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Any love for vintage german tube amps?
Old 11th October 2019
  #1
Gear Head
Any love for vintage german tube amps?

Hi!

So... I'm interested in knowing if anyone here has any experience with - and love for - vintage german tube amps?

There's several available locally for me dirt cheap:
Dynacord Bass King 80W
Orgaphon 25MH
Echolette B200
Dynacord Eminent II (several of em, in fact)
Klemt Echolette M120

Anyone with experience with any of these in particular?

I'm a vintage obsessive with a couple of old combo organs (Philicorda and a GEM JUmbo 61R), but generally working itb, looking to add more hardware "vintage sound" to my arsenal. Particularly looking for something to liven up digital stuff - so something like the Orgaphon made for organs (therefore, I reckon, better at handling the full EQ spectrum than a guitar tube amp) would be ideal. The reverb and the tube tremolo is super desirable as well.
One of my fears is that the tubes are hard to get - for a lot of them, they're not your standard ones.

Thanks!
Old 11th October 2019
  #2
I have a Bassking T an d an Eminent II.

The Eminent II is like a full tube powered mixer. It has no tone stack like a guitar amplifier, so without a guitar preamp/tonestack, it sounds jazzy at best or just plain flat. But with a preamp it rocks. I used it to warm up a modeler.

It gets 80 watts out of a pair of EL34’s, but I’ve never been able to drive it into power tube saturation, not even with an attenuator. It has some odd ECC808 tubes in the preamp that are very expensive to replace.

The Basking T has a (slightly noisy) transistor preamp that is voiced for a 1960’s bass guitar, but a with tube rectifier and two EL34’s that deliver 40 watts. It also rocks with a preamp/modeler and you can overdrive it into power amp distortion. I’ve gigged with it for 30 years, mainly because I couldn’t afford a “proper" tube amp.

The Bassking without a T is a much better amp, the T stands for Transistor preamp.
Old 11th October 2019
  #3
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctms777 View Post
I have a Bassking T an d an Eminent II.

The Eminent II is like a full tube powered mixer. It has no tone stack like a guitar amplifier, so without a guitar preamp/tonestack, it sounds jazzy at best or just plain flat. But with a preamp it rocks. I used it to warm up a modeler.

It gets 80 watts out of a pair of EL34’s, but I’ve never been able to drive it into power tube saturation, not even with an attenuator. It has some odd ECC808 tubes in the preamp that are very expensive to replace.

The Basking T has a (slightly noisy) transistor preamp that is voiced for a 1960’s bass guitar, but a with tube rectifier and two EL34’s that deliver 40 watts. It also rocks with a preamp/modeler and you can overdrive it into power amp distortion. I’ve gigged with it for 30 years, mainly because I couldn’t afford a “proper" tube amp.

The Bassking without a T is a much better amp, the T stands for Transistor preamp.
Thanks a bunch for the insight! The Orgaphon has those ECC808s as well. It seems super nice and versatile. It's been serviced as some point, though (somebody exchanged the front plate for one from a Piggy amp), so there might be nothing wrong with either the caps and the tubes. The owner says that it plays very well, and loudly.

There's a tube/valve Bass King available locally, too, for 200 euros. Seeing how few tube bass amps there are at that price - and if you say it sounds good - it could be an option, then. Especially seeing as how bass amps allow the full frequency spectrum. Should be useful for warming up synth plugins for instance.
Old 11th October 2019
  #4
When I brought in my Bassking T to be serviced there was also an older Bassking from 1963, it was a great amp, €200 is good deal if the caps are good. It looked like this:
Attached Thumbnails
Any love for vintage german tube amps?-bassking_dynacord_650_1963_2_680x1000.jpg  
Old 11th October 2019
  #5
Lives for gear
 
Bstapper's Avatar
 

I do not have any experience with them, but I have been pining for the one with the tape-echo built into it every since I discovered it existed. That thing looks awesome.
Old 11th October 2019
  #6
Lives for gear
 

I used to do audio repairs for a living both pro and commercial. Some of the German Hi Fi gear was really novel in the way it actually worked.

Example, a filter used in an EQ or for radio frequencies would typically consists of a cap, a coil and a resistor. In order to vary the frequency or level of EQ you'd typically vary the resistance with a potentiometer. Reason being is coils are typically a fixed number of winds and caps a fixed length of plates rolled up and sealed.

