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Adrienne Owens

Bio Statement The amps of deliverance The vintage amps owned by musicians Claude and Hillard Beasley are profiled. They are the Elk Custom Amp 30, Univox 1011 Lead, Sona Tone Reverb, Impact, and Zer-o-tronic. The Beasleys also own an unusually-shaped electric guitar whose body was made from a dismantled outhouse. View more: How to Install Speakers in a Car | Easy to Install Aftermarket Speakers in Car: 5 Simple Steps to Car Music Freedom It was the third morning of a much needed vacation when I awoke to grinding gears and hissing air brakes. "It can't be," I mused, not the Beasley brothers." The slamming of doors made me leap to my feet. Peering through a slit in the blinds, I glimpsed the familiar bowling-pin profiles of Claude and Hillard "Boogie King" Beasley as they emerged from their,'62 International school bus. Walking out to greet them, I was immediately gripped in Hillard's moist, fleshy handshake. "Boogie King's got hisself some engagements yonder," he wheezed in the third person. "Yeah," chuckled Claude, "but our amplifiers ain't right fer it. They're hummin' like a roomful of Hindus. Can y'all spare us a couple of loaners till we git ours fixed?" I suspected that whatever the Beasleys had lugged out here from Rabun Gap, West Virginia, would be interesting, so I offered them some Earth, Legend, and Rosk amps. "Man alive," exclaimed Hillard, "we wasn't expectin' nothin' this good--the Lord do work in mysterious ways!" After a quick lunch of deviled eggs, potato chip sandwiches, and Strawberry Quik, they were back on the road. Here are some nuggets from their utterly woozy collection. At first glance, the Elk Custom Amp 30 looks like a shrunken Fender Tremolux, but this midget tube rig is actually a relic from pre-transistor Japan. The Elk features reverb and vibrato, and is powered by two 7189 output tubes and a 6CA4 rectifier. The circuitry is point-to-point wired on a phenolic terminal board, and the tube sockets are chassis-mounted. There's even a funky export transformer with 100-volt and 117-volt settings. Even though the rickety Elk pops and crackles like grits in a pork-filled frying pan, it's hard to bag its tone. You can set this amp's knobs pretty much anywhere for a sound that lies somewhere between Fullerton and Tokyo. The Elk's reverb and trem are pure cheese log, but as Hillard shrugs, "The Boogie King only uses it for rehearsin' the band." Japan is the recipient of most Fender-copy finger pointing, but the Sona Tone Reverb is a hecho-en-Mexico Showman clone stuffed into a Kustom-style cabinet. This two-channel hombre uses four 6L6 power tubes and six 12AX7s and offers reverb and tremolo. Its components are wired point-to-point on a fiber circuit board like a blackface Fender. The tuck-'n'-roll covering was probably done in one of those notorious Tijuana upholstery shops. The Songs rear panel offers a pair of bocinas (speaker) outputs, a polaridad (polarity) switch, and inputs for the reverb and vibtato pedals. The Sona Tone is more fun than perusing the "Z" listings in your phone book. It does the loud thing very well, and it has a good range of clean to gritty tones. Despite the third-world reverb and tremolo, you could gig with this amp. The Sona was probably originally intended for PA use. Claude says he bought it and a matching pair of speaker columns from a Baptist preacher for $50 plus a lawnmower and a smoked ham. Each column had four Jensen P-10Rs--the magic Bassman speaker--complete with Spanish markings. Unfortunately, Claudies half-cousin, Esco Minyard, pilfered the speakers for his car, then got wasted one night and blew 'em out listening to Black Oak Arkansas. Related post: What size speakers are in my car With its oblong front panel and toothy-looking knobs, the Univox 1011 Lead resembles a robot from a Lost In Space set. This 6L6-powered amp features a Marshall-style layout with two pairs of inputs, dual volumes, and treble, bass, middle, and presence knobs. The reverb and tremolo controls are augmented by a pair of rear-panel trimmers, and an impedance selector provides 2[ohms], 4[ohms], and 8[ohms] settings. The 1011 has a PC board circuit with extensive hand wiring to the pots, jacks, switches, and tube sockets. The reverb tank is a shortspring Q.C. Electronics. It bears a little sticker that reads, "Manufactured by beautiful girls in Muton, Wisconsin under controlled atmosphere conditions." Somebody (probably Claude) painted the cabinet black--it's supposed to be electric blue. Univox probably had high hopes for the 1011 and its equally dumb-looking 4xl2 cabs, but this is a pretty sorry tube amp. Okay, it's not that bad at low volume, and the reverb is better than you find on most cheesoid heads of the fondue decade. Claude says his '69 Fender Swinger through the Univox sounds like the sweet voice of Jesus," but he's been plinking without ear protection for way too long. The Impact is a British-made, two-channel amp with a dual-EL34 output stage, reverb, tremolo, and nutty slanted knobs. The amp's ruddy-looking interior is entirely point-to-point wired, and judging by the extremely shoddy workmanship, the builders were soccer lads whose main interest was sneaking out of the shop for bangers and pints. Primitive is much too kind a word for this boat anchor's steaming load of sonic stinkiness. Even the Beasleys admit they only switch this thing on when some harmonica-tootin' nitwit demands a turn with the band. According to Hulard, the Zer-o-tronic amp was made by an Appalachian TV repairman/pedal steeler named Zero Webb. This two-channel science project uses four 6L6s, four 12AX7 preamp tubes, and a 6V6 reverb driver. It was built by someone with a lot of time on his hands. The television-style interior is painstakingly point-to-point wired on terminal strips, the chassis is ho!made, and three incandescent lamps have been installed in the cabinet to illuminate the front panel. The controls include volume, bass, and treble knobs for each channel, plus reverb and tremolo. Country players have long favored mutant equipment made by backwoods electronic freaks, and the Zer-o-tronic is a prime example. This clean-toned amp packs crystal-cracking highs and a crunchy bottom end. It's louder than hell, the reverb sounds quite good, and it would look right at home in some Bakersfield beer joint where short guys with immense four-wheelers gather to drink, commiserate, and beat each other senseless. The unusual guitar sports a body shape reminiscent of Prince's unpronounceable new name, but this is not the work of some overzealous German prog-rock fanatic. According to the Beasleys, this beauty was crafted by a guitar maker named Lester Waldroop, using wood salvaged from Bukka White's dismantled outhouse. See Also: What are the best 6.5, 6x9, 6x8, 4 inch car speakers in the world Waldroop's pronged wonder features a Kahler double-locking trem, three BBI pickups, a giant carrying handle, and lots of mysterious switches. The long probe acts as a counterweight to balance the massive neck and Viking-helmet headstock. While it's satisfying simply to hold this monster and vibe on the mental state of its creator, the Waldroop reveals a cornucopia of electric tones that are simply not of the Strat/Les Paul realm. Hillard says that although this instrument is his prize possession, he feels it will eventually be in the hands of a Delta bluesman. Waxing philosophical, he declares, "When the Boogie King is dead and gone, and don't have no earthly use for this guitar n'more, it'll be gettin' used for singin' them country blues and playing' em some too." We sincerely hope so.