Mystery amp, any info?

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StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 120
Hi all,

I've been told that this is the place to come for guitar and amp wisdom, so hoping someone can help me out...

Being a tragic eBay addict, I picked up an old valve head last week, and I'm struggling to find out any information about it or the company that made it. It's a basic 50W single channel, non master volume head, no reverb, with two ECC83 and two EL34. It was being sold as a bass amp, and apparently came with a 1x18 cab, but there's nothing about the amp itself that seems bass-specific. Controls are on/off, Volume, Treble, Bass and Mid, and there's a Presence control which is a six-position switch. It sounds great in a sort of Sound City / Hiwatt vein.

To judge by the cheesy front panel graphics, it was made in the early 70s. It is badged 'Center', and a label on the back says it was made by Center Electronics of Rayleigh, Essex. The model number just seems to be 'Mk 2 50'. There is a serial number, and the whole thing looks like a production amp rather than a prototype or one-off.

It has been suggested that it looks a bit like some of the early Roost amps, and I discovered that Roost apparently bought a defunct local electronics concern called Centre (or Centre?) in about 1975. However, it doesn't seem to be identical with any Roost model I know of. So my best guess is that earlier on, Center made their own amps in small quantities (presumably!), perhaps using Roost cabinets and some parts. Anyone ever come across one of these before?

A few photos -- sorry, haven't had a chance to get inside it yet:

http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/stuckfast/front.jpg
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/stuckfast/back.jpg
http://i1064.photobucket.com/albums/u364/stuckfast/chassis.jpg
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Comments

  • ecc83ecc83 Frets: 690

    Aha! You have arrived! I had given you up and primed the pump. When are we going to get a gutshot?

    Dave (I am ecc83 here)

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 25744
    It looks like a Carlsbro rather than a Hiwatt - it doesn't have enough preamp valves for a Hiwatt circuit either, but it does for a Carlsbro '50 Top' type.

    Many of these amps were built by subcontractors for various different brand names, some by Triumph Electronics but also others… I can't remember whether the Carlsbros were or not.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • Moe_ZambeekMoe_Zambeek Frets: 1856
    edited December 2016
    That's a very Orange sized chassis, similar transformer arrangement and tube complement too. Many 70s Oranges were contract built too, lots of them by H|H apparently. Might be another option. Seeing the guts would help I guess, the Oranges were basic PCB.
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  • Thanks all, and hello Dave!

    The Carlsbro Top 50 does look quite similar, but did they ever have a Presence control? Come to think of it, did any other amp have a switched Presence control? I don't recall seeing that before.

    Hopefully I'll be reunited with it on Wednesday or Thursday, so I'll try to get some inside shots then.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 25744
    Stuckfast said:

    The Carlsbro Top 50 does look quite similar, but did they ever have a Presence control? Come to think of it, did any other amp have a switched Presence control? I don't recall seeing that before.
    Not sure, but it's a very easy thing to add to any amp with negative feedback - which is by far the majority - with or without a switch.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • Pics of the insides, as promised:


    Anything spring to mind?
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 25744
    Stuckfast said:
    Anything spring to mind?
    That it needs some remedial work urgently.

    The unsupported bare junction in the red wire running over the top of the middle tag board is dangerous - that's the primary feed to the output transformer and will be at 450V or higher. The taped junction of the two red, yellow and black wires is not too clever either. Both these should at minimum be properly heatshrinked over, and ideally mounted on isolated terminal strips.

    Really it should have the Bulgin socket removed and a modern IEC fitted too, and probably not a bad idea to replace the electrolytic capacitors. The mains fuseholder is also wired backwards - the live connection should be to the end terminal not the side one.

    I don't recognise it as any particular company's work though, in fact it looks quite DIY. It could well be a small subcontractor build though.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • Thanks, I was definitely planning to get it looked at by a technician, so I'll make sure all that gets sorted out.
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  • nickb_boynickb_boy Frets: 1395
    I'd had this one in my eBay watch list not knowing what exactly it is either:

    www.ebay.co.uk/itm/192023254471

    There's a name of Barry Meade given in the description but not any actual evidence or detail I'm afraid.

    Good luck with the search
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  • Interesting... that one is quite a beast. Completely different cosmetics but the box and chassis look quite similar, at least from the outside. Looks like it originally must have had a similar label at the rear too.
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  • Bygone_TonesBygone_Tones Frets: 933
    edited January 3
    Just posted this on the vintage amp forum too, but if you do a google image search for "steve marriot humble pie" you will see a few results with 'center' branded 4x12 cabs being used on stage. The Peter Frampton link may be useful if you ever sell ;o) Here's one:


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  • StuckfastStuckfast Frets: 120
    Wow, that is a seriously good spot!

    IIRC the cab that was being sold with this amp didn't have a logo, so I'm not sure if it was original or not. It was a very tall 1x18 with a Goodmans Audiom speaker.
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  • BenSirAmosBenSirAmos Frets: 218
    I borrowed a Center 4x12 in the late 70s and it was fantastic. I tried to find out more about it then and couldn't - and I assumed (probably incorrectly) that it was an American cab. I would have bought it if it was available then.

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  • Hello. With reference about the Centre 50W amp. It was a small outfit own by Barry in the Southend-on-Sea area. Before I started Roost Amps I used to help him out by assembleing some of the amps. From what I remember, it was a long time ago, it was based on a fender amp cuircuit. The chassis were pretty flimsy, and the components were kept to a minimum. Hope this helps.
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 25744
    Welcome Brian! That's great info. Nice to hear from someone connected with this old British gear, there's usually very little to go on regarding any of it these days.
    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone."
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  • DJH83004DJH83004 Frets: 118
    Hello Brian, I'm sure your knowledge will come in very handy on the forum, as we all struggle to identify some of the less well known British amps of the '60s and '70s. I do like your tactful comment ' the components were kept to a minimum' - I think we can all work that one out  ;)
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