c.1950 Bell & Howell 1x12 Cab & 2W Amplifier

I posted about this very same B&H 12" speaker cab a bit ago, but since I'd posted on it I actually installed the guts of a Fender Greta amplifier into it and routed many of the controls and jacks to the front panel. I'm loving it this way and wanted to show off how well the adaptation worked...

FYI, I'm pretty sure these cabs date from the mid-late 40s into the very early 50s. This was originally a speaker cabinet intended to be used with B&H film projectors. I have another (two-tone) B&H cab coming that's otherwise exactly like this. I'm thinking of either changing it into 1) a mini powered speaker/monitor combo or 2) simply adding a proper jack for use as a guitar cab.

The little round bit in the corner is the VU meter from the Greta and amazingly, the unit fit exactly tight in this cable hole! It looks really neat when the amp is turned on as the meter has a couple of led lights so it glows nicely on stage.

The two brown knobs are 30s/40s bakelite radio knobs that I had in my hoarding-bin.

I absolutely love the voicing of the Greta amp itself and it becomes an entirely different beast when hooked up to larger speakers. This old 12" gives it a very lo-fi (think simple Gibson, Fender, and Dano amps) 50s/early 60s sound but it also does low-volume smooth 40s jazz sounds with the choke/tone rolled off a bit, too -- that velvety "just this side of breakup" sound.

If you're thinking it might be fun to do this project yourself, remember that these little 2W tube amps are best used with mics on stage or in folky, bluesy, jazzy, or small groups where you're not fighting for volume with other players. They're also wonderful for recording with as you don't need to crank it up to get breakup.

I added a jack and a jumper that connects it to the jack on the rear panel of the amp chassis which is inside. Fortunately, the cool retro On/Off switch was easier to move (not soldered to the board of the chassis) so I could install it on the front simply by lengthening its leads.

The bottom right "netted" panel of this cab has a hole cut in it for the power cable to pass through.


Lisa said...

Would love to see what the insides look like. I just picked up one of these speakers this weekend and would love to do something similar.

jowdjbrown said...

They're also wonderful for recording with as you don't need to crank it up to get breakup.projector service toronto