For a radio tuner you typically use a set of plates that move when you turn the knob to tune in stations. Works relatively good and you switch could for different frequency bands. Now I don't know whether it was just a matter of being different but you'd fin the tuning knobs in some vintage Grundig stuff, instead of rotating caps plates it was connected to a cable which inserted and withdrew a metal core on the coils which changed the Inductance instead of the capacitance. In the end the results were identical, it changed the EQ or radio band frequencies but it was a cool design you just didn't see anyplace else.

You find that on allot of post WWII gear. After the war all the electronics manufacturers switched back to making their own unique gear, including audio stuff. they used the technology developed during that war and put it to use making commercial stuff. It wasn't just German gear either. Some of the finest Hi Fi gear I ever heard was made by a company called Tamburg out of Norway. Not only did it sound good but you opened it up to find all aluminum housing and actual glass boards you could see through and they'd slide into place and plug in. Both the Amps and Recorders were superbly made, Even better then some vintage US and German made stuff.

When I did that work I came across a couple of German amps to rebuild. I remember working on a Shaller, Dynacord. I did some refurb work on an Echolette echo unit like this one.


Allot of Hi Fi stuff made in Germany like the vintage Blaupunkt consoles were a real hoot to work on too. They really tested your electronic skills.
Here's a typical example. This had push buttons back in the 50's. If you look in the center its got a 4 band EQ. In back of the see through window there was 4 small levers with a rubber band stretched across them. When you turned the EQ up and down the rubber band would form an EQ curve so you had a visual idea of what bands were being peaked or cut.



They didn't skimp on the tubes or speakers either. Even a little table top sounded wonderfully warm.


Even the Car radios kicked ass. I worked a Transmission shop as a kid back in the late 60's. They had a late 50's Mercedes there. I took the opportunity to check out the radio. It was a Mono Tube set that took about 30 second to warm up. The single 10" speaker had some the best sounding bass tones I ever heard and I installed high end audio systems for a number of years.

I should mentioned I worked on allot of newer SS stuff too. Its really a mixed bag when it comes to quality. Just like everyone else, you basically get what you pay for. Most German companies have their gear made in China now just like everyone else does. Some of it can be pretty good but its a matter of comparing apples and oranges. They made some real duds along with some of the better stuff. Some became successful because there simply wasn't any competition and people kept their companies strong by keeping their national pride string and buying their own brands instead of all the imports.

I'm sure if you asked someone in Germany what American made gear they'd like to have, you could probably find many who would love to trade you a decent German made amp for an American made one.
Old 12th October 2019
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by ctms777 View Post
I have a Bassking T an d an Eminent II.

The Eminent II is like a full tube powered mixer. It has no tone stack like a guitar amplifier, so without a guitar preamp/tonestack, it sounds jazzy at best or just plain flat. But with a preamp it rocks. I used it to warm up a modeler.

It gets 80 watts out of a pair of EL34’s, but I’ve never been able to drive it into power tube saturation, not even with an attenuator. It has some odd ECC808 tubes in the preamp that are very expensive to replace.

The Basking T has a (slightly noisy) transistor preamp that is voiced for a 1960’s bass guitar, but a with tube rectifier and two EL34’s that deliver 40 watts. It also rocks with a preamp/modeler and you can overdrive it into power amp distortion. I’ve gigged with it for 30 years, mainly because I couldn’t afford a “proper" tube amp.

The Bassking without a T is a much better amp, the T stands for Transistor preamp.
The ECC808 is essentially a premium quality ECC83/12AX7/7025. It contains physical improvements to reduce microphonics and reduce/eliminate hum.

The US equivalent/direct replacement is the 6KX8

http://www.r-type.org/exhib/aai0348.htm

He's a page with links to data sheets.

http://tdsl.duncanamps.com/show.php?des=ECC808

It looks like the pinout is slightly different from the standard 12AX7, as it has only a 6 volt heater winding instead of the usual 6V/12V and it has an extra connection for a shielding screen between the two sections.

It should be easy to adapt the amp to run 12AX7/7025s.

Last edited by John Eppstein; 13th October 2019 at 10:48 PM..
Old 12th October 2019
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
Some of the finest Hi Fi gear I ever heard was made by a company called Tamburg out of Norway. Not only did it sound good but you opened it up to find all aluminum housing and actual glass boards you could see through and they'd slide into place and plug in. Both the Amps and Recorders were superbly made, Even better then some vintage US and German made stuff.
That's TANDBERG I've owned several of their excellent tape machines back when I was buying and selling Hi-Fi gear back in the '70s. Generally rather plain looking but built like tanks and sound like god.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tandberg
Old 13th October 2019
  #9
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by wrgkmc View Post
I used to do audio repairs for a living both pro and commercial. Some of the German Hi Fi gear was really novel in the way it actually worked.

