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Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

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Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby triscon82 » Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:56 am

Hi all, I'm new here and registered to see if anyone could help in identifying this amp that I just picked up via Gumtree. It's branded as White, and after a bit of research online it appears that White amplifiers were made by Matamp for a music shop in Sunderland in the early 1970s. Photos of White amps I've seen online look to mirror the Matamp design of that period, but the weird thing is mine doesn't look like that at all, both on the outside and inside. This one looks more like a Hiwatt, with a similar layout on the input panel, with Mullard valves and what appear to be Partridge transformers inside. After chatting with a friend we think it could be a prototype or perhaps a special order for a customer. Has anyone seen anything like this before?

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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby ef37a » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:43 pm

I am no gitamp historian but if no one here can help, post at thefretboard.co.uk Several very knowledgeable guys over there.

But! Are you valve electronics savvy? If not, DO NOT power that chassis up because for one thing it seems to use the now illegal Bulgin power socket and also looks like it might have been in a damp garage for some time?

The first test a competent tech' will do is PAT to ensure the mains traff is not leaking to earth. If it passes PAT it should be powered up from a Variac and watched, hawklike for any nasties. If one of those big electrolytics pops you will have one hell of a mess to clear up.

Assuming it powers up and flies you will then have to decide upon use? BIG Mother ain't it! Many would say the days of 150W+ amps (and a clipping point of 300W would not surprise me AT ALL!) is done? Bass amp? Whatever happens it needs an IEC mains conn' and a PAT certificate.

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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby Wonks » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:53 pm

ef37a wrote:Ifor one thing it seems to use the now illegal Bulgin power socket

It's got a captive mains lead leading out through a hole with a grommet.
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby ef37a » Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:18 pm

Wonks wrote:
ef37a wrote:Ifor one thing it seems to use the now illegal Bulgin power socket

It's got a captive mains lead leading out through a hole with a grommet.

So it has Wonks! So what's that thing between the fuse holder and the cable? It does at least appear to have a brown/blue mains cable.

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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby Wonks » Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:28 pm

On the back (L to R looking at the back the right way up) it goes cable (grommet appears to have pulled through to the inside), fuseholder (mains?), fuselolder (HT?) , voltage selector switch? Then big gap, output impedance switch and two jack speaker outputs.

I presume the removed back panel carries the fuse and switch descriptions. Or it may well be a prototype with a lot of the necessary descriptions missing.

Triscon82, are there descriptions on the back panel or is that missing?
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby John Egan » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:17 am

I remember White amps. I was told years ago that they were made from Orange parts after Orange collapsed - possibly in the 80s. I think Orange was part of Matamp at the time. Never played one.
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby zenguitar » Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:36 am

John's post rings bells with me.

Sometimes, the problem with Internet is that it's the 1st place people look and (more to the point) where they ask.

It is glaringly obvious that the first place to ask about this amp is Matamp.

It is a constant frustration to me that we have people who are able to find SOS forums and ask a question here when, by asking, they infer that they are incapable the simplest of Google searches.

You did your research, discovered the Matamp link, but instead of contacting them direct you decided to post here with a glamourised question.

Let us know what Matamp tell you.

Andy :beamup:
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby ef37a » Fri Mar 08, 2019 8:43 am

Teensy bit harsh Andy?

Often when you put a search in Google about audio gear, depending on how you phrase it, SOS comes up as one of the first results. Now, if a bod knows OF SOS they will know that it is a trusted source.

Might be OP's first post but he could be a long time lurker? I was, MOST intimidated for some time! Now I am too old and feeble to give a ****!

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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby triscon82 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:18 am

Thanks for the replies chaps.
Dave, you’re spot on, I’ve actually been a reader of SOS for yonks, although I’ve never really had the need to post on the forum until now. I posted here as I knew there’d be people here with far more knowledge and experience than me.

I’d spent quite a bit of time looking for info about White amps before posting here, and according to correspondence other people have had with Matamp it seems that the company doesn’t even acknowledge the ones they did actually make (White W100), which I guess makes sense given that they aren’t branded as a Matamp product. So while I could email Matamp, I think it’d be pretty pointless.

