Guild Model E-4 Custom Copicat Echo Effect, made by Watkins/WEM (1965)

 Guild Model E-4 Custom Copicat Echo Effect, made by Watkins/WEM (1965)
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Item # 11638
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Guild Model E-4 Custom Copicat Model Echo Effect, made by Watkins/WEM (1965), made in London, serial # CO-544, grey textured fabric finish.

One of the first commercially available tape delay units, the original Copicat Echo was introduced by Watkins Electric Music in England in 1958. It was an instant hit and quickly became Watkins' most successful product, preceding many other European echo units like the Binson Echorec, Klimt Echoette and the Vox Echo Deluxe. In the UK the lower price of Watkins' unit made it the favorite of teen and amateur combos, but many professionals actually preferred simple but reliable the Copicat to more expensive units.

This Custom Copicat is a later somewhat fancier model made for the American Guild Company to answer US demand for tape echoes "widely employed by groups in the USA seeking to adapt the Liverpool and other English sounds." as their catalog put it. Guild first offered the standard Copicat in their 1964 catalog, adding this more advanced model in 1965. The WEM logo on the control panel dates this unit to 1965-6, when it was first featured in Guild's catalog. The WEM logo was deleted from the export version in 1967, presumably to make it appear more like a native Guild product.

The "Custom Copicat" lies somewhere between the UK tube Mk II and the solid-state Mk IV model. Compared to the later IC Copicats these tube units typically produce more saturated and characterful echoes. They sound lovely both as a pre-amp and as an echo unit with strong repeats that break up and can easily be pushed into self-oscillation if desired.

The Copicat features two inputs and independent gain controls for each, as well as "reverb" (feedback) and "swell" (echo volume) controls, the latter doubling as the primary power switch in addition to the motor on/off switch next to it. Selector buttons labeled "halo", "echo" and "repeat" offer three delay times that "may be used in different combinations to achieve seven different echo delays" as the manual states.

Guild described this as "A high efficiency accessory priced with in the reach of the average instrumentalist" and that is still true. The original list price was $189.50, far below the $400 Binson Echorec they also offered. The custom Copicat is a really cool and fun echo that offers a different set of tape-delay tones compared to the much larger (and heavier) Binson, Echoplex and Roland Space Echo units.
Height is 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm.), 14 3/4 in. (37.5 cm.) width, and 10 in. (25.4 cm.) deep.

Cosmetically, this little unit is in phenomenal shape for its age. The rather thin black covering is nicely intact with no notable wear or tearing. The control panel is very clean with all the graphics intact and only a few very minor scuffs. The gold dome inlays on the original knobs (which often fall out) have been replaced. The original hardwired footswitch is present and in excellent shape as well.

Electrically, the unit is nicely original. It's been completely overhauled with fresh tape and is in perfect working order. All major components are original and besides typical tweaks to optimize performance, functionality and minimize noise, the circuit remains stock and unchanged. The original two-prong power cable has been left in place. The unit has otherwise had our typical maintenance including replacement of electrolytic capacitors, cleaning and re-lubing of motor, re-lapping and re-aligning of tape heads and biased to spec.

This is a wonderfully preserved and phenomenal sounding example of THE pioneering model of compact tape echo units, a classic of the era and enduring tribute to the ingenuity of Charlie Watkins' small but industrious UK company. Overall Excellent Condition.