You know me, all things 70’s is where I’m at. So, when it came to thinking about live amplification for gigging again and I tried my Marshall JCM900 Dual Reverb from the early 90’s I was dismayed at the bright, thin, nasal whine that came out of it. I have moved both onwards and backwards from when that amp was tortured in half empty clubs on a regular basis.
I got to looking at where else to go. Modern stuff is all very nice and clever and good, but I just want a big loud clean amp that I can just plug into the front of and play, no fancy shite. I can get a modern boutique amp which will do that for me, but I’ll never be playing at the level to justify it financially.
So, I started looking at old gear, firstly thinking of replacing my much missed 70’s Marshall JMP100. A ’78 one went on ebay for £600, which is okay, the one-in one-out rule means that I could sell something musical to pay for that and in “real terms” it doesn’t cost me anything, but I hesitated on the bid button and wasn’t sorry when someone else got it. Time to look elsewhere.
I’ve always loved old Laney’s, very underrated and more than the Marshall clones they’ve often been accused of being. Laney Klipps kept coming up, an amp I remembered from a dingy studio one-up in a semi-derelict tenement on Glasgow’s Sauchielhall Street. It was super loud and clean with this wacky option to use the “Klipp” channel, which is probably the first ever separate drive channel on an amp. It wasn’t just an ordinary drive channel though, it was more of a fuzz tone sound, and exactly what you heard on Black Sabbath’s albums from ’71 to ”75.
I want that one.
The money for Klipps was looking silly, Americans are scooping them up and the 100watts were going for £600-£700 and even the 60watts were getting £400. But, there was a 100watt one on ebay with a low start price so I thought it was worth a shot. I stuck a bid on it and picked out a guitar for sacrifice if I won it.
Bloody hell, I won it and for a song too, it was looking like I could just sell a couple of pedals to get it. The bids were low because it looked a little shabby, it’s obviously been lying in a garage since 1979, and collectors could all see in one of the shots that one of the transformers wasn’t the original, not important to the sound as it was the mains tranny. But, collectors like all-original.
I was going to pick it up as it was only around 30 miles away, when I got the call. He’d tried it and it had gone on fire. My heart sank, the boy was no musician and I’ll bet it had been switched on at the mains and standby switches at the same time with no speakers connected and he’d fried it.
I did some digging about potential repairs to fore-arm myself and got as much info from the seller as I could, all the valves were still lit when he’d switched it back off, but there was an awful smell of burning. I made an offer, subtracting my likely repair costs from my winning ebay bid and the amp was mine. What’s life without a little gamble now and again?
I brought it home an opened it up, one of the transformers is cooked right enough, but everything else looks fine, the 40 year old electronics look retro but sound. The valves all look original and do all fire up, I tried it with power just long enough to see what was going to happen. I cleaned it up, took the photies and dropped it off at Flynn Amps in Glasgow to see if it can be saved.
Maybe I’ve wasted my money and I’ve bought a black tolex foot rest, maybe I’ll have a 100watt vintage fuzz machine of joy? The font they used to print KLIPP made it worth taking the chance all on its own.
I hope it does work out, I’ve managed to find replacement knobs for it. Turns out Laney shopped at Maplins for parts in the 70’s. More later.