Gretsch tube amp

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ChasingGuitars

Gretsch G6163 Executive Amp

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Gretsch G6163 Executive “All Tube” Amp built by Victoria amps. Based on a Fender Deluxe blackface at 20 watts sporting a Eminence 15 inch speaker with reverb and tremolo. Designed from the ground up to be a perfect match for Gretsch guitars!

The G6163 is a 20-watt, boutique combo amp hand-built by the Victoria Amplifier Company. The design is inspired by classic 60s American combo amps, with a chime-y clean tone that transitions into a throaty overdrive as you turn up the volume. It also features 60s-style tube/optical tremolo and tube-driven, long-spring reverb. Hand-wired, turret board construction and Finger-jointed pine cabinet. Not too many were made so these are hard to find. This one is in Excellent condition and was never gigged. Shipped to me in original box and not a mark on it.

With its expansive tonal range and articulately sparkling sound, the Executive™ is the perfect amp for the Gretsch® player who wants stratospheric clean tones. The literally glowing combination of tubes (one 5AR4, two 6V6s, three 12AX7s, two 12AT7s) fuels a single 15” Eminence® Legend speaker for a barrage of authoritative sounds. The 20-watt Executive also features reverb and tremolo circuits.

Overview:

  • Power Output: 20 Watts
  • Speaker: 15″ Eminence Legend
  • Tubes: 5AR4, 6V6 (2), 12AT7 (2), 12AX7 (3)
  • Controls: Intensity, Speed, Reverb, Middle, Bass, Treble, Volume
  • Two Inputs Single Channel – Bright and Normal
  • Spring reverb and Tremolo
  • Hand-wired chassis
  • Chrome control panel with ultra cool Gretsch knobs
  • Finger-jointed pine cabinet with 2-tone vinyl covering
  • Made in the USA by Mark Baier/Victoria Amplifiers for Gretsch
  • Dimensions: 24″ H x 26″ W x 11″ D
  • Weight: 50 lbs

The Gretsch amps made by Victoria are bouquet hand-wired amps. There are three models… The 15 watt Playboy with 12-inch speaker, the 20 watt Executive with 15-inch and the 40 watt Variety with three 10-inch speakers. Introduced around 2005 at NAMM, they were pretty high priced amps at the time and did not sell all that well mostly due to this. They were discontinued after a few years and Gretsch has had no indication to go back to releasing amps. Makes some sense as Gretsch distribution and marketed by Fender.

These Victoria made amps were based on Fender amps not the early Gretsch Valco made amps of the old days. The Victoria Gretsch amps are well built, sound great. They have now become rare and hard to find. The Executive was on my wish list for a while. You do not see these come up for sale too often. I felt quite lucky to find one I could purchase that was in like new condition in the original box. Players like Rev Jim Heath and Paul Pigat have been known to play Gretsch Executive amps for a long time.

The Fender Blackface Deluxe has always been one of my favorite amps. The Executive is based on the Deluxe, but with a very efficient 15-inch Emenince speaker. It features Reverb and Tremolo. Amp is clean and quite loud and needs to be driven to produce overdrive. Probably too loud for most playing at home or in small clubs to get an overdrive sound as this is NOT a master volume control amp. I makes an excellent pedal platform and how I use it.

Sours: http://chasingguitars.com/gretsch-g6163-executive-amp/

The Gretsch Pages

1 949Norm

I've been a Fender Amp guy pretty much my entire life, I have a 60s Valco as well and an old Marshall somewhere, but I want to get a vintage Gretsch, probably with one 15 inch Speaker, but 2 12's could probably work as well What advice do you have for me?

2 DCBirdMan

Well Valco/Supro made the the 1950s and 60s Gretsch amps... but they had a 2x12 35 watt job I think... maybe the kind that had the power amp section on the bottom. I think Jensens were mostly used. A still say a tweaked up 1955-65 Valco comes close to Fender in coolness and cool sound of the same era.

3 Windsordave

If you don't find a vintage one, the recently out of production Executive is a good bet. Many of us have one and like it.

4 drmilktruck

The best starter amp for a Gretsch enthusiast is the 6150T. At 5 watts it's a great little distortion generator. Obviously not a 15 inch speaker though.

