Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Checkmate 66 Guitar Amp
Okay, I'll admit - this one's not exactly obselete. It's just old. It's a pretty good example of a mature technology: once all the right elements are in place, change doesn't take very rapidly.
Take automobiles. They were incredibly varied in, say, 1905. Fuel source, drive train, controls - there were different examples of each. By 1930, things had settled - the steam and electric cars were gone, and the wheel and pedals generally worked the same in most cars. The changes between 1930 and 1950 were slight by comparison - for the most part, cars got cheaper, faster, and more reliable. With the possible exception of the emerging electric car, we haven't seen a great deal of change since then. If you know how to drive a modern car, with a bit of effort you can operate a 50's car just fine - you put gas in the tank, air in the tires. You turn the wheel to steer, and press the pedal to go. The fundamentals are pretty solidly in place.
I think the same thing applies to this amp. I got it a few years ago at the value village for seven dollars. As far as I've been able to dig up, it was made sometime in the late 60's or early 70's, making it about 40 years old. Despite its age, aside from few stylistic cues, it's basically the same as a typical modern guitar amp, physically, functionally, and in appearance. I could plug practically any guitar made in the last 70 years into it and play with no issues. It has the same knobs in the same places as the cheaper amps in any guitar store. The only really dated element of it's design is the power cord - like the GE radio I wrote about earlier, it has a permanently attached two-pronged power cord stowed away in a hole in the back of the case. It sounds great too - it distorts nicely when you crank it up, and you can turn the volume knob all the way to the end without pissing off your neighbors since it's only 10 watts.
Possibly the best seven dollars I ever spent!