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Magnatone, a legendary brand from the past, is staging a comeback, re-launching at NAMM this week after laying dormant for more than 40 years. Magnatone’s line of American-made, high-end, vacuum tube amplifiers features the iconic “pitch-shifting” vibrato effect. These amps and a line of exciting solid body electric guitars will be on display at NAMM Booth #4794 located in Hall C of the Anaheim Convention Center from January 24 through 27, 2013.

Magnatone’s President and CEO is Ted Kornblum, whose music industry career began as Artist Relations Director for his family’s business, St. Louis Music. From his teen years on, he formed relationships with such notable talents as Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead, Sting, Keith Richards and Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, The Who, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Ani DeFranco, and many others.

Today he’s focused on the new Magnatone line of amps – 100% tube powered, handmade with point-to-point wiring, made in the USA.  The creative team behind Magnatone’s new lines includes the engineering talents of Obeid Khan, George McKale, Greg Geerling, Ken Mathews, Gregg Hopkins, Chris Villani, Dave Hinson, Dan Ryterski, and others.

ZZ Top’s Billy F. Gibbons has been closely associated with Kornblum and Magnatone, noting, “This is nothing short of a rockin’ resurrection.  The Mag is back!” In the studio and live concerts Gibbons has been using a prototype Magnatone Super Fifty-Nine, and his input, as well as that of guitar tech Elwood Francis, has had a significant influence on Magnatone design and execution. Likewise, Neil Young’s guitar tech Larry Cragg has provided input into upgrading the Magnatone sound.

Magnatone history dates back to the 1930s when it opened its doors in Los Angeles, manufacturing radios, record players, lap steel guitars and amplifiers.  Perhaps, the company’s most noted innovation was its patented vibrato, pitch-shifting effect using non-moving parts to create “true vibrato”, in contrast to what others called vibrato but was actually mislabeled tremolo. In updating it, today’s Magnatone engineers have used the patented vibrato circuit from 1958 as their design platform. They have engineered the models to include the vibrato effect as well as tremolo, as both effects are applicable to musical instrument amplification.

Kornblum says, “The Magnatone brand has been frozen in time for forty-four years, it needs to be allowed time to “thaw” and for the market to get to know it as it was and as it is today. The Mag is back!”


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