I currently play through an 6161 Twin, which is pretty damn fine. Two 11 x 9 inch speakers plus a 5 inch tweeter. 6973 tubes. 14 watts or so.

5 Powdog

Or something in between the two amps above. The 6156 runs a pair of 6973 tubes like the 6161, but has a single 10" speaker which is easier to replace/repair than the 11 x 9 oval speakers. Pretty loud for a smaller amp, on par with a Princeton Reverb.

6 wabash slim

My first amp was a late '50s G6163---15", 18 watts. Any of the early Valco amps would be worth looking into. Once you get into the Sixties and solid state amps, forget it. The modern era with the Executives are definitely great amps. The recent G5222 has a lot of fans as well.

7 Afire

I had a '60s SS Gretsch 4x10 amp when I was a kid and actually really liked it. This was over 20 years ago and maybe I'd rate it differently now, but I remember it fondly, FWIW.

8 Windsordave

I'd say a perfect amp for you is the one on the other thread, a '60's Executive with a nice big speaker. Heck of a price too!

9 General_Lee

Nice set of amps there drmilktruck. I particularly like the look of that 6161 Twin...

10 Afire

I'd say a perfect amp for you is the one on the other thread, a '60's Executive with a nice big speaker. Heck of a price too! - Windsordave

+1. The price seem reasonable enough, looks like free shipping may be on the table. I don't think those are terribly easy to find either, particularly with the more attractive late '50s styling.

11 drmilktruck

Nice set of amps there drmilktruck. I particularly like the look of that 6161 Twin...

– General_Lee

Thanks, it's in great shape too.

12 Vince_Ray

Or something in between the two amps above. The 6156 runs a pair of 6973 tubes like the 6161, but has a single 10" speaker which is easier to replace/repair than the 11 x 9 oval speakers. Pretty loud for a smaller amp, on par with a Princeton Reverb.

– Powdog

Or get Powdog to build you a replica with any twists or additions that may suit your needs? He's a clever chap. I worry about owning old gear but it depends on whether it's being gigged or manhandles. I guess it's like a vintage car, it'll need some maintenance from time to time but they aren't hard amps to work on.

13 DCBirdMan

My first amp was a late '50s G6163---15", 18 watts. Any of the early Valco amps would be worth looking into. Once you get into the Sixties and solid state amps, forget it. The modern era with the Executives are definitely great amps. The recent G5222 has a lot of fans as well.

– wabash slim

Wouldn't you say Valco thru mid 60s is ok... I don't think they had any solid state dogmeat til 66/67?

14 lx

Maybe closer to 64-65? I seem to remember the Safari (Battery SS) was from about then. And yes the the 6150T is a good gateway drug, I mean amp.

15 949Norm

Excellent, thanks you guys I do have a 66 Valco Bass Amp combo that One of TGP members fixed up for me with one 15 in it, but when it gets hot, it just shuts down and refuses to work until it's cooled, I actually used to put a small fan behind it at practice.

16 949Norm

Excellent, thanks you guys I do have a 66 Valco Bass Amp combo that One of TGP members fixed up for me with one 15 in it, but when it gets hot, it just shuts down and refuses to work until it's cooled, I actually used to put a small fan behind it at practice.

17 949Norm

Excellent, thanks you guys I do have a 66 Valco Bass Amp combo that One of TGP members fixed up for me with one 15 in it, but when it gets hot, it just shuts down and refuses to work until it's cooled, I actually used to put a small fan behind it at practice.

18 949Norm

Excellent, thanks you guys I do have a 66 Valco Bass Amp combo that One of TGP members fixed up for me with one 15 in it, but when it gets hot, it just shuts down and refuses to work until it's cooled, I actually used to put a small fan behind it at practice.

19 949Norm

Excellent, thanks you guys I do have a 66 Valco Bass Amp combo that One of TGP members fixed up for me with one 15 in it, but when it gets hot, it just shuts down and refuses to work until it's cooled, I actually used to put a small fan behind it at practice.

