Rickenbacker Tube Amplifier (1934-5)

Rickenbacker  Tube Amplifier (1934-5)
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Item # 11436
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Rickenbacker Tube Amplifier (1934-5), made in Los Angeles, black fabric covering finish.

"The Speaker", is the nickname for this, what was considered one of the first practical commercially available guitar amplifiers. This model was featured in the earliest Rickenbacker (or "Rickenbacher") catalogs, pictured alongside the iconic A-25 "Frying Pan" lap steel. It is said to have been designed by C.W. Lane, one of Electro Strings stockholders and built by the Van Nest radio shop in L.A. The case was provided by Johnson Cabinet Works. This particular amp is the second known variant of this initial design; the very first had no metal corners, nor did they feature the "Rickenbacher" logo plate on the face which appeared around 1934.

Like other Ricenbacker amps of the era, Black Keratol over wood and the gold grille cloth were used for the enclosure. As of 1932, three versions of the model were sold, accommodating up to three inputs, priced at $62.50, $65 and $70, respectively. This being the "one input" model, the control panel is as simple as can be with a single input and one volume knob. There is no dedicated on/off switch; when the amp is plugged into the wall, it is on! Two 47 power triodes in push-pull with limited preamplification puts out around 2-3 watts of power into a 10" field-coil speaker. This example is literally one of the first couple of hundred (at the most) guitar amplifiers ever sold commercially; it shows some wear but considering its nearly 90 years on earth remains nicely preserved and still sings with a sweet and chiming sound, not an overdrive monster but with a lot of tonal color.
Height is 11 in. (27.9 cm.), 16 in. (40.6 cm.) width, and 5 1/2 in. (14 cm.) deep.

Cosmetically, this amp is very nicely preserved but inevitably shows its age. The rather frail and thin black Keratol covering has some general wear at the edges of the cabinet and the metal corners are showing a fair amount of corrosion. The gold-colored grille cloth fabric is surprisingly nicely intact with no notable tearing or staining. The handle appears original and is in fantastic shape considering its age and has many years of service left in it still! The chassis is shows moderate wear and a fair amount corrosion on metal components.

Electrically, the amp is nicely original including the 10" field-coil speaker, which sounds fantastic. All transformers appear original and the amp has seen our typical maintenance and servicing, including replacement of electrolytic capacitors, cleaning of all sockets, pots and jacks, a grounded 3-prong power cord and biased to spec.

This is a very playable and extremely historic amp. It is still the perfect companion to an early Rickenbacker lap steel and a fine example of one of the earliest and best of the amplification units that started the electric guitar revolution. Overall Excellent - Condition.