off. The cabinet is solidly built and neatly covered in black Tolex and looks very conventional.

There are two inputs, labelled Hi and Lo. As well as the Volume dial there are Bass, Middle and Treble controls which run from 1 to 10. There's also a Presence control which is a six-position switch -- I've not seen that before. At the back there are two speaker outputs which can be set to 3.75, 7.5 or 15 Ohms. Power amp valves are two Tungsram EL34s, and there are two ECC83s visible also.

The guy I bought it from had got it in an auction as part of a mixed lot. It was being sold as a bass amp and came with a 1x18 cab which I didn't take, as I'm not a bass player and the Goodman speaker wasn't included.

Anyway, I tried it out today and really like it, though I suspect it could do with some work as there is a fair bit of hiss. With single coils it stays fairly clean most of the way up. With humbuckers it can sound pretty raw. It's bloody loud. Reminds me somewhat of my friend's old Sound City 50+, not that I've heard that for many years.

If I've managed Photobucket successfully, this is what it looks like (in crap lighting, sorry). I did record some of my cackhanded playing through it, will try to edit that and post a link later.

Image

Image

Image

Anyone ever come across one of these before? I wonder if Center Electronics designed the circuit themselves, or if it's a copy of something else. I can't think of another amp with a stepped Presence control.

cheers
Sam
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Re: Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

Postby LD50 on Sat Dec 31, 2016 2:16 pm

Couple of things strike me. First that Roost were Essex based at one time (Southend I believe).

The external view (cab etc) is very similar to Hiwatt/Roost although of course the front panel is different. Having no mid control is quite Orange like (ok I know original Bassmen didn't either.

I cannot see how many preamp tubes there are (possibly only) which is making me suspect more of an Orange vibe than the usual Marshall/Fender type. The output selector type is, again, same as used by quite a few UK firms (Hiwatt, Sound City, Orange and Roost). The bulgin on the back dates it to pre 75 or so

Would like to see some more pics.
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Re: Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

Postby stratele52 on Sat Dec 31, 2016 2:50 pm

LD50 wrote: The bulgin on the back dates it to pre 75 or so

Would like to see some more pics.


I see 3.75 to 7.5 and 15 ohms
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Re: Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

Postby stratele52 on Sat Dec 31, 2016 2:53 pm

LD50 wrote:

I cannot see how many preamp tubes there are (possibly only) which is making me suspect more of an Orange vibe than the usual Marshall/Fender type. .


.....and there are two ECC83s visible also.
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Re: Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

Postby Vortexion on Sat Dec 31, 2016 3:50 pm

If anyone wants to see gut-shots, Rigby has posted them on another forum here:

http://www.thefretboard.co.uk/discussion/91033/mystery-amp-any-info
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Re: Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

Postby Rigby on Sat Dec 31, 2016 6:18 pm

Ah yes, so I did! Thanks for the reminder. It's with an amp tech now, so I hope to have it back some time in January.

I wonder if the circuit might be related to the Carlsbro Top 50?
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Re: Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

Postby LD50 on Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:12 pm

The preamp looks more like an Orange to me with a cathodyne PI and the wafer selector switch with multiple caps.

The points re: flying HT wire are valid and that needs sorting, I would not rip the bulgin out, or the caps if they reformed 100% but that is just me!

Not sure what strattele means re the output selector and I can only see two pres to the pics not eh other forum. :dunno:
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Re: Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

Postby stratele52 on Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:16 pm

LD50 wrote:

Not sure what strattele means re the output selector and I can only see two pres to the pics not eh other forum. :dunno:



IMO, selector show good output impedances
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Re: Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

Postby BygoneTones on Tue Jan 03, 2017 9:49 pm

Ah now this is an interesting find. I have seen photos of 'center' branded 4x12 speaker cabinets used by Humble Pie. I guess they were just a small time manufacturer back in the 70's. Quite a cool amp, I like the graphics on the front panel, but the logo does look kind of cheap.

Image

If you do a google image search for "Steve Marriot Humble Pie", you will see a few results with these cabs in the background.
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Re: Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

Postby LD50 on Wed Jan 04, 2017 3:32 pm

Well Steve lived in Essex and worked in a music shop there too, so that might be how he got into that small label gear. He lived (and sadly died in the house fire) in my old village of Arkesden in North Essex. Although I moved there just after they had finished rebuilding his cottage near the village shop and post office.
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Re: Obscure 50W head from Essex -- anyone know anything?

Postby Clanger on Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:38 pm

You may benefit from buying the new Wilko Johnson book. He is of course a Canvey Island (Essex) native.

In the photo section is a photo of him in front of an amp that looks just like the one discussed here..

btw I did love Steve Marriott, saw him and his 'Packet of Three' several times - outstanding!
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