20 DuckBasher

I have a 1963 Gretsch Variety (Model 6164) rated at 35 Watts with 2x12" Speakers. I've had a ton of vintage and modern amps in my life and this one is the real deal. Has dual circuits / channels with one being designed for guitar and the other for Accordion (or Bass guitar). Two 6L6's in the power section and it came from the factory with a hi-gain switch. It originally came with Jensens but those were replaced by the previous owner with a set of MojoTone Vintage 12". I use the bass channel most of the time for lead because it breaks up quite nicely at a lower volume much like most of the tweeds of that era. I think channel 2 is about half the power of channel 1. Channel 1 is quite a bit brighter than channel 2. I've been told that Valco based the guitar channel on the Tremolux/Vibrolux/Bandmaster circuit (AB763) from that same era. But I don't know if that's true or not.

I use a Tone Bone amp switcher and actually switch between circuits with different pedals on the two channels when playing live. It's like having two amp setups but only having to carry one in.

It's an extremely versatile setup that I will never sell.

21 DuckBasher

Here's the control panel.

22 Billy Zoom

There weren't any good vintage Gretsch amps, but some of them looked cool.

23 stiv_c

My guitar man used to have a few old Gretsch amps in his shop in mid ‘00. I never owned one but I played a few... I remember playing a low wattage with a 15” and a 2x12. Not that they didn’t sound cool, but they were a bit one dimensional amps to me. I guess that they should be ace for some retro sound, but not exactly versatile for something else. I mean, you wouldn’t expect to play metal on it but a nice post punk clean tone was really hard to find. Different story for the new Executive: a friend of mine has one that sometimes ends in my music room... it’s an hell of an amp. Superior to any Supro if you ask me and you could do it all with that 15”. Rock, blues, funky, punk, you name it. If I had some money to spend on an amp (that I don’t need) that would be my choice.

24 Otter

Not the best vintage Gretsch amp, but the best vintage amp for a Gretsch is an Ampeg Gemini.

25 wabash slim

Wouldn't you say Valco thru mid 60s is ok... I don't think they had any solid state dogmeat til 66/67?

– DCBirdMan

Valco made a lot of good tube amps. In the '60s, no one made a good solid state amp.


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Sours: http://gretschpages.com/forum/gretsch-amps/whats-a-good-first-vintage-gretsch-amp/53536/page1/
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This 1961 Gretsch 6156 Playboy is the bargain vintage amp you’ve been looking for

When vintage Strat and Telecaster values started climbing in the late 1980s and early 90s, some discerning players turned to Jazzmasters, Jaguars and Juniors as cheaper alternatives. So far, the same phenomenon hasn’t occurred with amplifiers. Collectors may be snapping up all the great Fenders, Voxes and Marshalls, but there are still vintage bargains from other makers to be had.

This 1961 Gretsch 6156 Playboy is a case in point-to-point. The cabinet is just a little smaller than a tweed Deluxe’s and there’s a 10-inch Jensen C10R speaker onboard, but we’re talking about 18 watts of 6973 valve power with vibrato, too.

The 6973 power valves may seem unfamiliar, but we recently reviewed a Supro 1696RT Black Magick that also featured them. These power tubes may or may not have been fitted in Jimmy Page’s fabled Supro, but we like them a lot. They were mostly used in hi-fi and jukebox amps rather than guitar amps, and although the 6973 looks like an EL84, it’s quite different.

Comparing 6973s with EL84s, Dave Hunter finds them “louder, chunkier, and just bigger… with firmer lows and a meaty, if not overcooked, midrange”. It’s probably no coincidence that 6973s are found in Gretsch and Supro amplifiers, because Valco built amps for both brands.

Judging by the speaker code and the chrome control panel, we’d date this amp to 1961, although the model itself was introduced in the mid 1950s. Given that it’s a mint example, it’s reasonable to compare the build and finish to Fender amps of that era.

As much as we admire vintage tweeds, this Gretsch looks and feels like a higher quality amp. It must have appeared more modern at the time, too. The textured covering epitomises mid-century chic and the contrasting white (now cream) piping is a classy touch. Then there’s the handle, which has the same covering as the amp on the underside and a chrome strip across the top to match the control panel.

Since Gretsch contracted out its amp work, establishing a brand identity must have been paramount. The G-branded control knobs are identical to those on Gretsch guitars; the aforementioned covering is the same as that used on Gretsch guitar cases of the era and there’s a ‘T-roof’ logo prominently displayed inside the cabinet’s asymmetrical speaker cut-out.

