Stancor Amplifiers and Full Transformer Data c.1937

The Stancor ‘306’ 6-watt PP audio amplifier

Download the 1937 (‘third edition’) of Stancor Transformers’ ‘Amplimanual,’ a 24pp publication which conveniently combines schematics for ten original audio amplifiers with full data for their entire line of transformers.  If you (like me) have some pre-war Stancors lying around and you are unsure what exactly what the specs are, this is a godsend (blogsend?  awful).

Split into two parts due to size:

DOWNLOAD SCHEMATICS:Stancor_Amplimanual_Schematics_1937

DOWNLOAD 1937 STANCOR  DATA: Stancor_1937_Transformer_Specs

Schematics are provided for Stancor’s own 303, 305, 306, 312, 318, 320, 325, 335, and 360 audio amplifiers.  The first ‘3’ in the designation seems to represent this ‘third’ edition of the publication, and the second two digits correspond with the stated audio-output of the particular device.   Looking through the schematics, you will see the following tube types most often:  6F5, 6C5, 6J7, 80, 6V6, 76, 6N7, 6L6, 6A6, and 6A3.

Above, the schematic and parts list for the ‘303,’ a microphone pre-amp.  I will be building one of these shortly.  I was most excited by this publication due to the 76 tubes in a few of the circuits.  I am close to completion on a novel microphone preamp design that uses a 76 tube as the input stage and I am in-general trying to get more into the early ‘two-digit-designation’ tubes: the 75, the 76, the 42, 80, etc…   we are looking back etc etc.

Above, an image of the Stancor factory which describes a certain transformer-manufacturing process which I will not put into text because I get enough porn spam as it is. 

Several completed Stancor amplifier units

Above, several transformer units photographed for the catalog with their model-numbers included via practical photography.  What a great design move this is.  I bet we see a return to this product-photography technique in the coming years.  ‘If you can find a way to do-it practically (rather than digitally), then do it practically!’

Microphones? Why would you ever use a microphone?

More seventies nonsense

Shit, man, just record all that shit direct!  You don’t need to mic it!   Naturally, a surface-transducer manufacturer would make such a suggestion.  But could you imagine?  Awful.  The sound of a great player with a great instrument can be wonderful.  But put that combination in a great sounding space and (well recorded) you can elevate it immensely. Or just run it direct.  Either way.

Most Tragic Bands of All Time, part 1.

Badfinger endorse the Connecticut-made Ovation acoustic/electric guitar

What is it about Ovation guitars that repulses me so?  They don’t sound awful.  They were made in Connecticut.  They are very very circa ’71.  I once even saw a video of Thom Yorke in the studio cutting “Exit Music…,” a not-awful song from a not-awful album,  with a black Ovation something-or-other.  And yet.  Faced with the prospect of a playable $40 70’s Ovation at the flea market last week, I passed.  God only knows where that $40 went.  Just kinda feel like those things are cursed.

Also cursed: Badfinger!  So you’re a band.  Shit, you’re a great band.  The Beatles sign you to their new record label.  Paul writes one of his best-songs-ever for you, and produces the MFkkr.  You even go so far as to to pen ‘I can’t live if livin’ is “Without You,”‘ which becomes the defining song of one of the definitive vocalists of the (soon-to-be-over?) era of commercially-sold-recorded-musical-performances.   By the end of the decade, two of you have killed themselves and somehow you lost (like, literally, shit, i can’t find it) one million dollars.  You are Badfinger.

One of the best rock bands ever.

PA systems of the Seventies

Gibson GPA-100 PA system circa ’73

Seems like ‘100 watts’ was the likely answer to all yr PA system needs in the seventies.  I can’t imagine how folks were using SVTs and Twin Reverbs side-by-side with 100 watts for vocal reinforcement but i guess you use whatcha got!  Old guitars amps, keyboards, pedals, guitars…  they all seem to become ‘collectible’ or ‘vintage’ eventually.  Old PA systems… not so much.

Shure Vocal Master.  Goddamn they made a lot of these things.  Some are still in use.

Ovation IC One Hundred PA System

Randall RPA-6 PA system. 

The Yamaha Ensemble Mixing system.  Model is EM-90 I believe.  I bought one of these for $100 at a guitar shop in Hollywood about a decade ago.  It’s a powered mixer/PA head with a built-in analog beatbox and a great-sounding reverb tank.  The high-impedance instrument inputs also distort pretty nicely.  AKA the-KILLS-in-a-box.

