1959 Premier (Multivox) Twin 8 Tube Amp

Sometimes an amp comes in that just digs at you. I knew that Premier and Multivox amps are cult favorites when this was dropped-off for consignment but I hadn't even turned it on when I was smitten with this thing. I mean -- it just drips with cool. Just look at that. It's got classic styling.

So, after plugging it in (pre-repairs), I realized why these are cult favorites. Dang, does this sound good! It does that "low-watt-tube-thing" but to a degree that's a little shocking compared to its Danelectro, Silvertone, and other off-brand brethren. It goes into drive beautifully as you bring-up the volume but it remains tight and clear -- it doesn't get that loose throb you sometimes get with similar boxes. I can see why these guys are harmonica-amp holy grails.

My work on it was a glorified version of what I do to most old tube amps that come in -- checking them out, 3-pronging their power cord if possible, and attempting to pull out their best with as little alteration as possible. I'm by no means an amp doctor, but I know enough to get them running safely for a modern audience and to troubleshoot average problems. My one regret on this guy is that I can't puzzle-out why the tremolo circuit does not work. It's an alien configuration to me and the tight and convoluted way the wiring was put together (not on boards at all and crisscrossing in all directions like a '30s amp) made it more confusing. Otherwise, though, it's operating nicely.

As its name implies, the amp is a 2x8" speaker configuration and it seems to run somewhere between 10-15 watts. It has two Best-brand alnico speakers and the tubes are all-original -- two Tung-Sol 12AX7s in the preamp section, a 6L6 in the power, and a 6X4 rectifier. I A/Bed with replacement tubes and all are working correctly. I'm pretty sure you can swap-in a 6V6 with no problem on these guys for a bit of a different tone. I'd guess "woolier" would be what that would get you.

Controls are simple -- volume and tone -- and an on/off switch for the pre-set tremolo. Said tremolo, as I mentioned, does not work. In the demo video I've got the tone cranked all the way up (more treble response) except at the very end where I fiddle with it to show that, indeed, it does work.

The amp itself has a pine(!) cabinet and baffle and is wrapped in gorgeous-looking, weirdo tolex. The speakers date this guy to 1959 and I'll bet if I checked all the rest of the component dates they'd confirm the date. These amps changed to a different chassis layout in the '60s so I'm pretty sure this is a '59.

My specific repairs are as follows:

First, I replaced the 2-prong power cable with a modern 3-prong grounded one. I also added ground jumpers between the bottom part of the chassis and the top part (the control panel). I also shielded the amp's back panel and added a ground to the cabinet to make contact with it when installed. I also removed the "death cap" from the circuit, of course.

Second, I replaced the 3 input jacks. The originals (included in a baggie with all the other removed minor bits) had been wired incorrectly and had resistors added to their signal path in an attempt to sort-of isolate each jack from the other. In addition, a 4th jack had been added on the other side of the control panel and I removed that as well. The new jacks are Switchcraft and all do the same thing.

Third, I re-flowed the solder on every connection I could find in the circuit and reinforced any that looked questionable.

Fourth, I found a lightbulb to use for the amp jewel at the hardware store and modified it a bit so it'd stay snug in the holder. In the photos it was stuck-in with the help of a little duct tape but that's since been removed when I realized (duh) that I could simply solder a little "bump" on the outside of the bulb to keep it in place nicely.

Fifth, I tightened everything up and cleaned it up a bit. It was kinda dingy and gross when it arrived.

Sixth, I replaced the amp handle (the original leather was destroyed) with one made from strands of the original power cord. The ends got soldered together and covered in a little duct tape. I know that's weird but I've done this before with this style of handle-mount and I think it's kind-of cute to re-use the original materials as much as possible. It also looks neat, too, and works just-fine.

Seventh, I didn't replace anything else. All the rest of the components (save jacks and power cable and lamp) appear to be original. The caps all seemed fine (but grungy) but I imagine if one went-through and re-capped the circuit you'd get a small power gain and perhaps even more clarity.

Finally -- weight? It's a little over 15 lbs. That's easy-enough to take anywhere.

Flaws, though? Non-functioning tremolo, general wear and tear to the cabinet and tolex, some old taped-up edging on the back panel, one smaller tear in the gold-metallic front grill cloth, and an extraneous hole from a removed 4th jack at the control panel. Also, there's that replaced/missing original amp handle.

















Comments