I couldn’t find any other markings on the head or chassis, so no information on valves or fuses sadly. I’m not really competent when it comes to electronics, so I will definitely be taking this to get serviced.

That is interesting about the Orange connection. I’ll see what else I can dig up about that. I did post this same thread on The Gearpage, and some amp techs seem to think it could be a modified Sound City 120, due to the matching punch patterns on the chassis. I think Hiwatt has been ruled out due to the mess of the wiring job!
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:14 am

zenguitar wrote:It is a constant frustration to me that we have people who are able to find SOS forums and ask a question here when, by asking, they infer that they are incapable the simplest of Google searches.

There are many frustrations in moderating the forums, Andy. I've just had to delete six completely gibberish posts attempting to promote high-cost phone lines aimed at resolving 'love problems'... What can the perpetrators of such imbecilic nonsense be thinking when trying to post that crap here, and why do they insist on wasting so much of our time in having to remove their spammage!

But the SOS forums exist specifically for like-minded people to help each other, and I don't see anything wrong in the OP seeking the knowledge and friendly interest for which the SOS forums are famous.

H
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby John Egan » Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:36 am

I've looked for information on Orange, and it's a bit confused (isn't it always). However, it seems that Matamp never owned Orange, but they did make the original Orange valve amps under a partnership agreement. During the 1970s, apparently Orange were trying to transition into Transistor amps because demand for the valve based products dried up, so they might have sold off parts. Later they used manufacturers down south to make their valve amps.
I'm pretty sure that Sound city Amps were made in the Highlight (?) factory which used to make Hi Watt amps and they carried a white identification label to that effect on the rear of the chassis.
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby ef37a » Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:40 am

As someone who is constantly seeking information on audio electronics and other matters, for my own interest and that of others I can sympathise with the poster who say the makers did not/do not respond. Getting information from companies is getting ever more difficult.

Many firms do not display an email address (not even "info@......" that they could varder a few times a week). Often you have to fill in a very nosy form and fight a robot detector. Even if you get an email back there can be the ultimate insult? NO REPLY email!! (I get these constantly from TTalk with whom I have a dispute so, suits them!)

I have become better at beating some of the obstructive systems. If I am sufficiently A'ed I scroll about and can often find a sales dept or press office email addy and then ask them to go wake up the technical staff! About a 50% success rate.

Then of course there is the constant battle with adverts and other diversions that you don't get with SOS (or to be fair, HR or frets.co.uk)

Hoist by your own success and nicesessss SOS!

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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby triscon82 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:01 pm

I've certainly found that exact issue with larger companies, especially with old equipment. While not music related I'm currently going through a bit of a slog with JVC about some 7 year old TV cameras we use at work. No contact email or phone number at all on their website, just a form. 2 weeks later and still no response. Hey ho.

This is what a poster on another forum got in regards to emailing Matamp, at least they got a reply I guess:

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John Egan wrote:I've looked for information on Orange, and it's a bit confused (isn't it always). However, it seems that Matamp never owned Orange, but they did make the original Orange valve amps under a partnership agreement. During the 1970s, apparently Orange were trying to transition into Transistor amps because demand for the valve based products dried up, so they might have sold off parts. Later they used manufacturers down south to make their valve amps.
I'm pretty sure that Sound city Amps were made in the Highlight (?) factory which used to make Hi Watt amps and they carried a white identification label to that effect on the rear of the chassis.
Regards John

Thanks again for this extra info. That's really interesting. I'll update this when the amp tech has had a good look over the head.
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby ef37a » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:04 pm

I will ask again Triscon82, what do you intend to do with the amplifier?

Now that you have told us you need the ministrations of an amp tech' you could be in for an expensive time? Just safety testing and, if it passes, running the amp up is going to take a couple of hours of a tech's time and if it is safe but faulty almost impossible to give an estimate for repair. Just a set of output valves will be £120 I would think.

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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby Wonks » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:21 pm

From what I can gather, there was no one source of amps for the Bill White's shop in Sunderland. They went out to many manufacturers to get badged amps for them to sell. Reports of a chap in Cardiff making some for them. Burman did some. Certainly a period in the '70s when Matamp made them. Some references to them making their own.