Example, a filter used in an EQ or for radio frequencies would typically consists of a cap, a coil and a resistor. In order to vary the frequency or level of EQ you'd typically vary the resistance with a potentiometer. Reason being is coils are typically a fixed number of winds and caps a fixed length of plates rolled up and sealed.

For a radio tuner you typically use a set of plates that move when you turn the knob to tune in stations. Works relatively good and you switch could for different frequency bands. Now I don't know whether it was just a matter of being different but you'd fin the tuning knobs in some vintage Grundig stuff, instead of rotating caps plates it was connected to a cable which inserted and withdrew a metal core on the coils which changed the Inductance instead of the capacitance. In the end the results were identical, it changed the EQ or radio band frequencies but it was a cool design you just didn't see anyplace else.

You find that on allot of post WWII gear. After the war all the electronics manufacturers switched back to making their own unique gear, including audio stuff. they used the technology developed during that war and put it to use making commercial stuff. It wasn't just German gear either. Some of the finest Hi Fi gear I ever heard was made by a company called Tamburg out of Norway. Not only did it sound good but you opened it up to find all aluminum housing and actual glass boards you could see through and they'd slide into place and plug in. Both the Amps and Recorders were superbly made, Even better then some vintage US and German made stuff.

When I did that work I came across a couple of German amps to rebuild. I remember working on a Shaller, Dynacord. I did some refurb work on an Echolette echo unit like this one.


Allot of Hi Fi stuff made in Germany like the vintage Blaupunkt consoles were a real hoot to work on too. They really tested your electronic skills.
Here's a typical example. This had push buttons back in the 50's. If you look in the center its got a 4 band EQ. In back of the see through window there was 4 small levers with a rubber band stretched across them. When you turned the EQ up and down the rubber band would form an EQ curve so you had a visual idea of what bands were being peaked or cut.



They didn't skimp on the tubes or speakers either. Even a little table top sounded wonderfully warm.


Even the Car radios kicked ass. I worked a Transmission shop as a kid back in the late 60's. They had a late 50's Mercedes there. I took the opportunity to check out the radio. It was a Mono Tube set that took about 30 second to warm up. The single 10" speaker had some the best sounding bass tones I ever heard and I installed high end audio systems for a number of years.

I should mentioned I worked on allot of newer SS stuff too. Its really a mixed bag when it comes to quality. Just like everyone else, you basically get what you pay for. Most German companies have their gear made in China now just like everyone else does. Some of it can be pretty good but its a matter of comparing apples and oranges. They made some real duds along with some of the better stuff. Some became successful because there simply wasn't any competition and people kept their companies strong by keeping their national pride string and buying their own brands instead of all the imports.

I'm sure if you asked someone in Germany what American made gear they'd like to have, you could probably find many who would love to trade you a decent German made amp for an American made one.
Nice anecdotes! That was my understanding as well - that people used different solutions to the same technological problem/area of electronics, even within countries (The Moog vs. Buchla schism comes to mind). Things seems more standardized nowadays.

Anyways, I've heard very good thing about the German amps elsewhere - and from German forums using google translate. Supposedly build to last (the "German engineering" cliché) and judging from demo videos, it has an amazing really vintage sound https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m1_-CnGsK8

Quote:
Originally Posted by John Eppstein View Post
The ECC808 is essentially a premium quality ECC83/12AX7/7025. It contains physical improvements to reduce microphonics and reduce/eliminate hum.

The US equivalent/direct replacement is the 6KX8

http://www.r-type.org/exhib/aai0348.htm

He's a page with links to data sheets.

http://tdsl.duncanamps.com/show.php?des=ECC808

It looks like the pinout is slightly differe3nt from the standard 12AX7, as it has only a 6 volt heater winding instead of the usual 6V/123V and it has an extra connection for a shielding screen between the two sections.

It should be easy to adapt the amp to run 12AX7/7025s.
Awesome. I might buy that Orgaphon that I'm really eyeing after all then - it has those ECC808's as well. Thanks for the tip!
Old 13th October 2019
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by SSharif View Post
Nice anecdotes! That was my understanding as well - that people used different solutions to the same technological problem/area of electronics, even within countries (The Moog vs. Buchla schism comes to mind). Things seems more standardized nowadays.

