1955 Valco English Electronics Tonemaster Amplifier
Posted on August 08 2019
The Valco company was formed in the 1930s by Victor, Al and Louis (V-A-L) and made instruments and amplifiers in Chicago until its merger with Kay in 1968. Chicago was a manufacturing hub for budget and mid level musical instruments that were largely rebranded and sold under house and catalog names. Norman English was a popular lap steel guitar player that also owned a studio in the 1950s. Norman chose Valco guitars and amplifiers to rebrand as "English Electronics Tonemaster." We're not sure if the name was chosen before or after hearing the amplifier but we couldn't have described it better ourselves. This living room friendly amp is truly a Tonemaster. The amplifier section is a single ended class A circuit similar to a Fender Champ or Fender Princeton. The single 12AX7 preamp tube, single 6V6 power tube and 5Y3 rectifier tube is a classic lineup that's sure to please. The unique 1950s styled original cabinet is larger than both the Champ and Princeton and is built with solid, finger jointed Pine. Instead of a tiny 6" or 8" speaker, the Tonemaster employs a lower powered 10" that is strong and in great condition (note: that's an externally mounted output transformer, not a field coil. You can swap in whatever impedance matching speaker you like at any time, but I think you'll be happy with this one.) This amp's tone can be described as unmistakably 1950s tweed style drive and crunch. What's more, you can achieve that drive or crunch at a volume level that your spouse is likely to tolerate. Your spouse will even love the classic styling and aesthetic that it brings to a living space (mine does). The condition of the amp is so good that it's ready to record in the studio today (the three prong power cord conversion is already professionally installed). All parts are original to the amp except for the three prong power cord and one leaky capacitor.