Gibson GA-8 Discoverer Tube Amplifier (1961)

Gibson  GA-8 Discoverer Tube Amplifier (1961)
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Item # 9950
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Gibson GA-8 Discoverer Model Tube Amplifier (1961), made in Kalamazoo, Michigan, serial # 11571, off-white tolex finish.
Height is 18 in. (45.7 cm.), 22 in. (55.9 cm.) width, and 10 in. (25.4 cm.) deep.

This funky little Gibson amp from the dawn of the 1960s is a fairly simple design but one of the company's best and most interesting period offerings. It is labeled "Discoverer", a name introduced in 1960; it was the space age after all! There is even a little rendering of the Discoverer satellite on the faceplate. While still using the older 1950s GA-8 model designation, it is actually a new design for the new decade. It is a fairly compact 10 watt combo with more kick than many similar small amps.

The cabinet is covered in textured cream tolex, an unusual feature for this model. The faceplate has two inputs and controls for volume and tone. The amp puts out about 10 watts with a great breakup curve. Even the handle is extra cool, with a clear plastic center featuring an embedded "Gibson" logo. This was fairly successful for Gibson with 967 shipped in 1961; they seem fairly rare now however, as the model was not in production for that long.

Overall this amp shows some general wear and tear but no heavy abuse or alterations. The light-colored Tolex is a bit dirty and has some minor wear and scuffing around the edges. There is also some scuffing and minor signs of corrosion on the faceplate, but nearly all the stenciled graphics remain intact. The fragile raised plastic Gibson nameplate on the grille is unfortunately missing. The power switch looks like an older replacement.

Electrically, the amp is nicely original: it mounts an original Jensen 10" speaker coded 220 105 (5th week of 1961), which still has the original cone and sounds great. The pots are from the 48th week of 1960 and the original power transformer (GA-23P) and output transformers are both original. Recent service consisted of a typical cap job with all the electrolytics replaced, the pots, jacks and sockets cleaned, a three prong grounded power cable installed and the power tubes biased to spec. The tube compliment consists of two 6V6 output tubes running in parallel single ended configuration -- a rare output tube configuration, unique to these early non-tremolo GA-8s. Electrically, this is not unlike having two single ended Fender Champ power sections in parallel. This results in a rich and thick overdrive unlike any other low-wattage amp we've heard!

This is a really cool sounding little amp and still something of an unsung classic, with a lot of tone in its 10 watts! Excellent - Condition.