So I think you need to go by the construction details to trace it back to the manufacturer. Undoubtedly British, but not Marshall.

Looking at the insides, it may very well have been a prototype based on an existing amp chassis. Certainly lots of holes for power and pre-amp valves that aren't used. The tone circuitry looks to be fitted on Veroboard. The wiring is far from the neat wiring that you'd get from a commercial series amp made by say, Matamp or Hiwatt. The studio/boost switch isn't level with the standby & mains switches so is probably an addition.

The control clustering is probably both making use of existing holes in the chassis and possibly avoiding others, with the holes covered up by the Traffolite panel labels. It would be interesting to see photos showing the inside of the chassis of front and rear control panels to see if there are unused holes hidden behind the Traffolite (probably one between the volume and tone knobs as the original chassis probably had a master volume control and the tone controls have been shifted to the right to create the gap).

The input transformer looks to be bigger that the original as you can see where one set of original fixing holes and a cable routing hole remain and new holes have been utilised.

But I certainly don't know enough about these things to say for certain. Maybe some manufactures did use a common chassis with many holes punched in for several different models to reduce costs.

But the more I look at it, the more it says either prototype or one-off.
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby triscon82 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 1:16 pm

Wonks, that is super useful. Thanks so much for that info. I'll see if I can get some pics of behind the panel.

ef37a wrote:I will ask again Triscon82, what do you intend to do with the amplifier?

Now that you have told us you need the ministrations of an amp tech' you could be in for an expensive time? Just safety testing and, if it passes, running the amp up is going to take a couple of hours of a tech's time and if it is safe but faulty almost impossible to give an estimate for repair. Just a set of output valves will be £120 I would think.

Dave.

I actually bought it to use it. I managed to pick it up pretty cheap at £180 and although it seemed to be working fine when I collected it, as you've noted I think it had been sat unused and unserviced for some time so it's prudent to get someone to give it the once over just to make sure it's safe.
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:16 pm

Wonks wrote:...with the holes covered up by the Traffolite panel labels.

Well that's another new name I've learned today - thanks Wonks! :thumbup:

On further investigation, "Traffolyte is a generic name for pnenolic engraving laminate. The material is made up of three layers, the outer layers being engraved to expose the contrasting core. It is available in two thicknesses – 1.6mm or 3.2mm"

https://www.traffolytelabels.co.uk/traffolyte-labels/

Aha! Now I recognise them - I've got a 'beware of the dog' sign attached to my front gate that uses this material. Never heard the name Traffolyte before though.


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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby Wonks » Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:26 pm

Damn! Got the spelling wrong. Still pretty much the go-to material for engraving labels for control panels and MCCs in my line of business.
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:00 pm

I acquired a few dozen sheets of it when a local place closed down, passed most on to a luthier mate but hung onto a few........
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Re: Mystery White amp, Matamp/Hiwatt?

Postby ef37a » Fri Mar 08, 2019 9:49 pm

triscon82 wrote:Wonks, that is super useful. Thanks so much for that info. I'll see if I can get some pics of behind the panel.

ef37a wrote:I will ask again Triscon82, what do you intend to do with the amplifier?

Now that you have told us you need the ministrations of an amp tech' you could be in for an expensive time? Just safety testing and, if it passes, running the amp up is going to take a couple of hours of a tech's time and if it is safe but faulty almost impossible to give an estimate for repair. Just a set of output valves will be £120 I would think.

Dave.

I actually bought it to use it. I managed to pick it up pretty cheap at £180 and although it seemed to be working fine when I collected it, as you've noted I think it had been sat unused and unserviced for some time so it's prudent to get someone to give it the once over just to make sure it's safe.

I am still intrigued as to what for! Ok, a bit impertinent, you can of course do WTF you like with the amp but a few words of caution?
If you are just going to use it as a clean amp, maybe with a pedal or three affront it fine, but it will still need 200 watts worth of speaker attached. If you intend to give it the absolute beans, 300 watts would IMHO be the minimum speaker load rating. Those are Celestion driver ratings, e.g. 4X V30, other speaker makers are far more "optimistic" with their power ratings.

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