Kustom amps, with their ‘tuck and roll’ sparkle-Naugahyde upholstery covering, are a true icon of the rocknroll amplifier. Bud Ross took the idea of RocknRoll=hot rods to its logical conclusion with these things.
Tuck and Roll custom hot-rod upholstery (web source)
Interesting how well the Rock-Music/Hot-Rod connection worked in the 50s/early 60s. Consider the Gibson Firebird and Fender Stratocaster guitars, both of which had direct aesthetic relations to youth-favored automotive designs of the times. At right: the 1953 Buick Wildcat (source). Below that, the Fender Stratocaster, designed in 1953 (source).
The 1940 Chrysler Windsor, designed by Ray Dietrich (source)
The 1963 Gibson Firebird, also designed by Ray Dietrich (source)
“Rockabilly and Motown musicians originally used (Kustom) amps. Other artists known for using the Kustom brand for live applications are Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Altamonts, Dusty Murphy, 3 and Sheryl Crow. Some of the most famous Kustom P.A. users include Creedence Clearwater Revival, Leon Russell, Johnny Cash, Roy Clark, The Jackson 5, Carl Perkins,Alun Tan Lan(Y Niwl) and The Carpenters.”
All of the original 1960s and 70s Kustoms are solid-state amps, so their appeal nowadays is mainly for their cosmetic a(e)ffect. These things were no slouches in the technical department, tho – the 250 and 500 lines shipped with optional JBL or Altec speakers (look for the silver dustcap on the drivers); furthermore, when you come across one of these things nowadays, they generally work well, which is more than can be said for most 40-year-old solid-state guitar amps.
A Kustom-Brand Police Radar gun. Hot Rod Cars are still a focus here, but the situation has changed dramatically. And yes the same man is responsible for both product lines. (Web Source)
Since Kustoms are so iconic, there is a ton of information on the web regarding these artifacts and their very colorful and storied creator Bud Ross. Ever wonder what the connection was between Kustom and Kasino? And a gambling addiction? Promo branded halter-tops? Unsavory-looking plush toys? And police radar guns? Yes folks it’s all true. This is an American Epic. Here’s my pick of the best: