5/27/2015

1961 Harmony H306A 1x12 Tube Guitar Amplifier


Update 2016: I've updated the post where necessary. I've been playing this a few days each week since May 2015 and it's been a great companion. If you want Fender-y clean/bright sounds at low volume on the cheap, this does it. If you crank it a bit you get a gorgeous, low-watt bluesy breakup, too, which means it's and excellent choice for recording. Now back to the original post...

I bought this off of a friend of mine, not knowing what to expect. Last night I pulled out the old 2-prong power cord, snipped the "death cap," installed a 3-prong cord, did an enormous amount of cleaning, and plugged it in. All happy!

People like to claim these sound like X-Y-Z small Fender "Tweed" -- but in reality they sound like themselves. I get the point folks are trying to make: these have an excellent clean sound which gets just mwah-enough to do old-fashioned rock when you push the power full-out and control everything on your guitar. That's not my style, though, and I absolutely love the clean low-power tone this pulls for jamming with small-group style.

This guy (click for link) thinks these were made by Lectrolab/Sound Products for Harmony. That sounds fair enough to me! I know it's a '61 because it's stamped April 1961 right on the chassis on the inside.


The story goes that the Harmony label was long-since removed and a faux "Gibson" one put in place. That was gone when I received the amp and I replaced the missing spot with this cool engraved brass plate off of a player piano that was decaying in our barn (and I finally got around to disassembling).


Handle's still good to go..


This amp has 4 (yes, 4!) inputs... two for each channel. The remaining two knobs control the tremolo and a tantalizing footswitch jack means this works with all simple switches. Update, here: this amp comes with a footswitch. Also: when I take this to shows, I try to make sure to wiggle/reseat the tremolo's tubes before turning on. One of them has a tendency to loosen up on the way if you're going over bumpy roads (read: as in, all of Vermont).


The basic tone controls work fine and are a huge improvement over simply using your guitar's tone pot. This rig tempts me with the idea of plugging in a couple different guitars at once. Update, here: which I've done -- running a regular electric through one channel and a lap steel through the other.



I guess the UL label tells me that old 2-prong cord was safe enough...!


An older (but not original) Jensen C12R was included with the amp... and it sounds just fine. I like Jensens. I can't really get used to other speakers. There's something about them.



This has two 12AX7 preamp tubes and two 6V6 power tubes. The pres in the photo are random Chinese spares I had on hand -- I was just swapping out for different tone testing -- but I put the original Amperex (Holland) "Bugle Boy" tubes back in quickly. They're much more lively in the upper mids, though the Chinese ones sounded just fine for darker tones. The original tubes are still going strong and come with the amp.


I reused the old 2-prong power cord as a speaker cord. Plenty of copper in there!


Here's a Dano-Silvertone for size comparison. It's a nice, lightweight amp at around 20lbs to carry. The cab is all pine, too, from what I can tell.

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