Anyways, I've heard very good thing about the German amps elsewhere - and from German forums using google translate. Supposedly build to last (the "German engineering" cliché) and judging from demo videos, it has an amazing really vintage sound https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m1_-CnGsK8



Awesome. I might buy that Orgaphon that I'm really eyeing after all then - it has those ECC808's as well. Thanks for the tip!
Sorry about the typos (now corrected). That should be 6/12 volt and of course there's no "3" in different.

I'm a lousy typist.
Old 14th October 2019
  #11
Lives for gear
 

I love old German amps. Dynacord, Echolette, GREAT stuff! The only problem is that they've gotten more expensive. The ones that can still be found for cheap are usually the models with weird tubes that can be expensive and difficult to find.

Also love the Tandbergs that someone mentioned. Not German though (Norwegian) but absolutely amazing quality. The older tube tape recorders can be amazing as studio guitar amps. Another great Norwegian tube amp manufacturer was Radionette. Mostly radios I think but they can also sound great as studio guitar amps.
Old 14th October 2019
  #12
Lives for gear
 
norfolk martin's Avatar
 

look up some video from the German TV series "Beat Beat Beat" (1966-1969) .
British acts would fly over to Germany to do live performances on the show, usually bringing only their guitars with them.

Most of the bands are using the provided back-line of German amps. They sound great to me .


Check out the Kinks and Small Faces at 44:20 onwards in this clip
Old 15th October 2019
  #13
Gear Head
Quote:
Originally Posted by S.F.Sorrow View Post
I love old German amps. Dynacord, Echolette, GREAT stuff! The only problem is that they've gotten more expensive. The ones that can still be found for cheap are usually the models with weird tubes that can be expensive and difficult to find.

Also love the Tandbergs that someone mentioned. Not German though (Norwegian) but absolutely amazing quality. The older tube tape recorders can be amazing as studio guitar amps. Another great Norwegian tube amp manufacturer was Radionette. Mostly radios I think but they can also sound great as studio guitar amps.
First of all: Nice Pretty Things reference!

True, it would seem like only the ones with weird tubes are the ones available. One exception is the Dynacord Bass King a guy is selling for approx 200€. Apparently it only has tubes that are readily available today.

Still, I'm eyeinng that Orgaphon 25Mh because it's specifically made for organs (hence good for synths as well), but sounds awesome with guitar as well, spring reverb, tube tremolo, is a Combo and not as loud. Oh , and is available very close to. Me for pickup. It has sockets for the rare ECC808 tubes that as stated above can Be rewired for tubes in production now.

But...it also has ECL83 tubes. Does anyone know what the deal with those are?
Old 15th October 2019
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by SSharif View Post
First of all: Nice Pretty Things reference!

True, it would seem like only the ones with weird tubes are the ones available. One exception is the Dynacord Bass King a guy is selling for approx 200€. Apparently it only has tubes that are readily available today.

Still, I'm eyeinng that Orgaphon 25Mh because it's specifically made for organs (hence good for synths as well), but sounds awesome with guitar as well, spring reverb, tube tremolo, is a Combo and not as loud. Oh , and is available very close to. Me for pickup. It has sockets for the rare ECC808 tubes that as stated above can Be rewired for tubes in production now.

But...it also has ECL83 tubes. Does anyone know what the deal with those are?
The ECL83 is a triode-pentode tube generally similar to (but NOT pin compatible with) the 7199 and 6AN8 tubes used as phase inverters in the original Sunn and Dynaco amps. The circuit could probably be reworked to use one of these tubes (I'd need to do some data sheet research to know for sure), but the pinout is totally different so there would be a lot or soldering involved.
Old 16th October 2019
  #15
Gear Addict
 

Well, don't know anything about the vintage stuff, but I bought a Diezel VH4 a few months ago, and it is now my go-to amp. Has a broad set of voices from clean to super dirty.
Old 17th October 2019
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffw5555 View Post
Well, don't know anything about the vintage stuff, but I bought a Diezel VH4 a few months ago, and it is now my go-to amp. Has a broad set of voices from clean to super dirty.
Yeah, we know you don't.

Your "Diezel" has nothing to do with what we are discussing here.

Whoop - De-Do!
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