The next piece to arrive on my “lap” was a 1966 Kalamazoo Model 2, 7 watt tube amp. It had come into the shop on trade and for some reason just couldn’t find a home. There were quite a few of these (And the Model 1) mentioned in blogs (Specifically Miles O’Neill over at rru.com) and for sale around the internet. I discovered through my research, talking to potential buyers of our Model 2 and also Russ at Savage Amps that these little guys were incredibly popular with harmonica players. They had just the right amount of mid range through the stock CTS 10” to drop some of the harp’s harshness, to sit nicely in a mix and just enough “dirt” to give the harmonica a little weight. Well, I reasoned that not only was it designed as a guitar amp, but those particular qualities might be just exactly what I was looking for in a guitar amp. I decided to buy it.
You might be starting to learn that I just can’t leave equipment alone. I got back on the phone with Russ from Savage and we talked through some of the typical issues with these old Kalamazoo’s that with a few modifications could be improved.
The first thing we did was replace the old two prong power cable and make it safe with a grounded three prong cord. I then picked up a Jensen P10R to see if would give me just a touch more low end, but more importantly, a little more clarity up top. Russ also suggested checking the old capacitors and replacing what was necessary. We then both came up with a plan to replace the usual on/off switch, which was controlled by the tone knob, with a regular, two way, power switch. We installed this to where the fuse normally sits on the front panel and relocated the fuse to inside the chassis. The last improvement we made was to switch the second instrument input to a jack that would accept an expression pedal to control the tremolo speed.
I’m not one to be concerned about mods vs resale value. I consider it a little like putting gas in a car; It doesn’t add to the value, but allows you to get some good mileage out of it. It also changes the equipment to something with a smaller niche, which means that there’s probably someone that’s searching for a tone, or a sound, much like I’m drawn to and these pieces of equipment might be what they’re looking for.
I had picked the amp up for $175 and plowed maybe $200 of mods into it, and to me, it’s been worth every penny.
The minute it came back from Savage I plugged the Dot into it. It was everything I had expected. It’s raw sounding. The kind of raw I imagine the early rock and roll guitarists heard for themselves. I can hardly fathom what it must have been like; Plugging your Harmony Meteor into a tiny Fender Champ and pushing the volume just that little bit too far and hitting an open chord… Wow… but I’m sure this was pretty close!
It blew me away and turned out to be the perfect match for my newly acquired and modified Dot.