1950s Sano "HiFi" Stereophonic 35w 1x15" Tube Amplifier

There's no branding, but this US-made (New Jersey) amp is pretty clearly a Sano product (they made a lot of accordion-centric amps). The "crosshairs" design of the pine baffle, asymmetric cut of the box itself, the details and trim of the cabinet, and the amp and slightly-complicated preamp itself are all giveaways. One can see the same control panels and layouts in use on branded Sano products, so it's not hard to connect the dots.

Tone-wise, this thing is delicious! It has a smooth, bluesy/jazzy Gibson-like voice but, with the treble cranked, it delves right into clean-and-clear Fender territory. It has a lot of reserve "clean" power, too, so you have to crank a bit on the tremolo preamp (more on that in a bit) and dig into the main power to get saucy distortion out of it. The giant, 15" Utah speaker gives it a "pedal steel amp" feel to the wideness of its tone, too -- it can hang-out on a thick low-end as much as you want yet still has a full, present high-end. What do you call that -- very musical? Oh, words...

It dates from the very late '50s and looks it, too. The styling is just about perfect. It's the kind of amp that all the retro-boutique makers are trying to emulate these days. And best yet? It'd recently been totally gone-through professionally and has a 3-prong cord as well as cleaned-up wiring and replacement filter caps where they were needed.

Sonic merits aside, the amp itself is very interesting. It has 3 separate inputs -- guitar, instrument, and stereophonic. The last one is a stereo jack that allows you to set the volume for each side of whatever's coming in independently. I'm pretty sure this was for helping to even-out the sound of accordions with stereo pickups, but it would work perfectly well with stereo guitars (like Rickis with the split neck/bridge setup) as well.

Further controls include volume, treble, and bass as well as an input for the tremolo footswitch, output for recording to tape, tremolo gain and frequency controls, and the on/off and standby switches. The tremolo only works if you're jacked into the stereophonic input (if you're using a normal cable, the treble volume control is your volume on that input). The tremolo also only works if you've got a footswitch for it. In the video I patched an A/B box to make a simple footswitch for testing it.

In addition, if you've got the tremolo engaged, you can use the tremolo gain knob to crank a bit of preamp distortion into your sound in a weird, sort-of-controlled way. Just back the tremolo frequency off to zero to remove the trem voice from the circuit if you just want to use the gain to bluesy-it-up.

Work included: a cleaning, check-up, and 2 hours time-compressed "testing" -- who wouldn't love my job? It's healthy and happy. As noted, it'd been professionally gone-through in recent memory.

Size is: 21x19x12"

Speaker is: 15" Alnico Utah

Cabinet is: pine and plywood

Covering is: grey/black tolex with gold edging

Condition notes: many of the tubes have been replaced for JJs. There's minor wear-and-tear to the covering but it's in great shape for its age. It's also almost entirely original save for those tubes, the 3-prong cord install (safety first!), and a few replaced electrolytic capacitors.

Here are some shots from when I had it disassembled to inspect it...


rcoul said…
Nice looking amp. Very reminiscent of an old Gretsch amp owned by a friend of mine. His had the same "Kitchen cupboard" style handle on it. Same wrap around one side grill cloth as well.
Unknown said…
Nice amp. I just had one given to me that needs work. Is the speaker 8 ohms?
Unknown said…
....also it looks like someone built a new cabinet for mine...it’s pretty rough...but I wired the Utah speaker to my Fender amp and the speaker sounds amazing

Thanks, Dave
Unknown said…
Is this amp for sale?