I fell under the spell of 60's Teisco guitars a few years back, and so the obvious obsession to follow was the Teisco amplifiers. They are way under the radar, and in fact I've only been able to track down a single schematic, and very little in the way of technical info. I hope that by posting what I do know, that more info will come forward, so please write to me with pictures, tube charts, schematics, stories etc. I bought my Teisco #72C from ebay and it happened to come with the original sales receipt from a military base in Japan, dated 1963, Also included was an info sheet on a bunch of other Teisco amps from that era. I need to get it translated to see what clues it might offer. The Teisco amps sure look cool and have the warm tube sound associated with the 60's era. Many have only 6 or 8 inch speakers and are low wattage, so the most you can hope for is a blues overdrive studio toy. I used one with a bullet mic to sing through and it was a way cool sound. There were some larger amps made and I look forward to playing through them. Here are the photos and details that I've managed to gather so far:
I'll begin with the mid 50s to mid 60s tube amps, all with a vintage tweed vibe, prior to the 1966 introduction of the "checkmate' series. The Checkmate series began in 1966 in black tolex , beginning with tubes and gradually built only as solid state.
Teisco was founded in 1946 by Atswo Kaneko, a renowned Hawaiian and Spanish guitarist, and Mr. Doryu Matsuda, an electrical engineer. Mr. Doryu Matsuda was born in 1921. The company was originally called 'Aoi Onpa Kenkyujo' (roughly: Hollyhock Soundwave or Electricity Laboratories). In 1956 the name was changed to 'Nippon Ompa Kogyo Co'. and was taken over by Kawai in 1967.
In 1954 four tube amps were available- in two-tone light and dark tolex. The colors ran vertically with a wider band in the center which was slightly narrower than the grill cloth. They had round edges and looked a bit like '50s TVs. One was a small practice amp, two were about 15" tall and the fourth was very large with six 8" speakers!
In 1961 the amps offered came in a variety of shapes. The majority had a single color covering with a tweed grillcloth. At least two of the models - the Amp-15 and Amp-30 - were two-tone and had a cross-shaped grillcloth area. All had the Teisco 'Swan-S' logo and were probably still tube amps.
The models were: Amp-4C, Amp-15, Amp-30, Amp-71A, Amp-71B, Amp-71C, Amp-72A, Amp-72B, Amp-72C, Amp-73C, Amp-75C, Amp 78-R (a Fender twin style with 2X12" speakers, with tremolo & reverb in red tolex with black & silver flecks!) and the Amp-86 bass amp. There was also the huge HG-8 which was recommended for use with the EG-TW and Harp Guitar.
1964 included the first solid-state amps although tube amps continued to be available at least up to 1966. There were at least seven amplifiers, three Teiscos and four Checkmates. The three Teisco amps known of were the Miny, the Amp 71R (purple with just a sprinkling of glitter) and the Teisco-88. They were rectangular cabinets with top-mounted controls. The Miny had the italicized T logo on the front. The Amp-71R had reverb and the Teisco-88 (probably a tube amp) had "Teisco" and a big "88" on the grillcloth. In 1966 came the Checkmate series.
slideshow of various TEISCO amp models
Known models so far: (note-the '1' in these model listings refers to one speaker and the '2' refers to 2 speakers, i.e. model 71 has one speaker and model 72 has 2)
"Echo Box"- 1-6" speaker, tubes: 2@6AV6, 1@6AR5, 1@6X4 rectifier
The Teisco Echo Box was made as a 'reverb signal only' amp meant to be
attached by alligator clips to the speaker posts on a 'master' amp. A
spring reverb gives you reverb only through the 'echo box' .It could
also be used as a stand alone amp with a dry sound i.e., no reverb coming
through. Low wattage, perhaps 5-8 watts through a 6' speaker. Red/White/Black
speckled tolex approx 12"x 16" x 5" deep. 'Swan-S" Teisco logo in center
of beautiful enamel logo attached to front of cabinet with 'echo' and
'box' on either side of Teisco logo, Very unique half curve front grillcloth
#15 3 watts, 1- 6 1/2" speaker, tubes: 4@ 6AR5, volume knob only
#30 4 watts, 1- 6 1/2" speaker, tubes: 4@6AR5, volume knob only
#61 4 watts?, 1-6" spkr, red tolex w/ black lines design- 15" X 12" X 6" 2
tubes: 1@12AU(6)?(12AU7?) 1@50C5. Has metal Teisco logo in script lettering
on top front cabinet part of TV cabinet
#71-A 4 watts, 1- 6 1/2" speaker, tubes: 4@ 6AR5, volume & tone
#71-C 4 watts, 1- 6 1/2" speaker, tubes: 5@ 6AR5, volume & tone
#71-R with reverb
#72-A 10 watts, 2@ 6 1/2" speakers, tubes: 5@ 6AR5, volume & tone
#72-C 10 watts, 19 &1/2" X 15" X 7", tubes: 4@6AV6, 2@6AQ5A, 1@6X4 recitifier( note-there seems to be a version with 7@6AR5 tubes), volume & tone, 2-6 1/2" speakers, tremolo w/ off, & S (slow) to F (fast), plain grey grillcloth with 'swan-S' teisco logo silver glitter on grillcloth, tolex is 1" block
pattern of red/black/silver- on back of amp is black felt badge w/ unusual
raised cursive lettering that says Teisco with long 'T' over 'eisco'
and 'Amp 72C'
#72-R same as the 72-C except with reverb
#73-C 12 watts, 2- 8" speakers, tubes: 2@6F6, 1@6SN7, 3@6AU6A, 1@5Y3 rectifier -volume & tone & tremolo
#74-C 15 watts, 4- 6 1/2" speakers, tubes: 6V6, volume & tone
#75-C 20 watts, 1- 12" speaker & 1-8' speaker, tubes: 6L6, 2 channels , tremolo w/depth, speed , on/off
#77-C 1-6" speaker 17" X 12" X 6", volume & tone, tremolo with
#78-R approx 20 watts, 2- 12" speakers, 2 channels, volume, treble, bass, reverb, tremolo w/ depth & speed
22" X 27" X 10" deep red tolex with black & silver speckles
#86 25 watts tubes 6L6 bass amp
#88 '88' logo on grillcloth, 8 watts
#HG-8 very large amp!
