Magnatone Guitars!

New for Fall 2013, a complete guide to Magnatone guitars and the stories behind them!

1938-1960 Steel Guitars

1956-1963 Bigsby/Barth Era

1964-1966 Starstream Era


Student amplifiers (1959-1963)

For 1959, Magnatone came out with three new student amplifiers to replace the "Starlet" and the "Varsity" from the 1950's 100 series.
The Starlet had been the low end 2-3watt AC/DC budget amplifier for several years.
Two new amps came out and both with similar AC/DC budget models: The Model 111 and the Model 807.

With no significant changes made to the circuit (transformerless "AC/DC" power supply, 3 tubes, 8" cheap speaker), The new 807 cabinet was covered in "rugged sturdetan" covering. The 111 listed for $59.50 and the economy 807 sold for $43.50.

top to bottom pictures: Models 111, 807, and 118


Next up was the Model 118 at $99.50 list. This was a 5 watt amp with a 12" speaker and a 3" tweeter. It came with Volume and Tone controls as well as a headphone speaker jack. This was a 5Y3, 6V6, 12AX7 amp. Also see 108/118/218.

The 210 was considered a "deluxe student amp", it was similar to a 118, but it added F.M.Vibrato.

One or all of the 111, 807, and 118 amps might have been available until the Starlite series came along in 1963/1964.

Starlite Series (1964-66)

The Starlite series came along around 1964 and replaced the 807 and 118 models. There might have been a few years (1962 and 1963) where low end student amps were not offered at all. Estey was going through changes and financial hardships, and its unclear if the 807 and 118 were offered in 1963 at all. Regardless, the Starlite series came along in 1964. After the Custom M-Series was designed and underway, Estey engineers turned their attention to the economy end of the spectrum. Distributors were, no doubt, suggesting that Estey was loosing out on a lot of potential sales. A five model series was quickly developed from the el-cheapo AC/DC 401 up to the 431 which had tremolo and vibrato. There was even a bass amp, the 441.

Due to the price and moderately good quality components and engineering, these amps sold well. The cabinets were made of pressboard, and the transformers were inexpensive. The 401 was an AC/DC amp, but all the other models had real power transformers with filament windings. Leveraging the buying power from the premium M-Series amps, some of the Starlites used premium 7025 tubes and 6GW8 and 7189A power tubes.

At somepoint, the "gold face" control panels were switched to a black background, and model numbers were bumped from xx1 to xx2 (i.e. 431 became the 432). This happened sometime in 1965.

All of these models eventually became available for export with 240vac power transformers, except the AC/DC 401/402 model.

In terms of orders, the 411/412 was the most popular, followed by the 431/432.



see Schematics




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