Nobody really expects to be given a piece of amplification history from a groovy acquaintance, but that’s what happened to me this week. This guy from church asks me if I have amp yet (after moving to Germany) and I replied ‘no’. So he invited me over for a jam and to look at an amp he has, and if I like it I can take it home. When I got to his house I saw an old ’78 Hiwatt Custom 100 head warmed up ready to play. He picks up his bass and I plug in my SG and there was instant blues. Loud. The amp was sounding great even through this random 15″ speaker in a home-made cabinet. Unfortunately after half an hour I had to switch to my Line 6 POD through a bass amp after blowing up the Hiwatt. Ahhhh! Peter had owned the amp for 20 years and never had an issue with it, but this was no deterrent for me accepting a Custom 100 for FREE.
I had a chance to take it apart today and everything looks great inside. All hand wired, turret board, quality circuitry and components, all original and with both Partridge transformers. Only the fuse was blown. Of course I will take it to the local amp guru for a checkup, new capacitors and health check of preamp valves. The EL34’s in the power stage are mismatched so I will get some new ones.
The next consideration is speakers. The first thought is get a 4×12 loaded with Fanes, now thats living the dream. Well if I find one that I can afford I will let you know, but for now I’m thinking a Marshall 1936 – a 2×12 cab with Celestion G12T-75 speakers like my old 1922 cab. Also, a Custom 100 will be WAY too loud for church use. It’s been a real war in my mind and will and emotions – I like big amps and I like turning them up to their sweet spot, but its rare for me these days to get a gig where I can use them properly. So Im wondering if I should still buy a smaller amp like The Hughes and Kettner Dual 84, or Bogner Alchemist. They are priced very nicely here in Germany.
Alternatively, Im thinking that if I use a 2×12 cab I could build some kind of isolating booth for it, like a heavily insulated road case with an open side that would sit in front of the cab and soak up a good portion of the output with space to place a mic inside. Anyway, that’s another one I’ll keep you updated on. But it’s obvious Im supposed to have this amp – such a blessing. It’s not something I would have thought of tracking down and buying but now that I have it I’m totally stoked and couldn’t imagine parting with it. I think God knows what I like even more than I do sometimes.
I hope you enjoy the pics, I really like the hand-wired electronics with so much care taken to ensure correct spacing and insulation between components. These amps have a reputation for being very loud and very low noise, due to quality and attention built in. Keep in mind – this amp is 34 years old!