Tag Archives: Kustom

Kustom & Kasino in the 70s: Part II

Kustom_1972Today at PS dot com: a few images of the ‘later’ Kustom amps, as well as a forgotten entry by sister-company Kasino.  Above:  the 1972 Kustom Hustler, Charger, Sidewinder, Commander, and Challenger amps.   I think someone had a thing for muscle cars back in the day,,,  ironic, considering that dude later went into business making police radar detectors.  Oh wait: you don’t know the crazy story of Kustom founder Bud Ross?  You might want to check out our earlier article about Kustom at this link… including our exclusive high-res download of the complete 1972 Kustom Katalog.

Kustom_1972 copyAbove: this advert uses the non-literal communication method known as SIMILE to suggest that ‘Kustom amps are as precision-made as surgical instruments.’  There is also a parallel structure that relates a musician’s ‘picking’ of a guitar-string to a surgeon’s ‘picking’ of a cyst/tumor/etc.  Aii yi yi.

Kasino_PA_1972Above: a Kasino PA system from 1972.  Kasino products were apparently the same circuitry as Kustom, but repackaged to as to allow different local dealers to carry the same products without competing directly.  Much like Gibson/Epiphone in the 1960s.

KustomAmps_1977Above: the third generation of Kustom amps circa 1977.  The big selling point here seems to be…  a wide-Q notch filter.  Yawn.

Keyboard Pluralism: 1980-1982

Yamaha_CS70M_1982Above: The Yamaha CS70m (1982)

Today on PS dot com: some oddball keyboards from 1980-1982.  Check out the incredible heterogeneity of the offerings here: analog monosynths,  analog polysynths, electric organs, electro-acoustic pianos, analog “electronic pianos,” and super-high-end digital workstations.  In just one year, Yamaha would release the world’s first affordable digital synth, the DX7, and this would soon lead to the overwhelming popularity of the dreaded “Rompler” (Korg M1 anyone?): keyboards which were difficult for the player to easily program.  The result was two decades of generic, predictable synthesizer sounds appearing in much pop and rock music.  Luckily, we now have affordable, easy-to-use analog synths again (most notably from KORG); and those shitty old romplers?  Personally, I run mine (a Kawai K-1) through a whole string of guitar pedals, chop+slice,  and sometimes that’s just the sound the track needs…

Below: Synclavier II, one of the two ‘popular’ early digital super-synths, introduces control software (1981) to allow easier programming; Rhodes Mark III EK-10, one of the last of the original mechanical Rhodes pianos (1980); Oberheim polyphonic sequencer for CV/Gate synths (1981); Moog THE SOURCE analog monosynth with digital patch memory (1981); The Kustom 88 ‘electronic piano’ (1981); Hohner Pianet T Electric ‘Piano’ (more like an electric glockenspiel IMHO) (1981); The Fairlight CMI digital workstation, the other early digital monster (1982); EKO bass pedal board (1981); The Crumar Toccata electric organ (1981) and DP-50 electronic piano (1982).

SynclavierII_TerminalSupport_1981 Rhodes_MArk_III_EK10_1980 Oberheim_DSX_Sequencer_1981 Moog_TheSource_1981 Kustom_88_piano_1981 Hohner_Pianet_T_1981 Fairlight_CMI_1982 EKO_BassPedalBoard_1981 Crumar_Toccata_1981 Crumar_DP50_1982*************



We had a SOURCE when I was a kid (around 1993, JR?) and it was impossible to get it to play in tune; I briefly had a Pianet T and WOW do I regret selling it: i’ve had just about every model of Pianet and I can say with total confidence that the T is the one to get.  Smaller, less hassle, passive electronics…  I really wouldn’t advise fkkn around with the earlier models.  Besides those two, I’ve never used any of these. Anyone using ’em these days?  Shit, anyone using an M-1 these days?  Send us some modern tracks with fresh use of the M-1?  There’s a zillion of those things out there, someone’s gotta bring em back…

Keyboard accessories circa mid 70s

The ACOUSTIC Model 500 ‘Keyboard Control Center.’ Never seen this piece before.  The original ACOUSTIC amps from the early 70s are really not-terrible solid-state amps.  We used one back in high school for the Rhodes and it was pretty excellent.

The Komplete Kustom lineup from their sadder post-Naugahyde era.  See this link for a detailed discussion of the earlier, more iconic Kustom pieces.

The Powerhouse Rhythm Unit, an infinite-loop tape cartridge playback system designed to do the work of a drum machine.

The WMS Interphaser, a phase-shift pedal from a small maker.

Nothing too exciting today…  just a few odds and ends that caught my eye. 

ICON: Kustom Instrument Amplifiers: 150, 250, 500 series

Download the twelve-page 1972 Kustom Electronics, INC catalog for their 150, 250, and 500-series guitar and bass amplifiers.

DOWNLOAD: Kustom_150_250_500_Catalog

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).

I wonder why no one has made a Honda Civic or Subaru WRX flavored guitar (or beat-making software interface WHOA maybe getting too far out there…)

The 1940 Chrysler Windsor, designed by Ray Dietrich (source)

The 1963 Gibson Firebird, also designed by Ray Dietrich (source)




From Wikipedia:

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.

Pictured above is a German 1972 pricelist for the entire Kustom line.  If there is enough demand I will scan and upload the entire thing.

(web source)

(Web Source)

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:

History of Kustom/Kasino amps and Bud Ross

A great stockpile of vintage Kustom literature

Personal site of a Kustom super-collector

History of the various Kustom lines

Polymath Bud Ross on-camera delivering an oral history of Kustom and his later ventures