Some 70s electronic oddities

The Computone Lyricon is an analog synthesizer with a wind controller interface.  The horn-controller responded to three input parameters: the keys (‘valves’) themselves, lip pressure, and wind force pressure.  It sounds beautiful.  Listening to this thing, I can’t help but think of the infamous Charles Napier ‘space hippies’ episode of Star Trek.

Other things that come to mind: Steve Douglas’ “Music of Cheops”;

(image source)

…and Quicksilver Messenger Service’ “Just For Love” LP. 

Kinda makes me want to get a CV wind controller for my MS20…




“Maestro will travel anywhere for new sounds.” Indeed.  Maestro was the effects-device division of CMI in the 60s/70s. CMI was best known as the parent of Gibson Guitars in this era.  When I was growing up (late 80s/early 90s), Maestro effects were considered fairly shite by professional musicians and we could still readily find these things for a few bucks at yard sales and pawn shops.  M. has collected many of these units, so I’ve been able to use a lot of these things on recordings through the years.  Missing from this family photo is the epic ‘Universal Synthesizer,’ which is not a synth at all, but rather a very early (the first?) multi-effect unit for guitar ETC.  Synth or not, this device can make some fantastic synth-esque sounds with just about any input signal.




The Ampli-Tek Phaser AT-10, circa 1973.  An early Leslie rotating-speaker emulator with a charming cottage-industry aspect.  This piece is truly lost to time.  Anyone?


Electronic Music Labs, INC, of Vernon CT

Electronic Music Laboratories, INC, was based in Vernon CT from 1968 through 1984.  The company’s founders included Dale Blake, Norman Millard, Dennis Daugherty, Fred Locke, and Jeff Murray.   Apparently EML synths used op-amps rather than transistors in certain circuits, which improved reliability relative to Moog and ARP designs of the period.  Above, the EML 101.  Below, the EML model 500.   Anyone using one of these in their work?  Drop a line and let us know…

Vladamir Ussachevsky, electronic music pioneer and educator

“Does this qualify me for a prophet? Well, perhaps partially.”

Imagine if this dude had been your college music professor.  Read a 4-page essay by Mongolian-born composer Vladamir Ussachevsky as printed in the 1/17/74 issue of DOWNBEAT magazine.  Ussachevsky was one of the founders of the legendary Columbia-Princeton electronic music studio, and one of the folks who bridged the tape-manipulation and synthesizer eras of early electronic music.  It’s almost impossible for us to grasp the conceptual leaps that these early pioneers had to make in order to arrive the formulation of audio-manipulation-as-music; for many of us working as musicians in the past few decades, it’s hard to even separate music and audio, so intertwined is audio technology with music, so thoroughly has the studio become-an-instrument.

Follow the link to READ ON…

Continue reading Vladamir Ussachevsky, electronic music pioneer and educator

Shure Unisphere Microphone

Mick and Keith on a lone Unisphere

The Shure Unisphere was the predecessor to the ubiquitous SM-58.  It’s basically a dual-impedance SM-58 from what I can gather.  Check out these 40-year old adverts for the Unisphere and consider that despite all we’ve experienced in audio-technology in the past four decades, we’re all still basically using the same vocal mic on stage.  Pretty incredible…

Rod Stewart with the Shure Unisphere

The Fifth Dimension with Shure Unisphere

ARP Synthesizer Endorsers of the early 1970s

Stevie Wonder endorses the ARP 2600 in this early 70s advert

Billy Preston likes his ARP Pro-Soloist

Les McCann and the Arp Pro-Soloist

Edgar Winter apparently used the ARP 2600 on his cheerful Doobie-Bros-esque hit record ‘Free Ride’; those wind sounds in the breakdown, i’m guessing?

Several more examples after the jump… Continue reading ARP Synthesizer Endorsers of the early 1970s

Univox-branded Synth+Drums

Billy Preston with a Univox Compac-Piano

Univox (brief company history here) was a US company that marketed a huge range of musical products in the late 60s and into the early 80s.    Most famous is their ‘Hi-Flier’ electric guitar, aka, not-an-actual-Mosrite, aka, one of the iconic Kurt Cobain guitars.

They also made tube amplifiers, some of which actually sound pretty great, and distributed several synth instruments and drum machines which are believed to have been built by KORG in Japan.  Their Compac-Piano (no resemblance to the sound of an actual piano) was apparently of Italian origin.  Here’s a few period adverts for these oddballs.  These were all sold in large numbers and are still fairly readily available for a reasonable price.

Edgar Winter with the Compac-Piano

Univox Mini-Korg analog preset synth

Univox Pace Ship Drum Machine