Selmer Zodiac Twin Fifty Tube Amplifier (1964)

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$4,500.00 + shipping
Item # 8845
Prices subject to change without notice.
Selmer Zodiac Twin Fifty Model Tube Amplifier (1964), made in London, England, serial # 16751, Crocskin fabric finish.

In the England of 1964, most pro players used Vox amplifiers...or at least, seemed to. The parent company JMI was expert at getting its gear into the hands of the top "beat groups" and this gave the impression that they were the only game in town; indeed, in the whole country! They weren't, but the competition had a hard time making much headway, even if their product was top-notch.

The most viable challenger to the Vox hegemony was London-based Selmer, especially with the striking but the short-lived crock-skin combo amps of 1963-'65. The most popular were the Zodiac Twin 30 and Zodiac Twin 50, direct responses to the Vox AC30. These amps are not only wonderful to look at but are superbly engineered with unique circuits all their own, products of a venerable company that prided itself on quality and originality.

Introduced early in 1964, the Zodiac Twin 50 differed from the earlier Twin 30 in being grid-biased instead of cathode biased. This is responsible for a noticeable output power increase, even with the tube compliment being the same. With a classic EL34 power stage, the Zodiac 50 puts a fearsome sonic output (rated at 50 watts "English") into its two alnico Celestion G12 speakers. The price for this power was 10 Guineas in 1964, with this amp selling at 100 as opposed to 90 guineas for the Zodiac Twin 30.

Both Zodiac Twins have the preamp section mounted in the top and separate heavy power amp on the bottom of the 2x12 cab. The layout is much more tube friendly than the AC-30s closed in hot-box and cabinet ventilation far superior. Each of two channels has a single ECC83 gain stage but are sonically quite different after that. Channel one runs through a standard treble roll off tone control, volume control, then a second EF86 preamp tube gain stage before the output stage. Channel two is an entirely different proposition! After the first gain stage lies a six-pushbutton tone selector that offers, in addition to a bypass rotary tone control option, push buttons for High Treble, Treble, Medium, Bass, and Contra Bass. These engage a network of tone caps between the gain stages. The signal then routes through another EF86 gain stage, then a tremolo circuit with Speed and Depth controls, then finally down to the power amp section.

In addition to their inventive circuitry, the Zodiac Twins looked very different from anything on the market. The mock-crocodile and black vinyl covering with gold and white piping accents gives them a weirdly mid-'60s Euro manque look like a period sports car interior. A completely off-the-wall feature is the small green "magic eye" tremolo indicator on the upper cabinet front, which pulses in time to the trem rate. As if to make sure the amp's builder would get credit for all this, the gold Selmer letters on the bottom front panel are far larger than strictly required and visible from the cheap seats in the audience. Take that, Vox!

These amps were not available in the US when new and have always been very rare here, and far from common even at home in the UK. This is a very nice example and sounds great, with a lot of power and (as designed) a wide range of usable tones. And you can't beat the eye-popping looks with ANY amp from ANY era!
 
Height is 20 in. (50.8 cm.), 29 in. (73.7 cm.) width, and 10 in. (25.4 cm.) deep.

Overall a very nice example of this rare amp, showing signs of use but not abuse with no major alterations. The fantastic gator-and-leatherette covering has numerous dings, dents, and scuffs with some worn-through spots on the edges but is substantially intact. Internally it has had some typical cap and maintenance work, but all major components are original including the (way huge) transformers and the wonderful Celestion G-12 speakers. It is set up with a new set of JJ KT88 power tubes.

The lower back panel on the cabinet is a superbly done repro, with a very close match to the Tolex. The cabinet bottom has been fitted with wheels -- this amp is rather heavy! The amp has not been converted from the original 220 power supply but is provided with heavy duty step-up transformer that can either be a standalone unit or mounted in the amp cabinet. This is a fantastic piece of vintage British invasion history and simply one of the coolest amps of its or any era. Overall Excellent - Condition.