Standel Custom Model 70 J-15-V Tube Amplifier, c. 1962

Standel  Custom Model 70 J-15-V Tube Amplifier,  c. 1962
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Item # 9192
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Standel Custom Model 70 J-15-V Model Tube Amplifier, c. 1962, made in Temple City, California, serial # 1479-4, black tolex covering finish.

The history of the Standel company is rife with twists and turns, and if they never fully entered the pantheon of great 20th century electric culture icons it is not for lack of honest effort. The best-remembered Standel products are the early tube amplifiers like this one from the 1950s and early 1960s; these are still considered some of the best ever made and sought after by discerning players. Like Leo Fender, company founder Bob Crooks was primarily an amplifier man. Standel made several attempts to enter the guitar market, but their reputation rests primarily on these earlier amplifiers. Still, they are part of the great southern California Hillbilly-hot-rod guitar culture.

The Standel operation was founded in 1953 by Bob Crooks, originally located in his garage at 10661 Freer Street, Temple City, California. Crooks, a hi-fi repairman and tinkerer, was originally hired to build a custom amplifier design by Paul Bigsby, to be sold with Bigsby's solid-body electric and pedal steel guitars. At the time Bigsby was feuding with Leo Fender! Eventually Bigsby lost interest but Crooks kept at it, eventually coming up with a design that proved popular with the local southern California country players like Merle Travis, Speedy West, and Joe Maphis.

This Standel Custom Model 70 J-15-V dates to the early '60s, when the company had grown somewhat from its garage origins but was still essentially a custom operation. It is typical of the Standels of the era, impeccably well-made and fantastic-sounding, albeit with a cleaner, more hi-fi response than the Fender amplifiers that they are most often compared to. This made them popular with West Coast country players and pedal steel players particularly, and to this day many musicians in this genre prefer a Standel tube amp to any other.

This rare Standel combo is a fantastic-sounding amp with a wide range of full, brilliant tones. The two channels each have their own volume and "accent" controls (a so-called "tilt-switch" where clockwise adds treble while simultaneously removing bass, and vice-versa when turned counterclockwise) on the light-up faceplate, with a shared treble and bass control in the center. The harmonic tremolo is deep and lush, a different experience from the typical Fender with controls mounted at the back of the amp.

The 6DQ6B/6GW6 output tubes are unusual and specific to Standel in this period and the pair yields about 20-30W of power. The pots in this amp carry date codes of 6142 indicating manufacture in late 1961. The 15" JBL D130F speaker is original and still working very well. This was about the heaviest duty professional speaker available in 1962, and according to Bob Crooks, who has been attempting to re-issue the models in recent years but scrapped the project due to the unavailability of the speaker, is absolutely essential to the unique sound of these amplifiers.
Height is 20 in. (50.8 cm.), 26 1/4 in. (66.7 cm.) width, and 11 in. (27.9 cm.) deep.

This nearly 60-year-old amp has seen a decent amount of use and was likely a gigging unit for someone when new, as indeed most of these pro-grade Standels were. Internally the amp remains largely original with a few tweaks to replace aging electrolytic caps and add a grounded 3-prong cord. The amp has also seen a thorough cleaning of all tube sockets, pots, and jacks, and has been gone over with tube replacements where necessary.

The cabinet was recovered with a heavier black Tolex long ago; the back panels retain the original thinner coated fabric covering. The aluminum trim and grille cloth and plexi front panel remain original as well, with some moderate wear. The heavy duty handle is a later replacement. This amp appears to have been gigged a lot but was well-cared for; a previous owner probably elected to have it recovered after the original fabric became too worn to look good on stage! This is a wonderful and unique-sounding amp, quite unlike anything else then or now. Very Good + Condition.