The way that the cut-out continues around the front-right corner is possibly the defining motif of Gretsch amps. Looking inside, we can see a rectangular plywood speaker baffle with a side section attached at a right angle. The wheat grille cloth is stapled flat onto the baffle assembly and then screwed onto the inside of the cabinet.

The silk-screened control panel has a busy look, but there’s not that much going on. The basic controls are simple enough, with just volume and tone to play with. In the centre, there’s a mismatched ‘hand switch’ control knob for tremolo speed that doubles up as an on/off switch for the tremolo effect. There’s also a socket for a footswitch to activate the tremolo, but no control for intensity.

Three inputs are provided – one labelled treble and the others labelled bass. The power switch is a three-way device, which is off in the centre, in standby when moved to the rear and fully operational when shifted towards the front. We haven’t encountered this on an amp from this era before, but it’s commonly seen on modern amps. Strictly speaking, a 5Y3 rectifier valve means that standby mode isn’t necessary for the 6156 circuit, but opinions may differ.

We must also mention the large pilot-light cover. At first sight, it appears like a nondescript dome of white plastic; but when illuminated, mouldings on the underside help to turn it into a pearly, iridescent shell.

Popping off the back panel reveals circuitry that has remained untouched since this amp was built. Using a combination of tag strip and point-to-point wiring, Valco’s construction practices may not provide the easy serviceability and logical layout of a tweed Fender, but the build quality is impressive nonetheless. We see carbon-composite resistors throughout and all the capacitors, besides the electrolytics, are ceramic disk types.

In use

As an all-original vintage amp, it’s no surprise that the 6156 still has its two-prong mains plug, so it’s not grounded and therefore not safe in its current state. As a workaround, we use a jumper wire with alligator clips to connect the amp chassis to our step-down transformer’s metal frame and temporarily ground the amp. This makes it safe enough for testing, but it’s not a long-term solution.

Starting with a Gretsch guitar (naturally) plugged into the treble input, it’s immediately noticeable how much brighter the 6156 sounds than the aforementioned Supro Black Magick. The midrange is also less prominent and at low-to-medium volume levels, the 6156 has a very clear and transparent tone.

The level is pretty much identical when you plug into the bass input, but the thicker mids contribute a really enjoyable growl as the 6156 begins to overdrive – there’s no need to keep the tone control set low. The overdrive character is also smoother and less raspy, going from garage punk to classic rock.

Swapping over to a P-90 loaded Goldtop and raising the volume towards maximum, the 6156 eases into a creamy overdrive that sounds a lot closer to the Supro. It’s not the ferocious fuzziness of a late-50s tweed, but if you prefer harmonically richer overdrive with more buttery smoothness, the 6156 can oblige. Our only concern is the speaker, because we hear it struggling at maximum volume.

The tremolo manages to be both pretty and swampy and it’s one of the nicest amp trems we’ve heard. The speed range isn’t the widest, but it matters little and our only complaint is the absence of an intensity control. If we owned this amplifier, we might consider ditching the footswitch socket and installing an intensity control in its place.

It’s already a fabulous amp, but with a couple of sympathetic mods, we think the 6156 could be punching it out with the heavyweights. When you consider that highly original and mint Gretsch amps are still available for about half the price of similarly powered pristine Fender tweeds, perhaps it makes sense to buy one while you still can.

Key Features

  • PRICE TBC
  • DESCRIPTION cathode biased push pull amplifier with tremolo. Made in the USA
  • BUILD Single-channel, point-to-point wired all-valve combo
  • POWER RATING 18 watts
  • VALVES 3x 12AX7, 2x 6973, 5Y3
  • CONTROLPANEL 3x input jacks, volume, tone, speed/tremolo switch, footswitch socket, standby/off/on switch
  • SPEAKER 1x Jensen C10R Special Design
  • DIMENSIONS 450 x 390 x 210mm
  • WEIGHT 9.4kg/20.7lb
  • CONTACT ATB Guitars atbguitars.com
Sours: https://guitar.com/review/vintage-review/vintage-bench-test-1961-gretsch-6156-playboy/
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