Amps offered by Teisco in the '60s can sometimes be confusing, because they were a mix of tube and solidstate, and sometimes particular models shift back and forth. Amps promoted in the U.S. tended to be solid state, whereas many amps promoted in Japan were mainly tube.
At least eleven solidstate Checkmate amps were offered in U.S. Teisco Del Rey catalogs in '66: the 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 18, 20, 25, 50, 100C and Infinite. These were basically rectangular cabinets with dark tolex covering and large checkered grillcloths with the Teisco Del Rey and Checkmate logos on either corner. Controls were front-mounted.
Checkmate 10 (solid state) 6 watts, 6" speaker, two inputs,
CHECKMATE 10 (tube)
10 watts, 1-12 inch speaker, tremolo, reverb,
tubes are 2@EL84s, 2@12AX7s, 1@12AU7, 1@6AV6. It has two channels, great
tremolo and surprising good reverb. 1x12" alnico speaker. Fender-like
chrome tilt-back legs. Reverb and tremolo can be footswitched, but both
operate without switches.
Checkmate 12 9 watts, 8" speaker, three inputs
Checkmate 14 14 watts, 8" speaker, three inputs, tremolo
Checkmate 15 15 watts
Checkmate 16 bass amp 20 watts, 10" speaker, volume, tone
Checkmate 17 (solid state) 20 watts, 10" speaker, tremolo, reverb
CHECKMATE 17 (tube)
- approx 15 watts, 1-10 inch speaker, preamp: 2@12AX7, power: EL84, rectifier:
6X4, tremolo, reverb, two inputs, four knobs (volume, tone, tremolo,
reverb), This is a single-ended Class A amp, sort of like a Fender Champ.
Cabinet is made of 1/2" plywood, loaded with the factory 10" alnico speaker.
Checkmate 18 30 watts, two 10" speakers, reverb, tremolo
Checkmate 20 40 watts, 12" speaker, reverb, tremolo
Checkmate 'Bass Note'
Checkmate 22 (solid state)
- approx 50 watts, 'piggyback' head and cabinet unit, 2-10 inch speakers, tremolo, reverb, two inputs, four knobs (volume, tone, tremolo, reverb), headphone jack, line out
CHECKMATE 25 (tube)- approx 25 watts, 1-15 inch and 1-2 inch speaker, two channels, tubes: preamp 3@ 12AX7, 12AU7, power: 2@7819, reverb, tremolo, three inputs, six knobs (volume, tone, bass, depth, speed, reverb), standby, and on switch with green and red light's.
****Checkmate 30 (solid state) super cool 60's Mod design coffee table amp!****
- approx 8 watts, 1-6 inch speaker, tremolo, two inputs, four knobs (volume, tone, speed, intensity), footswitch, uniquely built amplifier sits on three legs and is circular, the amp is in the bottom section and the speaker faces upward, brown woodgrain finish with chrome trim.
This amp was made in the mid 60's.The best thing about it is that it is round! It has 2 sections.It stands 14inches in diameter and 18 inches tall. It has a faux wood grained brown plastic finish. The amp is trimmed in chrome with three chrome legs and rubber feet that connect both section.The amp is set into the lower section. It features volume and tone plus a tremolo section that has speed and intensity knobs. There is also a jack for a foot switch. Two inputs. orange on-light. The 6 inch speaker is loaded into the top of the lower section and the 8 watts is focused at a white plastic cone that is on the top section. Walk around the amp in any position and feel the full intensity of the 6 inch speaker and the 8 watts working together!
CHECKMATE 45 2 Channel, 2 Input, bass treble and reverb for each
channel, tremolo and E tone for tuning the guitar. 45 watts
CHECKMATE 100 (tube)
two channels plus a mic input, spring reverb and tremolo on channel two and the standard knobs on channel one. 12 tubes and 100 watts
Checkmate 66 (solid state)
-approx 10 watts, 2-6 inch speakers, tremolo, reverb, two inputs, four knobs (volume, tone, tremolo, reverb), headphone jack, line out
Checkmate 88 (solid state)
- approx 10 watts, 2-8 inch speakers, tremolo, reverb, two inputs, four knobs (volume, tone, tremolo, reverb), headphone jack, line out
Piggyback amps included :
Checkmate 25 (50 watts, 15" speaker, reverb, tremolo)
Checkmate 50 (two-channels, 100 watts, two 15" speakers, reverb, tremolo, "E tuner")
Checkmate 100C (two channels, voice input, 200 watts, two 15" speakers, reverb, tremolo); Checkmate Infinite (200 watts, two 15" speakers,
stereo/mono preamp section, reverb, tremolo and a bunch of other switches).
The one shown in the catalog actually has a block Teisco logo and carried
the Japanese-marketed name - King - in the lower corner.
Beltone #AP-12 1-8" speaker, volume, tone, tremolo
8-10 watts?, tubes: 3@6AV6, 1@6AR5, 1@6X4 rectifier
Beltone #AP-14 -same components as the AP-12 with a different logo and grillcloth
The amps were manufactured under various brand names including, Teisco, Marco Polo, Beltone, Sears, Northland, Audition, King, Melody and more.
The tolex coverings came in purple, red with a black and white speckled pattern, tweed, tan, black and more.